Here you will find past guest blogs and previous spooky blogs. Scroll down to find the author you’re searching for and perhaps you’ll also find one you hadn’t considered!
6-Fiona Knowles-Holland, Lynne North, #18 Cynthia MacGregor, #19Jane Finch, #20, Assaph Mehr,Jude Lennon, #24 Marie Anne Cope, Phil Burrows, Sarah Dahl #34 Remy Dean’s writing retreat, #Graham West
Spooky blog Archives – Poltergeists – Ghostly Animals – Haunted Homes – Ghostly Ladies who float about a bit! – Harry Price – Ghosthunter or Fraud – UFO’s – Faeries – Tinkerbell or not? – Slips in Time – Angelic beings – Trees – Christmas Spookiness – Handfasting – The Sun – Savannah Spirits – labyrinths – Angels at Yuletide –
Angels at Yuletide
We’ve all heard the Christian tales of angels at this time of year. How they came to Mary to tell her she was pregnant. How they told the shepherds about the birth of Jesus and basically seemed to be around for the whole story one way or another. (Especially if every nativity play is to be believed!!)
However, Angels are NOT a Christian concept, though many believe they are. Angels do not care what religion or belief you follow, and they love you regardless. Angels are mentioned in all belief systems, Christian, Jewish, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam, naming but a few. All angels have, it seems, a different ‘job’ to do, but all seem to work for the ‘divine’ be it god, Buddha, Universal energy, whatever you wish to call it, it’s all the same loving energy and the angels help us connect to it.
There are many websites out there who can tell you more than I can in my short blog, so I’m focusing on the angels that help me, as a writer, narrator, counsellor, Mother.
Author – Archangel Gabriel, which means – God is my strength’ is believed to be female, though many also believe the angels have no gender. Gabriel helps with communications. Archangel Gabriel is the messenger angel. She helps writers, teachers, journalists, dancers, models, musicians, singers, songwriters and artists, in fact, anyone whose life purpose is in the creative, art or communication side of life. She helps them to convey their message, to find motivation and confidence, and to market their skills. She also assists in overcoming issues of fear and procrastination in communication.
Gabriel is an angel of action
Narrator – Archangel Jophiel, which means – beauty of God. Jophiel is known as the ‘patron of artists’, also useful for writers. She helps me think beautiful thoughts, therefore projecting beautiful outcomes. Jophiel helps with artistic projects and illuminates my creative spark. She helps me slow down, enjoy the process, the journey, and not worry about deadlines or outcomes, because all will be okay. No point wasting time worrying about it. She helps my voice be beautiful and right for the part, bringing positive outcomes to the right audition.
Counsellor – Archangel Azrael – Whom god helps. His role is to assist people to ‘cross over’ into the loving energy and bring comfort to those grieving the loss. He wraps everyone involved in healing energy and helps physically, emotionally and spiritually. He helps me when I work with grief so that I do not absorb the energies of my clients and to guide me in my words and actions. I work with him when I meet spirits who have remained on this plain and together, along with their spirit guides, we guide the souls to where they need to be.
Mother – Archangel Metatron – This angel is one of two who had once been men on earth. He helps parents with children, but especially those with ADHD, Aspergers, and Autism. His energy is highly focused and strong and guides parents away from medicating their gifted children and helping to educate parents, teachers, doctors, scientists find natural alternatives. He helps parents in all manner of parenting and communication.
I must give a special mention to Archangel Michael – He who is like God. I work with him almost every day. He is the leader among the archangels. He works to rid the world of toxins that promote fear, anger and hatred. Michael clears away any obstacles, clearing a path for you to fulfill your life’s purpose. He helps with anything, be it emotional baggage, spiritual needs, physical requirements, he brings it, usually in ways I wasn’t expecting! He brings me courage to keep going, to pursue my dreams; he is my body-guard when I need help. Simply call upon him and he is there.
I see angels frequently, usually as flashes of lights, different colours for different angels. It is reassuring to me and lets me know I am never alone.
However you want to connect with angels, know that they are always waiting for you and supporting you. They cannot interfere with free will. if you do not want their help, they will not force it, so, ask and trust the help will come.
Wishing you all a blessed Yule and may the new year bring you all you need
Labyrinths and their journey
There are two types of labyrinth, the classical which is the most common and is the oldest design with seven circuits, four quarters and a centre. The other, created in 1201 is the Chartres labyrinth, which has eleven circuits, a centre and six petals.
Each labyrinth represents the seven chakra’s, the elements, the four quarters and the six petals of the Chartres labyrinth are meant to represent the six kingdoms of existence which are, mineral, plant, animal, human, angelic and divine
Labyrinths are also found carved onto rocks and you can use your finger to trace the path and feel a connection. You can also draw your own labyrinths for this purpose or buy them online. You can get them carved in wood, stone, paper, or free ones to come up on the screen or print out. With the right frame of mind, you can achieve the same benefits of tracing the labyrinth as you would walking it.
Positive change can be brought about by the simple act of walking the labyrinth. This is NOT a maze. The path leads to the centre and back out again, it is not a puzzle with dead-ends and wrong turns. The idea is to walk, or trace the path with intention. Let go of any expectations and allow your mind to accept the thoughts that come and embrace the feelings that you experience.
The intention can be simple, such as, asking for peace in your life at this moment, or perhaps asking for guidance on something. Walk the labyrinth and use it as a meditative moment and be open to any inspirations you may get.
Many people experience a variety of things whilst walking the labyrinth. Emotions may rise to the surface and be released by the time they leave the labyrinth. Others have experienced awakenings, a realisation of something they thought impossible. People have suddenly stopped whilst walking, as if something is blocking their way. It could be an indication of a blocked chakra, depending on where they halt. Perhaps it is the shift of energy which occurs during the 180 degree turns making us turn to confront or release something. It is not every day we turn in such a manner and this can feel quite strong for a lot of people.Labyrinth at Maes y Bryn Campsite near LLanwrst, North Wales
Working with the labyrinth can quieten the mind. It gives you this opportunity to get insight into your life, and can bring a positive change by giving you a deeper connection to yourself, and brings you into a state of connection to everything. In this day and age, life is manic, disconnected a lot of the time and very fast and loud. Taking time to walk or trace a labyrinth offers you time to reconnect and find yourself.
It’s important to take time afterwards to sit and be still. Write down any thoughts or idea’s that come to you after being within a labyrinth and give thanks for the journey.
There are many ways to connect with the labyrinth but the following exercise can be done at home if you cannot access a walking labyrinth.
If you can find a seven circuit labyrinth, that is wonderful, if not, print one off and sit quietly with it, or use the one above.
Take a few moments to focus on the barriers you carry. Hold the intention that you are ready to break down the barriers to be free of the luggage and heaviness. You wish to be lighter and free.
With each step (or finger movement) allow the barriers to be demolished. Let them fall around you. See them break apart, or dissolve. Whichever way you see it, allow it to happen. Notice how you feel. Allow any emotions to surface and be released. Do you feel empowered? Vulnerable? Brave? Liberated?
Focus now on the positive aspects of releasing these negative barriers. Be aware of any negative thoughts and feelings and thank them for surfacing, but you are ready to let them go. Give yourself permission to set them free.
When you reach the centre, take note of what you have released. Even if you have made progress on demolishing one wall, it is an achievement that should be acknowledged.
Focus on your connection with yourself. Be grateful for all that you are. Healing can take place as we release negative barriers.
As you walk out of the labyrinth take notice of all thoughts and feelings. Write them down and make notes on moving forward in your life.
Repeat this exercise often if needed, to establish how far you can journey. With each new walk, you will see a positive change emerging. Embrace it and learn from your journey.
Labyrinths can be found all over the world. A few to find in the UK:
I have followed many paths, and have walked a few labyrinths in my time. Each one has brought me closer to the divine and myself. May you walk your own path and find what you are seeking.
Use the code ‘livedbefore’ to receive a discount on the award-winning novel, Echoes at
I have been lucky enough to have had the experience of flying to Savannah, Georgia for a book tour, joining in with a pirate festival and meeting some interesting characters along the way. I was there six days, so settle in and I’ll describe my encounters.
Firstly, I visited Savannah and was taken to an area they used to hold slaves taken off the boats. It’s considered one of the most haunted roads as it runs right alongside the river. I can only imagine the horror of these souls and I met a few within seconds of walking there.
There were storage places, beneath the upper road and I immediately felt a large man, a slave. I felt his irons and something metal on his face. I felt his shame, his helplessness, his terror, but mostly, his absolute anger and hatred towards me, a white woman. He wanted to snap my neck and make me suffer as he’d had to watch his own family suffer, and it was difficult not to let him come closer. I tried to convey my horror and sadness for him and the slave trade, but he was too far into his suffering. ‘I hate you white folks.’ Was all he said over and over and he made my fists clench as he came within my space. My guide told me to leave.
I will send him love and light to try and connect him with his family, to release his anger and pain.
We moved into another storage area and I felt more women energies here, but before I could focus, my body felt as if it was on fire. Now, Savannah is hot, but this felt overwhelming. The women who were with me, watched as my neck, chest, face, arms and hands became red and I was quickly removed from the area.
As we walked away towards a bar to try and let my body calm down, I felt energies watching us from nearby. Two women, three men, slaves. They were watching me with interest and I conveyed that yes, I did know they were there, and no, they were not forgotten.
We visited Colonial Cemetery. Now, I’ve been called many things in my time by spirits, but I don’t think, ‘Whore’ is one of them!! One young man saw me applying lipstick as the heat was making my lips dry. He was young, perhaps eighteen years old, and I felt a pain moving down from the right side of my neck, through my collar bone, as if I’d been stabbed by a long dagger or sword. He refused to tell me anything about himself, very distrustful. However, I was drawn to another corner of the cemetery, to two graves, of a young mother and child. I was told to sit on a nearby bench, and I could see that the grave of the young man, and these two others were aligned. Was someone trying to tell me something?
I moved to a large, white grave of Button Gwinnett. he signed the Declaration of Independence and died whilst duelling in May 1777. When I sat on his grave steps, I felt as if a man was looming over me, looking over my shoulder. He seemed interested in my camera. For me though, the weird bit was his grave. It felt, ‘wrong’. I can’t add more to that, it just felt off, as if wrong place or something. Also, a patch of grass in front of his grave, not mowed. The whole cemetery was pitch perfect, except this small bit – why?
We visited Bonaventure Cemetery and even before we walked two feet, a young man was getting my attention. We split up and I was taken to his grave. He died in 2000 and was distressed that his family couldn’t move on, let go and live their lives. I could see from his decorated grave, they visit a lot. It hurt him to see them so distressed and it pulled him back to remember the pain.
I immediately felt a terrible pain in my head and asked him to take that off. He suffered a while and he knows it is a memory his family carry. Please know that he is not alone, he is surrounded by love. I was emotional. I wanted to help him, but how? I have been reassured that if I would show his grave, he would help his family find it. So that is what I am doing.
As I walked away, five union soldiers came up to me, laughing and joking about how I could see them and they guided me to a grave-site of five soldiers who died in the civil war between North and South.
We joined a ghost tour at Sorrell Weed House – considered the most haunted house in Savannah – I think they’re right! Now, I always find it astounding how synchronicity works. I couldn’t go to the original time as I had an early flight home the next day, so the universe changed it so we could all be involved! And I think I was meant to be here at this time.
I caught footage of orbs flying around, a voice saying, ‘to me’ and possibly, though it needs farther examinations, I’ve caught a woman in a black hood gliding past.
Now, to explain. In a room the tour guide was explaining about the ghost caught on camera. He showed us a photo and said this was possibly ‘Matilda’. The spirit of a woman immediately got my attention and said, ‘yes, that’s me, now film the window.’
On my phone you see an orb rush past me – Matilda – then some more around the window – Matilda, then an orb flies towards the camera from outside – Matilda at the same time, a possible apparition behind. – Lots of things to check before I am 100% convinced yet. You can find the video on my Facebook page
Downstairs, I walked into a small room and immediately grabbed the right side of my head. It felt as if half of it had been blown off. I abruptly left and it eased. Another medium said she felt as if she’d lost half a leg! On entering again, the tour guide was explaining that this room had been used as a surgery during the war. Many broken, injured men came through the doors. I’d picked up one of them. Poor man.
At the end of the tour, we were outside in the courtyard, when the tour guide spoke of Matilda, grieving for her dead children and was seen as ‘The woman in Black’, hooded, wandering the garden – Okay, didn’t know this when I caught footage (Possible footage!!)
He said she fell off the balcony. (Where I’d filmed her earlier). I knew without doubt, she did not fall, she was pushed. Also a maid was murdered. The guide then told us of a maid being found hanged…suicide or murder? I say murder. Later he let us listen to an EVP and it blatantly shows that she was surprised, attacked and killed and I believe I know who by.
I also had a strange occurrence in our condo. I don’t sleep well, so I decided to sleep on the couch. I had a very vivid dream that a man was trying to get my attention. I woke abruptly and the clock said 2.22. I went back to sleep and woke at 3.33 to the feeling of a man’s hands and fingers running down my left shoulder and arm. I am convinced someone was there, but, was it sleep? Was it spirit? Was it something else? I’d love to know your opinions.
And so, conclusion, Savannah is haunted, but also beautiful and well worth another visit, one day x
People have worshipped the sun and moon for many centuries. There are so many gods and goddesses that are associated with the sun.
Amun, the ancient Egyptian god of creation along with Ra, the sun god. Helius, the Greek god, who rode the sun chariot across the sky. Huitzilopochtli was the sun god worshipped by the Aztecs. Sol was the sun god for the Romans. Belenos, also known as Beli Mawr (the Great), was the Celtic God of the Sun, His festival of Beltane, held on May 1st is celebrated with bonfires.
You may notice, these seem to be ‘male’ figures of worship for the sun. Initially, it was mainly female dieties for the sun, but somewhere along the way, female dieties were removed and became associated with the moon instead.
Many stone circles, burial mounds are aligned with the sun and moon, none more known than, ‘Stonehenge’. Two pits were found at Stonehenge which point to it once being used as a place of sun worship before the stones were erected. The pits are positioned on celestial alignment at the site and may have contained stones, posts or fires to mark the rising and setting of the sun. We know that at the Summer Solstice, the sun rises between the stones and is ‘celebrated’ by thousands. Many people will rise early on this day to be somewhere high so as to ‘greet the coming sun’ and give thanks for the warmth and blessings the sun brings.
May the sun shine on you to warm you mind, body and spirit.
