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 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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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!

 

Pica – The Natural World and the Lost World

It’s a big welcome to Jeff Gardiner today – not only editor of all my books (and someone I can highly recommend) but an author too. Here he’s telling us about his latest release with Accent Press called Pica, a YA novel blending the natural world with ancient mystery and, of course, a thrilling story. As well as what inspired him to write it, he shares an excerpt, blurb and those all-important buy links. Take it away, Jeff…

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In our Western culture we are becoming horribly dependent upon modern technology. I worry about my children and what experts call ‘screen time’. How many hours each day should children be allowed to spend behind a screen? How will it affect their health and mindset? It’s something I’m sure all parents worry about.

As a child myself, my parents took me for lots of walks in the countryside: forests, lakes and hills. These walks inspired me to take an interest in birds, wildlife and the world around me. There’s nothing quite like a walk in the rugged outdoors.

How many children and families visit the countryside or go on walking holidays? As a teacher it disturbed me when some pupils told me they never went to the countryside. I live close to the downs and a huge forest, plus a number of fascinating National Trust locations, but some pupils gave me a blank look when I mentioned them.

So ‘PICA’ is my response to young people who tell me that nature is ‘boring’. No it isn’t. Our planet is awe-inspiring and filled with ancient mystery. Humans used to live close to nature and their lives fitted around the rhythms and patterns of the natural world. There must be ancient magic and secrets that have been lost over time. ‘PICA’ is set in the modern world and it explores the idea that we can rediscover those ancient mysteries. Luke is a teenager whose life is blown apart when he realises what amazing secrets are contained within nature…

Blurb

Pica explores a world of ancient magic, when people and nature shared secret powers.

Luke hates nature, preferring the excitement of computer games to dull walks in the countryside, but his view of the world around him drastically begins to change when enigmatic loner, Guy, for whom Luke is reluctantly made to feel responsible, shows him some of the secrets that the very planet itself appears to be hiding from modern society.

Set in a very recognisable world of school and the realities of family-life, Luke tumbles into a fascinating world of magic and fantasy where transformations and shifting identities become an escape from the world. Luke gets caught up in an inescapable path that affects his very existence, as the view of the world around him drastically begins to change.

Extract

A magpie (Latin name – Pica pica) has been persistently knocking on Luke’s window, and everywhere he goes he sees magpies. One day he decides to let the magpie in…

As soon as I pushed the window outwards the waiting bird hopped in, making a sound that almost equated to a tut. That can’t be right. I was imagining things again. My first fear that the magpie would squawk and flap about madly was unfounded, but I still felt nervous in its unpredictable presence, and had to keep trusting it wouldn’t poo on my bed.

But it didn’t. In fact, it acted with excellent manners. What kind of bird was this? Wild birds don’t enter houses after knocking politely. If a bird does accidently get into a house it goes completely mental and craps everywhere. This one looked at me with eyes that gleamed with intelligent understanding. It knew me. I swear, it looked at me and knew I wouldn’t hurt it. In the old days I would have looked for a stick or a weapon. Now things were different, and I stared back at him with utter fascination. I moved even closer, confident I wasn’t in any danger.

‘You need to choose your friends more carefully, Luke.’

I stumbled slightly and had to grip the windowsill with my fingertips to hold myself up.

What the –?

The sodding bird had only gone and spoken to me. It snapped its beak, glared at me sideways, then flicked its tail.

Was that for real, or had I lost the plot? Being with Guy had obviously turned me into a nut-job.

Up to now, I’d witnessed some amazing sights – but they could all be explained in encyclopaedias. However amazing the creatures Guy showed me, each one existed in the real world. But a talking bird? Now we’d suddenly jumped into a different dimension.

And it had used my name.

Had Guy sent this amazing bird to me to blow my mind even further?

It had to be Guy’s doing – sent on a crazy mission … unless …

‘Guy?’

Now I felt really stupid talking to a bird.

‘Hello, Luke.’

Bloody hell. Take me to a padded cell. I’d lost it. Maybe I never had it!

