Wednesday, 10 January 2018

New Year Brain Explosion: Perils of Creative Living.

So I love Christmas, I mean Elf has nothing on me, but as soon as Boxing Day arrives, I could tear it all down because I'm so excited about starting the New Year.

It fills me with the same excitement as the first page of a brand new note book. The possibility, the intention, the creative energy are all streaming through me; it's almost like a physical high.

Amongst all the homemaking and Christmas magic making, my mind has been like a coiled spring waiting to unleash with all the ideas, hopes, dreams and good intentions I want to start come January 1st.

Last year was really clear and I had a real sense of direction, my word was TEND and I was going to look after my creative garden, do some weeding, cut back dead wood and really nurture what I had already planted. It worked better than I could have hoped. My brand and my books are in a place I am really happy with.

This year, the word is GROWTH and as if this word has a mind of its own, it's caused an almost insane burst of mental growth and inspiration in the last few weeks that has left me somewhat paralysed.

By now, I had visions of having my intentions all written up, my resolutions in print to be held for future accountability, my journal several days full, my business plan all colour coded and my diary all organised ... instead, it's day 10 and I'm still not sure entirely where to start -- there's just too much awesome I need to do - and so, like many occasions in life, the days are starting to pass by and I'm still not actuating my planning plan.

It's all there in my heart. My ambition, my targets, my objectives, my intentions, my passions, my will-power, but they're refusing at this stage to be confined to paper and lists and declarations.

What we have done is start our family resolution of 'Healthy Us, Healthy Planet, Healthy Piggy Bank' and as a result of that, I have refuelled my poor abandoned food blog called The Frugal Snob. The focus is slightly different in that it now about one woman's quest to save the planet, save her bank account, and save her expanding waist line, but the principle is the same. Learn to live more consciously and more conscientiously and then enjoy the abundance that comes from that.

My hubby and I have also dramatically cut down our alcohol consumption to just one treat night a week, which for folks that drank a bottle of wine with dinner every evening, is proving to be an interesting trip in our life journey. It's much much easier than I anticipated and I'm trying to ignore the subtle shifts in energy, motivation and well-being for fear that it's slightly psychosomatic and maybe a stark realisation of all the years we have abused our bodies and our time... One of the big incentives other than 'feeling better' is that by making this change (and it's quite a big one for us) we will save almost £1500 a year! Isn't that incredible. I've already spent it ten times over in my head - and it's all about travel and experiences, about truly living.

So I guess that even if I haven't written and planned and journaled my 2018 plans, at least we've started living them.

Who else here is slightly overwhelmed by the possibility and opportunities of 2018?

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Cover Reveal & inside info for Book 4 of The Meadowsweets.

To celebrate the New Year and the new book, 'The Meadowsweet
Chronicles has had a beautiful revamp and rebrand. I am totally
in love with the new covers. And what's amazing is that all 7 covers
now sit inside my computer. 
It's finally coming. I know it's taken some time and I know that many of you have been waiting patiently (very patiently) for me to get it finished.

The thing is, Book 4 of 7 has proven to be a very tricky beast and I wasn't prepared to rush something out that would cause a pickle in Books 5-7.

However, it's done and it's going through the editorial process so I can finally announce that the pre-order is now live for Book 4 'Angelicus' on Amazon Kindle and the cover reveal is here.

Not only that, but to celebrate the new year & the new book, the whole series has had a beautiful rebrand and cover refresh. So I'm delighted to share all of that with you guys.

As ever, thank you all for your support, love and encouragement. I love how you guys love this weird, adventurous, folklore filled world of The Meadowsweets as much as I do.

And without further ado, introducing you to the the cover of Book 4.

Book 4 of The Meadowsweet Chronicles
'Angelicus' is now on pre-order

WHAT'S BOOK 4 ALL ABOUT? NO SPOILERS & This is not a blurb ;)

Book 4 begins with a flash back, and not just any flash back but one that takes The Meadowsweet Story back to 745BC, to the founding of the first settlement in Heargton. For one of the characters, it's where their story begins and it knits into the present day story.

The dark forces and energies have charged Heargton up like a super charged supernatural battery and as a result, spirits, ghouls, demons, poltergeists, angels, and all manner of supernatural beings are coming to the fore. The whole village is cloaked in fear and suspicion and the talks of the ancient Heargton Witches curse is rife.

For Jeremiah, his brush with the weird and otherworldly continues, and the arrival of two unexpected guests is cause for further stress and concern; especially the arrival of the mysterious Father Abandon, who has been sent as The Church's answer to the Heargton paranormal problem - only Jeremiah is far from convinced that the handsome and charming priest is who and what he claims to be.

The village is descending into hysteria, with an embracing of old customs, old rituals and old worship. The sacred circle, the village pagan group who have been practicing since the 70s in the back of The Green Man pub, finds itself gaining new members and a whole brand new location at The Rookeries, as a young and persuasive man introduces himself to the circle and begins to lead them into a more shady version of their belief system.

The Ravenhearts are still galavanting around the globe looking for allies in their quest to usurp the Guardians of the Heargton Portal so they can reign over it with ultimate power, but they soon discover that there are many people in the Witch community that have their own agenda and desire for  world domination.

Meanwhile, Fox continues to battle more domestic issues with her relationship with Will Harrington and her best friend Carmen.

And for other Meadowsweet sisters, they discover that, "the path of true love never did run smooth."