Book Title: Finding Amelia
I studied art at Hugh Baird college in Bootle before joining the display team at Blacklers store in Liverpool city centre where I spent seven years in the art department before moving on in 1981 to become a sign writer. I live in Maghull with my wife, Ann and have a daughter, Lindsay and two grandchildren, sonny and Kasper. I also play guitar at weddings and functions throughout the Merseyside area.
Short synopsis of book:
Following the horrific death of his wife and child, Robert Adams struggles to rebuild a life with his seventeen-year-old daughter, Jenny. Their relationship is tested further when she expresses a desire to contact her mother through a spiritualist and he watches helplessly as they slowly drift apart. But everything changes when Jenny begins to dream—dreams which take her into another world—a world inhabited by a young girl, imprisoned in a dark attic. A girl Jenny believes is an ancestor whose spirit is reaching out across the generations.
But who is she? What does she want? As Jenny’s behaviour becomes increasingly dangerous and unpredictable, Robert finds himself confiding in Sebastian Tint—an old professor who claims to possess a sixth sense. Together, they employ retired genealogist Jack Staple to trace the family tree, but it is a journey that takes Robert down a road of discovery that threatens to tear their world apart.
Why do you write?
I write because I love telling a story. It’s as simple as that. My characters will often take me on a journey that I’d never planned or anticipated as they develop in my mind.
What was the incentive to start writing?
As a schoolboy, I loved books such as Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights although my pitiful attempts to emulate them resulted in my leaving the world of literature until I was married and began to read contemporary fiction. I read a book called ‘Impulse’ and was so captivated by the story that I decided to start writing again.
Has writing changed you?
Yes, I find writing even more therapeutic than playing the guitar. I have a new confidence and belief in my own ability.
Who influences you and why?
J.K. Rowling. Not just because of the brilliant intricate and absorbing storyline demonstrated in the Harry Potter series, but her determination in the face of adversity. She never gave up believing either in herself or her work.
What reactions do you get from your nearest and dearest regarding your writing?
My wife rarely reads fiction, preferring Biographies but she genuinely loved my first novel and has been a constant source of encouragement.
What made you choose that genre?
I love the paranormal genre because like science fiction it allows the imagination to roam freely into so many areas.
Thank you for being my guest author, Graham. I share your love of the paranormal and I like your book cover – very dark and mysterious.
Thank you and enjoy the journey xx
Handfasting is a Pagan marriage which is usually held on Beltane – May Day, though this is not carved in stone. Beltane is usually chosen as it is a fertility festival, a union between the goddess and the god following months of him chasing her, she finally allows him to catch her and they consumate their relationship – thus bringing forth an abundance of nature.
The ceremony usually happens outside in mother nature with friends and family gathered to witness the joining of two souls. Though, centuries ago handfasting was a way in which two people could join together without the consent of their families. It did not need witnesses or a priest. It was acknowledged, especially in the Celtic countries, that once handfasted and sexual intercourse had been performed – the couple were legally wed and no one could argue with it!
By around the 14th century, the Roman Catholic church decided weddings must be sanctioned by God, banns read, performed in front of witnesses and the marriages consumated with witnesses within the building – NOT the same room!! – Although, it was pretty close at times with some marriage rituals – putting the couple to bed etc!
Regardless of what Catholics wanted, Handfasting continued to be used, especially within small communities within the Highlands and later blessed by the local priest as many area’s didn’t have a ‘holy man’ living near-by.
The ceremonies can be as individual and unique for each couple. Some have brooms to jump over and sweep away any negative energies whilst other will also have a sword to jump over and cut any previous ties of life. Each person makes their own vows before a High priestess and priest who offer balance, representing both goddess and god, her consort.
My husband and I married 25 years ago this May. We originally had a church wedding as I was not ready to inform my family of my leanings towards Paganism. June 10th 2006 we, together with our daughter and our best friends who were also getting handfasted, spent a wonderful weekend at Pistyll Rhaedre waterfall, on the hottest weekend ever!!
Dressed in medieval bridal gowns, we walked into the meadow with the priest and priestess, found a shaded area beneath the oak trees and were handfasted. Our witnesses – the trees, the sun, the wild flowers and the elementals who gave their approval. We created our own brooms. Martin and I brought one of our swords. We exchanged vows. (Extremely emotional) We drank, we ate and celebrated well into the next morning.
Now, we’ve all heard about, ‘Scrooge, the Christmas Carol’, written in 1843 by Charles Dickens and considered one of the scariest and by far the most moralistic story of the Christmas season. An evil, bitter old man must change his ways before it’s too late and is visited by three ghosts who terrify him with the truth in order to help him live a better, happier life – LOVE IT!! My favourite is Patrick Stewart in the original story, but who can hate, Bill Murrays ‘Scrooged’?!!!
I never liked the puppets but adored the black and white 1951 classic with Alastair Sim and the modern day version with Ross Kemp in 2000. It is a yearly pilgrimage which I thoroughly enjoy to touch base with something so important, but never forgotten throughout the year – love and compassion, gratitude and kindness.
What is your yearly treat at Christmas?
Anyway, what other spirit’s wander the earth during this season of good cheer? It is not only the three ghosts of past, present and future!
One of the most dramatic is that of the re-enactment of the English Civil war at Edge hill Warwickshire in 1642. Following the bloody battle in October of which over 2000 men lay dead, shepherds became aware of loud noises in the vicinity and it built into what they described as ‘a full battle happening once again’. Thundering cavalry, gun smoke, cannons fired, men screaming, neighing of horses and beating drums. The shepherds ran for their lives, but instantly, the whole scene vanished. On Christmas Eve, the whole phantom battle appeared again, only this time it seemed to be above ground, hovering above the fields. Witnesses saw men they recognised and had died, but also, Prince Rupert, who was at that time, very much alive!
Anne Boleyn’s ghost is said to appear each Christmas at Hever Castle, her childhood home. She is said to manifest beneath a great oak tree where Anne and Henry courted. Her ghost also walks across the bridge, which crosses over the River Eden on the castle grounds.
A doomed flight of 401, an aeroplane that crashed into the Florida everglades on December 29th 1972. There were 103 deaths, two of which were the flight engineer and the pilot, Bob Loft and Don Repo. Soon after they were seen returning to the area and were seen on the other planes that had been given parts of the wreckage. Every year, they are witnessed.
The black dog of Exmoor is notorious legend but one of its most dramatic appearances is at the beginning of the Second World War. A bus travelling from Barnstable Station for the Devon coast left on time at 5.40am. It was Christmas Eve and there were two passengers onboard, the conductor and the driver. The moon was full and the road ahead was clear, when suddenly, two sheep and an enormous dog appeared right in front of him. He braked, but he was going to hit them and braced himself for the bump – it never came. He ran out onto the road and looked beneath his bus, nothing. Everyone got out and searched for the three animals, nothing. They simply vanished.
During the Christmas season another ghost haunts the Tower of London, that of a bear. Bear baiting was legal and performing bears were popular in the early 18th century. In 1816 a sentry on duty at the jewel House became aware of a dark shape coming through the door. He was so terrified, he thrust his bayonet at it, but it went straight through. He fell to the floor senseless. He never recovered properly.
A large white rabbit was often seen around Christmas time, though the home in London is kept a secret. A family named, ‘Walton’ were plagued by ghostly apparitions of a boy, knocking and footsteps but during Christmas one year a large white rabbit would be seen and visitors and family would hear movement and feel a presence walking around the room in the dark. People would attempt to catch the rabbit, but it eluded them.
And lastly, a favourite story of mine. A couple, married for five years lived in a country manor, near Barnstable, Devon in the 19th century. One autumn his beloved wife fell ill and died from pneumonia. Heartbroken, the husband was unable to attend the funeral, held two days before Christmas and shut himself away in his study. The vicar, annoyed to be leaving his own home during the festive season held a very quick service so that he could return to his home and fireplace. However, before the lid was placed on the ladies coffin, he’d noticed a gold sapphire ring on her finger and after many glasses of port; he decided to collect it himself. (In those days, most high class people were laid out in stone crypts) Hurrying to the graveyard, he let himself into the crypt and attempted to pull off the ring, it wouldn’t budge, so he returned to his home to find a small saw and cut off the ring. Holding up in the air to admire it he smiled as it shone in the lanterns orange glow.
At this moment, the body of the woman rose and walked towards him. Horrified, the vicar dropped the ring and fled, out onto the cliffs and threw himself off. If only he’d waited. The lady wished to thank him. He had cut her finger in the process of stealing her ring and it had brought her back from the coma she had been in.
Wearing nothing but her fine silk dress and shroud, the lady walks barefoot in the snow towards her home, half fainting from the cold. She bangs on the door to be let in, but no servant answers as they are all in bed, sleeping off Christmas celebration. She throws gravel at her husband’s study window and screams to be let in before she dies. He comes to the window and declares that it is a terrible joke to play on his grief.
‘I am no joke. I am no ghost, for I bleed… See…’
Her husband hurries down and lets her in, reviving her with warm blankets, brandy and the fireplace. A year later, their first child is born.
Isn’t that sweet? So, remember, enjoy Christmas but remember to look out for ghosts, spirits (not those in a glass!!) and be safe, loving and kind. May I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and blessings of Yule.
This guest feature is slightly different as I am happy to help a fellow author, Remy Dean, who has been a guest before. He is hosting a creative writing course, here in North Wales. So, if you fancy getting away and surrounding yourself in our beautiful, magical country to find your inner author, then sign up and enjoy the experience. x
Thank you for kindly offering to help spread the word about this creative writing course on your blog!
Remy Dean is an author, artist and teacher and he will be leading a creative writing course and retreat at Plas Tan y Bwlch, a spectacular Victorian manor house set in its own woodland and gardens that is the Snowdonia National Park Authority’s Environmental Studies Centre.
The main focus of the course is responding to environments and recording personal responses through creative writing, though it may equally appeal to visual artists wishing to pursue a new approach to sketch books and commonplace books. The course is activity-based with various exercises and techniques you will be able to sample and take away with you. The full-board residential course runs from Friday 16 to Sunday 18 March, 2018, and there are day rates available for locals. More information and course leaflet can be found here –
– or by telephoning Plas Tan y Bwlch on 01766 772600.
Listed at Literature Wales here: http://www.
You can currently see the work of Remy Dean at two exhibitions: ‘Neopoetics’ is on show over the winter season in the Stable Block at Plas Tan y Bwlch, and ‘DYS PH ASI A’ is at Canolfan Maenofferen, Blaenau Ffestiniog Library, until 12 January 2018.
His books are available, as e-books or tree-books, via amazon.
He is a contributor to Folklore Thursday – http://folklorethursday.com/
and a film critic at Frame Rated – http://www.framerated.co.uk/
PDF of the course leaflet can be downloaded here
“Tales of Freya” by Sarah Dahl
A collection of sensual short stories set in the Viking Age
In a world of crackling fires and rough landscapes, long winters and bloody raids, the immediacy of life and death ignites undeniable passions. Warriors and monks, healers and housewives – all follow the call of their hearts and bodies to indulge in pleasures that may forever change their lives
Bonds – Under the Armour:
Viking warrior Aldaith and his shield maiden Nyssa engage in a heated skirmish to prepare for an imminent battle. But the looming slaughter makes their sensual duel get out of hand in more ways than one …
“Bonds” is the sequel to my very first Tale “The Current” and again features warrior Aldaith and shield maiden Nyssa:
Aldaith wanted to turn, but she pushed until he had to bend forward. His forehead met bark. “Ah, stop now, woman.”
Nyssa‘s lips touched his ear. “Who wins?”
He turned his head to the side, forced to look up at her. “You’re impossible.”
He didn’t try to break free. It was the sweetest surrender he could think of. The way her muscles moved against him, toned precision.
“If I let you go now —”
“Be gentle.” He twisted slightly in her grip. “If you let me, I’d grab you and have you for night-meal. Breaking my arm wouldn’t help that pleasure, so think twice.” He moved, but she tightened her grip, pushing his arm up, pushing her luck.
They were both panting now. The rough bark scratched his front while her soft breasts caressed his back. He was grateful for the contrasting sensations, which made it impossible to think about tomorrow. The battle.
Right now, he’d rather concentrate on this fight. He lowered his head. “Let me go. You win. Alright, shield maiden, you win.”
She chuckled sweetly while her tongue touched his earlobe, sending a jolt of excitement down his spine. “What’s my reward then, warrior?”
“Take what you want.”
Release: Dec 8th, 2017
Book title/genre: “Bonds – Under the Armour”, historical fiction, sensual romance
Sarah Dahl lives on the edge of the rural German Eifel and writes historical fiction (novels and short stories) primarily set in the Viking age. She also works as an editor, translates, and coaches new writers in German and English. She is interested in everyday life in bygone centuries and the human stories that may have occurred behind the hard, historical facts.
As my publisher Pronoun is shutting down in January, it would be best to use my own website as the main link: https://sarah-dahl.com/book/bonds (which I will keep updated)
and for all other Tales of Freya: sarah-dahl.com/books
Visit me at: sarah-dahl.com
Mailing list for Book Alert: http://bit.ly/2me4HWn
Who is your favourite character and why?
It is obvious that Viking warrior Aldaith has to be my favourite character, because I didn’t plan on writing this sequel, “Bonds”, to his first story, “The Current – A Battle of Seduction”. I never even wanted to publish this first little story, it was meant as an exercise to get over a writing block and was brainstormed with my writing buddy Elaine just for fun, between the two of us. And out came my most successful story yet, with characters readers raved about, sooo … I had to give them a second chance and see how their story continues! And there will be more: I’ll conclude their story with a third and last part, like a mini-trilogy within the Tales of Freya collection. I can’t wait to write how their story ends!
Warrior Aldaith is special because yes, he’s a formidable fighter (and lover), but he also surrenders at the hands of this one shield maiden. She sets him on fire in many ways, challenges him, breaks through his tough shell, and he just can’t escape their connection, their bond. Nyssa is his perfect counterpart and their little fights are sometimes brutal, sometimes sensual, and multi-layered powerplays. At first. In “Bonds”, the sequel here, there is a revelation that leaves them both in turmoil.
Why are these characters so outstanding – for readers and yourself?
Readers comment that they love this warrior, who only ever is defeated by his sassy shield maiden; they are so well-matched in attitude and strength. They are sensual, naughty, and funny. It’s a constant play between them, and Aldaith himself never knows what the outcome will be.
I’m told that his counterpart, the confident Nyssa, is a rare female character, a real fighter with deep passion and total focus, yet vulnerable and with a depth that will turn Aldaith’s world upside down in this story. She’s blunt and brutal, yet funny and challenging. In “Bonds” they go from playful seduction to a whole new level: under their emotional armours. They allow themselves weakness for the first time in their (warrior) lives … weakness that becomes their bond – and their strength. I’m very proud of the development my two are in for here.
