Blakemort – It’s Live!

 

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Today’s the day! Blakemort – A Psychic Surveys Christmas Novella – hits the shelves in Amazon as an ebook and paperback. Already it’s garnered great reviews from advance readers, being described as ‘powerful’, ‘thought-provoking’ and ‘downright scary’! What more could my little writer’s heart wish for?

So what’s it all about? Well, it’s the second of my Psychic Surveys Christmas novellas – both are standalone but feed into the main series. The first novella – Eve – focussed on Theo and Ness (two of Ruby’s colleagues in the main books) working on a case together before they’ve even met Ruby or joined Psychic Surveys. Blakemort focusses on Corinna, the youngest of the Psychic Surveys team and the five years she spent at Blakemort as a child – a house with a very disturbing history.

As with all my books, it’s inspired by true hauntings. In this case the very spooky Wymering Manor in Portsmouth, which I hope to visit soon for a personal tour. Sightings include a lady in a violet dress, a choir of nuns and the sound of children crying and phantom horses galloping away at night. But that’s Wymering Manor, at Blakemort it gets decidedly more sinister…

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Here’s the blurb for it and a few teasers to whet your appetite, plus the links for Blakemort and also for Eve, which is on sale on Amazon for 99p at the moment (ebook). For a Christmas treat with a difference, close the curtains, light the fire and get stuck in!

“That house, that damned house. Will it ever stop haunting me?”

After her parents’ divorce, five-year old Corinna Greer moves into Blakemort with her mother and brother. Set on the edge of the village of Whitesmith, the only thing attractive about it is the rent. A ‘sensitive’, Corinna is aware from the start that something is wrong with the house. Very wrong.

Christmas is coming but at Blakemort that’s not something to get excited about. A house that sits and broods, that calculates and considers, it’s then that it lashes out – the attacks endured over five years becoming worse. There are also the spirits, some willing residents, others not. Amongst them a boy, a beautiful, spiteful boy…

Who are they? What do they want? And is Corinna right when she suspects it’s not just the dead the house traps but the living too?

Amazon Links – Blakemort

UK http://tinyurl.com/jhj9lqc

UK http://tinyurl.com/z5o5d5l

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Amazon Links – Eve

UK http://tinyurl.com/hk9cmay

US http://tinyurl.com/ztx23x7

Find me on Social Media

Facebook Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/p9yggq9

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shani_struthers

Blog: https://shanisite.wordpress.com

Goodreads: http://tinyurl.com/mq25mav

Website: http://www.shanistruthers.com

Newsletter Link: http://eepurl.com/beoHLv

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Jennifer Wilson and Kindred Spirits!

Having not utilised ye old blog for a while, I’ve got three interviews lined up – the first with the very lovely Jennifer C Wilson, author of Kindred Spirits – Tower of London, which is on sale this week on Amazon at 99p. Here she tells us all about the book, what inspired her to write it and her fascination with the aforementioned Tower.

Grab a cuppa, have a read and then go and then bag yourselves a bargain (the link is at the bottom of the article). Take it away, Jennifer…

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Hi, Shani, and happy Halloween! Those are definitely words I never thought I’d find myself saying… I’ve never particularly liked Halloween. I’ve never really liked the idea of ghosts. So, the notion of my debut novel being a ghost story (or a story about ghosts, at least), is, frankly, ridiculous. I’m such a wimp that I don’t even like watching Midsomer Murders in the dark…

But there you go. Having had the idea that if the ghosts of Richard III and Anne Boleyn were in the same place, they’d have a lot in common, it kept nagging away at me, especially thinking about where they would be. The Tower of London seemed the most logical choice, given that Anne was executed and buried there, and it’s where the Princes in the Tower also met their deaths, the two people who probably occupied Richard’s mind the most during his reign. I had been trying to write about Richard for so long, and decided to just go with it – easily the best decision I ever made!