ANGELICUS is NOW AVAILABLE for Pre-Order on Amazon worldwide

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078N34MBP
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B078N34MBP


BOOK ONE OF THE MEADOWSWEET CHRONICLES IS FREE TO DOWNLOAD


Amazon US

Amazon UK

Smashwords

iBOOKS



THE OFFICIAL TRAILER FOR THE MEADOWSWEET CHRONICLES.


Monday, 11 December 2017

The perfect parent & daughter Read. New Release from Helen Whapshott.

I am super happy to announce that my fellow Little Bird author, Helen Whapshott is releasing the third book in her series of 'The Glow' this Wednesday. It's called 'Blaze' and is the final instalment in the trilogy.

I have had the amazing privilege of working with Helen on launching this series and have come to hold true affection for the world and characters that she has created.

Not only that, but my 10 year old, avid YA reading daughter also loves the series, not least because she has met Helen in 'real life' and has been completely charmed by her.

The series a perfect Parent / Daughter read and throws up issues surrounding bullying, abuse, growing up, first love, and family difficulties in a really safe way. More challenging topics are touched upon with a lightness of touch that really respects the sensitivities of younger readers who may pick up the series.

There's enough young teen action to keep curious readers occupied, but the series also harks back to a slightly more innocent and magical time.

With strong messages about friendship, adversity, personal acceptance, The Glow series is an absolutely perfect Christmas present for daughters and nieces.

Book three is available in Kindle this Wednesday and is currently on pre-order, and it is out in paperback middle of next week, just in time for last minute Christmas order from Amazon. It will be going out to iBooks, Nook and other eBook platforms in the New Year.

You can get hold of Book One of the series in paperback and eBook here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Glow-Book-One-Helen-Whapshott-ebook/dp/B00IX2EI9Q

and you can pre-order the Kindle edition of book 3 'Blaze' here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blaze-Book-Glow-Helen-Whapshott-ebook/dp/B077WJXFRV 

Friday, 1 December 2017

RELEASE DAY: Something a little different.

TODAY IS RELEASE DAY of 'LOVE FOOL' - I am so excited to be sharing with you my very first published New Adult Romance story. 
When Vicky Dean finds herself drowning in the ocean of cool that is the London indie music scene, she soon learns that if she's to survive, it's time to change the record.
It's one of 10 short novels published in WaWa Productions' '10 Things I Love About You' collection and it's out TODAY. 

BLURB: The 90s: The decade of AOL, Grunge music, the Gulf War, OJ Simpson trial, Friends, Seinfeld, Britney and Christina, tattoos and belly button piercings, Monica Lewinsky, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Tarantino movies. It was a decade of polarities and hilarity.

Those who reached adulthood in the Nineties were branded Generation X, and were labeled apathetic slackers and cynics. But, ultimately, this generation was called on to bridge the gap between old ideals and new technologies and ways of living. 
These new adults had to find jobs, find themselves, and find love amidst rapidly changing landscapes online and off.
TEN THINGS I LOVE ABOUT YOU is a collection of ten contemporary romance, new adult, stand-alone stories set in the 1990s.


The title of each love story will be a hit song from the year that the novella represents, and are written, respectively, by award-winning and bestselling authors.
1990: "Nothing Compares 2 U" -- Michele G Miller + Mindy Hayes
Can one weekend erase a first love's betrayal?
1991: "More Than Words" -- Christina Benjamin
It takes more than words to make it in love and music.
1992: "Jump" -- Micalea Smeltzer
Jenna's shy, quiet, and a bookworm. Caleb is wild, sarcastic, and an adrenaline junkie. One trip will bring their worlds together in ways they never expected.
1993: “Can't Help Falling in Love” -- L.A. Fiore
Emma doesn’t put much stock in fairy tales and happily ever afters, but finding herself stranded in some unknown town, in a diner late at night, dripping cheeseburger juice on her wedding gown is so not how she saw her big day ending. But when the town’s sexy mechanic comes riding to her rescue, maybe her fairy godmother is onto something.
1994: “The Sign” -- Carey Heywood
Are personalized mix tapes, Ferris Wheel rides, and ice cream-flavored kisses signs that I'm falling in love with my best friend?
1995: “Who Will Save Your Soul” -- Skye Warren
Emily's a pathological liar. When her life is at stake, will anyone believe her?
1996: “Always Be My Baby” -- Mary Ting
Lucas' words might have begun to sew me back up, but Grayson's love would heal the wound and ensure there were no scars.
1997: “Lovefool” -- Katie M John
When Vicky Dean finds herself drowning in the ocean of cool that is the London indie music scene, she soon learns that if she's to survive, it's time to change the record.
1998: "My Heart Will Go On" -- Tia Silverthorne Bach
After a tragic car accident, Kerry After a tragic car accident, Kerry struggles to put the pieces of her life back together. Until Jase walks into her life, and a spark of hope ignites. Can her heart go on? 
1999: "Genie in a Bottle" -- Elise Kova
When high school senior Erin Williams discovers that an N64 game she picked up at a yard sale contains a real (and really hot) genie, she gains three wishes and a much-needed confidant. However, the final wish may cost her more than she wants to give.


** A portion of proceeds goes to the National Kidney Foundation **

Friday, 17 November 2017

5 Point Social Media Blitz for the Time Poor.

Article also published on LinkedIn profile. https://www.linkedin.com/in/katie-m-john-6b17a669/

When you're a creative, busy... creating, it's super hard to keep all the social media plates spinning. There aren't endless hours in the day, and as our visibility online grows, as we connect with new readers, investors, patrons, et al, we find ourselves joining even more social media platforms and online communities in order to create even more visibility and success.

