Vote For Me!

Hello my wonderful readers! I hope you are all keeping well, or as well as can be expected in these strange times anyway.

I am just popping in quickly to ask you guys a small favour. I recently entered a local video competition. The premise was simple, create a two minute video encouraging people to bin their litter. Of course, me being me, I simply HAD to give it a horror twist, thus ‘A Rubbish Horror’ was born.

The competition is moving into the final stages and that’s where I need your help. If you could please take two seconds out of your day to vote for my video I would be eternally grateful. Just click the link below, add your name and email address and select who gets your vote – that’s it!

Thank you guys so much in advance. The blogging community, online writing and reading community and horror community are so supportive and you guys are genuinely the best.

Interviewing Author George Morris De’Ath.

Interviewing Author George Morris De’Ath.

George Morris De’Ath (“No, it’s not pronounced death”, he informs me.) talks about his newest book, what’s to come and what it’s like to be finally breaking into the publishing world amidst all the madness of 2020.

First of all, congratulations on your recently announced three-part book deal. In light of this, how does it feel knowing your first book will be released in 2021? 
Honestly, it’s weird. I keep getting asked this question everywhere I go and don’t quite know how else to answer it. I mean, of course it’s great but having gone through five years of endless rejection and failure – which is the part of success that no one ever sees – it’s definitely strange. And now to have not one but three books green lit, it’s very surreal. I have to keep pinching myself to make sure I’m not dreaming, and then I realise this is real and yes I am living through 2020, and now have copious deadlines. 

2020 is certainly not panning out the way we all expected but accepting a three-part book deal, no less, must be a welcome burst of excitement in these overwhelmingly negative times. You mentioned you have now been introduced to the world of deadlines. Do you think you are good at handling deadlines? 

Yes, I am. Too good even. (He laughs.) I like to set myself very early deadlines in case anything happens, you know, anything out of my control. I’m a very anxious person, so whenever I hear a ticking clock and know that work needs to get done, I just can’t help myself but want to crack on. I like to get on top of things ahead of time; it’s good and bad. I can burn out easily. 

Oh really? Do you find that this is a common occurrence for you?

Oh yes, very easily! I did the other day; happens a lot! 

That must be frustrating. How would you describe your writing process? Can you share some insight into how you formulate these stories and characters? 

Well, it involves a lot of day dreaming to be honest, and not listening to things when I really should be. A doctor could be giving me vital health information and I would find myself just blocking out their words and thinking of something wild to include in my books instead, very random thoughts and details that eventually all tie together and make a story. Every idea starts out as a snowflake and eventually snowballs into something bigger and bigger over time until it becomes one of the alps. Having an obsessive mind in terms of my creating helps in that regard.I sift through the good and badideas stuck in my head and then begin to plan out and formulate meticulous details for the whole story and each chapter. 

It’s interesting that you are thinking about these things in that much detail at such an early stage in the creative process. How detailed are we really talking? 

Like very! I’m talking woven fabrics on a character’s clothes specific! 

In that case you must spend a very long time in the planning stage unable to begin getting the stories out of your head and onto paper. Why do you think you have developed this approach?

Oh yes! Haha…as a writer I’m one of the named “architects” rather than a “gardener.” I can’t just let the story take me as I’m writing, I have to plan in advance before I even start the first chapter. As an actor it is kind of in my DNA to script the chapters out first to make sure the dialogue flows and makes sense as a whole and doesn’t drag. So I do that first then add in all the other saucy little dialogue tags and details after. 

It sounds like the stories in your mind begin their life almost as movie scripts before you then transform them into what we later come to read.

Yeah, I’m weird. 

Well this approach is clearly working for you, traditional or not! 

I suppose so yes.I must be doing at least one thing right. (He jokes.) 

The fact that you have received a three-part book deal is testament to that. Can you share any details about the first of the three books coming out next year? 

I can say very little, other than the first is called ‘The Art of Darkness’, it’s coming out next year and it’s a twisted crime thriller. (Makes ominous noises.) Sounds creepy doesn’t it. Also, I believe I can say that the three are all connected by the world they inhabit but are not direct sequels. I’m editing the second one currently and it’s a big one. I’m kinda going crazy having to reread it day in, day out but it’s all part of the job! 

Can you tease anything else about ‘The Art of Darkness’, or perhaps the other two books you have lined up? 

They’re all thrillers but they’re all very different genres of thrillers…if that even makes sense. 

You mentioned that you have been approaching publishers for five years now. Have you always had an interest in writing or was it something that you developed as you got older?

As a child I did write, but only rarely, only when I needed to in class and even way back then I was writing disturbing stories. I recall writing some really wild stories that my teachers read to the class because they were so out there. They must have thought I was one nugget short of a happy meal. But then later at college I started writing and taking it more seriously when I began to study literature. In fact, I used the prologue for “The Art of Darkness” for my course work, however it got cut from the final manuscript which is sad. And then beyond college to be honest I began to fall into a spiral state of limbo almost. I didn’t quite know what I was doing or where I was going next. I was flouting around life I suppose; I wasn’t happy. In truth, I hated my life. It was one of those moments where you either have a breakdown or a breakthrough and I had to ask myself some really important questions about who I was going to be. Anyway, I just continued on with that prologue which developed into an actual novel and that helped me escape from my mentality at the time. It truly was an escape. That’s what writing is for me, just an elaborate escape. I know that sounds pretentious but it’s true. My stories have helped me out of a lot of dark times in my life and I just hope they do the same for a lot of readers. 