What made you choose that genre?
I love the Viking era for several reasons, and one is that it’s perceived as the warrior era today, with strong men who brought terror to foreign lands, and I want to play with that and turn it upside down. Make the invincible weak and the women in charge of themselves. I want to show all layers of my characters’ personalities and go way beyond the cliché of what “the Vikings” were. They have so many more dimensions than what history books and Hollywood narrows it down to. I think sensuality is a great playing field for these layers, the power play between man and woman (or, as in “Monk”, three people), to bring out their vulnerable sides, their fears and needs. I take pride in that even though my stories are short and can be seen as erotic, they are not “erotica”. They go very deep into the characters, with a sensual plot, but without sex as the sole purpose: the development is achieved with the help of the sensual encounter. I go into a character fast and deep with a sensual plot, to better show the dynamics and psychology between two people. That’s much more important than them just pleasuring each other. “Bonds” is a good example that the sensual encounters aren’t even the main thing; it’s how the encounter propels the relationships forward, the entire world view. How it leaves my Vikings when the fun was in reality a transformation that forever changes their lives.
Welcome back to my fellow Viking author, Sarah – with another sensual story that will leave us breathless and wanting more. I am one of those readers who wanted to hear more of these characters and so I shall be buying them asap.
It comes out December 8th – worth a Christmas read to set your body on fire during the cold months!
When you think of a tree what is it that is conjured inside your head? Is it a large gnarled oak with a rough trunk twice the size of any man, with green branches reaching forever outwards? Perhaps lean, silver trunks with silvery leaves that seem to chatter to the wind as it races past? Do you think of fruit bearing trees scattered throughout an orchard or willowy wisps of tendrils that blow gently in the breeze and tickle the earth beneath it?
A single tree or vast forests, trees have been a huge part of our lives since the dawn of man. First we lived in them, then we used it for fuel and to build our homes and tools. Without trees, we would die – simple fact. They are our lungs that also balance the atmosphere, the weather, the climate. Trees are energy, connecting to earth and reaching to sky, they receive everything in-between, every experience and memory.
Throughout our history, people have believed that trees are gateways to other worlds, doors to a different consciousness, holders of memory and wisdom and we have honoured them with gifts. Those who follow the oldest belief system, the origin of Christianity – Paganism, use wood for their wands, their runes, their goblets, their alter to help them connect with the elders and gain tree wisdom.
Who has hugged a tree, or sit beneath one and not felt it’s energy? There is nothing more wonderful than to connect with a tree. I have many that I watch throughout the year and touch as I walk past to feel that ‘connection’, I am also drawn to ‘dead’ trees as the one above, but it is the mighty ‘Oak’ that I am drawn to and have grown my own oak tree from collected acorns.
‘It is wise to listen to the trees, for they tell us much that we might otherwise forget.’ 2nd century Roman author, Tacitus.
If single trees were considered powerful, can you imagine how a whole wood or forest felt like? Druids were able to tap into this power and knowledge as they congregated in sacred groves and sense the echoes of the past, present and future, held within the trees. Every Celtic tribe had a sacred grove, a meeting place marked by either a single tree or a stone marker. ‘It is the centre of their whole religion. It is regarded as the cradle of the race and dwelling place of their supreme god.’ Tacitus.
Slowly, over time, it became known that each tree held different energies and had particular functions. The yew, the trees that seemed to last forever, were considered wise as they were closest to the gods, hence many are found in Christian church yards to help ease those who have passed. At least six yews in Great Britain still exist from thousands of years ago. The birch is considered a pure tree and is useful in guarding against evil. Willow bark is a healing tree and an oak is strong.
It is impossible to talk about trees and not to mention ‘The Green Man’. He is the god of the wood, of nature and earth. He dwells within the trees and comes in many disguises. We see the green man in all folklore and stories passed down through the centuries. Robin Hood, a man with morals who lives within the green, helping those who cannot help themselves. The Ents, in Tolkien’s, Lord of the Rings, he is the ‘Wild Hunt’ in faerie folklore, he is the ‘hooded huntsman’ who wanders the woods protecting nature.
Trees and their wisdom.
Birch – A good beginning leads to a good conclusion
Rowan – Safe in the knowledge of protection
Alder – Defence keeps clear the territory
Willow – From harmony comes inspiration
Ash – Strength grows from deep roots
Hawthorn – Challenge opens the way before us
Oak – No one knows their fate
Holly – Energy fuels every action
Hazel – Seek wisdom in the depths
Apple – Vision lights the way ahead
Blackberry – Gather in what is dearest to you
Ivy – Strength comes from accepting support
Fern – Truth is the preserver of life
Blackthorn – Magic is everywhere
Elder – From sacrifice comes restoration
Scots Pine – Seek an overview
Gorse – Fertility wakes a fire in the mind
White Poplar – Animation is the pulse of life
Yew – Perseverance leads to achievement
Aspen – Gathered strength is strongest
Spindle – Destiny moves us to do great things
Honeysuckle – Wisdom hides in secret places
Beech – What lies beyond the threshold?
Taken from ‘The Green Man Tree Oracle’, by John Mathews
I would suggest closing your eyes and taking some deep breaths and when ready move your finger over the list on the screen and stop when ready. Whatever you’re closest to, even if it is more than one, know it is for you. If trees resonate with you, I would suggest purchasing this book and oracle cards – the wisdom and information is impressive.
So, although this blog is not spooky, though a wood after dark can be quite scary!! I urge you to connect with trees. Find one that grabs your attention. Sit beneath it or on it and breathe deeply. You many begin to feel a connection and ask it questions and listen to the answers that form in your head. Look after that tree and others. Clear rubbish, don’t carve into it or break off healthy branches. Talk to the tree sprites and leave them edible offerings or things that won’t infect the earth. I see people leaving ribbons and ties and bunches of flowers still left in the plastic wrapping – leave flowers, take away the plastic. Use your own strands of hair to leave as offerings, not ribbons or ties. Leave things personal to you that has your energy and see the difference. I occasionally offer strands of my hair which I plait (No more than a few strands by the way – not handfuls!!) as thanks for something achieved.
I look forward to hearing your tree experiences.
Shield maiden of the (s)word
Book title/genre: The Awakening – Embrace beyond Passion, Historical Fiction, sensual romance
Sarah Dahl lives on the edge of the rural German Eifel and writes historical fiction (novels and short stories) primarily set in the Viking age. She also works as an editor, translates, and coaches new writers in German and English. She is interested in everyday life in bygone centuries and the human stories that may have occurred behind the hard, historical facts. Her author page is: sarah-dahl.com
Blurb for collection Tales of Freya (of which The Awakening is the second, stand-alone story), and The Awakening:
In a world of crackling fires and rough landscapes, long winters and bloody raids, the immediacy of life and death ignites undeniable passions. Warriors and monks, healers and housewives — all follow the call of their hearts and bodies to indulge in pleasures that may forever change their lives.
Ingrid leads a quiet, joyless life with a husband who is oblivious to her needs. Every time the dragon boats carry him away, she resigns herself to the solitude of her modest hilltop farm by the fjord. But her uneventful world is shaken to the core when the shadows of her house reveal a secret that sets her passions afire.
Visit me at: sarah-dahl.com
Mailing list for Book Alert: http://bit.ly/2me4HWn
Tell us something unique about you
Hm. I can unhinge my jaw like a snake. But this only upsets my dentist. And I have an internal clock: It assesses the exact time of day with a deviation of just three minutes, most times. My eyes are a spirit level so that hubby can come ask me if something hangs level on the wall or not, which maybe stems from the painting years. But the most interesting is probably that I have worked in J.R.R. Tolkien’s office at UCD Dublin! To be told that he sat in my exact spot to write and examine students (and the room number remains a secret!) was quite a shock to the system and is a great motivation for today’s creative work!
OMG!!! You sound like an astounding woman! I am doubly honoured to have you as my guest x
Has writing changed you?
It’s not so much the regular “writing” that changed me, but the perception of myself as “a writer”. It is very satisfying to be able to say I’m a professional writer, not doing it in my spare time, but during office hours. To see myself like that, to tell people who ask “What do you do?” – “I’m an author” has changed my life. It is very much a deeply satisfying step to “be” a writer in my own and other people’s view. And it also is a great motivation for the daily grind: that I make myself sit down and work, every day, also stems from that perception. If it is my job, I have to do it. I cannot say I’m not in the mood, just like my husband can’t say he’s not in the mood for his job. Hence, the productivity and satisfaction increases further.
Absolutely agree. Writing is my job and i feel guilty if I have a break – my husband doesn’t always get one…
If you could be anything else, what would you be?
Apart from the fact that I don’t want to be anything else? Maybe a painter then. I love expressing my creativity on canvas or page. A painting is like a story, in a way, just much more immediate and faster to ‘get’. But writing is now my obsession, has become ‘me’. There’s nothing else that I feel happier with. But if I was forced: I’d like to be an archaeologist (Vikings), climatologist (Clouds! Storms! Natural disasters!) or biologist (just nature and its secrets).
Painting is one of my own wishes – I cannot draw but stare longingly at others who do!
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That was three years ago, when a magazine asked me to write a serialised novel for them to publish in monthly instalments. It started my German novel “Tilda & Leo – The Lion in the Rectory” and has been a great success as a paperback, too! I’m forever grateful that the editor-in-chief put his trust in me and supported me along the entire journey from monthly excerpts to paperback and readings that I am lucky to do now! Never ever would I have dreamed this to happen.
What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Do your homework. Don’t think the first story that your loved ones loved is brilliant (They always will love what you do, and most people cannot even imagine to finish a whole book, so their awe is real, but not objective). Just like a sportsman or artists in other fields, like a painter and his first painting, you can’t expect your first stories to be ‘up there’ and in the same league as more experienced authors. You need to practise, a lot. And input and the will to learn the craft. And to find your own unique ‘voice’ it takes years and years. All this cannot be acquired with mere talent and all on your own. Listen to criticism, be open for it.
What’s your next project?
The Tales of Freya are a collection of sensual short stories set in the Viking age. So after this second one, the third one is ready to go: “Monk” is about … well, a monk, being captured by a Viking and brought home to help his wife. But not in the way he anticipated and feared, and he doesn’t know what is worse then: that he was so totally wrong about what he thought his Viking capturers are like, or to see his oaths challenged. It’s a very daring story, the most daring for me to date. I still sweat at the initial hesitation I had to overcome until I could just write from the heart and not fear any prejudice and judgement. It has become a beautifully raw story with lots of passion and surprises.
Sounds intriguing – a monk and vikings…
What do you like to read in your free time?
For my genre I have to soak up everything there is about my chosen era, tirelessly. I read all the books – non-fiction preferably – and try to follow new discoveries in archaeology and linguistics, for example.
Of course, I read what my colleagues come up with, historical fiction in similar eras and settings, and I read other self-published authors who intrigue me and who I want to support. There are such gems out there, those who took the time to find their ‘voice’ and develop the craft … We should give them the recognition they deserve.
I would be honoured if you’d consider my own journey into the Vikings, ‘Freya’s Child’ as I intend to read yours… I have pre-ordered it.
When I read hard, historical facts, in a museum or on site, I imagine what it “must have been like”. One striking example that I read is that Vikings did expose their unwanted children to nature to let them die. There’s an abundance of possible personal stories behind such a find! Out of this snippet from a text in the Viking museum at Hedeby became the flash fiction “Maelstrom” you can read for free on my website.
And this example also explains the What inspires you? (often the research itself)
What role does research play in your writing?
Research is the vital basis! Who writes in a certain era has to know the details. It needs a lot of passion and commitment to dive that deeply into a time period that one is able to write without thinking much about “What it was like then”. For me, the German (back then Danish) Haithabu/Hedeby Viking town and museum is my favourite place to go and immerse myself into Viking spirit. It conjures up new story ideas, and deepens/solves older ones. Situated at the estuary of the Slien, the ages-old site is still in its original place, one of very few, and still embraced by the protective earthen mound’s half-circle, as it was then. It’s setting for many of my stories. Some of the Viking townhouses have been restored and make up a tiny settlement now, where once over 1,000 people from all over the world lived together. The interiors of these houses play a central role in my story The Awakening, too. A hanging shelf, a smoke-blackened roof, sheepskins or the bobbing of an empty rowing boat tell stories.
I take long strolls there. To be standing high on the mound, face in the harsh winds and looking at the vast flatness below, across the re-erected pier and the grey, windswept water, over the houses they revived, the landscape and sea-level fairly similar to ancient times, is just magical. Just soaking up atmosphere, I walk out onto the rough pier and imagine a long row of ships of all sizes. The long-gone stalls and shouting of people and the noise and stink. With a 180-degree turn, I take in the entire landscape that must have looked similar then, and which I can grasp today still, to bring alive in my stories.
So research is historical truth mingling with imagination. When I drive home, I’m always overflowing with creativity. Hedeby is my place of inspiration and not just mere research. It says so much about the normal people of 1,000 years ago, I find it easy to come up with fascinating stories that ‘could’ have happened then.
Sounds wonderful, perhaps one day my interest in Vikings will see my cross the sea and venture where they thrived.
Thank you so much for being my guest. It is always a pleasure meeting new authors, but especially one who shares the interest of Vikings. 🙂
Whether you believe in them or not, Angels have been around since the earth began. They have been written about in many books and they appear in many forms, but what are they? Many religions have made references to ‘angelic beings’ but angels don’t belong to any one belief system. They work with any spiritual path, they are universal archetypes though the traditional idea of angels comes from Judaism, Islam and Christianity, the Monotheism religions – meaning, they believe in one God. Polytheistic religions/beliefs means many gods and the ‘angels’ may appear differently, perhaps without wings. Pantheistic believe that God is everywhere and they work with angels along with the various Gods and Goddesses.
So who are the angels? We all have Guardian angels that help us through life continuously from the moment we’re born to our death and beyond. Guardian angels protect us, guide us and keep us safe while we travel our life. But, if we don’t ask for help, they won’t force it on us – we have free will. We always have a minimum of two on either side and more angels are sent if we have asked for extra help and support.
Archangels are the supervisors of all the angelic realms. They oversee everything and they are very powerful, loving beings. They each have specific roles and you can call on any of them to help with particular matters.
Ariel – Protects our physical needs such as money, homes, material support. Aids in environmental support and the healing of animals.
Azreal – Helps departed souls on their journey and supports the grieving people left behind.
