Wednesday 30 October 2019

Grab Your Copy Of Tunnel for FREE . . .

Free, I tell ye. FREE

We all love a freebee and seeing as it's coming up to one of my favourite times of the year, I thought I'd allow you all a chance to sit back with a pillow and be suitably scared with a free copy of my short ebook, Tunnel. What more could you want for Halloween? It has lots of darkness, zombies, blood and claustraphobia, the perfect recipe for the perfect chillfest.

It will be free to download for the next 5 days (click here) so get in quick while you can. And remember, whether you loved it, hated it, was traumatised by it, would love a sequal or never want to read anything from me ever again, leave a review. Mucho Gracias :)

The London Underground, a convenient way to commute, with miles of tunnels weaving their way beneath the city – but with many of these tunnels now unused and abandoned, a whole new world unknown to the people above has evolved below the streets. 

Mike travels the Underground every day for work, battling rush hour crowds all taking the same journey day in day out. He follows the unspoken underground etiquette every time, with his music playing in his ears and the avoidance of eye contact, and no one says a word as they routinely travel the tedious path life has given them. 

An evening of working late means Mike misses these rush hour crowds. The platform at nine o'clock in the evening is sparse of people, and the train car he boards offers plenty of seats. He settles down, listening to his music and preparing to travel the same journey taken hundreds of times before, only this time the journey offers something different, and as the train stops, trapping everyone beneath the streets, he realises they are not alone. Something else, something terrifying, is lingering in the shadows of the Tunnel…

Friday 18 October 2019

And Now For Something Completely Writing Unrelated . . .

Before 2.30 this morning, I had no topic to blog about. Then, in the shadow of the night, something woke me and that all changed.

Out of nowhere, the wind picked up, a huge gale blew through our village, pelting our windows with hail and rain to the extent I thought our windows would break. This
lasted for about three minutes and then it all died away to nothing. Very odd. There are even rumours of lightning too but I must have missed that.

Suspicion: Tornado/Funnel cloud

Funnel Cloud over Pembrokeshire, Wales

I love weather, and the worse the better. I'm well aware of the devastation it can cause, and am truly sympathetic to the victims left in its path - but I can't help watching every time a storm blows through, or as spectacular cloud formations brew in the skies. Where am I during thunderstorms? Against the window with my nose pressed against the glass.

I love it. Can't help it. And there's something soothing about listening to the gentle sound of rain.

We do get tornadoes in the UK, but nothing like the monsters that rip through the US. Most of the time these tornadoes don't touch down, leaving us with just funnel clouds, but it can still kick up wind and havoc as it sweeps through. I've sat on the coast line in Devon and watched waterspouts come in before disappearing over land, and we've seen random funnel clouds snake their way by.

Whether this was a tornado or a funnel cloud, I don't know, but it created havoc in our garden. Not much by any means, but enough. Plants have been blown over, garden furniture strewn across the lawn, and the remaining leaves on our walnut tree at the back are now blanketing the grass and our cars.

Still, clearing this up gives my hubby something to do on his day off.

And to add another twist to the tale, there I was this morning, standing in our kitchen eating a banana and surveying the mess, when a little weasel decided to scurry across the lawn and along our fence. I've not seen a weasel in our garden before and this made my day. So sweet - although I wouldn't like to get my fingers too close to it...

Have any of you experienced Tornadoes in your area? Share your tales.

Wednesday 9 October 2019

Plans for NANO . . .

Firstly, what do you think of the blog's new look? I was a little bored of the old look so decided to freshen it up.

This year, I've decided to take part in Nanowrimo. Normally during the month of November, I've used the hype to push the word count of a current project along as opposed to writing 50k words on something new. This year, however, I've decided to put effort into pastures new.

I've blogged about my supernatural horror, Rose Black, before when I had visions of writing it then, but it never took off. It's a perfect project for Nano though. So here's tiny a recap.

She's a victim of a serial killer but doesn't realise this until years later when a group of paranormal investigators release her from the spectral hold on her. Alone and confused, she attaches herself to this group, but when one of their investigations inadvertently opens a portal to something dark, Rose realises she is the only one who can fight this. She has to confront her biggest fear or watch as her new friends succumb one by one to this consuming darkness.

50k words in 30 days? Challenge accepted.

I've tried Nano before. Tunnel was originally a Nano story but I had a car accident half way through which left all my plans high and dry. I still finished it though - and published it on Amazon - but the 50k/30day thing didn't happen. This year all my efforts will be put towards writing, so I'm not leaving the house - ever - so I certainly won't be driving.