That’s a sweet sentiment. A lot of people are certainly looking for a welcome escape right now.

Meh. (He waves off.) But I finished writing ‘The Art of Darkness’, read it and realised in that moment that I was going to be a writer. 

I’m glad to hear that writing was able to provide a much-needed outlet for you in past difficult times. It’s interesting that many authors are able to use their talent to channel their emotions in a productive way, thereby having a positive influence on not just themselves but an entire audience. 

Yeah, it’s intriguing isn’t it. I do believe we are all just making our way through the inferno, now more than ever as poetic as that sounds. It’s very interesting to see how people manage themselves and even flourish through certain mediums, not even just the arts but sports and other things. When people find that one thing, I think they often feel more whole and tend to flourish onward from it. 

Whilst we wait eagerly for the release of ‘The Art of Darkness’ next year I also understand you are self-publishing ‘A Tale of ?6’ in the meantime. Can you tell us about it? What should we expect? 

Ha! Well, what shouldn’t you expect? “A Tale of ?6” is a fun campy horror novella that I have self-published. It’s about two strangers who meet on a stormy night and wind up stuck together in a cabin in the woods sharing six scary stories with each other, until it is revealed that one of them is not who they appear to be and basically sh*t happens, to be blunt. 

It sounds like a fun read but also like it could keep me up at night!

Oh, it gets gnarly, it gets freaky, it gets weird and bombastic, it gets gory, it gets campy and over the top and most of all it gets tasty. 

That is an interesting choice of adjective. Does that allude to something that happens in the book or is it just a fun way of saying we’re going to be hooked?

A little from column A, a little from column B, who knows. I guess you’ll have to read and find out. 

I suppose we will. Is there anything in particular that inspired your novella and the six stories contained within?

Yes, I suppose. I mean, mostly I was bored over lockdown and just wanted to write a short and snappy collection of spooky stories. But I suppose I was influenced by ‘The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror’ episodes, you know, those self-contained anthology style episodes that explored fun parodies and didn’t over stay their welcome, as well as ‘The Twilight Zone’ and ‘American Horror Story’. However, I really wanted to keep this short and sweet but yet have each story be different and leave a lasting impression. ‘A Tale of ?6’ I feel knows what it is and doesn’t try to be anything other than that. That being fun, camp, spooky, gory and sometimes comedic horror. I’m just really hoping that people like it for what it is, especially this Halloween when it appears the trick or treating may be put on hold. 

Seeing as we may not get the opportunity this year, I have to ask: trick or treat? 

Oh Trick, every time, every time. It’s got to be, what do you take me for madam! (He laughs.) 

What’s easier, writing short stories or novels? 

Short stories, without question. However,they’re harder to get published and in all honesty, I find writing novels far more enjoyable because you get to fully develop your characters and spend time with them and by the end you’re sad to see them go. Short stories are like snacks, easy to grab from the cupboard and lack much fuss, whereas novels are like preparing three course meals. Harder work but I personally find them more rewarding, but I do enjoy writing both. 

Do you have any advice for writers out there, looking to get their big break? 

Erm, I mean, I could easily sit here and say yes, do this and this, but the truth is there are no rules or tricks to an industry like this. I don’t really know of any advice myself; I mean I barely know anything. In truth I’m just an idiot. I know nothing. Even now, nothing is secure for me once these books come out, they could flop and I may never get a deal again but…we’re all just winging it aren’t we, so I suppose that’s comforting. But I guess I would say to PAY for a professional editor, and be picky with one, because they are the ones who won’t just check and tweak your work but tell you: this is working, this is not working, maybe try this. So I think to have that sort of rapport with someone can be hard to find, and having it be someone you can truly trust with your work is hard to find. I love my editor, she’s fabulous. Also, be pickywith your literary agent! I got my first one last year and they didn’t really get my work at all, in truth. It definitely showed, as for a full year I didn’t get any offers through because they didn’t know how to market me as a brand or my work. My current agent is amazing, and does fully get my work! So yeah, know your worth, be picky and of course just keep going. It’s cliche I know, but hell it’s taken me five years! For some it’s less, for some it’s more but we all get our fifteen minutes of fame; I suppose I’m on my last two minutes! (He laughs.) But yeah, just keep going, trust in trial and error, be willing to adapt your work and do what feels right in the moment, I guess!

Finally, do you foresee a sequel for ‘A Tale of ?6’ at some point in the future? I have heard that it has quite the open ending!

There may be a sequel, but I don’t know. It all depends on if people wind up liking this one and if they want a sequel. The age-old supply and demand will have to determine that. I’d like to do one for sure, I’d even like to do six of them and make it a little mini-series but we shall have to wait and see…

Blog Tour & Book Review: It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan.

Blog Tour & Book Review: It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan.

