Monday, 12 October 2015

Guest Author - Justin McCormack

This is my first blog post on sharing a fellow author's work so please bear with me (and let me know what you think of it, please).

So, the wonderful Justin McCormack has written lots of dark fantasy and horror books. In this post he wanted to share with you Return to 'Return to Oz'




Winner of the Blackfeather Award for Best New Horror 2014! 
"A powerful myriad of horror styles... deeply chilling!" 
"Terrifying and personal!" 


"I want to tell you a story, but it's not a pleasant one. It isn't a story that takes place in candy-coloured fields somewhere over the rainbow. It's the story of a curse that has lasted my entire life. It's the story that starts with me as a child, sitting shivering in fear as I watch the movie "Return to Oz", and continues to haunt me to this very day. It's a story that scares me more than any wicked witch. It's a fear that lives with me even today, and no wizard can send me safely home again." 

In his breakthrough short story "Return to 'Return to Oz'", Justin MacCormack creates a shocking and disturbing tale of raw psychological horror, which has been hailed as 'shocking and personal'! 

This anthology collects tales of Genre-Bending Dark Fantasy and Horror, including the popular "Return to 'Return to Oz'" and many more! 

Included here is the nightmarishly chilling survival horror "Undercurrent" - Three urban explorers stumble into a chaotic network of tunnels beneath the city which will test not only their urge for survival, but their very sanity... 

Also included is the disturbing nightmare tale "Old Hag" which was too terrifying for conventional magazine publication - a young woman documents her life as it is torn apart by sleep paralysis and the terrifying image of an old hag who preys on not just her life, but her very soul... 

And more tales of dark fantasy and horror! 

Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/pages/Justins-Tales-of-Horror/723106317755555
 
 
 
About the author: Justin was born in Glasgow but now lives in Portsmouth, on the south coast of England with his pet rats.
 
 
 


Saturday, 3 October 2015

CSA - why we should talk

 
It is still seen as a taboo subject, but I’m pleased to say more and more people are starting to openly discuss it: child abuse.

It is a horrific ordeal, and nobody should ever have to go through it. The recovery is a long, slow process. The psychological scars run deeply and painfully. I can tell you there is a lot more support out there than there used to be though.
It’s ironic that the internet, which has helped paedophiles distribute their vile images is now helping survivors get help. Note that I say survivors not victims. I hate the word victim; it sounds and feels helpless. And these children are far from that, even if they don’t know it yet. The very fact they have survived such atrocities is testament to their inner strength. 
The media demonises the perpetrators of these crimes to the extent we start to believe they must look like monsters. But the cold hard truth is they look ‘normal’ (another word I hate, but I’m allowing it here). They can even appear to be charming to the outside world. But what happens behind closed doors can be oh so different.
Survivors of abuse usually feel alone and frightened. The threats made to them by their tormentors are all too real. That is why they are often that kid in the playground who is away from everyone else and withdrawn. This is such an important indication for teachers to be aware of. It’s obviously not always the case; some children are naturally quiet and not all survivors display this characteristic. But it is an important indicator to be aware of nonetheless.
I truly believe we should discuss this topic more openly. It is still with hushed voices we offer opinions. But through awareness we can all do our bit to help bring an end to this torment.
It is why I have written Broken & Damaged Love. I honestly wanted to show survivors they are sadly not alone; that this happens a lot, and there are people who understand, are trained and will help if sought out. The survivor just need to reach out.
I also wanted to raise general awareness. It’s important that we all are alert and are willing to help survivors get the help they need.
Broken & Damaged Love is Tina’s story of survival. It shows how everyone can find love and peace in their lives; that the past does not have to hinder our future.
There is a really sweet love story here; you just have to get through the dark to reach the light.
 
 
A small selection of the help out there:
HAVOCA - http://www.havoca.org   Help for Adult Victims Of Child Abuse
                          HAVOCA is an international resource run by survivors for adult survivors of child abuse. They provide support, friendship and advice for any adult who’s life has been affected by childhood abuse.  
The ethos at HAVOCA is ‘Every Survivor has the right to become a Thriver.’ 
Mind       www.mind.org.uk   
                      There can be a side effect/impact on our mental health when we go through trauma.
Mind are there to help you with this aspect. They help people with many kinds of mental health issues, such as depression, self harm, eating problems, anxiety and panic attacks.
Tel. 020 8519 2122
 RAINN    online.rainn.org   Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network
                   Based in the USA, and has been voted one of “America’s 100 Best Charities”
They created and operate the National Sexual Assault Hotline (800.656.HOPE and online.rainn.org) in partnership with more than 1,100 local sexual assault service providers across the country and operates the DoD Safe Helpline for the Department of Defense.
In 2015, the Online Hotline expanded to offer services in Spanish at rainn.org/es. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual violence, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice.
SOSAA -      http://www.sosaa.org.uk/  Survivors of Sexual Abuse Anon
They run 12 step meetings, using a modified version of Alcholics Anonymous. It is free, ongoing, non-faith, but spiritual group for both males and females age 18+.
 