It can be exhausting, and it can also be damaging if you let some of those platforms drift creating a footprint of earlier branding that may not fully reflect where you are now at.

In oder to keep a fresh, cohesive brand across the internet and social media world, I have created a process of consciously 'quick checking'. It can be really easy to be sucked into a sparkly new social media platform, plough all your current work, concepts, branding and time into it - but the danger is that the others lag behind and the connections you have worked so hard to build, start to grow stale.

Here is a quick 5 point check which can be done in just one or two hours of your time a month.

Before you begin, write a list of all the social-media platforms, forums and other places you have at some point made a profile for. (You'll be amazed, especially as like me, you've probably jumped on every up and coming subject related platform over the years. You may need to google yourself.)

MONTHLY:

1: YOU. Make sure all your profile pictures are a) relevant to the audience for that particular social platform, b) make it one of your more recent photos, and c) good quality, which means properly lit, properly cropped, and appropriate context. (It's really good practice to try and get photos of you taken on a regular basis and build up a folder on your desktop so you can just grab one - a good selfie has its place, too so don't be afraid to get in front of the camera) 

2: BANNERS. Don't underestimate the power of banners to be an effective advertising space. Does your banner demonstrate fully a) What you do? b) What's fresh and new in your world? c) Have either an explicit or implicit call to action depending on the platform.

3: POST. Write a single post (it can be a copy & paste on each of the platforms if time is really squeezed) but it should include where you've been, what you've been doing, what your currently excited about and will show you've not been inactive, just really creatively busy. It will also show you're still willing to engage, and your not abandoning your fan / reader / patron base. If people stumble across your page, it also shows that you aren't missing in the ether and no longer relevant.

4: ENGAGE. Spend 5 minutes engaging with 10 other people on that platform. Leave a comment on their post, ask a question, share a post - demonstrate that as well as swinging by to broadcast, you're willing to engage and connect. It gives the impression that you are a lot more active than you actually are.

5: DELETE. Ask yourself what each particular profile is doing for you. If it's not working, if you know in your heart that you don't have the time or inclination to invest in it, then delete it. It's better to have 3 or 4 really engaging, exciting, fresh and live platforms where people know where to find you than having a load of dead or dying fish in the water. Poorly managed social media platforms can do more damage than not having one in the first place.

If you do each of these 5 small tasks once a month - maybe allocated a specific day (such as the first or last of the month to make it memorable) then you'll soon find that your social media platforms are all up to date, relevant and creating more engagement. Good luck, and remember the trick with social media is little and often.

Friday, 13 October 2017

The tricky issue of disposing of a murdered body.

#OCTOBERFRIGHTS DAY 4.

Whilst writing my novel 'Beautiful Freaks' I had to undertake a serious amount of research into effective, although somewhat weird, ways of both killing people and disposing of their body. If there really is a Big Brother watching us from Cyber Space, I am possibly now a flag on the UK Intelligence radar - and after this interactive post, you may be, too.

I mean, seriously, it's only writers and murderers who look this stuff up. For example, one of my google searches involved truly understanding the effects of lyme on an enamel bath - and who knew that it needed to be heated to be truly effective? Well now you all do. 

This led to some highly inventive methods of both murder and body disposal - and let me tell you, the disposal is the trickiest part of it all. It's one thing killing someone - you can sort of take your pick from the gazillion ways you'd like to do it - a sort of personal expression of your own creativity - but trust me when I say, that disposing of the body is not only difficult, but to do it properly, is almost impossible. 

Beautiful  Freaks is currently on £0.99 / $0.99
AMAZON WORLDWIDE SALE.
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B009XDNKZW 
You'd be amazed a how fragile a living body can be, and how very stubborn and resilient a dead one can be. It's been the unsticking of many a genius murderer in the past. 

In Beautiful Freaks there are a range of approaches to the subject of the murdered body. Some are intent on eradicating all evidence of their crimes and others seem to take an almost aesthetic and poetic approach to displaying the bodies as a kind of statement about human vice. 

Having been an inspector involved on the fringes of the Jack the Ripper case just over a decade beforehand, William Steptree believes that he has seen the very limits of murder - that is until he discovers the murder scenes that litter the London streets like some macabre art gallery. For all the blood and guts of the Ripper case, there is something about these 'beautiful' murders that disturbs him far more - something deeply unsettling about the way that the murders are crafted into something almost profound. 

But aside from these, there is another shadowy force exercising experimentations of the dead kind, and there is no attempt to display this particular art form, in fact, it's so on the cusp of all things inhumane that there is no other desire than to eradicate the bodies completely. To remove all trace of both their fate and the man behind it. 

I have always had a fascination with the detective genre and in particular the dark psychological detective stories written by the likes of Karen Slaughter and Patricia Cornwall. In a way, Beautiful Freaks is an extension of my love for that kind of literature, if not mashed up with my own love of paranormal fantasy. I have always found it captivating to consider what the mind of a killer must be like, and how hard or easy it is to step over that moral line. I think because it is so far removed from my own life philosophy that I find it a puzzle to wonder why anybody would want to commit such destruction - and of course, most sane people do not. 

The idea that the way in which murderers both murder and dispose of bodies acts as a signature and a narrative is not only something that clearly captivates me but thousands of writers and millions of writer's too. 

So, let's take this post to the comfort zone and beyond. If you were to set about murdering someone, how would you do it and what would you do with the body? Let's really discover who you all are.... Leave your ideas in the comment box - who knows, I might even steal them for a novel and credit you in the acknowledgements. 