‘Guy? Is that …’ This was crazy. ‘… is that you?’

Visit Jeff at:

Jeff’s website

Accent Press

WHSmith

Barnes & Noble

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon Australia

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Rumer Haven’s New Release!

Thanks so much for hosting me, Shani!
On moving to London several years ago, I immediately stumbled upon Brompton Cemetery, and it’s been my favorite spot ever since. One of London’s “Magnificent Seven” cemeteries established in the 19th century, Brompton stretches for nearly forty acres and is my urban oasis. Much like Margot, the protagonist of What the Clocks Know, I felt quite lost when I first relocated from the States. Having moved for my husband’s job, I found myself without one of my own for a while, and without family and friends around either, my life felt rather isolated and aimless during that initial stretch.But Brompton was one place where peace and reflection came easily, so I chose to send Margot there as well in this story. The cemetery both heals and heightens her anxieties and, either way, compels her to return time and again. She isn’t certain if what she’s experiencing is paranormal or psychological, though, and Brompton becomes a key place for finding the answers.

The following excerpt originated somewhere between journal pages and coffee shop napkins, which I scribbled on during my early visits to the cemetery. The gravestones, statues, flora, and even fauna all triggered random thoughts that eventually gelled into this scene and others. And, yes, there really is a Charlotte Pidgeon.

Excerpt:
Margot edged closer to a tomb that echoed loudly with buzzing insects; when she peered into its blackness, a cool, ancient scent wafted to her face. Continuing to idle along, she scanned the moss and vines that clung to and devoured the markers sprouting all throughout this garden of marble and granite, the Gothic juxtaposed with the Romanesque, Celtic crosses with Grecian urns.

Stopping at another grave, she saw Christmas décor rotting away by her feet. A depressing sight in summer, the winter wreath made her fancy how the cemetery’s atmosphere must change with the seasons. She wouldn’t be in London long enough to see it burn in rust and gold, the falling leaves mimicking the footfall of a pursuing stranger and the plucked trees revealing more of the sky and buildings beyond. Yet she could imagine how, on one chilled day that would paint the scene gray, someone would kneel again at a name of diminishing meaning to the present world and place another wreath of scarlet ribbon and silver baubles. Only for it to waste away during another sunny spring and rainy summer as the cycle continued: lather, rinse, repeat.

The effect of time would be noticeable enough, and somehow she felt she’d already seen it all before and would again, her grandest déjà-vu yet. To preserve its enchantment, she didn’t analyze the reasons why this site had come to matter so much. She felt whole here. That was all to know.
But her bladder waited for no man, living or dead. Picking up her pace, Margot hightailed it to the cemetery’s rear exit until a shiver clenched the muscles between her shoulder blades. Despite
her urgency to get back home, she slowed to a full stop in front of a gabled gravestone. An ornate sprig of acacia crowned an inscription she hadn’t seen yet.

READER, STAY.
UNDERNEATH THIS STONE DOTH LIE
AS MUCH BEAUTY AS COULD DIE;
WHICH IN LIFE DID HARBOR GIVE
TO MORE VIRTUE THAN DOTH LIVE.
IF AT ALL SHE HAD A FAULT,
LEAVE IT BURIED IN THIS VAULT.

Rather than grab her pen and napkin to write the poem down, Margot just stood there, rereading it. Contemplating it. If there was an afterlife, could people really leave their failings behind to putrefy in the dirt, safe from anyone’s memory? She liked to think so.

Her gaze rose to the name chiseled in the stone.

CHARLOTTE PIDGEON

It so happened that Charlotte Pidgeon was born on the same day as Margot, but her year of birth was 1848 and year of death 1874. Despite all the other gravestones she’d recorded onto her napkin, copying anything down from this one somehow seemed blasphemous. So she just kept standing, with gravity fastening her in place. Gawking, until a weight on her breastbone made it more difficult to breathe.