I am so excited to be a part of the blog tour for It Will Just be Us by Jo Kaplan, a dark, gothic horror book full of ghosts and ghouls. Thank you to Crooked Lane press for inviting me to be a part of the tour and sending me the book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Now before we get into what I think about this bad boy, let’s check out that all important blurb to see what it’s all about: They say there’s a door in Wakefield that never opens… Sam Wakefield’s ancestral home, a decaying mansion built on the edge of a swamp, isn’t a place for children. Its labyrinthine halls, built by her mad ancestors, are filled with echoes of the past: ghosts and memories knotted together as one. In the presence of phantoms, it’s all Sam can do to disentangle past from present in her daily life. But when her pregnant sister Elizabeth moves in after a fight with her husband, something in the house shifts. Already navigating her tumultuous relationship with Elizabeth, Sam is even more unsettled by the appearance of a new ghost: a faceless boy who commits disturbing acts–threatening animals, terrorizing other children, and following Sam into the depths of the house wielding a knife. When it becomes clear the boy is connected to a locked, forgotten room, one which is never entered, Sam realizes this ghost is not like the others. This boy brings doom… As Elizabeth’s due date approaches, Sam must unravel the mysteries of Wakefield before her sister brings new life into a house marked by death. But as the faceless boy grows stronger, Sam will learn that some doors should stay closed–and some secrets are safer locked away forever.

Kaplan’s novel in many ways is a classic style Gothic novel and the influence of like Shirley Jackson is evident throughout. We have a haunted house full of ghosts, a family tragedy plagued by secrets and a history of violence and heartache, a mysterious locked door for a room no one can enter and a malevolent presence that threatens all who inhabit the crumbling expanse of Wakefield. On paper it ticks all the standard boxes for a gothic horror in all the right ways. But what I loved most about this book was the way it used these classic tropes and settings to explore the darkest parts of ourselves for the ghosts that haunt Wakefield are not actual spirits or souls trapped there, but are in fact echos, a simple replaying of past events, good or bad.

Through the death of the protagonists father, we explore mental illness and suicide and the effect of that loss on the remaining family members. The mother of the family finds herself not just haunted with the knowledge of her husband’s death, she does not just picture it in her mind as many haunted by such a tragedy would, she is instead able to relive it over and over again, watching her husband’s death replayed on an infinite time loop, unable to stop him or ask why as a memory is just that and nothing more.

This family are literally watching history repeat itself over and over, the good moments and the bad, from every generation of people who have stepped foot inside the mysterious house they inhabit. And this family history is a particularly black and bloody one to boot. Through these visual images of the past, the reader explores the fact that our pasts and even the pasts of those who came before us, can have a very real impact on our present and in turn our future. The protagonist is an archaeologist. She understands better than anyone the importance of these artefacts, these moments long gone. She attempts to catalogue and record them, for if we cannot understand the past in all of its raw horror, then how can we possibly learn from it? How can we grow from it? How can we avoid the mistakes of those who came before us? During a point in time when our history and the visual representations of that history such as statues and memorials, are becoming more important and meaningful to the current generation, it is very much a book which spoke to me.

Through these same ghosts and the darkness which causes them, the book also explores the concept of fate and destiny. If we are told our future, does that event then occur because it was always meant to be so? Or did it occur simply because we were told it would, drawing us towards that inevitability like a moth to a flame? Would that event have occurred if we had never been given that knowledge in the first place. The ideas of fate and causailty are things which have always fascinated me and I particularly enjoyed the way this book explores them. If history is in fact predetermined then fighting it is useless, we will end how we we end. But if it is not yet set in stone, if the face of our future is blurred and not yet fully formed like the faceless boy who haunts and threatens Sam and her family, is there hope then that this can be changed? It’s a fascinating idea and when combined with the classic horror elements like the haunted house and the ghosts, it only serves to amplify the complexity and the very high and real stakes of attempting to change or bend destiny to our will.

I found myself engrossed from the first page and the book remained engaging throughout. The characters are real, believable, relatable and most importantly as flawed and broken as the house they share. The story is interesting and gripping and it’s full of moments and quotes which cause the reader to pause and ponder on topics beyond the scope of the book itself. My only criticisms would be on the last few chapters of the book when Sam makes some truly questionable decisions. Yes, the reader is aware of why she may make such choices, but it felt very much like those moments watching the female victim of a slasher film run up the stairs instead of out the front door. “No,” we hear ourselves cry, “Not that way!” But alas, we are watching these images play out as they will, unable to interfere or effect them just as Sam and her family have watched the echos of the house they live in so many times over their lives. Whilst this did irk me somewhat, it wasn’t a big enough issue to dampen or reduce my enthusiasm and love for the book as a whole and if anything it merely added to the earlier discussed debates about fate and causality.

I could go on and on about the elements of this book which I loved, these aforementioned topics being at the forefront alongside the style and setting of the book itself, but I would rather let the reader discover these things on their own. I wholeheartedly recommend it to any fans of classic horror and I am keen to read more from the author. Overall it’s a 4.5 out of 5 for me and an excellent read all around. Thank you again to Crooked Press for giving me the opportunity to read this fantastic book and to Jo Kaplan for writing it.

Blog Tour: The Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall.

Blog Tour: The Knightmare Arcanist by Shami Stovall.

Hello readers and welcome to another stop on the Write Reads blog tour. I am going to be straight up with you from the start with this one…I have not read the book. I have a TBR high enough to climb and big enough to crush any one who dared to disturb one of the Jenga like book blocks which make up its vast and unending structure. I was very up front about my huge to do list and zero time to do things predicament with The Write Reads when the tour came up, and I was advised I could do a chapter one review, a kind of preview of the book if you will. I was unaware this was a thing but have since discovered it is indeed and so, here I am. This therefore is not a book review or a book recommendation (as I would never have the audacity to pretend I read something or recommend something I had not in fact read). This is more of an introduction, a speed date rather than a moonlit dinner or movie date. This is putting the book out into the world for you guys to check out its premise and blurb and see if it tickles your fancy. With that in mind, let’s give you that trusty blurb:

Gravedigger Volke Savan wants nothing more than to be like his hero, the legendary magical swashbuckler, Gregory Ruma. First he needs to become an arcanist, someone capable of wielding magic, which requires bonding with a mythical creature. And he’ll take anything—a pegasus, a griffin, a ravenous hydra—maybe even a leviathan, like Ruma.