Chamuel – This is the finding angel. Bringing you what you are seeking and easing anxiety.
Gabriel – Helps writers, teachers, parents in their work and childbirth and raising our children.
Haniel – Helps to heal women during menstruation and in general. Aids clairvoyance.
Jeremiel – Helps with our emotions, aiding forgiveness and supports us on our healing path, creating positive change.
Jophiel – Heals negative and emotional situations, lifting negative energies and beautifying our environments.
Metatron – Heals learning disorders, supports children, especially those with special needs, Indigo children.
Micheal – Releases our fears and doubts, protects us from ourselves and others whilst also clearing away negativity, bringing forth courage and strength.
Raguel – Brings harmony to relationships and heals past emotional wounds to help bring forth a peaceful life.
Raphael – Heals the mind, body and soul and guides healers.
Raziel – Helping blockages spiritual and mental, helping us get clarity in our lives. Also aids dream interpretations and past life memory.
Sandalphon – Helps heal aggressive behaviours and musicians with bringing their comforting sounds to help people heal.
Uriel – Aids wisdom in our life and helps give us insights and new idea’s to help our path become fulfilled.
Zadkiel – Helps with mental issues and blockages, aiding our memories and also helps release us from lower energies, raising our vibrations.
The angels have many ways of letting us know they are with us. Through our dreams, they can give us a symbolic something, it could be a broom to brush away any negative energy, objects, people that surround you, lowering your own energies, creating unhealthy habits. Perhaps a rainbow to clear and cleanse your life following an emotional disturbance. There are too many to go through, but they include, feathers, many people see white feathers awake and in their dreams. Cups, boxes, an animal guide, colours, wings, a loving embrace – anything that can help you in your life. If you dream of something, look it up and see if it resonates with you. Listen to your gut feelings and believe that you are loved and guided.
As well as Guardians and Archangels, we also have Powers, virtues, dominions, thrones, cherubs, seraphim and principalities, though these are not as involved with us and the earth as the first two.
Angels come in many forms. I personally see flashes of light to let me know angels are with me. Others see beings, with or without wings, usually translucent, beautiful and awe-inspiring to look at. They have no skin so no colourings, but they glow in their colours of energy. They have no gender, though some of their qualities seem to convey either feminine or masculine qualities. They come in all shapes and sizes, from tall and majestic to tiny cherub babies, though as yet, I am not confident that they have tiny bows and arrows to promote love between two people!!
To connect with your angels, sit quietly and invite them to come into your life, make their presence known and ask for guidance with a problem and look for the signs they will show you. Most times, we don’t trust what we feel. Our head takes over in our busy lives and we ignore the ‘gut feeling’. Learn to quieten your mind and truly listen. Don’t question the answer, just trust it and see what happens.
I could write so much on angels, but there are so many books out there that can guide you. I would always recommend, Doreen Virtue books and meditation CD, that have personally helped me open my eyes and my heart.
May I wish you joy and love on your journey and I sincerely hope you find what you are seeking to bring you peace in your life. Be kind to everyone, be compassionate, find your humanity and spread love, not anger.
P. N Burrows
Book Title: Mineran Influence
Genre: Science Fiction
Born in England and raised in Wales, I started my working life on a farm in the glorious rural Welsh countryside. I retrained to become an IT Consultant and having spent thousands on Microsoft, CompTIA and Cisco qualifications; I also obtained a contract to run and teach at a Cisco Academy in England. After this, I became a small business IT Advisor for WCBC and the Welsh Government. As this funding dried up, I retrained as a Business Advisor and have since helped thousands of people start up their own businesses.
In my leisure time, I work my way through a comprehensive bucket list with my Fiancée, Cath. This has caused us great delight as we have attended various courses and fun days out, such as beekeeping, pottery making, stained glass making, painting course, cooking courses, hawk walks, animal experiences, quad biking, gorge walking and much more. Our favourite one is learning to dance. This activity has remained with us and will hopefully do so for the rest of our lives. We can do a reasonable Waltz, collapse in laughter trying the Viennese Waltz, but it is the 1920’s Lindy Hop that we have fallen in love with. After three years of dancing, we still attend regular dance classes and events.
Strangely, for an ex-geek, my favourite gadget is my Italian Marcato pasta machine. I love real, unprocessed food and my freshly made pasta with a home cooked sauce is amazing.
I have always enjoyed reading, and in my early teenage years, I read authors ranging from Harry Harrison to HG Wells. Later in life, I turned to thriller writers such as the 3 C’s; Clancy, Cussler and Child. Also, I will always have a Pratchett book on my phone for light reading. His imagination was and always will be, inspiring. I have wanted to write the Mineran Series for several years prior to actually starting and with the encouragement from Cath, who has suffered my many varied, imaginative pranks over the years, I have begun.
Short synopsis of book:
Sam, an ex-soldier who is trying to rediscover himself after twenty years of service, unwittingly stumbles upon a mysterious alien presence in rural Wales. He is drawn into a tangled web of intrigue, pitting him against forces bent on destruction and putting his life in peril. Feeling mentally eroded by his time in the army and having worked hard to overcome this, he is thrust upon an alien journey that will change his life and beliefs in a profound way.
Claims of benevolence are only the beginning of the mysteries he’ll have to unravel as doubt and mistrust haunt him. He will have to form unlikely alliances in order to fathom the mysteries at the secret Mineran enclave, where intrigue, deception and imminent danger reside.
His journey for answers will introduce him to pernicious enemies with hidden agendas, as a heinous plot to kill him unravels. Can he defeat his personal demons to secure justice and discover the truth of who or what is behind the nefarious machinations and why?
Why do you write?
I love to read, in many genres, but I have to confess that since I have been writing my science fiction series that I have not read that genre since. For me writing is allowing my imagination to run wild, I enjoy the research that I have to do and the things that I learn. Each book has truthful snippets of information about the diversity of life on our planet that have intrigued me and will make you wonder.
I find writing exhilarating, often compulsive and sometimes the ideas flow faster than I can accurately type. I have had several parking tickets as I eagerly typed away on my iPad, sipping strong black coffee in some cafe. My major problem with writing is finding the time and the correct mindset. As a website designer for book authors and a business advisor, I find that if I use the logical part of my brain to create that I can not write that day or the next.
What was the incentive to start writing:
I had tried to write the first book on a couple of occasions over the years, the rough drafts still linger on my old computer somewhere. Last year the urge to write became stronger and once I was at 30,000 words I became confident enough to confess my deeds to my fiancee cath. With her encouragement, I continued.
What reactions do you get from your nearest and dearest regarding your writing?
Cath, my fiancee has been instrumental in the continuation of my work, her belief in my ability to write, gave me the courage to continue. She is brutally honest and supplies constructive comments, but on the whole, she loves the story line and the characters. She does joke that she now sleeps with one eye open, because of the scary stuff in my head.
What made you choose that genre?
I grew up reading Sci-Fi, as a child one of the first books I bought myself was a H G Wells omnibus. Space is the last frontier for humans to explore (well, except the deepest part of the oceans, underground and the deepest recesses of a woman’s handbag) and it allows the author to develop new concepts, species and worlds. The trick is to do this while keeping it within the bounds of today’s expectations; it has to be believable. The challenge is formidable and enticing at the same time, if I can come away from a writing session thinking ‘How the heck did did I think that up?’ I know it’s been a good Day.
What advice would you give other authors?
I started my book in isolation and used a big name self-publishing company to produce it in ebook. The fact that I was not part of a writing community meant I believed everything the self-publishing company told me; this journey cost much in time, effort and money. Finding a local writing group and speaking to other authors, writers, poets and artists, either published or un-published, was a revelation. I have since pulled my book from them and self-published via Createspace with the aid of TeamAuthorUk.co.uk
So my advice would be to find a group or two and become an active member, your local library will have the contact details.
Book 1: Mineran Influence
Book 2: Mineran Conflict (Due out in Feb)
Book 3: Mineran Assault (Due late 2017)
Fantastic, thank you Phil for being my guest. I have never attempted a Sci-fi book having never really enjoyed Star Wars or Star Trek in my youth. I will have to expand my mind one day!
Slips in Time
I have always been fascinated by these phenomena, ever since I first read of two incidents in the 19th century, as a child. Firstly, a man named James Worson of Warwickshire, England, was challenged by his friends to run a 40 mile marathon in the dead of night. So, on September 3rd 1873, he set off with his friends following behind. The first few miles went well, but suddenly, James seemed to pitch forward, as though he’d stumbled. He gave a blood-curdling scream and disappeared before his body touched the ground.
His friends were stunned and searched the area, but no trace of James could be found. They quickly reported his disappearance to the authorities and searched the scene with police and scouts for many hours. The body of James was never found.
This story first appeared in the book, Present at a Hanging and Other Ghost Stories, written by Bierce.
My second story is centred on a farmer, named David Lang, who in September 1880, disappeared in front of his wife, his two children and two visitors that happened to be driving up the driveway in their horse and buggy, a lawyer and his brother-in-law.
David Lang was standing in the middle of his field. His wife could see him from the porch and his children were playing nearby. As David turned to greet his guests, he disappeared in mid-step, right in front of them. His wife’s screams filled the air and the two men searched the area immediately. A strange burnt circle was found on the ground where he disappeared and it was said that nothing would grow within some distance of the area. No animals would go near it and supposedly, one of his children wandered into the circle and could hear her father’s cries for help, until they eventually faded away.
No body was ever found and Mrs Lang never recovered from the experience. The field was never used again, until after her death.
Both of these stories have never been validated, in fact, no David Lang or his family have ever been found to own that particular farm – but hey, a damn fine story nonetheless!
As a child, these two stories fired my imagination. Could there really be time slips and parallel universes?
I believe that I have experienced something similar.
Many years ago, I had a beloved dog, Barnaby, a black and white Labrador cross. We went everywhere together and walked daily. One day, I took a friend to one of my favourite places in Wales, Pityll Rhaedre – the tallest waterfall in Wales. It can be found at the end of a long, single lane track, surrounded by hills and woods and moors. Trails in all directions lead you out on the moor or through the woods. My friend was busy with her photography, so I decided to stroll awhile alone. I felt at ease here, in nature, always had. And was aware of eyes upon me and knew the place to be sacred with various energies, some good, and some bad.
As I walked, Barnaby ran ahead as usual. The day was blue skies, sunny, with a slight October chill. As I rounded a track, I could see Barnaby standing, looking at me. He was perhaps fifteen feet away, but something about him made me stop. He was perfectly still, as though frozen and his eyes were different, not the brown, loving eyes I knew, but something dark and threatening. He was no longer black and white, but all black and bigger, more like a Rottweiler, a big one.
I stepped slowly closer and became aware of a sudden stillness. Nothing moved. No leaves, no branch, no birds, nothing. The area I knew so well seemed odd, different, but the same. It’s hard to describe, but I knew I had stepped into another space, dimension, call it what you will, but that was not my dog watching me and I was no longer in present day Wales.
The moment lasted a minute, perhaps less, then as if a switch had been flicked, Barnaby seemed to shiver, shook himself and came bounding over to me whining. My legs gave way and together we huddled into each other for a few minutes as I fought for breath and my body to stop shaking.
I walked back towards the waterfall, the cafe and people and sighed with relief when I saw I was still in my own time. My friend still clicking away as she had been when I left half an hour before, though she did say I hadn’t been gone long. I asked her how long I’d been gone – she said no more than five possibly ten minutes – but I knew I’d been gone at least half an hour. Was this perceived time? Had my friend merely lost half an hour in her joy of photography, or had I really only been gone for five minutes – in her time? We may never know, but I do know for sure, I had stepped into something else. A faerie realm? A space between times? I don’t know.
Time slips happen frequently and in the most unlikely of places. A well documented one that happens to people is in Liverpool city of all places, in Bond Street. People have claimed to step backwards to the 1950’s or 60’s and one lady experienced even later, the 19th century. All for just a few brief seconds, but enough to cause confusion at what they are actually seeing. (I used this within Between Worlds, along with the two 19th century stories.)
During my research I found many interesting experiences by various people of all walks of life and have concluded that there is more to our universe than man can ever allow himself to understand or believe. Energy is everything. Energy has a way of finding a way through and if someone is present during this breakthrough, then they may experience something wonderfully scary.
Faeries – Tinkerbell or not?
(I actually have this picture on my bedroom wall – I did the jigsaw – love it!)
Now, we’ve all heard of little Tinkerbell in Peter Pan and she’s small and dainty and glows, but is this the real way that faeries are? I grew up with the magical, colourful pictures and poetry of Cicely Mary Barker whose The complete book of Flower Faeries inspired me to write my own stories when my daughter was small. Adventures of Faerie folk is now available in the world of Amazon.
By Alan Jones
However, there was another book titled Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee that portrayed faeries in quite another way. These faeries were almost always naked and the various types of supernatural beings were on occasion frightening and menacing. They created a whole different attitude towards the faerie realm and where one MUST be careful at all times.
Faeries within the world of Cicely are fairly typical. They each have their own flower, nut or berry to protect and they live within nature. Whether they interact with humans is never certain, but there’s a nice, twee feel to each faerie, that they care for life and have important jobs to do within this world.
Faeries can also be portrayed as nasty little creatures, who happily carry off babies, leaving behind their own child in its place, a changeling. This creature is sick and hideous according to stories, and many hundreds of years ago when changelings were believed to exist without any doubts, parents would be convinced that their child was a changeling if it was born a sickly child and they would leave it out in the woods, hoping the faeries would take it back and return their healthy babe. Of course, the child died from exposure, but the parents believed their child to be living a life in the faerie realm instead.
Along with faeries there are pixies, goblins, trolls, dwarfs, elf, (though this was considered the old word for faerie) I suppose even ‘Hobbits’ are now considered a type of supernatural being?!
Nobody really knows how faeries came into being. There are many version of how they came into our belief system. Some believe they came from Eve, others they came from the corpse of the giant Ymir, others that they are fallen angels. Wherever they came from, they have been in existence as long as man has walked the earth.
I believe they are light beings, energy from Mother nature who help and guide us if we ask. I believe that I was honoured to see an elemental in one of my healing classes. A very bright ball of light, zipped around one lady in the group, before vanishing. I feel blessed to have witnessed that, whatever it was.
So, where can you find faeries? Faerie rings are dangerous places to be near at dawn and dusk, apparently. Do not step within the circle or you could be whisked off to the realm of the faeries. What may seem like only minutes to you, can in fact be many years of our time. Faerie land can be within a hill, within a wood, ancient circles, earthworks, forts and barrows are all considered places where a faerie realm may dwell.