If you've been intrigued by talk of Beautiful Freaks, you can download an eBOOK copy for just $0.99 / £0.99 here https://www.amazon.com/dp/B009XDNKZW 

Happy hopping.. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

HOP ON OVER TO THE OTHER BLOGS in this fabulous OCTOBERFRIGHTS BLOG HOP.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

The Crow Man: Writing Feminist Horror

OCTOBER FRIGHTS #DAY 2


This blog post introduces you to my latest novel, 'The Crow Man' and there is a chance to win a signed paperback copy at the end of this post. 

This month has seen the release of my first adult horror novel, 'The Crow Man' and it marks the end of a labour of love that has seen me invest 5 years into this novel.

Horror has always been my favourite genre of literature right from my earliest reading habits; Dracula, Frankenstein, Point Horror, Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Lovecraft, Poe - we're all the foundations of my love of the written word.

Despite having found a comfortable flow in the writing of paranormal and occult, I had yet to make that final leap into writing a 'pure' horror novel because the responsibilities that come with writing horror are immense.

To me, good horror is one of the most moral, political vehicles there is. In my very personal opinion, for horror to be elevated from gratuitous pornography it has to have some kind of exploration of the human condition, of moral structures, and of state constructs. It is an incredible vehicle for exploring the ills of society and the wrongs of mankind - of course done in a way that excites, entices, scares, and thrills the reader.

There are conventions in horror that are long established and which work, but traditionally, mainstream horror in both literature and film have tended to be dominated by male influence and the male gaze. I knew when I finally plucked up enough courage to write a horror novel, I wanted to both work within a long tradition and to challenge some of the constructs that had been established. I wanted to write a horror from a very female point of view.

Hence the premise of The Crow Man - as most women will testify, one of the most horrific things that can happen to you as a woman is to be labelled mad or insane - to have every word and action questioned; to stand accused of crimes you have not committed and for the whole social structure to come bearing down on you.

One of the very worst nightmares I have ever had was that I had hit an intruder and that 'boy' had died. I was arrested and was facing a long time in prison. I wouldn't last two minutes in prison - or only in the way that Tyrion Lancaster might by a thread come out bruised and abused but still living. The very worst of that dream was no one believing my version of the story. Of everybody, the courts and eventually even my own husband swaying to the social constructs that surround female voice and behaviour. I woke shouting, tears streaming down my face. Never had I felt so afraid - and so the beginnings of The Crow Man were birthed.

To call it feminist horror does not mean that it is horror written for women and women alone - I would hope that  the readership of this novel is a 50 / 50 split. Just because it is a story about women doesn't mean that all horror readers can't access and enjoy it, just as I have read hundreds upon hundreds of horror books with very male focused protagonist and stories.

It was important to me with both of my female characters, Grace Waters and Camille to try and defy some of the tropes and stereotypes that female characters often fall into in horror novels - but it wasn't easy. I rewrote the ending several times as I discovered that I had fallen into established models that didn't sit right with me - but which were a form of horror convention. I wanted to move beyond those sometime two dimensional offerings of female motivation and experience that is so often portrayed in horror and offer, what I hope is a more 'real' more true conclusion to these events.

The writing  go The Crow Man took me to some pretty dark places when I was writing it. For me, there are elements that are extreme and cross my comfort zone, or at least they did when I was in the depths of writing certain scenes. Looking back, I know that by modern standards of gore horror and psychosexual horror, these scenes are perfectly within the mainstream - but in the way that a creaking door or a shadow is more terrifying than a body being carved up by a circular saw, the scenes in The Crow Man got under my skin and were a manifestation of my own worst fears.

I decided to set The Crow Man in the 50's purely because some of the issues that the women face were amplified, and because, as a form of historical piece exploring the progress of psychiatric care and practice, the 1950s were a radical time of change and advancement.

In the author notes at the beginning of The Crow Man, I have acknowledged that other great horror piece written about the pioneering advancements of the medical profession and where that placed humans and doctors in terms of gods and monsters - Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus'. Perhaps, if I were being arrogant, I could have named my novel, 'The Crow Man: The postmodern Prometheus' LOL. The Crow Man is very much in the tradition of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and I hope that my humble little offering does that text and that heritage some justice.

eBOOKS
The eBook of the Crow Man is already available here on  Amazon Worldwide exclusive https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0758JMKZ1  and can be read for FREE if you are a Kindle Unlimited User or for just $2.49 / £2.99 if you are a Kindle reader.

PAPERBACKS
The paperbacks do not officially come out until January 1st 2018 but I have signed pre-release copies available for folks in the UK (And in the US if people are prepared to cover shipping costs.) To order your signed paperback for £7.99 (+ £2.00 p&p delivery before 25th October) please complete this google doc form. https://goo.gl/forms/ekj8xflMbfYTleyf1 

GIVEAWAY: UK Only I'm afraid. To be in with a chance of winning a signed copy of The Crow Man, please leave a comment telling us what your worse fear is. One lucky winner will be selected and notified as a reply to their post. The winner will be announced a week today.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

HOP ON OVER TO THE OTHER BLOGS in this fabulous OCTOBERFRIGHTS BLOG HOP.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

The Rookeries Asylum: A real life House of Horrors.

OCTOBER FRIGHTS BLOG HOP: DAY ONE


Nestled in the woods on the outskirts of a small English market town is The Rookeries Asylum - an imposing Victorian building that is a mishmash of redbrick, wood clad and concrete blocks (which came later)
complete with turrets and many unblinking soulless windows.