TowerOfLondon.jpgAnd when you start looking into who could be hanging about the place, the research soon becomes quite addictive. I’ve had to stop reading about the Tower, because I just kept finding more and more people who could legitimately be haunting the place, and wishing I’d come across them two years ago. The ‘cast list’ I went for in the end wasn’t bad mind, and certainly not lacking in star quality. As the blurb says: A King, three Queens, and plenty of other nobles for them to spar with. And when two of those Queens are probably Henry’s two most famous, Katherine Howard and Anne Boleyn, there’s plenty of sparks to fly.

Having first visited the Tower on a bleak February morning, and first seeing it through a blizzard, the idea that spirits still inhabit the place didn’t need much imagination. Even during my next visit, in glorious Bank Holiday sunshine, there are plenty of nooks and crannies, still open to the public but off the more beaten track, where you can get a real sense of the Tower’s history, and its place in the story of Britain. Built so soon after the Conquest, there cannot be a monarch who hasn’t visited. If walls could talk, you would certainly need earplugs… I wouldn’t say I felt uneasy there, but some of the rooms, such as where prisoners had carved their names into walls (one even, according to tradition, surviving from George Boleyn, almost certainly, as with his sister and the other men, innocent of the crimes he was charged with) have a definite ‘atmosphere’, especially when you’re in there alone. For the bare rooms the prisoners would have been kept in, there isn’t much of a difference today, and certainly the lower rooms you can access still feel claustrophobic. I wouldn’t have wanted to be left there.

Definitely enough to spark the imagination, and the idea did indeed keep me out of trouble during NaNoWriMo 2013.

For a limited time only, until the end of Halloween, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London is just 99p/c. I hope you enjoy reading it!

Kindred Spirits: Tower of London

A King, three Queens, a handful of nobles and a host of former courtiers…
In the Tower of London, the dead outnumber the living, with the likes of Tudor Queens Anne Boleyn and Katherine Howard rubbing shoulders with one man who has made his way back from his place of death at Bosworth Field to discover the truth about the disappearance of his famous nephews.
Amidst the chaos of daily life, with political and personal tensions running high, Richard III takes control, as each ghostly resident looks for their own peace in the former palace – where privacy was always a limited luxury.
With so many characters haunting the Tower of London, will they all find the calm they crave?

About Jennifer

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Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she has since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating.
Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. Her debut novel Kindred Spirits: Tower of London was published by Crooked Cat Publishing in October 2015.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jennifercwilsonwriter/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/inkjunkie1984

Blog: https://jennifercwilsonwriter.wordpress.com/

Kindred Spirits: Tower of London, Amazon link: http://authl.it/B016TRKU2A

 

The Myths of Publishing

Sound advice from experienced author, Jan Ruth, about the myths surrounding publishing and self-publishing. An absolute must read.

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Self-Publishing is a Last Resort.

No. To self-publish or operate as an Individual Publisher or an Indie, is often the best creative choice. Without the shackles of commercial pressure, genre-blending or your own personal genre, is the new kid on the block! The author retains global selling rights across all platforms and retains the majority share of any royalties. Most importantly, the author is in complete control of the entire process, from designing the cover to organising events, to advertising and pacing the release of new material. The more you invest of yourself the greater the opportunity for growth, development, and experience, not only as a writer through valuable on-line networking but in all aspects of the publishing world.

Depending on your technical skills, it’s quite possible to design your own covers and 13735790_873470892758672_4699674544226635043_opromotional material using a range of high quality software, some of which is accessible for free…

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The World’s Most Haunted Island

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On the 9th August 2016, This Haunted World Book One: The Venetian, was launched on Amazon. The first in a series of books based in and around the world’s most haunted places, the venue for the first, as it’s title suggests, is Venice – regarded as the ‘world’s most haunted city’. I first visited not long ago, in November 2015 and found this ancient, crumbling city haunting in more ways than one. At that time of year, the nights close in early and, for me, that’s when Venice comes alive, dark alleyway after dark alleyway lonely and eerie, drawing you in, always in, to the beating heart of the city. You could spend all weekend immersed in it’s haunting beauty, eschewing the more familiar sights of St Mark’s Square andimages.jpeg the Bridge of Sighs for ones such as C’à Dario or “The House of No Return” as locals call it because it is believed to eventually kill or ruin all of its owners. The murder chain starts back in the 15th century when the daughter of its first owner, Giovanni Dario, committed suicide in the house after her husband went bankrupt and their son was killed in a fight, and continues well into the 21st century. Just in case you like to play with fire, the house is currently up for sale!