So, if you are ever invited by a strange being to visit a faerie hill, do not do so lightly. Never eat or drink anything offered, and do not accept a kiss, as all of these things can prevent you from returning to your own world.
So, if you do believe in faeries, you can create an alter for them, using anything from nature, include tea lights, feathers, flowers, a figure of a faerie. Never ever have anything with lead in it. You can have the alter inside or out, and remember to put out cake, honey and milk on occasions if asking for their healing.
Happy blessings to you faeries.
My next lovely guest is
Marie Anne Cope
Book Title: Bonds
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Marie Anne Cope is the author of Bonds, Broken Bonds and Tales From A Scarygirl and Creator of the blog Scary Ramblings
I’ve lived in North Wales for the past decade, having moved from the city with my job, and I have fallen completely in love with it. The scenery, the places and the people have been a soothing balm to my hectic city life.
Writing is who I am and I am often asked where I get my ideas from. Whilst I have a vast stock of stories hidden in the deep dark recesses of my mind, I always advise budding writers to keep their eyes open and pay attention. After all, the inspiration for Bonds came from something cold and dark lurking at the back of a country church!
Bonds is the first of four novels, centred on the unusual relationship between Becca Martin and Antony Cardover. I continue the gripping story in Broken Bonds and the third instalment – Bonds: Re-Bound – is being created by the voices in my head.
My current project is something a little bit different, although still supernatural. With The Misfits, I am changing genres to that of children as I introduce four friends – Achoo, Mina, Boo and Zoe – who are finding it difficult to live up to what is expected of them as, respectively, a werewolf, a vampire, a ghost and a zombie.
Bonds reached the quarter-final of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2012.
In October 2013, Tales From a Scarygirl, a collection my short horror stories, hit the shelves and included the individually published Three Silver Bullets and Sheer Hell.
Short synopsis of book:
Set in both the 17th century and the modern day, Bonds is a dark fantasy novel which tells the story of Becca Martin’s struggle to accept her birthright as a witch and Antony Cardover’s battle to break his vampire curse. The two are linked together by Isabella Cardover, Antony’s adulterous wife and Becca’s ancestor. To break his curse, Antony must destroy Becca. To save herself, Becca must use her gift of the Craft. Only one of them can survive…
Towards the end of the 17th century, Antony Cardover has slaughtered most of the village of Breccan, seeking vengeance for his wife Isabella’s betrayal. Anna Martindale, Isabella’s mother and a practising witch, is the only one who can stop him. Antony can only be stopped by breaking the curse, but the curse can only be broken by Antony destroying Isabella and all her descendants. In an attempt to break the curse, Antony realises the truth too late, just as Anna’s spells condemn him to a stone sarcophagus buried in consecrated ground for eternity.
In the present, Becca Martin starts her first day at the new Ramply Homes site of St Martin’s Church, in the grounds of which Antony resides. Soon Becca is haunted by visions and nightmares that leave her wounded and afraid. The desecration of the church has weakened the spells and people start to die as Antony breaks free.
To find answers, Becca visits her estranged mother, where she discovers the truth about her ancestry and is forced to face up to whom and what she is. Only a small wooden box and her gift of the Craft hold the key to her survival.
Why do you write?
I often get asked this and it puzzles me as, for me, it should be ‘why wouldn’t I write?’ I write because I have a burning desire to tell my tales, to share with the world the stories that my mind creates. To be lost in my fantasy world is the place I most enjoy being and a place I want to share with others. It’s as simple as that.
I understand that Marie. Imagination is a wonderful gift we as writers can access every day!
What made you choose that genre?
I’m not sure which came first – my dark imagination or my introduction to horror movies at an early age. I used to love watching Dr Phibes and Hammer Horror with my dad and fell in love with vampires when I watched Frank Langella play Dracula. I find the supernatural intriguing, romantic, mysterious and deadly, and this leads the voices in my head to weave wonderful tales designed to send shivers down the spine of my readers. I love to hear that my stories have created fear, but more importantly, like the girl in the horror movie who always walks into a dark basement, I love to hear that, despite this fear, they continue on their journey.
Girl power! We feel the fear and do it anyway – not always for he best!!
If you could be anything else – what would you be?
That’s easy. I would build up my business as a yoga teacher and teach full time. People are always amazed when they meet me, and learn I also teach yoga, that I write horror and dark fantasy. Apparently, I don’t look the ‘type’. I like that. I also don’t believe there is a ‘type’.
Not sure what ‘type’ I fit into? I used to do morris dancing with big sticks and blackened face with bells all over me! People couldn’t believe I had the discipline to write every day!!
If you could go back in time to when you first began writing, what advice would you give yourself?
I would tell myself to believe in myself and not allow others to make me believe I shouldn’t be writing the sort of things I like to write.
Only once did I choose to write down a story, as a child. It was the tale of a severed arm being found washed up on the shore. It was dramatised by graphic drawings and heavily influenced by a certain movie I wasn’t supposed to have watched.
I was rapped on the knuckles and told never to write anything like that again. I never did. Not a word. Not for over fifteen years.
Why did I start again? Which of the voices in my head can claim credit for restoring my storytelling? I cannot say, for fear the others may fall silent. Suffice it to say the stories came thick and fast, once the dam had burst.
By the way, the teacher who told me never to write ‘such horrid things again’ is now one of my biggest fans!
There will always be people who put you down, people who’ve been there and done that, people who can do it better than you. Or, so they say.
It’s human nature (for most of us) to believe the criticism, to believe we’re not good enough or not talented enough. As Julia Roberts says in Pretty Woman ‘the bad stuff is easier to believe.’
But, there are more people who believe in you and these are the voices to let in. More importantly, listen to your inner voice, your inner strength – your gut. It will tell you whether you have what it takes.
Always remember, it’s not how many times you fall that matters, but how many times you pick yourself up and try again. This is the key to success.
Love this – agree completely – though it is hard sometimes to keep believing
What advice would you give other authors?
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t/shouldn’t do something. If you have a dream, follow it. For me, if you don’t have a dream or a goal in life, you have nothing.
Dreams have brought so much change, so much difference to the world we live in and many of them we now take for granted. Innovation always starts with that nugget of a dream. The telephone was once a dream of Alexander Graham Bell and nowadays we would be lost without it!
If it’s your dream, if it’s what you’re good at, if it’s what you love, if it’s where your heart lies – go for it! Never look back and say ‘what if’. Always look back and say ‘I gave it my best shot’.
Don’t allow others to put/drag you down. They are only projecting their own failings and broken dreams onto you. Become resilient, become thick skinned. Cry on the inside if you need to, but the face you present to the world always smiles. There will be those who criticize, but don’t let this derail you. Focus on the positives and on the voices that sing your praises. Most of all, as I said earlier, believe in yourself.
Author and Creator of Scarygirl
E Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also access my blog, facebook page and twitter via my websitewww.marieannecope.co.uk
My next guest author is a lovely lady I had the pleasure of meeting. A fantastic storyteller.
Book Title: Astronaut Lamby
Genre: Children’s picture book
Short Bio: Jude Lennon is a former Early Years teacher who now works as a Storyteller under the name Little Lamb Tales. She tells stories at Primary schools, community events, festivals and libraries. Jude is also a children’s writer and is the current Disney Winnie the Pooh Laureate for the North West.
Jude has published three children’s books The Dragon of Allerton Oak, The Toffee Lady (a special commission for Everton Football Club) and Astronaut Lamby, the first in a series of books about Lamby.
Jude is currently working with the family of Bobby Colleran (Slow Down for Bobby) on a book that promotes road safety for children across Liverpool. She is also releasing Glad To Be Dan a book about mindfulness for children with Jo Howarth from the Happiness Club and a bi-lingual book which explores the Day of the Dead Festival in Mexico with Kelly Thornhill from Latin Adventures.
She is also part of the Team Author UK team which helps independent writers with all aspects of self-publishing.
Short synopsis of book:
“Astronaut Lamby is ready to go,
He’s in his rocket, the engine’s aglow…”
Join Lamby as he whizzes through the stars, lands on the moon and meets a rock which is not as it seems.
Why do you write? For me, writing is as essential as breathing. I love to read, I love listening to and telling stories and I love to write. The three things are linked and are so much a part of who I am that I can’t imagine getting through a day without doing all of them at some point.
I absolutely understand this Jude. To stop writing is like asking me not to breathe
What was the incentive to start writing: As long as I can remember I have written! And then throughout my teaching career in Early Years I was constantly writing stories and poems for the children. I would write the Christmas plays, class assemblies, make up jingles for tidy up time and special occasions. I decided to start ‘writing for real’ when a former colleague Gerard Durcan suggested I try to get some of my work published. I haven’t looked back…
Fantastic! I began writing stories as a young girl for children. Mine centered around a magical zoo – maybe one day I’ll re-do them? Children soak up a good story don’t they?
Who is your favourite character and why? Sticking with children’s books, I love Meg from the Meg and Mog books. She’s such a disastrous witch but there is something lovely about her. She never gives up. I can relate to her bad spell disasters as they are reminiscent of my attempts with the cooking pot…
I LOVED Mog!! Called one of my faeries Meggie Mog in honour of my daughter and Mog the cat!! Same wonderful generation it seems!
Grown up books- I have a real soft spot for the Scarlett O’Hara. She know what she wants, she’s determined, feisty and stubborn. This is a book I can return to again and again.
Never read the book, but loved the film!
What reactions do you get from your nearest and dearest regarding your writing? They are all very proud of me and encourage me with all my creative pursuits. Although it was a shock to my close family when I left education, I don’t think they were very surprised that my new career should have storytelling and writing at the heart of it. My partner Dom is very supportive and as he is Musician he understands the creative process. I think it’s really helpful to be surrounded by people who understand.
Wonderful. Makes life so much easier doesn’t it. x
What advice would you give other authors? Read, read, read! Write something every day. Keep a notebook by your bed. Go on writing courses and join writing groups. Enter competitions. Enjoy it! If you and your partner are both creative DO NOT have your launch dates within a month of each other – it’s exhausting!
LOL!! I agree with the reading and writing – if you love it – do it!
Thank you so much Jude for being my guest. It’s wonderful to know other authors and to meet you, even briefly, gave me focus to keep going. Enjoy the adventure xx 🙂
UFO’s – Unidentified Flying Objects – Apparently?
Now, for me, that title is wrong. Things we have been seeing in the skies over many decades are identified, they are not unknown, but okay, they are flying – or are they hovering? Am I being pedantic?! There are some great and visually interesting video’s out there on youtube of hovering crafts that disappear in a flash of light – intriguing indeed. I am one of millions who is convinced that they have seen, something, be it a hovering craft, a silent Frisbee looking thing or a black triangular mass that is able to go at such speeds it defies the mind. OR are they merely incredible cloud formations and our minds do the rest? Is it Mother Nature’s biggest joke?
My experience, was many years ago in the hills of Wales, my country. I had walked up a hill, very late at night, to sit among a stone circle and mediate with Mother Nature. I was not alone. We had been there perhaps fifteen minutes or so when we looked up into the clear black sky to marvel at the array of stars when we noticed three pinpricks of light moving within those stars, but lower. We watched as they came nearer, until they were almost hovering above us but too high to reach up and touch – I know, I tried. By this time they were in a triangular formation and glowed bright white of about tennis ball size. Abruptly, they moved, actually, they zoomed off and up, moving so fast, we couldn’t keep up with them, then we’d see them further in the sky, then they’d move left, right, zipping around the night sky, always in a triangular shape, but it is impossible for me to tell you how big as it changed and it was too far away.
This dance lasted about ten minutes or so, before they shot into the stars and disappeared from our sight.
We sat for a very long time hoping they would return – they did not. We eventually stood, a little shaken and made our way back to the car a mile away. My legs shook from adrenalin and the knowledge that I had witnessed something in the sky that was beautiful and I had had the privilege to see it. In this case, I cannot tell you what they were, merely balls of energy that worked together, for whatever purpose – in this, it is unidentified. Or where they part of something larger? Coming to feel the energy of the stone circle perhaps? Some believe that the circles are maps for beings who can see them from the sky – remember the great drawings on the earth – the Nazca lines of Peru – they can be seen from the surrounding hills, but also the sky – who reads them?
I do believe that the governments around the world are not so vague; they know exactly what these flying objects are and have done for some time. I do believe aliens walk among us and have been observing our destruction of Mother Earth. They do not come from ‘outer space’, but ‘inner space’. Dimensions within, that we have no understanding of, and yet, spiritually, we touch it every day – perhaps?
I do not believe in monsters, except those human beings who bring destruction on others. I do not believe in reptiles taking the skin of those in power and walking among us to eventually destroy the world – human beings are doing a pretty good job of that on their own.
I would love to hear your experiences and your opinions of aliens and UFO. Add a comment or contact me via contact page.
Take care of yourselves and each other, for are we not all unique and capable of such beautiful actions. P.J
My next fabulous guest author is:
When and why did you begin writing?
I started to write only recently. I had my nose in a book since I was a child, and whilst seeing my name in print was on my bucket-list, I never thought to actually go and do something about it.
I had the idea for a fantasy detective story and for the particular twist ending for a while. Then one hot night in January 2015 my wife complained that she had nothing good left to read, so I just sat down and started writing. And I didn’t stop until I finished the novel.
That’s a fantastic incentive to write a book! My husband gives me great idea’s and plots, but I’ll get to them when I’ve run out of my own idea’s! I tell him to write his own.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably by the time I finished the first draft. By then it was obvious that I’m fully committed to it. It actually didn’t take me long to finish the first draft. I started out with the idea of the novel, the basic premise of the mystery (and the all-important twist at the end), and set myself a goal to write every day. Most days I met and exceeded my target word count, so I was done in about four months.
After that came the lengthy editing process of course. To counter it, I started a few short stories as I was working on the novel. They are all based on the same character and world, just smaller mysteries.
And the best feeling ever, when it all finally sunk in, was when I finally got a paperback copy. Seeing my name in print has been a life-long dream, so it was quite a sense of achievement and pride.
I know what you mean Assaph, it really is quite a feeling of achievement isn’t it 🙂
Is it true that your Protagonist, Felix, is named after your cat?
Yes, it’s true. ‘Felix’ in Latin means lucky, and it fits both my cat and my protagonist. Besides, it was past midnight and I needed to come up with a Roman name for my character. My cat was already there, helping me write, so he got first honours:
His sister, Tiger-lily, was more involved in the editing process, as an over-the-shoulder tough critic:
My cats curl up on my lap or insist on getting in the way sometimes as loving them is much more important than my writing – apparently!!
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?