The drive way up to it is pretty much overgrown, meaning that the only real way to access is it is a traipse through the woods, which isn't easy when you're carrying a heavy load of paranormal investigation equipment - not that me, being a guest as part of the ghost hunting crew who charmingly call themselves Ectoplasm, had to carry anything


One of the side entrances of The Rookeries. Despite
being boarded up, people have still managed to get
in and vandalise the inside.
I'm here because of a friend of a friend who also happens to be as completely captivated by the idea of life after death and haunted spaces as I am. I'm beginning to think this is all a rather ridiculous idea, although I'm feeling smug that I have layered up and brought plenty of hot-chocolate. It's going to be a long bleak night.

The Rookeries Asylum was a philanthropic project established by one of the local wealthy families. Built on the far edges of their grounds, it was originally established as a maternity ward and hospital to help young women of the town and neighbouring villages in 1855. Just five years later, it was completely burned out, and over 20 women and young children died. By 1865, it had been rebuilt, extended and had become a hospital for the insane and morally dissolute.

The quarters that were most likely reserved for the
Doctors and visitors is now overrun with damp and
graffiti. It's weird to think of such beautiful spaces
contrasting with the other bleaker areas of the
hospital. 
Today, there are many locals in Heargton village who testify to hearing the sounds of crying on the wind as it weaves through the imposing pine trees. There are other locals who will not set foot in the woods, not alone the old abandoned asylum for fear of either things they have witnessed with their own eyes or because of stories that have been passed down from generation to generation.

Some of the legends that surround the Rookeries are, aside from the usual hauntings, that there were some very dodgy medical experimentations that took place within he walls, and that as a 'private' hospital, being under the radar, it attracted several doctors who used both the quiet location and mental state of the patients to their advantage. More wild claims include the urban legend that Satanists used the newly empty building (The hospital closed in 1958, having been used as an emergency Hospital for soldiers suffering from shell shock and other mental disturbances) to create a portal to Hell.

As much as that fantasy doesn't capture my imagination, it is very easy to still sense the sorrow and loss of the many souls who were 'cared for' in this place.

Dave is our guide for the evening. He is a seasoned ghost hunter and he's been wanting to get into The Rookeries for years, although gaining permission has been a little challenging. Heargton has a very protective attitude to its town and doesn't really welcome investigations such as these, despite its other numerous haunted buildings.
Some parts of the building are truly
beautiful even though they are in
ruins. It's easy to imagine patients
being walked down this light and airy
corridor with the idea of exercising
their body and spirit. There was
a real sense of peace in this space. 

Dave is 52 and spends a large chunk of the year working in the US with an American team. He is unashamedly obsessed by paranormal investigation and has visited literally hundreds of supposedly haunted sites. It doesn't help my over active imagination any when he stops as soon he enters the building and rubs his arms vigorously. "Oh," he says. "This is going to be a good one."

I'm not sure exactly what that means - is it 'good' if we're about to be subjected to twelve hours of terrifying ghostly activity? I'm not so sure.

We start our 'hunt' by doing a little exploring. I've had to sign a disclaimer in case of personal injury. The rooms are littered with debris and other dangers. I could easily break a limb. The setting is suitably freaky and my author mind is literally going overboard. Hell, I can't wait to get home and hit the keyboard. AT this point, I will not be disappointed if nothing more supernatural than a bat appears. This whole place is fuelling my creativity.

I laugh to myself, knowing that I am literally enacting the start of a cheesy horror film - you know the kind where some really stupid people decide to to go and taunt the devil and then are surprised when he rises and disembowels them. Dave is good company as he leads me through, giving me a running commentary of all the various atmospherics and details he is recording. As we travel, he tells me how he is less about ghost hunting and more about disproving, although when I ask him if he has had inexplicable experiences, he chuckles and says, "More than explicable ones."

Other spaces felt very oppressive and there was a
definite sense of trauma and pain still residual in
the room. Remnants of equipment like this sent
shivers up my spine. It's all too easy to visualise the poor
women who stayed in this place and were subjected
to terrible indignities and painful procedures. 
Night falls fast and it's going to make taking photos more difficult. I snap away, wanting to capture as many of the spaces as I can to add to my scrap book. Little do I know at that point that many of them will disappear as a result of the files corrupting during transfer to my laptop - something that has never happened before, and hasn't happened since.

The further into the asylum, the more wild things get. It is clear that people have got in and gone wild with their own creative flair. Graffiti, tags and scrawled quotes are everywhere. Sacrilege and yet, in a way, an understandable response to such a space. There is a lot of dark humour present, although Dave is less than amused by some of the symbols and iconography that has been painted on some  of the walls. It always makes him uneasy.
People come to these places and they don't know what energy they are stirring up. They think they're being funny - some even think they are being serious - but either way, the energy in the place doesn't like to be mocked. This kind of 'play' attracts the demons.
'Demons!' I scoff in my head. In the short time I have known and spoken with Dave, I am surprised by this sudden turn in tone and subject matter. Surely Dave doesn't believe in demons?

I've done hundreds of investigations and most involve long nights of tedium, but then some places just have this really dark vibe. Several times, I have seen mysterious scratches raise on fellow investigators. It's all pretty convincing when you see those kind of marks literally emerging out of someone's skin. 
Suddenly, this little adventure doesn't seem quite so fun. I have a deep respect for the idea of positive and negative energies in the world. I guess there is part of me that believes in true evil and that it can manifest - although as for actual demons, the jury is still out.