So when Volke stumbles across a knightmare, a creature made of shadow and terror, he has no reservations. But the knightmare knows a terrible secret: Ruma is a murderer out to spread corrupted magic throughout their island nation. He’s already killed a population of phoenixes and he intends to kill even more. 

In order to protect his home, his adopted sister, and the girl he admires from afar, Volke will need to confront his hero, the Master Arcanist Gregory Ruma.

I myself am not the biggest fantasy reader, however given that the first word of the blurb contains the word ‘Gravedigger’ even I was interested. A read of chapter one confirms that this is a deep and rich fantasy world brimming with lore and magic. This also has a darkness to it which would make it of interest to darker souls such as myself. It seems like a book for fans of epic fantasy, fantasy series and dark fantasy…lovers of myth, magic and mayhem. So if this sounds like your cup of tea, grab your copy here. I might even get around to it myself…eventually.

Interview with Indie Horror Publisher Eerie River Publishing.

Interview with Indie Horror Publisher Eerie River Publishing.

Hello readers, I hope you are keeping well in these strange times. For today’s blog post, I had the pleasure of chatting with the minds behind Eerie River Publishing house, an independent publishing house dedicated to bringing readers the best in horror and dark fantasy. Based out of Ontario, Canada, they offer a range of services such as editing and formatting, as well as publishing works and creating awesome anthologies. It was the latter that introduced me to this gem of a company. When the owner Michelle reached out to offer me a copy of their anthology “It Calls From the Forest”, a collection of works dedicated to the horrors which lurk in the woods, I jumped at the chance and immediately fell in love with the book. So much so, I have actually submitted a piece for the next anthology in the collection, this time centring around terrors from the sky with the third and final instalment focusing on the sea (I may also be writing one for that too, I am determined to end up in one of these anthologies!). As well as providing me with a copy of the book, Michelle also agreed to be interviewed, so get comfy and happy reading.

1) For those out there unfamiliar with Eerie River, what is it? 

Eerie River Publishing is a brand new, independent publishing house located in Southern Ontario, Canada. 

We are devoted to offering indie authors, regardless of experience level, the opportunity to publish their words in a paying market. We are still in our infancy, so our pay scale is not at that professional level yet, but as we continue to grow so will our payments. 

2) Tell us about the main members of the team? 

The team is rather small, but we are committed to a level of excellence in professionalism and openness. 

I, Michelle River, am the owner and project manager for Eerie River Publishing. I am a full-time mom by day, and an entrepreneur by night. For those that see our website, Twitter or Facebook I am the person behind the screen on my phone, the one answering questions and posting GIFs between playtimes and snacks. I also do the book formatting, promotional graphics and videos, all that fun stuff. 

I also have the monumentous pleasure of reading and responding to every single short story that is sent in for consideration 

Next in line is the wonderful Alanna Roberston-Webb. An indie author in her own right, I was lucky enough to secure and contract her to edit all of the anthologies for our “It Calls From” series, as well as our dark fantasy novellette call out. She has worked on a few anthologies for other indie publishing houses as well, and is one of the few people that I know of who is always there to help a fellow writer out: Be it to offer to beta read, talk plot, or grapple with word choice, Alanna will have your back. She also has the pleasure of going through the second round submissions and helping select the final stories for the books, as well as assisting with providing author feedback. 

I am also very lucky to have a sister that loves to read! Elizabeth has volunteered countless hours reading through stories that have made it through to second rounds, or for our monthly contest submissions. She provides valuable feedback, and will also be reading through the dark fantasy novel submissions coming through. Thankfully dark fantasy is her ultimate drug, so she is very excited about this new task. 

These lovely ladies aside, the most important members of our team are those that probably don’t even realize they are on it. We are honoured to have a group of wonderful authors and friends that have rallied behind Eerie River since day one, and they continuously help us by promoting, submitting their stories, cheering us on and offering insight where they can. They are very much appreciated! I know that without their continued support, their wonderful stories and their voices, Eerie River wouldn’t exist. I am forever blown away by the wonderful group that surrounds us, and I don’t know how we got so lucky to find them. 

3) What motivated you to start Eerie River? 

That is weirdly a tricky question. I guess there was a catalyst of things that happened that really pushed me to make the decision but these are the two main reasons. 

The first one happened last year in August. I wanted to put together a series of “alien” stories that coincided with the Area 51 Raid. I got in touch with fellow NoSleep and indie authors and over the next month we ended up making it a book and putting it on Amazon. I really enjoyed the process and weirdly enough the stress of it all. I had a 1.5 year old at the time, so I don’t know what I was thinking. 

However, probably the main reason was quality. As an indie author myself, and after being in a few anthologies, I realized that I wanted to offer authors a more professional platform for submission. I wanted to put something out in the world that authors could be proud enough of to show off to their friends and family, or even places like local libraries and bookstores. I knew that I had the technical skills to format books, and I believed that if we did it right we could put out quality writing that showcased the brilliant works of indie authors. And, if I do say so myself, I think we’ve done it! 

4) What is it about horror that draws you to that particular genre? 

There are so many aspects of horror that make me go back again and again. 