My “genre” is the Historically-themed Urban High-Fantasy Hoard-boiled Detective (with a splash of Horror). I write in this, simply because that’s what I enjoy reading. I grew up on sci-fi and fantasy as well as classic detectives. I’ve always been partial to historical fiction, particularly that set in ancient Rome.
When it came time to write, I wrote what felt the most natural way to tell the story. This happened to be a story of a private detective solving a murder case, and set in a fantasy world inspired by ancient Rome. I worried less about the box it would fit in, and more about the integrity of the story and the world.
Gosh – that’s quite a mouthful of genre! I like it!
What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre that isn’t so?
I’d say that the over-arching genre category for my novels is historical fantasy. It is a blend of well research historical period and fantastical elements. However this goes on to almost all fantasy, as many fantasy works are based on historical periods (particularly Western Medieval).
I see a tendency to perceive the daily lives of people through the popular depictions in movies and other media, which is largely based on 19th century Romanticism. This view has been rejected by historians as biased and largely inaccurate, but it is still very prevalent in the popular consciousness. It always saddens me to see “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” by Gibbon as a good source material.
It goes from aspects of daily life to overall historical processes.
Nobody since ancient Greek times thought the Earth was flat. The Catholic Church was not against new knowledge. People drank clean water and understood basic hygiene. Warriors in armour could still run and jump. Armies fought in formation not like a herd of berserkers. Rome didn’t “fall”. There are now simple and neat explanations to complex historical situations.
Love the ‘Roman era’. If I can ignore what they did to my Celtic people – of course!
What is the most important thing that people DON’T know about your subject/genre that they need to know?
Exactly how much research it takes to write good historical fantasy. You have (almost) all the research requirements of historical fiction, and top of that you still have to do all the fantasy world building.
The results, when done properly, can be very gratifying though. Truth, as the saying goes, is stranger than fiction. The richness of the real world can lend an incredible depth to a fantasy world.
I understand that. Research properly and the story almost writes itself as history is full of its own adventures.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer and how does that affect your writing?
Part time. I write mostly late at night, after everyone is asleep and the house is quiet. I seem to be doing my best writing past midnight.
I do have this three-step plan to make writing a full time job:
- Publish book
- Get movie deal
- Buy small island
So far the plan is ticking along beautifully J
I understand the first two – but an island? A well stocked and easily accessable one …?!
What have you written so far?
Murder In Absentia is my first full-length novel. After publishing it, and whilst working on the second Felix mystery, I publish short stories on my blog here: http://egretia.com/short-stoires.
They are just smaller cases, which Felix gets to investigate and resolve quickly. They make for a great introduction into the historical fantasy world of Egretia, and to Felix’s unique style.
Do you work to an outline or plot sketch, or do you prefer to let a general idea guide your writing?
Somewhere in between. I have the all-important plot concept and twist ready when I start. I usually have a rough idea of what needs to happen along the way, at least at a high level. But a lot of the magic happens when I actually come to write a scene or a chapter.
It is almost like having a conversation with my protagonist. I present him with a problem, he tells me what he’d like to do to investigate it, and we take it on from there. I have my evil plans for his future, and he’s doing his damned best to get the job done.
What are some ways in which you promote your work?
As a first time indie author, my primary focus is on reviews. These form the basis of everything else, from Amazon and Goodreads recommendations, to selection into premium programs.
To get the initial reviews was a very personal and intensive process. Reaching out and connecting with potential readers, handing out review copies and following up. My book’s Amazon reviews and ranking are doing really well, so I am starting to ease up on this and hand it over to the more automated processes like BookBub. This in turn frees me to have more time to write the next novel – and having further novels is a key to long term success.
That said, I am always up for more reviews J If anyone is interested, they can reach out to me through Twitter and Facebook.
Reviews can be hard to come by from good, honest readers. I think it is one of the most frustrating of writing books – when you know people have said they loved it to your face and promise to review – but never do – heart-wrenching moments 🙁
How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?
I love the feel of paperback but they cannot compete with the ease of e-readers. Being able to carry my library in my pocket, having it completely backed up, having the dictionary literally at my fingertips as I read. For me it makes reading a lot easier.
As for conventional vs alternative publishing, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of that. Traditional publishers will have to drastically rethink the way that they provide services, in ways similar to what the rest of the media industry is undergoing (music, movies etc). They are the last bastion of old style media, and their hold on reality and the market is fading.
Now I’m the other way – hate e-readers – I have a book on my husbands, but hate reading it – no feel to it! but love the feel and smell of a book – even better if it’s a great read!
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
It just takes a lot of perseverance to finish the first draft. And then to edit it. And then edit again. And then publish. And then market. Just stick to it, do a little bit every day, and eventually good things happen.
I’ve also written an article for Lifehacker with some other tips, about how to write, edit, publish and market books (when going through the self-publishing route). You can find it here: http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2015/12/the-complete-guide-to-writing-your-first-novel/
But to provide the key takeaway for each main stage:
- Writing: Just do it. A little bit, but every day. Keep at it, until you finish that draft.
- Publishing: Never skimp on a good editor and a professional cover art. The difference they make is huge.
- Marketing: Start with reviews, build up to automated processes as you grow. It’s a job for the long haul, not overnight fame.
Agreed – never give up if it is truly what brings you joy x
Can you share with readers a little bit about your latest book?
Quite simply, Murder In Absentia is the story I always wanted to read. I loved historical fiction about ancient Rome since the first time I read Asterix. I’ve read a lot of classic sci-fi and fantasy in my youth, as well as classic detectives. Lately I’ve read a lot Roman detective mysteries, like those of Steven Saylor and Lindsey Davis. So when it came time to write, I knew exactly what I wanted.
The story itself is a classic noir detective. A young man dies, his powerful family wants to know why. Felix goes after the people responsible, and gets drawn into a little circle of nasty people. What makes this story unique – besides the very surprising plot twists – is the setting. The melding of Ancient Roman culture (I’ve done hours and hours of research into every aspect) together with the high-fantasy magical world.
I’ve subtitled the novel as a “Story of Togas, Daggers, and Magic” as it draws on all three elements equally.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Finding the time! Inspiration is easy, it’s the 99% perspiration that’s taking its toll. I have far too many ideas (I keep a notebook full of them). It’s finding the time in a busy schedule to sit down and get some words out on paper. Well, on screen, but that’s the same problem.
My day is hectic (what with four kids, the youngest only six months old, a day job, two cats…) So whenever I can – particularly in summer when the nights are hot – I sit down after everyone else is asleep and do my writing when it’s all quiet. I do my best writing after midnight, especially when accompanied by a glass of good scotch.
I write mostly in the mornings after a long walk with Sid, my dog. I can barely think by the end of the day – isn’t it wonderful how each person works?
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
The research into ancient Roman culture was a lot of fun. Rome was always a favourite period for me, so taking the time to delve into everything from ancient gods and political systems to laundry and cuisine was very satisfying.
In term of the actual plot, and without giving too many spoilers, there is a scene right after the gladiatorial games where a provincial governor is hosting a feast. My protagonist somehow got involved with the cooking of it, and the particular culinary shenanigans that went on had my cackling with evil glee.
What is your next project?
I am now writing the second full-length Felix mystery, In Numina. In it, Felix is hired to resolve a problem for one of the city’s rich landlords. No one would lease his apartments, because his buildings are reputedly haunted!
I have currently ideas for further two or three Felix novels. After that, I’ll probably tackle another time period. I’m thinking of a retelling of the Crimean War from the Russian side – but with steampunk elements thrown in. Who wouldn’t enjoy a young and dashing Count Tolstoy with a mechanical arm?
What role does research play in your writing?
Interesting question for a fantasy novel J
Actually, my novel is based on ancient Rome and I have done a lot of research into it, particularly the everyday culture. While I have put a spin on some things – for example, I have chosen the very early Roman mythology, before the Greek influences – most are still reasonably accurate.
It starts with everyday life. The garum (fish sauce) that Felix likes so much was a Roman condiment. When he has to go to a factory and describes the (rather revolting) way of making it, it’s accurate. The festivals mentioned have all been held in Rome. The curse-words in particular were fun to research. My novel is very classy – all the cursing is in Latin…
Then there are the gods. What we know as Jupiter was called Iuppiter in Latin. However what is less known is that this is a transformation of a much older name – Iovis Pater, or Father Jove. He is the sky-god father figure that is common across many Indo-European cultures.
When Felix has an adventure in the sewers and sacrifices in thanks to Cloacina, that refers to a real goddess. Her temple was located next to the forum in Rome, and besides being the patron goddess of the sewers (cloaca), she was also the patron goddess of marital relations. I could not make this stuff up!
I put in a glossary and notes at the end of the book, as it makes subsequent readings that much more enjoyable.
What do you like to read in your free time?
“Free time”? What’s that?…
Seriously though, between my wife, four kids, two cats and a day job, my reading time is limited – and usually competes for the same time slots as writing. I read only when I can’t write, which is limited to the bus ride to work, or lunch time at the office.
When I’m not reading historical research about ancient Rome, I enjoy the same genres I write in – fantasy, mystery, historical fiction.
I hear that Assaph!! What is ‘free time’? Pub time for me!!
Who or what inspires your writing?
As I mentioned before, inspiration is easy. Ideas come at all times of day, from anything I see, or hear, or imagine, around me. It doesn’t take much for the spark of creativity to start up.
It’s what comes after that counts. The perspiration that is required to sit down and transform that sudden inspiration into a story, a novel. In the sense of what inspires me to work daily, to continue till I’m done, I have to credit my wife and her strong belief in me as an author.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?
So many! On the Roman historical fiction side, probably Colleen McCullough, Steven Saylor and Lindsey Davis stand out. The last two also cover historical mystery novels, and I will only add the amazing Boris Akunin.
On the fantasy side too many to mention, from classics like JRR Tolkein and Fritz Leiber, to modern authors like Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett.
Tell us something unique about you.
I’ve studied martial arts for about 30 years. Covered various styles, from ultra-violent Krav Maga to a very internal branch of Wing Chun. I also watch a lot of videos about HEMA (Historical European Martial Arts) for research. This comes into play when I write fight scenes – they are not the Movie type acrobatics, but are all very realistic.
I will never ever argue with you!!
What does the Latin phrase you sign your books with mean?
I sign the paperback copies with Videas Lumen, which translates to “may you see the light”. It’s a mystery after all.
How did you get to be where you are in your life today?
By a convoluted and completely unexpected route. I never make 5-year plans any more – I never seem to be able to predict the future.
What makes your book stand out from the crowd?
The combination of genres and the attention to detail. This is primarily a mystery story, a whodunit. A lot of care has been put in for foreshadowing while still keeping the readers guessing through all the twists till the surprising resolution.
A similar level of attention to detail have been given to the world. The rich tapestry of ancient Roman daily life, woven into a high-fantasy setting for very memorable world. My readers say that the city of Egretia is almost a character in itself.
All in all, the reviews I have received on Amazon and Goodreads have been overwhelmingly positive. I am both honoured and humbled by the novel’s reception.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Website (including free short stories!): http://egretia.com
Google Plus: http://plus.google.com/+AssaphMehr
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Assaph-Mehr/e/B015U1F3NC
Amazon buy link: http://amzn.to/1XbfKN1
Thank you so much Assaph for being my guest, it has been an honour to meet you and find out a little about your work. I used to have a part-time job and hated being away from my writing, so was happy when it finished (strange I know!) – I’d really struggle in a full-time job and write at night – fair play to you for persevering and keep going 🙂
#19 Jane Finch
I had my first book published in 1998. This was a children’s novel about squirrels and it was accepted by a traditional publisher and published in paperback. That was incredibly exciting – to be able to hold my book in my hand. After that I caught the bug for writing more, and now have six children’s books published.
A busy lady indeed. I know what you mean about catching the bug – there is something so wonderful about holding your creation in your hands – i cried when I help my first book! Who illustrates your children’s books?
After a while I thought I would try my hand at adult fiction. My first adult book was The Black Widows, and this was accepted by an American publisher, together with my next, Curse of the Dogwood. I then thought about writing a crime thriller as I had spent many years working in English Law, sitting in courtrooms listening to horrific stories or domestic abuse. Due Process was my next book, followed by Sins of the Father. Both loosely based on experiences during my law career.
This sounds fascinating and frightening. It must have been hard to hear some of those stories in court. As a counsellor I can empathise with many people, but i think I would find it difficult to be neutral in a court if it was domestic abuse – or abuse of any kind for that matter 🙁
I branched out occasionally and researched and wrote an historic novel on a local priory, and even wrote a book of poems about chickens.
Chickens???? That must take skill
Last year I managed to fulfil one of my dreams of writing a Christmas story. Twelve Days To Save Christmas was accepted by Crimson Cloak Publishing and was published just before Christmas 2015. The book received a glowing review and five star award from Readers Favorite.
When I write I have always just sat down at my computer and let the story evolve. However, recently I was listening to Jeffrey Deaver on the radio and he was explaining how he spends eight months planning a book and two to three days writing it. I am really keen to try that idea out.
Days? I take weeks researching, then months writing – but maybe he has the time and no children??
My personal favourite is The Black Widows, a book about women who seek their fortunes by disposing of unwanted husbands – but all is not as it seems. My husband’s favourite, however, is Due Process, which he maintains is fast-paced and exciting.
It’s lovely when our husbands read our work – they don’t feel left out when ‘we have to write’!!
The Black Widows: www.blackwidowsbook.webs.com
Sins of the Father: https://www.facebook.com/SinsoftheFatherbook/
Twelve Days To Save Christmas: https://www.facebook.com/AChristmasBook/
Crazy Zoo: www.crazyzoostories.weebly.com
Harry the Hip Hop Hippo: https://www.facebook.com/Harry-the-Hip-Hop-Hippo-1565401477015448/
List of Books:
The Black Widows
Curse of the Dogwood
Sins of the Father
Bromholme – A Place of Miracles and Murder
Twelve Days to Save Christmas
Crazy Animal Colouring Book
The Lonely Frog
Harry the Hip Hop Hippo
Lucky 13 – selection of short stories
Rat Race: So You Think You Want To Leave?
Jane, I am in awe of your many talents and the amount of books and genre’s you delve into. You make me want to type faster!! Thank you for being my guest and good luck with all that you do 🙂
#18 Cynthia MacGregor
Book Title: Which book? LOL! I’ve had over 100 of ‘em published—not counting ghostwriting work I’ve done for clients
Goodness – you are a busy lady!