Also, watch this space come Halloween. In celebration of this spooky season, I'll be running a promotion on all my ebooks. Keep an eye on here and be sure to catch a spooktacular bargain... (see what I did there...??)

'Till next time, have fun :)

Friday 13 September 2019

I Just Watched The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance...

I guess the title of this blog post kind of gives it away but guess what! I just watched The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance on Netflix and Oh My God!!!

I remember watching the original film when I was young and it scared the living bejesus out of me. I never saw it again because of that, but then just as the age of DVD's starting dawning, I saw a copy of it on a trip to Switzerland and had to buy it for old time's sake. Unfortunately I had no idea what area codes were on DVDs back then so when I got it home to the UK I couldn't watch it. I was so disappointed.

Then Netflix announced they were making a prequel as a series, and with it put the original up, so I was there. I love the original, with all its Gelflings and Skeksis, and it was no where near as scary as I remember, but then I'm not six years old anymore (I don't actually know how old I was when I first watched it, but know I was fairly young - born in 1980). Yeah, it's full of your typical tropes, of chosen ones and prophecies, but it was released back in 1982 when those things probably weren't considered as tropes, and the whole thing is so endearing. And the puppetry design by Brian and Wendy Froud is brilliant

I've always been a big fan of Brian and Wendy Froud, and not just because of their work on the Dark Crystal and, of course, the Labyrinth with David Bowie (their son, Toby, played Toby in this film, in case you didn't know). Back when I used to blog Pic of the Week every Friday, I featured Froud (here) and was absolutely thrilled when they left a comment. I felt like I had been contacted by an A-lister! It seriously made my day.

So anyway, the fabulously talented duo were back doing what they do best on the Age of Resistance series, and wow. Just wow! They kept the puppetry work so don't expect any amazing Matrix CGI stunts but the work they put into it was amazing, and it still keeps the original 1982 endearing feel and all its charms that fans love so much - including me. I was blown away. And it didn't scare me this time :). Definitely worth a watch.

Well done, Netflix. Well done.

By the way, if anyone wants to by me a Christmas (or even birthday) gift, I wouldn't mind a little Fizzgig :)

Thursday 22 August 2019

Marvel-ous Endeavours . . .

I don't think I've blogged this before, so forgive me if I have. Thought I'd share some of the creative things I've been up to beside editing.

A while back I felt a little artistic and put together this little Marvel piece. It's done in ink and is A3 size. It took quite a while to do, and I did make a little error (in ink) that put me off it for a while, but I eventually forced myself back and I completed it. I am proud of it, but then I'm biased (and that error still glares are me but I think I hid it well. I'm not telling you where it is).

Anyway, while having a little down time in editing, I decided to put together a DC one too, pictured beneath the first. It's a work in progress, same size and currently in pencil, so any errors can easily be erased. I'll eventually go over it in ink like the first, and when that happens I'll post pictures of the final piece. Hopefully there won't be errors in ink like last time...😠


DC - work in progress

Friday 26 July 2019

RIP Rutger Hauer . . .

I heard the news yesterday that Rutger Hauer has died. This is very sad.

My first encounter with Rutger Hauer on the screen remains, to this day, one of my favourites. He's starred in many films and shows throughout his acting career, including 'Blade Runner'. I loved that film growing up, and who could forget that brilliant, iconic speech at the end?

"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain."

But this wasn't my first encounter. I was born in 1980 and Blade Runner first come out in 1982 so I didn't see it until many years later but my first encounter was seeing him in 'Ladyhawke', a medieval fantasy starring him, Michelle Pfeiffer and Matthew Broderick.

I fell in love with that film back then and it still remains a nostalgic favourite today. Yes, it hasn't dated too well (that synth soundtrack still sounds like some cheesy 80's masterpiece) but the tragic story line of cursed lovers, he a wolf by night and she a hawk by day so they can never meet, stole my young heart. And who couldn't love Navarre! I'm sorry but I still watch him caped in black and sitting upon his impressive steed today, and it still makes me go slightly weak at the knees. 

I was more a film kid than a cartoon kid growing up, and there are a few films I remember falling in love with back then that I attribute to my love of fantasy today (the horror came later), and Ladyhawke sits right there at the top of the list. So I'm deeply saddened by the passing of a childhood hero...