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

You've been living your life wrong


Yes, this blog post follows all those fad infomercials which tells us brand new ways of doing things.

First, you need to acknowledge the bricks and mortar you live in are in fact a prison. They are the chains which bind you.

 
You should free yourself of these shackles and go live outdoors. The woods is a good place; it provides shelter. This also has the added benefit of relieving you of the obligation of going to work for a company.
But it does get a bit chilly so you may want to grow an extra layer of fat, and preferably some sort of fur.


Now, food may be an issue. Mother Earth is generous in her bounty. There are many plants and berries to eat. And being upright huts your back, so what you want to do is grow longer front legs and a nice long neck. And maybe a snout so you can hoover up all the yummy food which is just lying about.

Security could become an issue. You will want to grow yourself a nice big pair of ears to listen out for others who may be after your food. And grow your eyes on the side of your head too.
Whilst you’re at it, a dual purpose horn (great for defense and magick), and a nice swishy tail to get rid of pesky flies.
Yes, you should live your life as a unicorn!! How cool would that be?
 
*Please note that this lifestyle requires remodeeling of your internal organs and endocrine system*
Hahaha; a magickal silly moment from this author who needed to smile today!
 
Love & light all.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Childhood


I am currently working on a romance novel featuring a sexually abused girl, who learns to come to terms with her past, and gains a hope for her future. Keep your eyes peeled; it’ll be released soon.

But it got me thinking about childhood.

There are so many ways adults harm children, from physical to mental abuse, or indeed just by sheer neglect.

As an adult, I hear so many cries of, “it’s because … happened when I was a child!”

Really? 20 years later you’re still harping on?? When are you going to take ownership of your life?

I’m not being unnecessarily cruel with this. In fact, I am trying to empower people.

I could rattle off several horror stories from my own childhood. And I could sit here moaning about it. But what good would it achieve?

I’ve grown so much as a person over the years. I am now able to stand back from a distance and say, “Yeah, bad shit happened. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. But you know what? I’m not going to regret it anymore. I can’t change what happened, but I can change how it affects my future. I refuse to let that person hurt me any further. Bad stuff happened to me, but it doesn’t make me a bad person. It wasn’t my fault. And it’s made me the person I am today; strong, independent and determined.”

One of the points I touch on in Broken & Damaged love is a simple word; victim.

My own breakthrough happened because I changed the word from victim to survivor.

No longer was I a disempowered, frightened young girl! I was now someone brave and tough, who had come out the other side of an ordeal.

I hate the word victim; it saps all your energy and makes you feel weak. It also tries to simperingly plead for sympathy.

But survivor shows a super hero with a flowing cape; someone who overcame all the odds and triumphed over adversity.
 

I learned to be grateful for my experiences. Yes I said grateful. Yes, I am aware that sounds weird. But t those experiences gave me insight, and have helped me to help many others along my life’s path. And I truly hope my latest release goes on to help many more still.

We are all products of our childhood. But as adults we can choose how we move forwards with our lives. Take ownership and control. Take those negatives and use it for good. Instead of pitying ourselves we can help others who are going through what we once did.

Everyone has a story!

As we go through life we should be aware we are not alone, we are never the first to suffer from something. So how’s about showing kindness and respect to everyone else we meet? They may well have been hurt too.
As the Dalai Lama says, “Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Writing Inspiration


Almost every author interview, and many many people have asked me what inspires me to write.

Well I read a certain book which sounds like a colour chart. I honestly thought it was dreadful! From the poor plot and characters to the spelling and grammar, it was just bad. “Even I can write better than this!” I said rather arrogantly to myself. So I tried!

Where do I get my stories from? No, it’s not autobiographical. People do like to think books are, don’t they? But no, you are not going to get any wonderful insights about me as a person by reading my books. Hopefully you will get pleasure though. Rekindled Love in particular seems to strike a chord with people.

Nor do I sit for hours, plotting and scheming every last moment before I even begin writing. I’m one of those lucky people that the stories just sort of ‘come to me’.  I recently read ‘September First’ by Hunter S Jones – it’s only on occasional release.  It’s about a complete nut-job who talks to taps and sees poetry everywhere which seems to emanate from a Red Admiral butterfly. Although I don’t go around naked and I hope I’m not quite that bonkers, I did (rather worryingly) identify with the character.