Genre: I write for both adults and kids, both fiction and nonfiction. My output for adults is mostly nonfiction, although I do have a few published novels to my name, and my output for kids is mostly fiction, although I do write some nonfiction for kids, too. I also have some eight or so cookbooks.
Short Bio: Prolific author Cynthia MacGregor has had over 100 books published. You can learn more about them on the Books page of her website, www.cynthiamacgregor.com.
In addition to writing books, Cynthia does other kinds of writing, including website copy, ads, and more. She also edits.
She has written over a dozen one-act plays, some for adults and some for kids, all but one of which have been produced. One of her plays for kids, KING THEO, was produced in New York. The other plays’ performances were all in her home state of Florida.
She has also written song lyrics, primarily for songs for kids.
Cynthia has produced and hosted two TV shows, Solo Parenting and Younger Every Day, both of which aired on WHDT in the South Florida viewing area.
Her hobbies include cooking, reading, and writing just for fun. She enjoys wordplay, especially puns, and travels to Austin, Texas most years to participate in the O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships, a wordplay competition. For her first few years participating in the Pun-Off she was a contestant (and once won the second place prize), but more recently, at the invitation of the producers, she has been one of the judges of the competition.
Cynthia absolutely loves her work and can’t wait to bound out of bed in the mornings and get started. She thinks she might be the happiest person in the world and says, “There’s no one in the world I’d want to trade lives with.”
I agree Cynthia – who would exchange our lives? The happiest person is the one doing what makes their heart sing, and sounds like you are doing just that 🙂
Short synopsis of book: Again, WHICH book? LOL.
Perhaps your latest would have been nice, but never mind, we’ll continue with the interview! You certainly have a few to choose from!
Why do you write? I HAVE to write, like I have to eat and I have to sleep. Some days, for example when I’m in the middle of editing a book for a client, I’m not working on a book or other writing project, but at least there is my daily Facebook essay. That’s writing, and if I don’t write anything else that day, writing my FB essay satisfies to some extent my need to write.
FB essay? Sounds interesting …
What was the incentive to start writing: Dunno. I’ve been writing since I was six and learned to spell. When I was nine I wrote a play, which was put on at camp that summer. I’ve just ALWAYS written, but I can’t think back to when I was six to figure out what made me start. I guess it was just something inside me.
I understand that Cynthia – I think it’s in our blood and cannot be ignored
Has writing changed you? I don’t think so.
Who influences you and why? Nobody.
Who is your favourite character and why? I don’t have one.
Who is your least favourite and why? I don’t have one.
What reactions do you get from your nearest and dearest regarding your writing? My Significant Other is pretty blasé about my writing. If I tell him a publisher has just accepted another book, or some other good news that’s writing-related, he’s happy for me, of course, but he’s not the kind of person to get all enthused about anything, and he almost never asks questions about my work.
What challenges have you faced and overcome? Tourette Syndrome and severe agoraphobia/panic attacks. Also cancer.
The onset of the Tourette’s was at age 14, although I was misdiagnosed until I was in my early 30s. It was pretty awful. I was the freak of my high school, twitching and making noises in my throat that I couldn’t control. Some of the other kids made fun of me, and some of the teachers weren’t too kind either. Fortunately Tourette’s often self-alleviates when the patient reaches middle age, and between that and meds I now have only the tiniest vestiges of it. People don’t know that I have or had Tourette’s unless I tell them. It’s not evident.
The agoraphobia and panic attacks are pretty much a thing of the past too. I was all but housebound for many years, totally freaked when I did have to go out. I’m OK now. Meds got me over it, but I don’t need to take them anymore.
I also had a bout with cancer back in the mid-‘70s, but that, too, is behind me, although the radiation therapy left me with some unpleasant side effects…which I won’t go into here.
You’ve certainly been through the wars Cynthia and have come out the other side – a strong woman indeed
What made you choose that genre? I don’t stick to any one genre.
If you could be anything else – what would you be? There is no one in the world I’d want to trade lives with. That said, however, if hypothetically I COULDN’T be a writer/editor and HAD to choose another occupation, I think perhaps either a video editor or an audio (music) editor.
If you could go back in time to when you first began writing, what advice would you give yourself? To have more faith in myself and also to try book-writing sooner—for a VERY long time I wrote only short-form stuff.
Self-published or Traditional – which do you prefer? I’m not self-published so I can’t answer that objectively. My books are all published traditionally.
What advice would you give other authors? Don’t just write books unless you have a “dayjob,” an inheritance, or a spouse who makes enough to support you. Branch out and write for money—webcopy, ad copy, ghostwriting…anything where clients hire you to write for them and pay you upfront for your services. It will still satisfy your need to create and will also put money in your pocket and food on the table. It may not be as satisfying to the ego as a book with your byline, but the writing process will still satisfy your soul.
I like the idea of this, but whenever I consider it, I cannot find the time or my mind goes blank!!
Thank you so much for being a guest Cynthia. We’re both with Crimson Cloak publishing and it was nice to get to know a fellow author with such a lovely publishing house. Enjoy your day 🙂
Harry Price -Ghost hunter or Fraud?
Now, okay, I know I said I would write about ‘ghostly objects’ next, but having just watched ‘Harry Price, Ghost hunter’ over Christmas, it reminded me just how much this man fascinated me as a small child. As I was very aware of the ghostly realm at such an early age, reading about this man who found ways to capture evidence was astounding and I read up on him.
Born 1881 and died 1948, Harry became one of the must go to people whenever there was anything supernatural going on. He was a writer, journalist, engineer and conjurer among other things and he investigated countless mediums, paranormal ‘hauntings’ and psychic phenomena. He wrote many best-selling books and articles on the subject and was praised by many but considered a fraud by others. It is through one of his most controversial investigations that I became aware of him – The Borley Rectory haunting.
This apparent supernatural hot spot intrigued me from such an early age, I think I learned to read English whilst reading the book that is now so worn and old (Nearly forty years!). Borley Rectory found in Sussex was considered one if not the most haunted house in England at the time and rests in the village of Borley. Built in 1862 to house the rector of the village it was damaged by a fire in 1939 and sadly demolished a few years later.
There were reports of it being haunted almost from day one of it being built. Bangs and noises heard throughout the house and the ghostly nun that apparently walked its gardens before disappearing if anyone got close. The victim of a forbidden love affair with a monk who had been bricked up alive in the convent walls for her crime of passion. The monastery and/or convent were supposed to be within the grounds of the rectory. In 1938 it was finally confirmed that there was no historic basis for this sad tale. The Daily Mail published an account of Harry Price’s investigation into the paranormal goings on in 1929. Harry wrote two books on his findings.
There were many disagreements surrounding his findings and many claimed he had falsified evidence and sightings of the spirit nun were rejected by the Society of Psychical Research which didn’t help Harry Price’s reputation. This did not however quell the public’s interest in this haunting and books and television programmes sprouted from the interest. In September 1956 a programme by the BBC about the alleged manifestations was cancelled due to concerns of legal action by Marianne Foyster, who was the widow of the last rector to live in the house and who had been a possible victim of the haunting, if the stories are to be believed.
Paranormal events include:
- Unexplained footsteps heard not long after the home was built in 1863.
- 1900, four daughters of the rector, Henry Dawson Ellis Bull, saw what looked like a nun walking near the house. This apparition was seen most frequently.
- A ghostly coach and horses driven by headless coachmen has been seen by villagers for many years.
- The skull of a young woman was found in a brown paper bag apparently and soon after the family reported a variety of incidents including the sounds of servant bells ringing despite their being disconnected, lights appearing in windows and unexplained footsteps.
- Throwing of stones, a vase and other objects.
- Spirit messages were tapped out from the frame of a mirror. As soon as Harry Price left, these ceased. Mrs Smith later said that she suspected Price.
- Bell-ringing, windows shattering, throwing of stones and bottles, wall-writing, and the locking of their daughter in a room with no key.
- Marianne Foyster reported to her husband a whole range of poltergeist activity that included her being thrown from her bed. Adelaide was attacked by “something horrible”
- Foyster tried twice to conduct an exorcism, but he failed. During the first attempt he was struck in the shoulder by a fist-size stone. Because of the publicity in the Daily Mirror, these incidents attracted the attention of several psychic researchers, who believed they were being caused by Marianne, consciously or unconsciously.
- Marianne later admitted that she was having an affair with the lodger and had faked some phenomena to hide her activities.
Following the Foyster’s departure, Price took over the house in 1937 and recruited people to come and gain evidence of the haunting. A Helen Glanville stated that she’d made contact with a nun through the use of a planchette séance. The nun named Marie had been murdered and buried. Wall writings appeared, one said ‘Marianne, help me get out’.
Another spirit contacted during this time named itself as Sunex Amures and claimed that he would set fire to the rectory at nine o’clock on 27th March 1938. It didn’t happen!
On 27 February 1939 the new owner of the rectory, Captain W. H. Gregson, accidentally knocked over an oil lamp in the hallway. The fire spread quickly through the house. After investigating the cause of the blaze the insurance company concluded that the fire had been started deliberately.
Miss Williams from nearby Borley Lodge said she saw the figure of the ghostly nun in the upstairs window. In August 1943 Harry Price conducted a brief dig in the cellars of the ruined house and discovered two bones thought to be of a young woman. The bones were given a Christian burial in Liston churchyard, after the parish of Borley refused to allow the ceremony to take place on account of the local opinion that the bones found were those of a pig.
So for me whatever this man had been in life, he had caused intrigue, fascination, chatter and excitement. For me he was a man I wish I’d known. Whether a fraud or an honest man who really did exist in a paranormal world but where people found it just too weird and frightening to contemplate, is one for you to decide. For me, Harry Price will always be a man I wish I’d had a conversation over a pint or two.
Next month – something weird!
My next guest – #17
Author Name: Lynne North
Book Title: Be Careful What You Wish For
Genre: Children’s humorous Fantasy
Short Bio: I live in a countryside area in the North West of England. I have a lifetime love of books, and always longed to have one published. My wish was fulfilled when I was published by YouWriteOn, a site run by the British Arts Council. I continued to strive for a good publisher and became part of Ghostly Publishing in 2013. In 2015 I was lucky enough to join Crimson Cloak Publishing. Several books are set for release during 2016! ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’ was the first, released on St Patrick’s Day. I divide my time between a full time job as a data analyst and writing fantasy novels. Somewhere in between I find time to eat and sleep.
Short synopsis of book:
Finn is a bored young leprechaun who lives a quiet life with his family and friends in the sleepy village of Duntappin. He wants something exciting to happen, but never having been blessed by the Good Luck Fairy he soon gets far more than he bargained for. When he least expects his adventure to begin, Finn finds himself a long way from home in dire circumstances. Home begins to seem very appealing all of a sudden. Has he any hope of getting back? This is no fairy tale …
This funny and fast moving story filled by weird and wonderful characters will turn all your expectations on their head, but that’s a good thing, because it makes them all the more amusing.
Why do you write?
I write because it is something that I not only love to do, but need to do. Something in me screams out to be a writer, and my happiest moment would be if I could give up work to become a full time author. I genuinely believe that becoming an author was the way my life was always meant to progress, and from my first published book there has been no way I would ever go back to life without a book on the go !
I can relate to this train of thinking Lynne! It’s a lovely feeling knowing you are doing what you’re meant to do and feeling happiness. 🙂
Who influences you and why?
I love to read fantasy, and humorous fantasy. My main influence in this genre has always been Terry Pratchett, and like so many other people I was mortified by his loss. Terry will always remain the writer who most influences my work, even though he is no longer able to bring out his wonderful books.
What challenges have you faced and overcome?
I think the biggest challenge and obstacle all rolled into one for any author is to be published. This can take many years, and in my case it did! The internet brings so many opportunities now for writers to get their work out there, and this is wonderful. It is even easy to self publish, but there is something very special about being taken on by a good publisher like Crimson Cloak Publishing, and to have your work praised and considered good enough to publish. For as long as CCP like what I write, I consider my obstacles are over.
I agree Lynne, being published can be heartbreaking and frustrating, but when it happens, to be accepted by someone because your work is good enough and enjoyed, is a feeling like no other. Crimson Cloak Publishing are wonderful people 🙂
What made you choose that genre?
Fantasy chose me. It never felt like I had to choose. I have always loved to read fantasy, and in particular the humorous variety. It just seemed a natural progression that this would be what I wanted to write. I also write a more ‘serious’ type of fantasy, but some humour even creeps into that. I don’t find it easy to keep it under control …
What advice would you give other authors?
Never give up. You will be rejected, depressed, and feel that you will never make it. Believe me, if you are determined enough to polish your work until it shines, and keep at it through all the hard work it will inevitably entail, you will get there. If your book means enough to you, then it will mean enough to a potential publisher in time. The problem might be just how much time, but your book is worth the wait, isn’t it?
Lovely Lynne, wise words indeed.
Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/#!/Lynne.North.Author
Author page on CCP http://www.crimsoncloakpublishing.com/lynne-north.html
Amazon UK http://tinyurl.com/hukne5x
Amazon USA http://tinyurl.com/z7v4xrm
Amazon Kindle UK: http://tinyurl.com/gqn3pfy
Amazon Kindle USA: http://tinyurl.com/gsz4254
Smashwords Kindle: http://tinyurl.com/hfda3xj
Barnes & Noble Book http://preview.tinyurl.com/zwdl4wl
Goodness Lynne – you are everywhere – good for you. Thank you for being my guest this Easter, it was a pleasure hearing about you. 🙂
Ghostly Ladies who float about a bit!
So, what is the job of a woman in any supernatural setting? To scare or to tease? Or perhaps do nothing but to simply float about a bit? Let’s look at what we have to work with:
A lady of sorts, usually in a long flowing dress of variable colours to which many have spun some lovelorn tale to make the dress her wedding gown. Sightings over many years have her wearing grey, white, green, brown or blue, even pink on occasion if she’s feeling girly. She tends to merely float about a bit, moaning for some lost, forgotten love who either died tragically or spurned her for another foolish lady. She can usually be found in a castle setting or the site of her rejection where she took her own life out of despair. Of course, there is always the ‘lady in black’ who does more than moan, she stares really, really hard and kills off children and the main character!
Perhaps the elderly nanny type is more to your taste. A kindly, gentle soul who is usually caught loitering around children’s bedrooms to either tuck them in or sing them an old lullaby. If they are unlucky, she might even tickle their toes and hover horizontally over their beds. After a few visits and a brief description from the unaffected child in question who are finally taken seriously by their exhausted parents, the spectral granny is usually found to be some long lost relative of the family or a woman of the nursing variety who once lived in the house.