The sensation was strange, no question. Margot had never felt anything like it. But she’d taken enough psychology courses as an advertising major to peg it for what it was: a psychosomatic response. The conditions were ideal for something like that. For one, the general creepy-factor of standing above hundreds of corpses as black birds crowed their ‘Evermores’ left and right. And now this moving inscription that kicked in her sympathies.

There was otherwise no meaning in it – even if, go figure, the given name should be Charlotte. A decent coincidence to add to her diary, but it wasn’t surprising that such a popular Victorian name would find its way on an English grave or the spine of an English book. She must have seen a dozen Charlottes in that lot alone by now, along with all the Alices, Emmas, and Janes.

And so what if their birthdays were the same? The ratio of 365 days to the billions of people ever born on Earth was basically nil. She had to stop pandering to what the human brain did naturally: form correlations when it noted them. Only this and nothing more.

Exhausted with her overactive imagination and fantastically bored with herself, she didn’t want to stand there anymore. But she didn’t want to walk anywhere else either. Breathing heavily through her nose as a numbness dulled her, she didn’t want to be anywhere in that moment, not even in her own skin. The effort and futility of life bore down on her as she considered all the bodies underground, all those who’d borne the burden of existence and thought it mattered until they didn’t exist or matter anymore – just rotted in boxes under her feet.

She had to go back to Rand’s. She didn’t want to; she needed to. Not for the toilet any longer, but a bath sounded nice – something that could warm her against the nip of her fears, wash away the soil she felt falling over her. Drown the thuds each shovelful made on the lid of her inner casket. That sounded purposeful enough.

Forgive my intrusion, Miss Pidgeon. I will leave you to rest in peace.

~ * ~

About What the Clocks Know:
Finding a ghost isn’t what Margot had in mind when she went ‘soul searching’, but somehow her future may depend on Charlotte’s past.

Woven between 21st-century and Victorian London, What the Clocks Know is a haunting story of love and identity. A paranormal women’s fiction, this title is available as of March 18, 2016 from Crooked Cat Publishing.

“A unique tale of the paranormal – as beautiful as it is haunting.”
~ Shani Struthers, author of Jessamine and the Psychic Surveys series

** Add it! **
** Read it! **
~ * ~

Author Bio:

Rumer Haven is probably the most social recluse you could ever meet. When she’s not babbling her fool head off among friends and family, she’s pacified with a good story that she’s reading, writing, or revising—or binge-watching something on Netflix. A former teacher hailing from Chicago, she presently lives in London with her husband and probably a ghost or two. Rumer has always had a penchant for the past and paranormal, which inspires her writing to explore dimensions of time, love, and the soul. She debuted in 2014 with Seven for a Secret (in which a Jazz Age tragedy haunts a modern woman’s love life), and her award-winning short story “Four Somethings & a Sixpence” (about a bride who gets a little something she didn’t register for) was released in 2015. What the Clocks Know is her second novel.

Learn more about Rumer at:
Website – http://www.rumerhaven.com
Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/rumerhaven
Twitter – @RumerHaven

 

Something for the Weekend with Tim and Kimm!

It’s lovely to have fellow Crooked Cat authors, Kimm Walker and Tim Taylor on my blog today, telling us about how they met, and talking candidly about the process of writing and making a sale. Here we go…

twitter picture.jpgTim and I are both Crooked Cat authors and met at Holmfirth Writers’ Group many years ago. We thought it might be interesting to do a head-to-head interview, as a change.

Tim: We’ve missed you recently from the writers’ group. I hope you’ve been able to work through the writer’s block you were suffering a while back?

Kimm: It’s true, I’ve turned away from “Writing” and given up some of the groups I used to regularly attend. Having poured whole years heart and mind into writing two books, Once Removed and A Life Less Lost, I was disappointed they didn’t go out and sell themselves, as per my romantic fantasy. Self-doubt is hard to overcome.

But as anyone who writes knows, banner.png“Writing” doesn’t care if you turn your back – it won’t let you go. So perhaps not novels, although that is the form I love to read and am most at ease with, I still play with poems, write articles and am wondering about trying my hand at stories for my grandchildren.