I liken the sensation to having the stories knock on my brain. They bang on the door and demand attention. True’s Love in particular was very persistent. The story was the first thing I thought of in the morning, and the last thing at night, and lots in between. It was almost like a mania; it was in my head and just had to come out before it drove me mad. I remember even locking myself away in the bedroom when the step children were round, just so I could carry on typing all weekend! It was a massive relief to finish that one!

I get a basic idea/outlibe, and then as I start writing bits fall into place.

I do go back over and edit though. And I also have a couple of proof readers check through. One’s own eyes can be a little too accustomed to what has been written and assume correctly spelled words when perhaps you shouldn’t.

I do have very strong female characters in my novels. I suppose they get that from me. I just can’t be doing with the na├»ve prissy type in my books! And I have already pledged that book 7 will feature a plus sized lady. I do try to steer clear of the uber skinny girls; I don’t want to enforce a negative body image/stereotype. But nor have I been brave enough to aim for the proper fulsome girl either.

My next book is already knocking! I had got about halfway through book 5 when it started creeping in. I’m very excited as it’ll be my first vampire book. Up until now I’ve kept one foot in reality, but now I get to play!!

Ooh I just found a great quote I must share with you, and I include it here for my poor husband who knows this to be true. “A writer never has a vacation. For a writer, life consists of either writing or thinking about writing.”

As always, feel free to comment. Have you any writing styles/methods you’d like to share?

 

Love & light,
TL

Friday, 7 August 2015

Silence!


 
There is a tremendous power in silence!

It can of course be used irresponsibly. Once upon a time I was a sales person, and went on training courses where we were drilled in the use of silence as a negotiation toll (8shudders*). But let me concentrate on the positives:

I was fortunate enough recently to have the opportunity of running away on my own to a retreat. Definitely not a spa, but this was better. As soon as I pulled onto the drive it was as if I travelled through some sort of vortex or force-field. An almost eerie sense of calm instantly wrapped itself around me. Eerie only because it is so unusual in today’s world.

A very polite receptionist showed me to my very lovely room. The little folder on the writing desk included instructions on being quiet; no music in the room, observing the silence of the ‘quiet room’, and generally not causing a noise as you travelled throughout the centre. It felt very odd at first, as if I were intruding, or like I was in a library, “shhh!” But I soon adapted and began to enjoy the peace.

And peace it was. Surrounded in stunning British countryside, with walks through fields and groves of trees. I spotted butterflies, also flittering by on hushed wings. And some sort of falcon type bird swooped over a field, its cry the only thing piercing the tranquillity.

Simon & Garfunkel even wrote about this very phenomenon with their song, “The Sound of Silence”. But maybe we didn’t hear its message. I certainly, in full irony, seemed to have missed the point.

As a holistic therapist I am fully aware of the importance of meditation. You should sit in quiet meditation every day; there’s even scientific studies which show the positive effects of this practice. Do I? No! “I’m too busy!” Oops! Then I should meditate all the more. Must try to make this part of my daily routine.

Why? Well, after all this wonderful peace and stillness which I became fully submerged in, I found inspiration to write and found a bit more of myself. It’s so difficult to see all of me when there’s so much noise.

Honestly, it was a real shock. I drove out of the protection of the centre, and when I got onto the motorway it was immediately obvious how busy we are. I drive a fast car, but people were whizzing by, all trying to vie for the optimum road position, always trying to get to the front of the never-ending queue. I got back home and everything felt loud. My husband turned out one of his children’s piggy banks (long story!), but the sound actually hurt my ears! I had that feeling just before I get a migraine – that one where my hearing gets amplified. But no migraine (happily); it was just the stark contrast. I went outside for fresh air, and the constant noise of the traffic assaulted my senses. I went to our bedroom, but even there I could hear noise all around me.

I was shocked to discover just how much noise we surround ourselves with; it is really quite deafening. Most of the time we manage to zone it out to some extent. But wow, I wished it wasn’t there!

I had a magickal night; it was when there was a Blue Moon. I went outside to get the best view and to give my thanks. Funnily enough, I had to walk some way into the grounds as my view was obscured, not by houses and telegraph poles/wires, but by trees! But what a sight! The moon looked massive and was shining in all its glory. I was transported back to all those years ago, when I stayed on a farm for a while. Those peaceful nights with dog walks done by moonlight. As I stood gazing upon the Blue Moon there was a complete absence of noise, except the distant hooting of an owl. “This is what it should be like!” my heart and soul said to me. My soul voice almost sounded as if it were shouting; I guess it’s not used to not having to speak loudly to get itself heard!?