And then there’s Poveglia. Ah, Poveglia, in the Venetian Lagoon.  What a chequered images.jpeghistory that has! It’s known as ‘the world’s most haunted island’ and I think it’s probably fair to say it is. The Venetian is not only set in Venice, it’s set on Poveglia too. Plague and disease were huge problems in the Medieval world, and Venice was no exception. When plague threatened to wipe out the city entirely, it was to Poveglia that the ill and the suffering were banished… never to return. In 1922, a mental asylum was built on the island and dubious practices reputed to have been carried out in otherwise splendid isolation. The asylum was shut down in 1968 and today Poveglia is home to nothing more than a collection of abandoned buildings surrounded by fields, known as plague pits – where the bones of the plague-ridden lie with those from the asylum. It’s forbidden to visit the island, but people do, after all, it’s just a short boat ride away from the mainland…

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The Venetian takes the dark side of Venice, including the history of Poveglia, to bring you a story that’s horrifying but in very human terms. Mixing fact with fiction, it was a fascinating story to write but I was also aware that it was real history I was dealing with and therefore people, those who had once lived and breathed, and so I had to tread carefully and with the greatest respect. Often the subject of Poveglia is dealt with in a gratuitous manner, but in this new series of books that’s something I don’t want to do. For me the story is horrifying enough, it really doesn’t need much, if any, embellishment.

Next week I’m off to New England, stopping over at Salem for three nights, home of the notorious 17th century Witch Trials. Again, I’ll be looking for a story – one that hasn’t been told before. One that should be told. The human side of horror. Watch this space.

Reviews so far for The Venetian:

“One of the most compulsive reads for a long time.” “Full of gripping suspense.” “An absolute masterpiece.” “Haunting and unbelievably atmospheric.” “A nerve tingling, nightmare inducing novel which skilfully twists and turns.”

If you’d like to read it, it’s available in ebook and paperback on Amazon and soon in all good book stores. Here’s the link:

UK http://tinyurl.com/goardwp US http://tinyurl.com/zl6jx7c

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Welcome to the Asylum…

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It’s here – launched today on Amazon worldwide in ebook format and paperback –  The Venetian. It’s the first in my new This Haunted World paranormal series – a set of books not connected by characters but by places in our big wide world that are considered haunted. Each book will be a standalone and seeks to mix fiction with fact – or at the very least the myth and legend that haunted places tend to be shrouded in. Like all my books, I try to find the ‘human’ story behind the ghosts, what they’ve suffered, why they’re still grounded, and why some of them seem hell bent on revenge and destruction. They’re not ‘horrors’ but sometimes, and inevitably, the boundaries blur.

Set between ‘the world’s most haunted city’ and Poveglia, ‘the world’s most haunted island’, dare you encounter another side to Venice – the dark side – crossing still waters to an island where madness once reigned?

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Here’s the blurb:

‘Welcome to the asylum…’

2015

Their troubled past behind them, married couple, Rob and Louise, visit Venice for the first time together, looking forward to a relaxing weekend. Not just a romantic destination, it’s also the ‘most haunted city in the world’ and soon, Louise finds herself the focus of an entity she can’t quite get to grips with – a ‘veiled lady’ who stalks her.

1938

After marrying young Venetian doctor, Enrico Sanuto, Charlotte moves from England to Venice, full of hope for the future. Home though is not in the city; it’s on Poveglia, in the Venetian lagoon, where she is set to work in an asylum, tending to those that society shuns. As the true horror of her surroundings reveals itself, hope turns to dust.