For Christmas I was given a week’s writing retreat in Italy with Sue Moorcroft so we’ll see what time has to say.

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Tim:
Sounds fantastic! I hope it does the trick for you, Kimm.

Kimm: Speaking of the difficulties of book promotion, you ran a sale throughout December. Can you tell if it’s made a difference? What have you found is the best way to make your brilliant books known to possible readers?

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Tim: My sales did seem to pick up a bit in December, though it’s difficult to tell how much of that was due to the reduced price and how much to the effort I put in to promote it. I think that of all the methods I’ve tried, live readings have perhaps had the most direct impact, and can be quite rewarding – though of course, there is a limit to how many people you can reach that way. I have the feeling that social media is getting a bit saturated with books and it’s becoming harder to get them noticed (though I still use it, of course!)

Kimm: I certainly agree about the live talks/readings. I did a lot of that with my memoir, A Life Less Lost. People bought a copy for themselves then came back to me and bought more for family and friends. One person actually bought 7 copies! But I seemed to run out of venues after a while.

Tim: As well as Holmfirth Writers’ Group, we also both attend the monthly Poetry Day at Huddersfield University. How do you see the relationship between fiction, non-fiction and poetry, as someone who has written all three?

Kimm: These three forms of writing have one vital thing in common – audience. True, the audience may have different expectations for each form but all three forms must keep their readers engaged.

My love of fiction and learning the craft of writing prose, I believe, helped me make my memoir more compelling. The exacting nature of poetry – distilling emotions into tight word pictures, creating metaphor and similies – provides skills that can also add depth and colour to fiction and non-fiction. And taking real life experiences into your prose and poetry gives them both authenticity and a voice that speaks to others.

Tim: Nicely put – and I’m sure you’re right.

Kimm: You also write beautiful poetry, have serious published non-fiction work and two fascinating historical fiction novels out. Do you think your day job helped you get inside the skin of the people you write so well?

Revolution Day.jpgTim: I guess my experience of government as a civil servant for 26 years informed certain details of my novel Revolution Day (about an ageing Latin American dictator whose Vice-President is plotting against him): the long tedious formal meetings, the horse trading that goes on in negotiations, etc. Less so the characters themselves, for the most part, with the partial exception of Felipe, the private secretary of dictator Carlos Almanzor, who reflects my observations of real private secretaries to government ministers and the like (though I’ve never done that job).

My first novel, Zeus of Ithome, was set in ancient Greece, so I was much more reliant on imagination and what I could glean from the sources, rather than personal experience. Though I think our experiences always ultimately feed into what we write, though often in an indirect way.

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Kimm: Absolutely! We absorb our understanding of human behaviour and relationships from our own experience, which then feeds our imagination.

Tim: It’s been good to chat with you again, Kimm. And many thanks to Shani for hosting us both!

It’s been a pleasure, here are the buy links for Kimm’s books – I’ve read Once Removed and can highly recommend it. Get clicking folks!

Buy and Stalk Links for Kimm:

Buy and Stalk Links for Tim:

 

 

 

 

Why Jane Eyre Needs a Sequel with Luccia Gray

Books1.jpgJane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is one of literature’s most fascinating books – certainly I’ve read it a good few times and love it. In fact, when people ask what my favourite book is, this is it, this is the one – only Wuthering Heights by Charlotte’s sister, Emily, comes anywhere close. So, when I found out Luccia Gray had written a sequel to it, I was intrigued and had to read it. I’ll let Luccia herself tell you all about why she wrote it and what it’s about but suffice to say it was wonderful being back in Jane’s world again as it twists and turns in several surprising ways. Take it away, Luccia…

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When I first read Jane Eyre, I was fascinated by Jane’s character and fortitude. She was an orphan who grew up in a hostile family, with her cruel Aunt Reed and her spiteful cousins. She later survived physical and emotional hardships, such as sickness, malnutrition, and humiliation, at Lowood Institution, yet she was determined and intelligent enough to become a teacher there. At eighteen, she had the resoluteness and optimism to apply for a job as a governess in order to gain further independence.