One of our last stops before heading back to the HQ we have established in one of the old doctor's rooms, is the records office. Nobody has bothered to clear these out and archive them, and it feels criminal. This is history - real history, about people who lived and suffered. The mould and dust sets off my allergies, despite having taken an unhealthy amount of antihistamine. Rot. That's the overall word of this whole place. I leaf through a few of the remaining files, which mostly date back from the 50s and 60s. In some ways, it's amazing that they still exist. I vow to find a way to get them recovered and properly stored. It feels perhaps why I am here, doing this ridiculous thing.

Night settles and I have to admit, I am absolutely running on adrenaline. Every sound travels through me and is amplified in my imagination. As much as I want to chase after Dave as he goes around 'hunting' there is part of me that wants to stay in the relative safety of HQ.

Generally, it's a pretty quiet night, although the sudden burst of barking dogs does nothing for the health of my heart. I'm unnerved by the sound, which is clearly a pack of dogs in the woods nearby. Packs of dogs is not a neutral sound and immediately I feel very uncomfortable. Steve, the techie doesn't help matters by telling me the local tale of the ghostly hunt. Susie, who is Dave's right hand woman is quick to shut him down when she sees the look on my face. She tells me that almost all legends of ghostly hunts have been debunked.

Dave returns and he's so pale, he looks as if he has seen a ghost - which he tells us he has; well sort of. He's out of breath and it's clear that he has been running from something.
There's some dark shit out there, guys. A lot of bad energy.

There are a few remaining relics of its days as a
hospital and there is something about their decay that
makes them inherently terrifying and full of possibility. 
He tells us how he was lying on one of the old hospital beds (as you would) and he felt something pressing down on him and then a growl in his ear. Steve's attention is suddenly captured by the site of a nasty red mark on Dave's neck. He investigates, pulling the neck of Dave's t-shirt down. Sure enough, three red scratches run down his skin. Part of me is sad that I missed this incident, the other isn't, which is why I'm not sure what I should do when Suzie and Dave both agreed that they need to head back to the same room and spend more time there. My instinct says no, but nevertheless, I find myself travelling behind them. It's the same room I took a photo of earlier.

I sit on the edge of the bed, encouraged by Dave. I refuse to lie down - I'm not crazy. I can hear the reassuring breaths of both Dave and Suzie. This is why I'm here. To face my own fears, to discover and experience for myself. Nothing happens for about twenty minutes and we're about to go when strong hands push me back and I find myself on my back, a terrible weight over me. I hear Dave and Suzie shout out to me but it's honestly as if they are a whole world away. There's a voice at my ear. I can't move. It's a deep voice, full of menace and I am in no doubt that I am in serious danger - although from what exactly, I can't tell. I'm trying to scream but nothing is coming out.

In that moment, seriously, there's a belief that I might die. Suddenly from the other side of the room, there is a deep barrelling voice that travels across the room. There is no doubt in my mind that it is not the voice of a human.  "I'm right here," it growls before this whooshing sweeps right over me and finally, the scream can escape. Whatever it is, it's gone and the whole atmosphere changes. I'm shaking and laughing and crying all at the same time.

Suzie has me wrapped in her arms, reassuring me that I'm safe and that this wasn't an unusual incident for an investigation. I had come looking for a paranormal experience and I'd had one. Perhaps the moral of this story is be careful what you wish for.



TRICK OR TREAT?

Welcome to the anual OCTOBERFRIGHTS BLOGSHOP. I'm so very pleased that you have stopped by to take part in day one of the October Frights Blogshop and I hope that you have enjoyed reading about my experiences of being on a ghost hunt at The Rookeries Hospital. It's now that I get to tell you that the whole article was a dastardly Halloween trick - a playful creative exploration of a world that  I built as part of The Meadowsweet Chronicles. I'm sorry to have tricked you but I hope you enjoyed it and I hope it fuelled your imagination. The line between reality and fantasy is such  a thin one when you're an author of the paranormal.

So that was your dastardly Trick bit but now I have some lovely treats for you. Firstly, during the course of the 5 day blog hop, all the authors have got together to organise a fabulous rafflecopter giveaway with some really lovely prizes. You can enter that here below. (Just scroll down)

Also to fill your halloween treat bag, here is the link for a FREE eBOOK DOWNLOAD of Book 1 of The Meadowsweet Chronicles, 'Witchcraft' - the series in which The Rookeries Hospital features. It's planned to be a 7 book series and book 4 is coming out spring of 2018.

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE COPY BY CLICKING THIS LINK https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NG5CLTE

a Rafflecopter giveaway

HOP ON OVER TO THE OTHER BLOGS in this fabulous OCTOBERFRIGHTS BLOG HOP.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

HORROR AUTHORS BLOG HOP SIGN UP.

THE ANUAL OCTOBER FRIGHTS BLOG HOP SIGN UP IS HERE



For those who have followed this blog over the years, you'll know that every year at this time of the year, I sign up to the October Frights Blog Hop. It is something I have done for many many years and every time it comes around again, it fills me with a genuine joy.

I have known this horror crowd for years and I love the hop as it's a chance for me to catch up with the work they have done over the year, any releases I may have missed, and to generally hang out with folks I have an affection for.

This year October Frights starts on the 10th of October and ends on the 15th. In that time, there are a whole host of posts from short stories, to extracts, to poems, to articles, to giveaways, fun games and competitions. It's an old school hop and that's what I really love about it.

FELLOW AUTHORS OF HORROR - if you would like to join in the October Frights Blog Hop then please head over to the sign up page here

Inlinkz
Signup Has Begun!
I believe participants will have to join the site to use the signup, but they don’t bite.
You can find the Inlinkz site here: http://www.inlinkz.com/new/
Where to find the signup form:
Or: http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=735017

YOU CAN ALSO JOIN UP by adding yourself to this LINKZ list

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

The Crow Man Chapter One. Exclusive Pre-Release viewing.