I really enjoy being scared. Not “I am going to actually die scared”, but I love the rush, that euphoric sense of relief after a terrifying scene. It’s addictive. 

I have no doubt that it stems from my childhood. With the exception of my dad, who hates horror, my whole family is obsessed with horror and the supernatural world. We love to be scared. We would sit in our dark basement, TV on max volume, and watch horror movie after horror movie. Someone would always try to scare someone else right before a jump scene, which never failed to make my mom scream and swear. It was great. 

5) Out of editing, writing, publishing and creating anthologies, which process is harder and why? 

Right now I find writing harder than it should be, but that is just because I have no time. I get an idea, but with everything else going on, in the world, and in my publishing life, I just can’t devote time to sit down and write. 

However, the most time consuming and difficult part of publishing is not getting the book together, that is easy when you have so many great stories to choose from, but telling people 

that you have a book. Marketing is hard. There were over one million books published on Amazon alone last year, meaning that the market is flooded with new voices. This is wonderful, but how do you get your voice heard among such a flood of books? To do that you need a social media presence. You need people to talk about you, you need to keep ads running, promotions going on and so much more. That by far is the most difficult part, especially in the economic climate we are in right now. 

6) Where do you come up with the anthology theme ideas? 

This last set was really me just getting excited about anthologies, and bouncing ideas off of people like Alanna. I had a few ideas I was working through, but I knew I wanted them to be connected some how. I am not sure how I got “It Calls From”, but I am glad I did. It is perfect for the first collection. 

7) What horror books and authors (apart from your own) would you recommend for those wanting to look into horror? 

That is a hard one because there are so many great horror books out there. If someone is just delving into the genre I would probably suggest an oldie, but a goodie: It’s the collection of short story horror by Clive Barker called “Books of Blood”. They are just long enough to peak your interest, but because they are short stories you can pick it up and put it down whenever you feel the urge. 

8) If people want to submit to yourselves, how do they do so and what are you looking for? 

Depending on the call out we are typically looking for horror or dark fantasy. 

You can view all of our open and upcoming anthology open calls on our website at 

We have also just opened up a window for authors looking to query their novel or novella series in the dark fantasy genre. This window is open from June 15 – July 31, so if you have something ready to go that fits what we are looking for then feel free to follow the link and send it in. 

But that isn’t all! We also have a monthly contest for members of our Facebook Author group, which runs from the 1 – 15 of the month and the theme changes every single month. Details are found on the same submission page, under ‘Monthly Themed contest’. You can join the facebook group here 

We want original stories with characters who are relatable and interesting. If the open call is themed, which it normally is, we are looking for stories that adhere to that specific theme but your interpretation and voice. For horror we want to be scared. We want horror that grips, 

shocks, and terrifies you. For dark fantasy we want all of those wonderful fantasy elements that we love, but with a darker underlying theme. 

We know that every indie author may not have the budget for editors, but please have someone beta read and review your work before you submit. We are not looking for professionally edited pieces, but we are looking for polished manuscripts. Give us the best you can, because the competition is fierce. 

I do want to point out our hard passes. We do not want to read or publish rape, detaileld sexual abuse of children or adults, sexual torture, or bestiality of any kind. I understand that these all have a place in horror, but it is not here with us. Kill the cat, kill the dog, murder a whole town and make us watch it. We do not shy away from gore, but those are my hard no’s, especially for our story collections. 

9) Do you have any advice for horror writers out there? Asking for myself as much as anyone else! 

For horror specifically, I think the best stories are ones that are based on the writers fears. So write what scares you. Scared of ghosts or people hiding in your closet? Write it. Let us feel your terror while we delve within the pages of your nightmares. 

The indie author world is an amazing group to be a part of. There are so many people out there ready to cheer you on and lift you up, who will jump in with both feet and give as much as they take. I suggest reading other people’s stories and offer feedback when asked. Don’t be shy to get feedback from other authors on where to improve your own writing as well. Get involved, and make friends! These people are your allies, and while you may not be able to buy everyone books (because, honestly, who can afford that?), you can still share people’s successes and grow with them. 

Don’t stop writing, and don’t get discouraged by rejections – learn from them. If you get personalized feedback read it, then see if you agree. Make the changes that you are comfortable with, then submit it elsewhere. 

As always, happy writing and stay safe out there.

Blog Tour: Crossing In Time by D.L.Orton.

Blog Tour: Crossing In Time by D.L.Orton.

Hello Readers, I hope you are keeping well. Before we jump into this blog tour, I wanted to apologise for not posting here as often. I have started a youtube channel, which is where I post my reviews now and between that and my Instagram, I am kept pretty busy. Saying that, this is where my artists collaborations lie, where my original writing is posted alongside interviews with authors and industry insiders, articles and other tidbits, so stick around, it may be sporadic but it will be fun!

So, now that that’s out of the way, let’s take a look at this book by starting with that all knowing, enticing blurb: When offered a one-way trip to the past, Iz sacrifices everything for a chance to change her dystopian future—and see her murdered lover one last time. After a perilous journey through a black hole, she wakes up on a tropical beach, buck naked and mortally wounded—but twenty years younger! With only hours to live, she must convince an enraptured but skeptical twenty-something guy to fix their future relationship and thereby save the planet (no one is quite sure why.)But it’s easier said than done, as success means losing him to a brainy, smart-mouthed bombshell (her younger self), and that’s a heartbreaker, save the world or not.