I was naturally overjoyed when she seemingly found true love in Mr. Rochester, and devastated to learn that not only was he already married, but that he had imprisoned his mad wife in his windowless attic at Thornfield Hall, in the care of the drunken Grace Poole. Then Jane’s hardships started anew. She abandoned Thornfield and was forced to beg for a job and shelter. I was overjoyed that she found Mary, Diana, and St. John, who were cousins, as yet unknown to her.

I was relieved that she didn’t accept St. John’s proposal, and mesmerized by her ability to hear Mr. Rochester call her across the Moors in a moonlit night. When she inherited her Uncle John’s fortune and shared it with her cousins, it was obvious that her life was on the mend. When she finally travelled back to Thornfield Hall and discovered that it had been burnt down and Bertha Mason was dead, I knew Jane would be rewarded with a happy ending, and she was. ‘Reader, I married him,” she told us, and I sighed with immense relief and joy.

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I was about fourteen at the time. Jane was blind because she was nineteen and in love, and I was blind because I was young enough to believe Jane’s happiness would be eternal.

Twenty years later, an English Teacher from Denmark, Anne, suggested I read Wide Sargasso Sea, by Jean Rhys, and that’s when I understood that every story has two sides, at least. I started wondering what kind of a man Rochester really was, and if Jane’s happiness would have lasted.

Sixteen years later, when I was a College Professor, preparing my classes on Postcolonial Literature in English, I realized there was a counter narrative in which the colonial cultures wrote their way back into world history, which the dominant Europeans had written.

I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right, it took me a long time to realize that Jane Eyre did not tell the whole story. I was almost fifty. I suppose it took me that long to acquire the life experience, and academic and literary knowledge to realize that Jane Eyre was unfinished for two reasons: the arbitrary (albeit necessary) choice of end point, and the spaces left within the narrative.

Jane was only nineteen, when the main events occurred, and probably just a couple of years older when the autobiography was written. The last few paragraphs of Jane Eyre, where she moves the story on a few years, are a couple of rushed and imprecise paragraphs. The last we are told is that Rochester recovers his eye-sight and has his first-born son in his arms. It’s an open ended story, because the rest of their marriage is open to discussion.

That’s when I realized that Orson Wells had the key to a happy ending: ‘If you want a happy ending, that depends on where you stop the story.’

Charlotte Bronte stopped where she wanted to stop, but Jane Eyre, like all works of art belong to the beholder, and readers are free to reinterpret any work of art. I am neither the first nor the last to do so. I’ve written a post about this called sequels, prequels, reinterpretations, rewritings, and writing back, which deals with this topic in greater depth.

The second reason follows on from the first. I agree with Derrida that ‘there is nothing outside the text’. Everything I have written is based on the spaces between the lines of Jane Eyre. I’ve created an intertextual and diachronic mélange in my mind, which I have translated into a trilogy.

I had four objectives when I decided to write The Eyre Hall Trilogy:

Firstly, my aim was to expose Rochester as a tyrant and revindicate Bertha Mason as his victim. I am sure that Jane Eyre would have become another victim, given a few years, which is what is disclosed in my novel.

Secondly, I wanted to make sure that amends would be made, so Bertha’s daughter (my creation) would be reinstated, and Jane would find happiness and lasting love, with another, worthier man (my creation).

Thirdly, I’ll admit I’m an irreverent, daring, and provocative writer, who looks to her favourite writers for inspiration. The Eyre Hall Trilogy is meant as a tribute to many Victorian (and some 20th century) authors and their literary creations such as:

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Jane Austen, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, Charlotte, Emily and Anne Bronte, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Elizabeth Barrat Browning, Robert Browning, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Thomas de Quincey, C. S. Forrester, George Elliot, Robert Louis Stevenson, Oscar Wilde, Daphne du Maurier, Jean Rhys, and so many more, whose works are firmly lodged in my literary mind.

Finally, I aim to write novels that will entertain readers and transport them to another time and place, to a pre-digital and pre-electronic age, where our great-great grandparents lived and loved, just as intensely as we do today, in spite of not having light-blubs, cars, phones or tablets.