Thursday 18 July 2019

Blood, Gore, Murder, and Jane Austen

I've just finished reading 'The Death Pit' by Tony Strong, published back in 1999. It centres around Terry Williams, an Academic who travels to Scotland to research a victim of the Scottish Witch Trials back in the late 1700's for her thesis, and finds herself thrown into the world of murder, witchcraft, torture and human sacrifices. It was pretty gory in places, which I don't actually mind being a horror fan.

Anyway, at the weekend I had a cull of my book mountain, deciding to get rid of books I've read and really don't need to keep, and books I've acquired and will probably never read. I only made a small dent in my collection but (more importantly, and to the single raised eyebrow from my husband) I've made room for MORE! And whilst doing this, I decided which book I fancied reading next.

My fictional mountain consists of a wide variety of genres. They say 'to better yourself as a writer, you need to read far and wide outside your genre'. My favourite writer is Stephen King. That's no secret, and the entire bookshelf/shrine overflowing with his work can attest to that. I also read fantasy, with the likes of Scott Lynch, Joe Abercrombie and Mark Lawrence, to name a few. Then there's the thrillers, the comedies, adventures, and historical. There's a few.

So, what book is next on my list? One that's a far cry from blood, gore, and murder, that's for sure. Jane Austen's 'Persuasion'. I do confess to being an Austen fan. I own a few of her classics
but this one become hidden behind the masses of fictional horror and intrigue and has never been read. The spine isn't even creased! So, I had to change that.

I started reading it today, beginning with the small biography of Austen at the front, and to my surprise, today, 18th July, is the actual day she died back in 1817! Today! She died in Winchester, UK, and her brother, Henry, oversaw the publications of her last pieces, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion.

I felt a little choked after realising this, and wondered what forces made me pick up this book after owning it for so long and remembering her on the day she died...

So tonight, I'll be raising a glass (or a cup of tea) and sitting back, remembering her, whilst reading one of the last books she ever wrote.

Here's to Jane Austen...

Friday 5 July 2019

Writing Update . . .

It's been a wee while since I last gave an update on my creative endeavours, so I thought today is as good as any to bore you all.

I won't lie. Writing my current piece, Blood for Blood, has been hard, much harder than any of the other books in the series (none of which are published). This dark fantasy follows Reagan, a female assassin, who discovers that her current target has a connection to the murder of her father when she was a child, and seizes the opportunity to investigate rather than kill him, regardless of the wrath that falls upon her from her employees.

Whilst devising this story many many moons ago, it was going to be just as above, a bog standard story about a girl hunting her father's murderers, but it's evolved sooo much since those days. Yes, this is the basic premise for the story, but there is a reason this is 'DARK fantasy', and as horror writing scarily comes naturally to me, the dark element soon found its way in. I didn't have a problem with this at all. I really liked the twist it gave the story. It also gave the back story depth and fit in well with the rest of the series.

But suddenly I felt like I had bitten off more than I could chew. I felt out of my depth and a simple story suddenly turned complicated. I think that's when I started to struggle with it. It wasn't my enthusiasm for the story. That was still there, thick and fast. I think more than anything it was my confidence, and I began to question whether I was good enough to carry something this complicated off.

When that wall hits your confidence, it hits hard.

I even got to the stage where I felt I needed a break from it, and started planning my next WIP. But I inevitably went back, persevered, and finished it about two months ago with a word count of 120k. Not bad, all things considered.

I've now started editing it. It needs a lot of work and you can tell the areas I struggled with, and even though I've convinced myself that yes, I am good enough to pull this off, I can't help but sit back, look at the entire thing and think "ugh...can I really do this?"

The answer is yes. I know I can. There's also a sequal that's banking on this story to be completed. So deep breath and here we go...

Friday 21 June 2019

A Good Omen for Good Omens . . .

I finished watching Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman last week. I have to admit that I've not read much Terry Pratchett but I am familiar with his work, and boy! you can see it come through in this. It is very Pratchett-esque. And that's a good thing. It's light hearted and good fun and the chemistry between Sheen's angel and Tennant's demon is just divine!

However, I had to laugh yesterday when I read in the news that 20,000 Christians have petitioned for NETFLIX to cancel the show, claiming it is normalising Satanism, amoung other things. Now, I'm not against people airing their opinions - everyone has a right to - but I'm shocked that 20,000 people failed to spot their one blinding error. Any guesses what that error might be?