From the labyrinthine alleys of Venice to the twisting, turning corridors of Poveglia, their fates intertwine. Vengeance only waits for so long…

To celebrate there’s an online Facebook launch party between 10am – 6pm today, with plenty of giveaways from me and other authors, so head on over and join in the fun. Meanwhile, if you fancy a read, here’s the links. I hope you enjoy it!

UK http://tinyurl.com/goardwp

US http://tinyurl.com/zl6jx7c

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An Interview with Mark Tilbury

It is my absolute pleasure to be hosting Mark Tilbury on my blog – I sent him a few questions and he’s very kindly answered them. Mark is the author of The Revelation Room and The Eyes of the Accused, I read the first almost in one sitting it’s that gripping (it normally takes me ages to read a book!) The second is still a delight to come but I know I’m going to enjoy it because Mark’s writing style is fluent and edge of the seat, with shades of my favourite author of all-time, Stephen King. Grab a coffee and have a read about what inspires him and the writing process. Take it away, Mark…

The-Revelation-Room-Complete-200x300.jpgTell us about the book(s) you’ve written. What was the first seed of an idea you had for your book? How did it develop?

The idea behind the Ben Whittle investigation books was to try to create a character that was not your typical sort of private investigator. He was thrown into the role by the kidnap of his father by a religious cult. Ben just worked in the office at Whittle Investigations. A shy, insecure boy with a traumatic past. I didn’t want the usual super sleuth who cuts his way through a minefield of clues to slay the dragon at the end. I wanted to create something much more subtle than that. To show that the ordinary guy, who is full of self-doubt and lacking in confidence, can also overcome the odds and stand up to evil.

How would you describe your writing process? Do you outline or are you (like me) a ‘write the first line and let’s see where it goes’ type of person?

I used to write and see where it took me. I quite liked the excitement of discovery, finding hidden trails and seeing what obstacles lie in wait for my main character. Unfortunately, that lead to too many blind alleys, and it seemed to take longer to unravel the mistakes than it did to sit down and write a proper plan. So for my third novel, which should be out later this year, I planned it meticulously. I know I’m probably tempting fate, but it seemed to go without a hitch. First draft written in ten weeks. It’s also a departure from the first two books. More of a supernatural thriller. Very dark and emotional. Somewhere I really want to explore in future books.

How has writing books changed you?

I’ve become a lot more focused on the job in hand. I plan more than I used to, although the germ of a novel still tends to spring from one of the main characters (usually the bad guy) speaking to me in my head. I’m also a lot more aware of what works and what doesn’t. It’s like a huge learning curve. Also, feedback helps enormously, and I’ve learnt so much from people’s comments, both good and bad. Overall, I’m much more aware of the need to respect the art of writing and give my very best when I write if I want to share it with other people.

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What do you keep in mind as you write? An overarching question, a theme, the last line of the book?

The characters. Making sure that they act, speak and behave consistently, and that the main character follows the character arc I have set for him/her.

Is there an aspect of writing that you favour over others, e.g. dialogue, setting, or character? Is there one that is more difficult for you?

Dialogue. I really love writing dialogue and putting words into my characters mouths. Or do they put thoughts into my head? I’m never quite sure which way around that is! I can only really get going with a plot when the characters speak to me. Once I get the flow and the rhythm of their voices, I’m pretty happy. The rest of it I find quite hard work. Like anyone, there are many areas I still need to improve on, but the dialogue comes more naturally to me than the rest.

Tell us about the funniest/craziest/most interesting thing that has happened to you as a writer.