The Crow Man, my adult horror novel, comes out on October 3rd 2017. 5 Years in the writing, it has been a labour of love and torment. It is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.

It can be pre-ordered on Amazon
UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0758JMKZ1
US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0758JMKZ1

In the meantime, if you're curious about this project, here is the blurb and the first part of Chapter One.

BLURB


When your worst fear is your own mind.
Grace Waters lost a baby and now stands amidst the ruins of her marriage. Trapped within the loneliness of grief, her perfect and beautiful life as a GP’s wife begins to quickly unravel around her. With her husband increasingly concerned about her state of mind, she begins to doubt her own sanity – especially when she begins to see the terrifying figure of The Crow Man.

Referred to psychiatrist, Doctor Daniel Rose, Grace dares to hope for healing and recovery, but what she finds is an unending nightmare in which those pretending to be the voice of reason are the most dangerously insane of them all. 

Doctor Rose believes he has found the cure for insanity, for fixing the broken. And in his noble and ambitious mind, it doesn't matter that the methods are barbaric because the result is something perfect. 

A terrifying Frankenstein of the psychological age. An exploration into the dark recesses of the human mind and the terrifying psychological experimentations of the 1950s.

Readers' Note:
This is a horror novel with strong themes of female disempowerment and empowerment. It contains scenes that are violent and sinister. Some readers may find these distressing and triggering. It is recommended 18+ reading. 



1.

It was the kind of hour, in the kind of day, where the sky bled grey into the ground. The mist circled the base of the tree trunks. The grasses of the fields beyond the garden, looked like shards of cruel glass spiking the earth. From behind her, Grace heard the ticking of the kitchen clock. It was a heavy sound for a heavy time of year. Aside from this, the house appeared silent, although she knew it was only a trick of distance. Two stories up, the twins were playing in the attic playroom. It would be far from quiet there.

She paid little attention to the dishes she was washing in the sink. She was too busy staring out onto the grey swirling light. It reminded her of her marriage. The bare trees like the skeletal bones of affection she now held for her husband. She sighed heavily and broke her stare away from the distant fields to take the tumbler of gin and tonic from the worktop. She allowed herself ‘just the one’ at lunch time, although the measures had been getting more generous of late.

By the time her eyes travelled back to the space beyond the garden, the figure was there, standing ominously under the ancient oak tree. The glass slipped from her hand, either from shock, or from the soap suds on her hand. Her chest heaved. She blinked, hoping the sight of the freakish figure was nothing more than a figment of her imagination.

He still stood there.

Instinctively, she glanced towards the back door, praying it was locked. She wasn't sure she'd make it in time if it wasn't. There was a supernatural quality to the figure that made her think all efforts to out-run him would be futile.

The figure was a tall man, dressed in a well-tailored suit. Even though he was far away, she could see the cut of the suit was well tailored – sharp and expensive. The kind her husband, Doctor Paul Waters, wore. The figure was neither tall nor short. Neither fat nor thin. He was entirely non-descript; except for his head, which was covered by an old hessian sack, tied at the neck by a piece of worsted thread. Eye-holes had been cut crudely into it, giving the impression of two gapping mouths instead of eyes. The contrast between the rough-cut sack and the suit was startling. Fear beat hard wings in Grace’s chest and she thought for a moment that she might faint.

“Muuuum,” James called as he ran towards her, “I'm hungry!”

Momentarily, she turned, automatically responding, “Just a minute, sweetie.” By the time she looked back towards the monster in the garden, it was gone. Instinct told her that just because she couldn't see him, it didn't mean he wasn't there. Her breath was ragged and sharp in her throat.

He was hiding. Amongst the shadows. In the folds of the mist. Watching.

She wiped a stray piece of her straight, greying-blonde hair from her forehead with the back of her hand. She'd like to cry but her husband had told her it was damaging for the children to see her in an emotional state. Crying was poor form.

She retrieved the pieces of crystal tumbler from the bowl of washing-up water, half-hoping a glass slither might find its way onto her husband's dinner plate, and then his stomach. It was an unusually horrid thought for such a gentle woman. She'd been brought up to believe gentility was a strength, but there were a lot of things about her up-bringing she had started to question. The bin-lid clanged unnaturally loudly in the otherwise quiet house.

Satisfied the tumbler had only cracked into three, she drained the bowl and wiped her hands on her wool A-line skirt. She'd chosen it to go with the beige cashmere roll-neck her husband had brought her for Christmas. She hated it, it reminded her of his mother. Wearing it was a silent act of revenge against him.

“Do you want me to make you some toast?” she asked James, who was hopping from foot to foot with excited energy.

“Yes, please. Can I have jam?”

She smiled and ruffled his hair. “Yes, you can have jam,” she said bending over and whispering conspiratorially. “Just don't tell daddy. You know how he disapproves of sweet things. Does your brother want some?”

James shrugged as if the needs of his brother were the furthest care from his mind. As she watched James run around the kitchen doing an impression of a fighter plane, she smiled, suddenly feeling very foolish she should have let her imagination get the better of her.

At this time of year, the isolated landscape joined hands with the eerie weather and made her prone to flights of fancy. She had always had a vivid imagination. In another life, she might have been an artist. But art was too messy for their perfect existence; too full of feelings and chaos.