Now, the banshee is nothing gentle or quiet, but is considered an omen and wails enough to make some kind of a point. It seems she only likes the families of any Celtic origin and hangs around said families for generations, making sure each child reaching a certain age is told of said family hag. She appears or is heard whenever some tragedy is on its way, yet not enough time for the family to thwart said tragedy of course!
The seductive spectre who likes nothing more than to ‘touch up’ any men within her space is a quiet temptress, so far as no wailing or screeching involved, (so far as I know anyway?). Sometimes being so bold as to slide in between the sheets and caress said man with her cold hands, perhaps steal a kiss or two before she is stopped in her ghostly attempts when the man either tires of freezing hands on his skin or his other half puts a stop to the proceedings with either a shriek or a slap or running out of the room, pulling the reluctant spouse behind her!
Faeries walk, or if tales are to be believed, fly around stories, stealing children and replacing them with changelings and seducing men in the hope that they can entice them into the faerie realm. There are so many variations of faerie, dark or light beings, big, ugly creatures or tiny beings with gossamer wings whose only job is to care for the world we live in and take away teeth, replacing it with cash.
Now witches, if fables are to be believed are warty, hairy, green skinned old hags with pointy hats and pointy chins who eat up children after enticing them with sweets and biscuits and flying around on broomsticks hastily followed by flying monkeys. They mean only harm to us and will endeavour to do so unless a good faerie or witch can be found. Oh, and apparently they cackle…
The brown lady otherwise known as ‘Lady Dorothy Townshend of Raynham hall in Norfolk’. Taken by two ‘Country Life’ photographers in 1936.
Let us not forget the ‘famous ladies’ who’s nightly exercises have been attributed to a well known woman who lived in the house, castle or cafe and so it must be her or why else would she come back? Some have recognised her face from a portrait hanging in some gallery, yet we are more than aware that painters of old sneakily used any old face to use as a template? They may be old Queens, princesses, Duchesses who have either been beheaded and feel a bit miffed at having their lives cut short on a man’s whimsical decisions or they have apparently loved the place so much, they refuse to leave it to the next generation and basically say, ‘if you want the house, you get me for free’!
Whatever the role of women is in a supernatural setting, be she good, bad, or ugly, she certainly makes her presence known and leaves you in no doubt that you have witnessed the love, passion or heartbreak of woman.
P.J Roscoe – Author of Award-winning novel ‘Echoes’ a supernatural/historical fiction with my own version of ghostly ladies x
Next month – ghostly objects
Our perception of a ‘haunted home’ is along the lines of an old, gothic mansion found squatting at the end of a long, narrow driveway that has become so overgrown by nature it has been forgotten by the populace. Perhaps an iron gate hangs precariously off its hinges and creaks loudly as the visitor forces their way inside the grounds. Grotesque statues stare blindly down on the cowering guest as yes, you guessed it, a flash of lightening lightens up the dark, brooding sky as night swiftly falls, entombing the idiot who decided to check it out at such an ungodly hour in the first place!
Hammer House films used this picture regularly as it had the desired effect; it un-nerved the viewer, getting their heart rates up, ready for what was about to pounce onto the screen.
Hmmm, possibly too cliché for me?
I have yet to come across any such house. Most haunted homes look like yours and mine, a three bedroom semi with a nice family, perhaps a dog and a yard to play in. Yet this is so hard to perceive by the younger generation who regularly slaughter zombies and fellow humans left right and centre on their tiny screens?
Consider if you will, ‘The Shining’ by Stephen King. Fear oozed from me as I watched it, but this was no gothic mansion or tumbled down Victorian house, this was a huge, fairly modern hotel. The sheer expanse of it was what, for me, made this more terrifying than a gothic, claustrophobic house could ever be. The long, open corridors, the grand dance hall, the very reception hall was open, leaving you in no doubt, there wasn’t anything hiding behind a door or chair, yet you knew they were NOT alone, you just couldn’t see it all the time. The echo of the tennis ball bouncing off the wall, only enhanced the fact of complete isolation and space – spooky!
So consider the ‘ordinary’ house yet inside manifestations of all kinds are going on, such as a poltergeist having a full on temper tantrum and making mincemeat of your furniture. A ghostly apparition that glides down the average stairs and stands over the quivering occupants, perhaps pointing in that obvious fashion they like to do? Even more terrifying would be the disembodied voice that yells at the owners to ‘GET OUT!’ but of course, they can’t, they have nowhere else to go. For many, this is more disturbing than the original concept of the haunted house. Your everyday Joe who cannot just pack up and move, they’ve put their heart, soul and last bit of cash into the building. There is nothing sinister about their surroundings except for their extra guests.
Looking further into that notion – how spooky is a ‘bungalow’ or a modern high rise flat? Perhaps a caravan is rocking all by itself or a picturesque cottage sitting silently in a beautiful, colourful garden is the host of some malevolent force? Why isn’t a ghost haunting a tent or yurt? If the theory is to be believed that ghosts aren’t ‘haunting’ the home so much as the area the home is now located and its just bad luck, then why not a tipi, a dog’s kennel or a shed?
Having spoken with a variety of spirit, the majority are ‘stuck’ within that boundary area and sadly if your home falls into the category, tough. Yet it’s also about the home, loving or bad memories keep a spirit locked within its walls. What is clear is that spirit can move, go anywhere if necessary, ghosts cannot as they are mere energy formed on that area, a replay, residual energy that a cleansing may help evaporate. A spirit has consciousness and therefore, if you annoy him or her, or get their attention, regardless of what you live in, be prepared to either move, or work with them to remove the obstacle that will allow them to leave and be at peace. After all, isn’t that what we all want?
P.J Roscoe – Author of ‘Echoes’ winner of the e-book category in the Paris book festival, awarded Honourable mentions in the London and New England book fairs
If we can conceive that we have souls and can return in that state as ghosts then surely it is also conceivable that animals of all types can also return as are we not also animal? Having lost many precious cats and my darling dog I feel them around me and on numerous occasions have been convinced that I have seen them. Orbs are seen around my three surviving cats and sometimes they appear to be interacting with these energies – are they the spirits of my cats and dog?
So what is the most popular ghostly animal that is seen? Having researched a little, it would seem dogs and horses are close, but usually the horse has a ghostly rider so does this count?! Cats are also frequent, even rabbits. Tigers are another that is seen.
So why do our loyal friends come back? Even before death our dogs can be so loyal they refuse to leave us even when we die as in the case of ‘Bobby’ the famous skye terrier dog from Scotland who would sit on his master’s grave for fourteen years until his own demise and the dog was buried in Greyfriers graveyard with his owner. People claim to still see the dog in the graveyard.
Over the years many reports of phantom dogs have been recorded. All over the world black and white dogs are witnessed, some have red eyes and are warnings of impending death. ‘The Black Shuck’ roams the East Anglia coast of England, along with ‘Striker’ and ‘Pad foot’ among many. It seems every county of England has a ghostly dog. Black dogs have been associated with guardians of the underworld such as Cwn Annwn or the Wild Hunt. Most belong to the devil and will rip your soul from your body and carry you to hell … apparently!
Now ghostly cats appear to be much gentler in their haunting. Most people feel a cat brush past their leg only to find nothing there or something will move, like a ball of string as if something is playing with it. After my three cats died, pens would roll for no reason or I’d find pens I’d left on the windowsill on the floor. After speaking with a lady who communicated with animals, she informed me the pens were them. I had told her nothing about the pens incidents so it blew my mind!
I know, they look soooo cute!
Bigger cats though can still cause a lot of problems, even death. One of my favourite stories growing up was of the white tiger. An English couple had moved to India in the late 1800’s as the husband was a high ranking soldier. Soon after moving, the wife became pregnant after years of trying and had a boy. When the boy was about ten, his father had got into hunting game and had ‘accidentally’ killed an elder of a local village whilst hunting and killing a tiger. It turned out that this elder had suffered with leprosy and in a panic the husband had shot him thinking the man was going to touch him because he was trying to stop him killing the sacred tiger.
Nothing was ever done and the husband got away with murder. The family cursed him and his family but he didn’t believe in that nonsense. Soon after, reports of a ghostly white tiger reached him and although he considered it ridiculous, he was ordered to go and search for this tiger which would make a fine trophy. He decided to take his ten year old son with him and make him a man, ignoring his wife’s pleas not to.
After some time the tiger was spotted. It turned and faced the husband and ran at full pelt towards him. In the last second, it veered to the right and the father pushed his son behind him, but the tiger leapt towards the boy. In that instant, it disappeared. Later, they noticed a small scratch on the boy’s neck but thought nothing of it until he began to show signs of illness. He died soon after of leprosy. The wife never recovered from her grief and died of a broken heart. The husband lost everything, his honour, his home, his position along with his family; he put a gun to his mouth and pulled the trigger. It is said the white tiger is still seen, along with the ghost of the husband.
Isn’t that a great story!! I love it! True? No idea, but it was one of the first ghost stories I ever read so I hope it is.
Now horses, many of them have been seen on battlegrounds like Gettysburg in America and in England hundreds were seen as they re-lived the battle of Edge hill. Lonely riders have been reported for years in every country. In Avebury, England, a rider was witnessed as he rode his horse across the plains at full pelt. Some believe he is a messenger still trying to get his message to someone, Roman judging from his dress. Riders from Viking, Pict, and Celt have all been seen also, along with cowboys and Native Americans fighting for their land, all on phantom horses. I have not yet come across a story with a horse alone.
Neither have I found stories on mice, bugs, spiders, snakes or the majority of animals but I’m sure if I digged deep enough I’d love to find a ghostly story of ‘Skippy the kangaroo’ or a phantom chinchilla! Let me know of any.
‘Man is the only species that someday realizes that he or she will terminate and leave this world. All other species simply exist from day to day and die without being able to communicate to us that possibility that they in fact are dying’
I came across the above statement during my research and cried out in frustration. This just isn’t true. What about the bull who cried when he was about to be butchered? It broke the hearts of those willing to kill animals and they banded together to pay for his life. What about the calves and cows that bellow and cry in fear knowing death is coming. They understand and feel the horror of separation. Dogs and cats frequently display body language that proves that they know what death is and grieve. I myself watched my own cat ‘Horus’ grieve for his siblings and mother who tragically died on the road. His whole demeanour changed and he became a different cat, refusing to go near a road again.
Every animal feels and if we took the time to watch and understand, we’d see that they communicate their fears to us and then perhaps we wouldn’t act in such a superior manner and butcher them if we knew they had souls too.
Enjoy your day and remember, say hello to the dead, nobody likes to be forgotten
(or a very noisy, annoying energy caused by a teenager having a tantrum?!)
So, what the hell is a poltergeist? I have heard many different versions of the same story, it is energy caused by someone – usually a hormonal teenager and this energy manifests itself as a destructive force – usually – or is it? Can we really blame this on hormones?
We only hear of the destructive side of poltergeists, or what is perceived as one. It seems to me, if a living human cannot see said spirit, then it is put down to a poltergeist as the only explanation. I have a big problem with this, in that, most human beings cannot see a ghost or spirit as they choose not to, but every paranormal event that is classed as poltergeist is surely not always the case? What if some pissed off spirit is just annoyed at you? You see the object being thrown, but not the thrower??
As with these television programmes, they have the lights off like idiots, so of course they won’t see a stone being thrown, or a vase moving, or drum, in fact anything really, but I’ve already had my rant about this stupid thinking!! However I have witnessed ‘poltergeist’ activity in daylight – because ghosts/spirit don’t care what time it is … no, won’t go back there either!!
As a young child, I ‘played’ with a poltergeist or spirit. I cannot recall ever seeing him, and why I have always referred to it as ‘him’ I can’t say, but he was named ‘George’ and although he did a few scary things, it didn’t really frighten us, it was normal to us as children. Doors would open and shut by themselves and door handles would go up and down. We’d put an object down and ask ‘George’ to hide it, sure enough, he would and we’d go and find the wooden spoon, or my brother’s truck. The bed shook on occasion (this was so much fun, it was like a rodeo!) We would find our toys moved and on one occasion I found my books piled up in the corner of my bedroom like a tower.
Now, on reflection, our lives at that time were not easy in the seventies with our father away a lot working and my mother bringing up three adopted children while miscarrying her own. If this is energy created by its surroundings, I would concur that there was a lot of energy going on in that house, both good and bad. However, no teenagers, no hormones, but lots of stress and tension.
My next contact with this type of ‘haunting’ was near Bury, England. I worked in a kennels and cattery and the house and lands were very old. I became aware almost immediately of a young girl who watched me working most days and of a groom who would stand at an upstairs window waiting for someone. After a few weeks of being there I began to notice objects would move within seconds of being put down. Then it progressed to larger objects being moved to further locations that were impossible as they would have had to pass by someone, but nobody ever saw the objects move they would just appear elsewhere. My name was called often, bangs were heard, doors opened, but was this the girl, the groom or energy of another kind? Again, there was a lot going on for me and other employees and there were teenage girls, but things happened even when they were not there, so was it me who created this energy? Or someone/something else?
Is it a poltergeist if it isn’t destructive because it is moving objects around? Living in Hoylake on the Wirral we had a spirit of a young man who had a thing for underwear – bra’s to be more precise! I would come across underwear that wasn’t mine for large breasted ladies and on occasion my ironing would be taken to my bed when left downstairs in a pile. He wasn’t scary, just something that hung around for a while until he found his peace. So though I never ‘saw’ him, I knew when he was around as my things would be moved – so under what heading is this?
I find that I cannot come to a satisfactory conclusion with ‘poltergeists’. I understand why they were given the name ‘noisy spirit’ but whether it is an energy being created or it is someone who has moved into spirit who is annoyed or merely trying to get attention, we may never know.
This months guest is a little different, in that, yes, she is an author working on her first novel and has written short stories. One of which won a writing competition held at Gladstone library in 2014.
However today I welcome Fiona Knowles-Holland who is sharing something else with us here – her writing retreat shepherds hut.
Situated in North Wales, set among the quiet perfection of nature sits a small and cosy hut, perfect for finding inspiration for your next novel, your book of poems or even a limerick! The farm is small with ducks, occasional lambs, horses, pigs and a couple of dogs to help make your stay with Fiona a friendly and warm welcome.
Now, I have stayed in the hut with my husband and it was blissful with the top half of the stable door open to look out on the stars whilst snuggled in the big double bed. I would recommend it for a night if needing to get away and unwind or even use it as a weekend retreat to pen those words that are niggling at your brain.
I will also add at this point that Fiona is a fantastic baker who will have you salivating for more of her cakes!! So don’t go with an idea of dieting! A writer needs sustenance and here you’ll get whatever you need.