If my readers are encouraged to read or reread the classics, that would be an extra bonus!

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Interested? Go straight to Luccia’s Amazon page or find out more on the following links: 

Something for the Weekend with Beatrice Fishback

BeatriceA big welcome today to Beatrice Fishback, author of Bethal Manor, due to be released by Crooked Cat Publishing in Spring 2016. Here she tells us what inspired her to write it and shares an excerpt – take it away, Beatrice…

Why would an American (that would be me J) from upstate New York write an inspirational historic novel, titled Bethel Manor that takes place in England? Having had the privilege of living in the East Anglian area of Great Britain for a total of twenty years, I am a woman whose heart is divided by her love for both countries. And I’ve learned to appreciate—although not always understand—each culture’s viewpoint.

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Beatrice 2However, this novel is not a commentary on all things different between the U.S. and the U.K. (there are a plethora of books and YouTube videos if you’re interested). This is about Bethel Manor, and a young man named James Blackwell who was raised in an orphanage in Bristol, England by owners George and Margaret Owen.

Beatrice 3Although the Victorian love story is about an orphan, James Blackwell, and his chance encounter with the wealthy Clare Shaw, the original idea for my story came from the life of a true gentleman named George Mueller. George was an evangelist and the Director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol during the mid-19th century. During his lifetime, over 10,000 children were under his care and his desire was to train and educate each. He established 117 schools where 120,000 children were educated during his lifetime.

Bethel Manor begins with the idea of a couple—George and Margaret Owen—dedicating their lives for the benefit of unloved children during the challenging time of the Industrial Revolution in England. George Mueller and his wife were my inspiration.

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Both Americans and Englishmen will read not only about the romantic love between two individuals in Bethel Manor, but the remarkable love of a couple for unwanted children. I, for one, have found these types of sacrificial people in both countries and am grateful that I have had the privilege to know them all.

Bethel Manor will be released Spring 2016 from Crooked Cat Publishing, UK.

www.crookedcatpublishing.com

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Excerpt from Bethel Manor:

“James?”

He bolted upright. “What? Who’s there?” His sweaty body trembled in the bitter dampness of the darkened room. Coals in the inglenook fireplace, whose meager heat had escaped long ago, formed a heap of cold ashes.

“It’s me. You cried out in your sleep.” Flickering candlelight played along the peppered beard on George Owen’s globe-shaped face as he cupped a candlestick in his calloused hand. Moonlight filtered through the small, latticed windows covered with frosty mist. “Are you all right?”

James leaned against the backboard and shivered. “It was the same dream as before.” Miniature clouds of breath floated upwards and vanished into the black canopy of the room.

George perched on the edge of the bed, and the rope foundation settled with a low, deep groan. The other twelve boys in the room twisted and turned in their cots.

George whispered, “Your dream about leaving?”

“Yes.”

George placed the candlestick on the small bedside table. “Perhaps it’s time to began your quest. To find the answers you seek.” Resting his hand on James’ shoulder, he gently squeezed. “You’re old enough now to stretch your wings and fly. To begin the journey God ordained for you long ago.”

“I’m not so sure I believe…” James’s crossed arms not only held in his body’s warmth but his stubbornness toward God’s love. “How can I believe in a God who’d allow parents to leave their children for others to raise?”

 

About the author: Beatrice Fishback is a Yankee who has traveled the world as a military spouse and lived in Europe for a total of twenty-years. She is the author of Loving Your Military Man by FamilyLife Publishing and, with her husband Jim, is the co-author of Defending the Military Marriage and Defending the Military Family. She has been published in various compilations, magazines and online websites.

She and her husband have spoken to audiences in the U.S.A, Germany, England, Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Korea, and Japan. They have also presented to international audiences in the Czech Republic, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Zimbabwe, Romania, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Latvia.

Beatrice and Jim currently reside in North Carolina where scones are called biscuits and are topped with gravy, and tea is served over ice.