It’s something that happens right out of the blue. One of the characters will speak to me in my head before I’ve even got a story to put them in. For example, in the Revelation Room, long before it was the Revelation Room, Edward Ebb, the bad guy, spoke quite clearly. He said, “you’re going down the rabbit hole where all the burnt bunnies go.” I quite literally had to work the rest of the story out from there. Another guy spoke to me recently. He said, “What doesn’t kill you will make you wish it had.” I have no idea what story he’s from, because I haven’t even thought of it yet. I know his name’s Peter King and he’s a narcissist. It’s now up to me to fill in the blanks.

What would you tell aspiring writers today?

To always believe in yourself and to never stop learning. Listen to advice, constructive criticism and anything else of value that comes your way.

Mark’s books are available on Amazon and, if you want to find out more, here’s his stalk links:

Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/294Gdd0
Facebook author page: http://www.facebook.com/marktilburyauthor
Twitter profile: http://www.twitter.com/MTilburyAuthor
Goodreads profile: https://www.goodreads.com/marktilbury

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Ailsa flies in!

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(Hammering from inside a cupboard)

Ahem! I’m in here. Can you let me out please? Hello? Hello?

Ah, hello Shani. I thought for a change I’d teleport instead of using the magic carpet and I must have said “Tighten” instead of “Brighton” because I’m a bit cramped in here. Gissa hand up would you?

Thanks.

Oh that’s better. Bless you for inviting me over again for a chat. Anything hot will do, you know me, tea coffee etc.

So. You wanted to know how my work is going now that break in the Italian forests got me writing again, didn’t you? Weeeeeeeeeeell….my mother always used to say that if there were an easy way and a hard way to do something it was a sure-fire bet which way I’d do it. I seem to do everything back to front, like writing my series by starting with Book 2 and having to write Book 1 as a prequel.

Getting back into writing again properly I decided I needed my workspace back so I set to shifting the two tons of yarn in my stash. Mistake.

Having had scoliosis of the spine following an accident aged fifteen, that has developed into spinal arthritis so humping great boxes of stuff around is not good for me. However, my study is just about finished so I can shut myself away and at least have a “my place” to write.

As far as ideas go, I have loads. Last count I had four Works In Progress and, being me, I can’t settle on one and do them in any coherent order.

When I was little I always wanted to learn to ride a unicycle but at the moment I feel as if I’m riding one backwards, blindfold; while juggling kitchen knives.

This is all pretty normal for me what with being Bipolar and having been dropped on my head too often. The stroke didn’t help but then they very seldom do, no?

All that being said I’m actually doing OK.

In the Alchemy series there are at least two more books, one mainly about Riga and Iamo, the other following Dagda’s solo adventures once Riga has left the Black Shamen’s Guild. On top of that I’m being asked to release my tales of Otter and her pals which appear on my blog and Nanny Ab my alter-ego and biographer wants to ghost write the story of my life in France over the past twenty five years, working title “Knitting With Eels”.

Busy? Well rather. Given that I only ever get 1Z hours out of 24 due to my ME and having to sleep a bit during the day, just a touch. I take advantage of that time by putting my TENS machine on and electrocuting my spine at the same time so at least I’m doing two things at once.

I’d love more coffee please. I swear I don’t have a blood stream these days, it’s pure caffeine.

Inspiration? Never a problem. Ideas keep pouring in, characters move into my house, as you discovered when you came to stay during my absence and they begin pestering me to write their stories too. My idea of writer’s block is far more physical with my damaged body not being able to get the words on the screen and yes I tried a voice recognition app but I’m as British as Princess Anne so the American machinery mangled my words into worse rubbish than I could type.

Shani, darling, it’s been lovely and thanks for the hot drinks. I needed that. Now if you could just guide me out into the garden so I can see which direction I’m going, I’ll disappear in a cloud of cobwebs. Yes, I think I’ll stick with the magic carpet in future, less hassle. You remember I can always send it over for you to come visit again.

Aisle, I’d love to come and visit very soon. Meanwhile, here are the buy links for Ailsa’s superb books – all available on Amazon worldwide.

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Link for YOUR Amazon 

Find Ailsa on Twitter  and Facebook  too!