Ok, full disclosure, I was asked to participate in this blog tour as a favour and didn’t volunteer. I am NOT a fan of romances, not the traditional ones anyway, and the addition of science fiction into this one did little to persuade me. Saying that, I actually genuinely enjoyed this book. Is it cheesy? Yes. Is it soppy? Yes, but it’s also pretty damn entertaining. I enjoyed the science fiction elements particularly and whilst I wish there had been a lot more on the time travel itself, there was enough to reel me in and have me believing in this crazy multi reality, time travel plan.

The main characters love story is to be honest a little over the top bordering on obsession. It’s unrealistic, a fairy tale love that reaches across time and space LITERALLY, but if you can suspend your disbelief about that as well as the fact that their love seems to be the key to saving the world and just kind of go with it, then it does exactly what it’s supposed to do. It’s entertaining and fun and a nice holiday from all the dark, gory, tortured horror I read day to day.

If you like romance books and your science fiction on the lighter, less gritty side, then this is a book for you. If you like your science fiction dark, complex, mind altering and envelope pushing then not so much. I would give it a solid three out of five. Not my favourite book, but worth a go if it’s your thing. If you fancy grabbing a copy, you can get it here.

Mother Horror: A Short Story & Collaboration with artist Stefani Rabideaux.

Mother Horror: A Short Story & Collaboration with artist Stefani Rabideaux.

Happy Friday my fellow readers. Whatever your plans are for this weekend, I hope you have fun. To get your weekend started right, today’s blog post is another collaboration, this time with the incredibly talented artist Stefani Rabideaux. Stefani primarily works in gouache and graphite creating stunning pieces which hark back to another era. Her Gothic Girls evoke a sense of magic and intrigue, and every one has its own personality, it’s own history and it’s own story to tell. That’s what immediately drew me to her beautiful work, the fact that each image seemed to take me somewhere else, to transport me to another place in time or another world entirely. As you can imagine, when she agreed to collaborate I was over the moon. For this story, I was truly inspired by those girls, by the darkness and light present in each piece, the hint at something behind their smiles, something knowing, perhaps something dangerous? That is how Mother Horror was born (shout out to the incredible Sadie Hartmann aka Mother Horror on Instagram for inspiring the name. You are the true Mother Horror). If you would like to check out more of Stefani’s work, and why wouldn’t you, you can purchase from her Etsy shop or head to her Instagram for daily inspiration.

Continue reading “Mother Horror: A Short Story & Collaboration with artist Stefani Rabideaux.”

Leading the #Writingcommunity: Interviewing the Man behind The Write Reads.

Leading the #Writingcommunity: Interviewing the Man behind The Write Reads.

During this difficult period of self isolation and quarantines, we will naturally rely more heavily on our online friendships and communities. When we can’t go out and join our friends for coffee, to discuss our latest read or the newest show we are bing watching on Netflix, we will find ourselves turning to social media for that much needed social interaction. I am lucky to be a member of a few online communities on various platforms and one such community is the #writingcommunity on Twitter. This incredibly supportive community is a band of authors and writers from every genre and experience level. There are Horror writers, Romance Writers, Fantasy writers, writers from every background and age group, professional writers and amateur writers. But regardless of what you write or whether you’re paid to do it or not, every single one of them enthusiastically supports the rest in equal measure. It is a wonderful community and one that I am proud to be a part of.

At the core of this community is the incredible Write Reads. I discovered this page in its infancy and was instantly drawn to its simple yet altruistic ethos. The concept was simple: Every day, the page would tweet out a ‘Review of the Day’ and ‘Blog Post of the Day’ from the bloggers which follow the page. Everyone who follows then retweets these tweets in order to maximise that particular blogger’s reach, and knowing that eventually their turn to be boosted will come around. I loved the idea and immediately signed up. I have been an enthusiastic member since and if you follow me on Twitter, you will notice I continue to retweet those posts. When this blog is featured, my visit numbers sky rocket and my follower counts increase dramatically. This simple premise is incredibly effective and as a result I have discovered dozens of amazing blogs, authors, books and writers. I have watched the community grow in size exponentially and begin to expand its wonderful repertoire, adding book tours, book giveaways and now, a Book Bloggers Novel Award. I love this idea. Everything about this community is about promoting and supporting bloggers and authors and this idea is a genius way of doing so.

Lucky for me, since myself and The Write Reads go way back, the man behind the page Dave Taylor, Kindly agreed to let me interview him about blogging, and the community as a whole:

  1. For those unfamiliar with The Write Reads, could you please explain what it is? 

The Write Reads is basically a support group for Book Bloggers. We highlight two bloggers per day and give their blogs the biggest boost in exposure we can via the blogoftheday and reviewoftheday tweets! We also do blogtours and giveaways for bloggers and stuff! We have an Instagram account now which is run by a small but awesome group of bloggers which tries to do the same, hopefully that will grow too. Oh and we have a Facebook too! Its spreading everywhere!! 

  1. What inspired you to create The Write Reads? 

Years ago I used to have a book blog and I just found it really hard to get engagement and views and just become part of the community. It ended up feeling kinda lonely really so after a while I gave up on it. Then a few years later I got to thinking about book blogging again, but instead of deciding to restart my old blog I decided to see if I could help others avoid what happened to me. If TWR has helped people get engaged in the community, enjoy blogging more, get more exposure, make friends, or kept them going when otherwise they may have quit then I consider that a job well done. 

  1. Were your surprised with how much the concept would take off and by how positive the response would be? 

Massively so! It just blew up! 