One of Neil Gaiman's responses to this on Twitter, which made me chuckle, was:

"This is so beautiful. Promise you won't tell them."

And even though there have been a few tweets regarding this since then, the tweet from Amazon Prime to Netflix was, I thought, priceless...

Thursday 30 May 2019

A Salute To Those Who Do Their Research . . .

I've been reading some Historical Fiction recently - Judith Arnopp to be more specific. Next on my reading list is the 'The Kiss of the Concubine' which is an Anne Boleyn story, but the one I've just finished is the 'Intractable Heart', which is the story of Katheryn Parr (you'll be amazed how many different ways you can spell Katheryn/Kathryn/Catherine. Seems Henry VIII was working his way through them all).

I've read other historical fiction authors - Philippa Gregory comes to mind - but out of everything I've read, I've not come across one that tells the story of the 'wife that survived', and I found it really interesting. When people talk about HenryVIII, the mind automatically moves to the tales of Catherine of Aragon and Anne Boleyn - occasionally Jane Seymour, the mother of Edward VI - as these have always been the more popular stories, but the other three wives are less mentioned, as if the notion of  'yet another new wife' grew tiresome and their stories less worthy. But they're far from that and I do love a bit of history.

One thing I do have to praise these authors for is their dedication to research. All writers need to do their research, regardless of what their working on. If you delved into my recent Google search history, which I don't recommend, you'll randomly find lots of articles on how to slit someone's throat. No, I'm not secretly planning on changing my career to one more gruesome. This occurs in my recent piece, and even through it sounds like a simple enough thing to write about, believe me, it's not when you have to consider the damage involved. And unless you have experience in this kind of thing - which I DON'T - then research is needed.

Writing historical fiction can be a dangerous thing. Everything needs to be spot on and accurate, and you only get a tiny amount of creative licence. Stories told in a modern setting are easier as we already know the mundane stuff needed, but for historical fiction, research is imperative. Having a chambermaid walk into the bathroom to find Henry VIII standing against a porcelain urinal isn't going to work, even if you call it Genuine Tudor Porcelain. It's a nope. Catching a cook stealing some leftover food and heating it in the microwave? Again, nope. I know these are obvious things but you get my point. It's the little details like this that can make or break historical fiction, the details of the Queen's dresses, the specific name for a hat, what they use to ease a headache or treat a wound, and to avoid screaming reviews of inaccuracies from readers, you need to do a copious amount of research.

I write dark fantasy and horror - hence the throat slitting thing. You get a lot more creative leeway with these genres, but you still need to do a lot of research. Many fantasy stories hold a historical element, usually medieval. We get characters riding across the lands on horseback, carrying heavy swords or huge axes that have seen more deaths than the grim reaper. So, travelling characters, what do they eat? How do they cook? What do they use as shelter at night along their way? Their weapons; how were they forged? How do the keep them sharp after slicing numerous heads off? For this we draw on history, and it has to hold some element of realism for the reader to be able to connect, to believe.
I find this historical research interesting, and often do find myself getting carried away, reading much more than is needed. But there is a drawback reading into history, and this is why I say 'History should come with a Spoiler Alert'. You know the end to the book you're reading before you get there. History has told you that. Still, we all enjoy the journey getting there, be it factual or fictional.

So to those who have to do a copious amount of research to keep those annoying inaccuracies away, I salute you. A job well done!

Thursday 2 May 2019

Lore - Rope & Railing . . .

I've recently started listening to a podcast called 'Lore'. It's a series that covers folklore around the world and unexplainable history. Each episode provides a scary story that shows, as they say, the 'dark side of human nature'. Me being me, I quickly become addicted to listening to it and am slowly working my way through past episodes of the entire podcast.

One episode in particular struck me, episode 23 - Rope and Railing. It's one of those tales that doesn't really show the dark side of human nature as much as it does sheer bad luck. It takes place around Smalls Lighthouse on a rocky island off the shores of Prembrokeshire, Wales, UK. The original lighthouse was built between 1775 - 1776, but one grisly episode in 1801 brought about a revision in the whole lighthouse policy.

Thomas Howell and Thomas Griffth made a two-man team who run the lighthouse, ensuring it was lit every night for months at a time. The pair never really got along, and were often seen arguing when they come home to the mainland. The state of their relationship was common knowledge, so it was understandable that when Griffth died in a tragic accident on the island, Howell was concerned it might look like murder. He considered throwing the body in the sea but knew this wouldn't bode well for him, so kept Griffth in their room until the smell of his decompostion got too much. Howell then went about gathering what wood he could, from floorboards to pieces of furniture, and made his colleague a makeshift coffin. He then placed this outside and strung it up to the railing with rope.