When they had moved into the Old Vicarage, she had sworn the house was haunted. An idea Paul had told her was, “Quite ludicrous.” Of course, he had been right. He was always right, she thought bitterly. The spooky banging and clattering had been the antiquated hot water system. The cold draughts of air on the stairs, the fault of a loose window latch. The sound of a baby crying in the night ... her grief at having lost her infant daughter. Never their grief, but hers.

A botched job of the after-care ensured there was no hope of Grace Waters ever having a daughter. The knowledge was like a constant blade in her heart, which dug a little deeper each time she walked. 

She busied herself making toast for her two blond-haired, blue-eyed boys. They were handsome and wholesome. Peas in a pod. Even she had difficulty telling them apart, and they constantly took great delight in playing tricks on their relatives, swapping jumpers and names. From the day they were born, they had been happy children. Grace knew she was blessed, and she knew she should be more grateful for what she had. But sometimes, the human heart doesn’t understand that as it should.

Grace opened the state-of-the-art refrigerator, (a Christmas gift from Paul) and pulled out the home-made jam. Her mother-in-law, Millicent, continually scorned this 'modern' approach to food storage, and the last time she had visited, there had almost been blood-shed over Millicent's precious jam being held prisoner by such a wicked contraption. The memory of it made Grace smile. Millicent was a total bitch but at least she made decent jam.

Catching the toast just in time before it welded itself to the AGA, she proceeded to spread butter and jam like the automaton mother she had become. George, the eldest by five minutes, came galloping into the kitchen on the back of his hobby horse and Grace startled. He was wearing a pillow case as an impromptu helmet, and looked unnervingly reminiscent of the figure she'd conjured in her mind just quarter of an hour before. She pushed the haunted feeling aside and cheerily handed out the plates of hot buttery, jammy toast. The smell of it was enticing. It would be easy enough to make another couple of slices, but instead, she reached for her silver cigarette case and lit one of the French menthol cigarettes. Paul Waters hated overweight women in a way only a true chauvinist pig could.

Grace watched her boys eat and bicker, and play games they didn't think she could see. She smoked the cigarette and crushed the tip into the heavy glass ash-tray. She looked at the clock. It was four o'clock in the afternoon. It was a long time until bed – longer still until Paul would arrive home after a day at the surgery. She ought to start preparing his dinner. She ought to hoover the rug in the hallway, and refresh the vase of flowers, but increasingly, these things didn’t seem to matter, especially as Paul often arrived late and too drink-soft to notice such details. 

Grace put it down to the stresses of being a GP. People now waited until the evening before calling for the doctor. It was a sign of the times. Or at least this was what Grace reasoned in order to stop the wild and dangerous allegations of him possibly having an affair.

She knew in her heart that he was; but she wasn't going to admit it. What would be the point? She could hardly leave him. She had nowhere to go. She owned nothing. It was all his. She had no home to return to. As Paul often reminded her, he had dragged her from some dump of an industrial town and made her into, “The lady you are today. A woman fit to be a doctor's wife.”

He had given her a clothes allowance, furnished their home with solid wood furniture, and all the latest technology. She wore enough diamonds to remind her of his respect for her as the mother of his children (although he failed to mention the word, “love”) and he allowed her to pursue her own hobbies, as long as they didn't interfere in the smooth running of the household or make a mess.

'Yes, I am truly blessed,' she said sharply inside her head.

The boys requested their leave from the table with mouths still stuffed with toast and jam. She smiled and waved them away, hoping she might get at least a half-hour nap on the settee before one of them tried to grievously harm the other. If she could get some rest, she might be able to face the horror of the bath and bedtime routine without the need for another stiff gin.

She walked over to the sink and slipped the plates into the water. Part of her was curious to look back over the garden towards the grey space of fantasy where her mind had conjured such a terrifying figure, and part of her feared the monster might still be standing there.

The grey had inked to a darker light, making it impossible to make reality out from the distant shadows. Her view was further distorted by the emerging reflection in the window of a once very beautiful woman who, over the course of six cruel months, had morphed into the very mask of sorrow.

“Something needs to change,” she whispered. “Or else I'll go mad.”

*

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

A Wattpad Reader & Me Project.

I want to keep my writing fun, positive and interactive. 

As is my nature, I want to push against the tide of broadcast authoring and writing in order to chase the $$ and I want to write because I LOVE writing. 



This is why I'm about to invest huge amounts of time and fun into a Reader & Me project. I'm wanting to get back to the days of growing meaningful, joyful relationships between our entwining stories.

Next week sees the launch of my Wattpad project 'Hotel Palmera'. This is how it's going to work.

I will post 3 short chapters establishing world and premise. They will be released one a day. At the end of those chapters you will be asked a series of questions as to which direction the next chapter takes.

Think those choose your own adventure books when you were a kid.

It's an iPhone project. Spontaneous. Flash fiction (there may be type errors lol) - it's going to run until it ends.

Here's the premise:

On the beautiful, remote island of Comino off the coast of Malta is a luxury hotel. Not quite as many tourists leave as arrive. But what mysteries does the hotel conceal? What dark characters roam its corridors? And what exactly goes on on the 13th floor? Is the Hotel Palmera a place where romance can flourish, where dreams come true, where nightmares manifest?

What happens? You decide.

The MC narrative voice is 22 year old Natasha Klein. Recently split from her boyfriend and embarking on a gap year funded by inheritance.
Who will she meet? You decide.

Sounds fun right? A great way to spend five minutes of your daily social media time?

More details and official launch announcement later this week.
Here is my Wattpad handle. I'll see you there. Fire up your imaginations, it's going to be an epic ride. http://my.w.tt/UiNb/Zs94CVkmWD