  1. Do any blog posts or reviews stick out in your mind as favourites? 

Oh, well I couldn’t possibly answer that now could I??? Everyone is awesome!!! 

  1. Tell us about the BBNYA. 

Gosh where to begin?  

Well I guess it was kinda two fold. The first thing is, as well as once being a blogger I was (or am) an author myself (an author that seems to constantly avoid writing). And a bit like with Book Blogging I think the majority of self-published/indie authors also find it very hard to get exposure, break into the community and just get their name out there. I am a strong believer that there are some amazing undiscovered gems out there in the self-published world, but the author is simply unable to get the book into peoples’ hands, unable to get noticed.  

So, this is where I began to wonder could we achieve, basically both my goals in one swoop. Could we show the power of book bloggers, really get them focused on something, united in a great and noble quest so to speak, and could they, the bloggers help this unknown author. Could they discover his or her book, lift it up out of obscurity, get behind it and show it off to the world. Could they dig up this diamond and place it in the crown for all to see? 

Now, there are lots of ways that book bloggers currently help such authors, reviews, interviews, blogtours etc and all of them are fantastic. But I just had a feeling that there was the potential here for something more, something that the group as a whole, that book bloggers as a unified group could do. Well, we shall see, but I am hoping that being crowned the Book Bloggers Novel of the Year will make somebody’s dreams come true and as the years go by the prestige and success associated with it will just go off the charts. 

 If Book Bloggers can do that for an author, well I think a lot of people will feel very good about that.  

6) How do people apply and what kind of books are you looking for? 

All the details can be found on the official website 

7) Do you have any advice for new bloggers/reviewers out there? 

Be honest, be kind, engage with and support others, and if you need a break take it. 

8) What is in the future for the Write Reads? 

I have no idea! For now I’m happy to just do what I do and give a different blogger a big boost in exposure and engagement every day, and hopefully put a smile on their face! 

If you are a writer, author or Book Blogger, check out their Twitter page now and happy Blogging!

Self Isolation & Quarantine Book List: A List of Cheap & Free Kindle books.

Self Isolation & Quarantine Book List: A List of Cheap & Free Kindle books.

Hello Readers! The world is a pretty scary right now. The World Health Organisation has declared the Covid-19 outbreak a global pandemic and as the infection spreads, countries are grinding to a stand still I’m an effort to slow it down and protect those most vulnerable and more and more people everywhere are being forced into quarantine or self isolation to protect themselves and their loved ones. The news is full of nothing else and I know my anxiety is growing daily. With everything that’s going on, I felt so helpless to do anything to alleviate the fear or anxiety even in the smallest way. I’m not a Doctor, or a health care worker, I’m just a blogger…what could I possibly do? Not a lot to be honest, but what I can do is give all of those stuck in quarantine and self isolation some reading material.

Reading is the perfect temporary distraction. It offers escapism at a time when we feel most trapped and it’s a way to maintain some form of normalcy in a crazy situation. I am also conscious that budgets now more than ever will be stretched and that these times will not just be trying psychologically, emotionally and physically but also economically, particularly for those who are self employed. With that in mind I have done two things to try to help in even the tiniest way, the only way I know how.

First of all, I have made my novel Broken Mirrors FREE on Kindle from Wednesday the 18th to Sunday the 21st of March. You can download a copy here:

I have also scoured the horror section of the Kindle store, searching for horror books that sound badass and are available for either free or less than £3 (the price of a coffee). I then created a video on my YouTube channel with these books, alongside my own, telling you all about them so you can get a massive reading list in a quick, cheap and easy way. The links for all of the books mentioned is in the video description. I hope you enjoy it and wherever you are, whatever is happening in your life, stay safe!!

Here’s to a Sucky Afterlife: Short Story & Artist Collab.

Here’s to a Sucky Afterlife: Short Story & Artist Collab.

For my latest artist collaboration, I got to work with the incredibly talented Sian Ellis. Her quirky and cute illustrations instantly make me smile and her art has such a wonderful whimsy to them but with a dark edge or twist which I am immediately drawn to. As with the other collaborations, I created a short story inspired by her style of art and body of work and I tried to encapsulate the fun side of darkness her images portray so well. She in turn created the incredible image below & I will 100% be buying a copy of this print from her & putting it on my wall because how could I not? You can check out more of Sian’s work here.

Here’s to a sucky afterlife

Being dead sucks. You are stuck haunting the same small patch of earth, potentially for all eternity, trapped by the emotional and psychological ties that bind you there. You have to watch the living day in day out, come and go around you taking their life, their beautiful, wonderful life, for granted. You watch them worry about all the wrong things and waste their time on nonsense, letting the truly important and arresting moments pass with the blink of their blind, selfish eyes. It is unendurably frustrating and if I had hair, I would surely pull it out. But the worst part of all, is being stuck, forever in the same clothes you died in. For me, that’s a pair of Halloween themed pyjamas covered in little black bats. It’s humiliating and the other ghosts never let me forget it. How was I to know these would be the last items of clothing I would ever wear? If I had known, then I would have slept in a ball gown. 

But let’s face it, if I had known I wouldn’t have went to bed at all while my broken fireplace slowly and silently filled my little terrace house with poisonous gas. I would have got it serviced at some point instead of endlessly procrastinating. I would have opened a god damned window, but as they say, hindsight is 20/20. It could be worse, I could have been a smoker. An eternity black and charred like some sausage left too long under the grill. 