He didn't foresee the storm that hit soon after. The waves battered the island, smashing the coffin to pieces, but the body become entangled in the ropes that was supposed to hold it secure, and as the storm abated, Griffth remained hanging from the railings right outside the window. Howell, unable to retrieve the body, had no choice but to spend the next four months alone on the island, watching his colleague decompose outside. When he was finally retrieved from the island, he was a shadow of his former self. He said the way Griffth was hanging from the railing made it look like he was continuously beckoning to him, with his arm swinging in the wind, driving him crazy.

The coastguard said that numerous times within the span of those four months, they rowed out to the island to check the pair were ok, and always saw the figure of one of them standing against the railing, waving to them to let them know all was good, so, satisfied, they turned around and rowed back home. Poor Howell. Talk about bad luck.

After this, the lighthouse policy was changed so that no fewer than three men should be present at all times.

I'm eagerly listening for more interesting tales to come...

Thursday 18 April 2019

Religion in Fantasy . . .

I've just recently finished the first draft of my current piece, Blood for Blood. It's basically the 5th installment in my Dark Fantasy series, The Egaean Archives.

I've struggled with this piece, I won't lie. Hidden sub-plots kept springing up and I think I felt a little over-whelmed at times, like I had bitten off more than I could chew. (What didn't help is that I broke my own rule and wrote and self-published Tunnel half way through this one). But chew I did, and 120,500 words later, it was finished. Again, just the first draft I have to keep reminding myself. I am pleased with it but it's far from perfect.

One charater turned out to be not quite who I expected. He ends up being my main antagonist, and throughout the story, he has changed who he wants to be; an Advisor, a Priest, a Commander in the Royal Guard. He just hasn't been consistant, but as the piece drew to a close, he eventaully made up his mind. He's a Cardinal (still going along the priest line), which is great. The end climax is in a monestary and this now makes perfect sense.


What is he a Cardinal of? Religion does feature in my world, but it's only been something I've touched on. In order to flesh out this character, I need to know who he is and what he does, and in order to do that, I need to flesh out my religious system. I already have one historical story set in place which features heavily in two of the other pieces, but it's not enough. So where do I even start? It's like world building from scratch.

I've decided to go along the similiar sort of lines of ancient Greece with many gods, each with their own role to play. I'll have the people aware of these gods, but the majority will only worship one main one. I just need to figure out who these gods are now. A fun way to spend Easter Weekend.

What about you guys? Have you ever had to create a whole new religious system for your piece? How did you go about doing that?

Friday 12 April 2019

A Black Hole in the Blogoshpere . . .

Hey! It's been a while.

So what's happened since I've been on my hiatus? BIG news currently going round the globe is NASA taking pictures of a huge Black Hole 55 million light years away from Earth. The pictures I've seen online are phenomenal. And do you know what else is phenomenal? The size of that thing. It's estimated to be 6.5 billion - yes, BILLION - times bigger than our sun. Can you imagine that? Can you even comprehend that size? I'm certainly struggling.

6.5 billion...*Shakes head. Can you imagine the affects that would have on us if it were closer? I dread to think. Although one theory has already crossed my mind. That theory goes that it's sucked up all the regular bloggers from 3-4 years ago.

Seriously!!! Where have all you guys gone?

I have a huge long list of blogs that I followed back in the day when I was blogging regularly. I flicked through them the other day and sadly only a tiny percentage of them are still running - and kudos to you guys for keeping it up. There were some real good blogs out there that are now just drifting aimlessly in the blogosphere. Mine, admittedly, is one of them. I guess life gets in the way, better things come along, priorities have to be made. I joined twitter a while ago (in a bid to give up the unhealthy addiction to Facebook, I found myself filling the void with Twitter. Urm...) I follow many authors on there - as well as stalking potential agents - and even though I rarely post, it's a good way to keep up to date.

So why do I feel Twitter is taking over Blogging? The convenience? A way to keep in touch with more people without the need for typing out long-winded blog posts? I don't know. But I sure hope the Blogosphere doesn't get sucked too far into this black hole. I may not blog regularly but I do still dip in and read those that are still up and running.

Does anyone have a lifeline...??