Death brings so much clarity alongside so many unanswerable questions. I see now, when I look back on my rather ordinary life, just how precious it was. How important every single second of it was, even the moments that made me cry or broke my heart. I see how I took it for granted, assuming I would have years, decades to see the things I wanted to see or visit the places I wanted to visit but alas, life or in this case death, had other plans. 

But that painful realisation is nothing compared to the questions that eat away at me day in, day out. Why am I still here? Is this it or is there something beyond this? And if there is, how in the name of all that is good do I get there? I want to move on, I really do but it’s hard to make that journey if you’re not sure what is anchoring you to your current mooring. I’m trapped.

I know there is somewhere else that people go otherwise my little stretch of afterlife would be a hell of a lot more overcrowded. As it stands, the strip of houses on my block have only six ghosts including me. Six souls since the beginning of man. There is Bock, the oldest of us, here since the time when the wheel was the latest invention. At least I think his name is Bock, I don’t really understand his grunts and hand signals but he says Bock a lot so Bock is what I have christened him. 

There is Peter, a poor Victorian boy who never made it past the age of twelve thanks to consumption. He died in the street outside my red brick house seeking shelter in the door way.

Then there is a portly woman called Edith who fell from stairs I myself trod so many times, her black cat the assassin in the night getting under her feet. Her neck is at an odd angle and her voice is cracked and garbled as she speaks. After 30 years, it still grosses me out.

Next came Jenny, an elderly woman who died in a chair in what was once my neighbour’s living room, the one to live the longest of us all reaching the ripe old age of 80.

After Jenny came Starlight. Not her real name is course but one she chose during the summer of love in a decade of revolution and music. She overdosed in the bath tub of the house two doors up at 28 years old. With her matted, braided hair, head band, tie dyed shirt and mini skirt she is every inch the hippy dippy stereotype. I’m determined to one day know her true name. I bet it’s something intolerably dull like Mildred or Janine.

Finally, of course, there’s me. A 23 year old woman who in 1994 died in her sleep in a pair of novelty pyjamas her mother had got her for Christmas three months prior. A girl with dreams and ambitions alongside a dozen excuses. A girl with regrets.

So where are the rest? Where are the other people whose lives passed at this particular intersection of worlds? Maybe they’re in heaven, or Hell if that is more their speed. Perhaps they were reborn anew, another child crying under the slap of a Doctor or maybe a kitten born in a cardboard box, the memories of their former lives, their former selves now gone to dust along with their former bodies. I would be happy to come back as a dung beetle at this stage. But I’m still here. Stuck with my regrets. Trapped in the same row of four small houses alongside five other lost souls, dragging regrets of their own. God my afterlife is crap.

We have our little amusements of course. Habits and hobbies we have developed over the years to help pass the time. There’s the glory that is Television, our small window to the outside world and thanks to the varied residents of these four houses, there’s something for all of us. There are two small boys living in number 2 at the end of the row whose thirst for cartoon violence greatly satisfies Peter and staves off his boredom many an hour. 

The elderly gentleman who lives at the opposite end prefers documentaries and antiques roadshow much to the pleasure of Jenny and Bock. Bock is a big fan of nature documentaries, particularly those hosted by David Attenborough. I have no idea if he can understand him, but he certainly listens, a captive audience at every opportunity.

Edith despite appearances is a sports nut and is usually found in the living room of number 4 where the current resident, a young man called Alan, watches everything from golf to football, rugby to cricket, snooker to basketball. If there’s a ball involved, he watches it. 

Starlight is a soap addict so Alan’s wife in number 4 provides her regular entertainment. Both women sit beside one another on the wide bed, mouths agape, shocked sighs when characters reveal their diseases or affairs. 

Me? I like the news so I have plenty of options with most residents watching at least the evening edition, but I prefer the company of Mr Paul Jennings and his husband Jack in number 6. They watch the news every morning and evening and in between, listen to music. They have a particular love of 80s rock so their home makes me feel a connection, however tennuous, to my childhood, to the life that was.

They also love old Hollywood movies, the black and white films I used to watch with my mother as a child, a woman in love with Cary Grant and James Stewart, who admired Hepburn and Monroe. Those films, which Paul and jack always watch hand in hand, sitting close together on the large leather sofa, these films remind me of her, of my mother. I wonder often where she is, whether she has moved on to somewhere better or whether she too is trapped where she perished, eternity in a hospice where cancer took her from this world far too young. I hope it’s the former.

We also amuse ourselves by messing with the living. You know when you put something somewhere safe only to find it moved when you go to retrieve it? That feeling that you’re losing your mind? That’s us ghosts. Or when your bulbs and appliances fail at the most inconvenient moments, a boiler breaking just as you go to draw a bath or a television failing as a potential game winning goal is kicked…us!! That blur on your peripheral vision, that feeling of being watched? Us of course. Nothing gives us more pleasure than hearing your frustrated yells and for you to ask us, speaking directly, who is there? Those small moments so insignificant to you are the only times we feel, however momentarily, alive once more. 

My favourite game is hide the keys. I love nothing more than to see the residents rushing around in frantic panic, late for work or a dental appointment or a movie. It never ceases to make me giggle. Cruel I know, but we have to pass the time somehow and this seems like as good a way as any.

I’ve grown attached to my weird little family over the years. An eclectic bunch to say the least but we all look out for each other as best we can, each of us seeking the answers to our own untenable questions. In the interim, I guess we are stuck here with you lot. Speaking of which, have you seen your keys lately?