That night, my heart, body and soul cried out more than ever for my farmhouse retreat. “This is what we’ll have there. This is why people will come,” my higher self told me. A week on and that yearning has not left me. Yes, I want to live there, but I also want to be able to offer that gift to others. The immense healing which happens when the mind is still is immense, and it can be at its most still when all around is silent. Ahhh! (*insert dream sequence harp music here*)

So, here’s my challenge for you. When you finish reading this, take yourself into a quiet space. Ironically you may need to play some soothing music to achieve this if you live in a busy environment like I currently do. But find that quiet space, sit and be still. Observe your breathing and how your body feels. Let yourself relax. And let your mind wander, anywhere it wants to take you. Can you hear your inner voice? Does it tell you anything?

Happy silence everyone!

Love & light,

TL

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Cruelty


Yesterday afternoon I was unfortunate to stumble across a rather horrendous image on Facebook; one showing the whale grind in the Faroe Islands. I shan’t share that picture with you. If you feel compelled to see, Google it.

By the way, and I’m just dropping this in as food for thought, and really not suggesting for one moment this makes this hunt right…have you ever watched whales kill? There’s even videos of that online “whales playing with food” comes up as a search. That’s really not friendly!!

The post sparked an awful lot of comments. Some were defending the action as people need the meat for food. Whilst others were condemning it outright, often suggesting the people should move to where there is food. Mmm…try telling that to the millions in Africa!? And the anti-immigrant brigade in the UK would accept them with open arms, would they? Is it really their fault they were born there?

Anyway, it got me thinking. Is it OK to kill animals for food? Well, yes. I know, a whole load of you will be cursing me right now, fingers poised to throw horrible comments on how “we don’t need to eat meat”. But please hold it for a minute. Let’s please remain calm. We are omnivores, and have been since our creation, and we have thus far needed meat to survive. Sorry, that is fact.

However, we are evolving, and perhaps this argument is now slightly less true than once it was.

But OK, I accept many of us aren’t mentally ready to accept that just yet. So, the way in which we treat our food is important. The most objectionable thing about the whale grind seemed to be how it looked inhumane. A whole pod was destroyed (although you could argue this means no animal was left to grieve; flimsy at best). From the brief glimpse I allowed myself it did seem savage, but then these animals are massive and powerful.

I began to wonder what people think happens in a slaughter house. We have become so far removed from our animal sources, we simply try to put that out of mind, so our conscience allows us to east the yummy meat our bodies crave. Some don’t even know where their meat comes from. When asked they reply “the supermarket”!! Standards have improved in slaughter houses, but it’s still not exactly a pretty sight. There is still panic, fear and blood.

So, if we can’t imagine ourselves directly killing, or even bear thinking of others killing animals for our plates do we have a right to eat meat? Are we being a tad hypocritical?

“So become vegetarian”, I hear you cry! Yes, that would stop a lot of animal slaughter, granted. But as a vegetarian do you still eat eggs? There are few things less humane than eggs. When I was a little girl I went into a battery hen house; it is my very own ‘Silence of the Lambs’. The scene was horrific; it was dark, it was smelly, it was noisy, and the hens were crammed into tiny cages. As an empath, the feelings of fear and distress were too much and I ran straight back out before I was suffocated. To this day I get this image if I reach for anything other than free range eggs.

So eating free range eggs is OK? Well no actually. The animals have happier lives. But did you realise hens aren’t supposed to lay that many eggs? They are fed specific feed and kept under certain conditions and have been specifically bred to lay more and more eggs. And what happens to the male chicks? Only hens (the girls) lay. Uh oh, ever seen the images of that? Huge carriers filled with male chicks (well, mainly male – it’s incredibly difficult to sex chicks). They’re not being taken for a happy ride. Nope, they’re heading to their doom, and none too gently.

Turning vegan is the answer! We then can avoid killing animals for leather, clothes, cosmetics etc. Great! But we really do start putting a lot of strain on our bodies. We can do it, but it is difficult. Apart from the effects on our body, the practicality is a nightmare. What’s in your soap, your sweets etc.? And are you telling me that plants don’t feel? If you cut them, do they not bleed (sap)? They absorb the elements as we do. They process the sunlight, and absorb the rain and they grow and breathe. Trees actually breathe out the oxygen we can breathe in. So, is it really OK to eat plants/vegetables/fruit? Ever heard a lettuce heart scream as you cut it?

OK, I’m taking this all a bit too far now.

Now, hopefully, you’ve not hit that button to send me hate mail just yet, as the real point I was going to make is this…

The post on whales was merely ironic. There were clearly two opposing sides with really strong views. The views tended to be either “killing any animal is bad, if you disagree you’re a fuckwit” vs “I love eating meat and am defending it by attacking you”.

You see, when our incredibly strong opinions are challenged we will defend it. Of course we will. But the defence on both sides ended up as vicious attacks on the other party. One guy kept dropping in anti-vegetarian images, taunting them with meat!  Each side was so quick to condemn the other it ended up being filled with hatred. Really vile things were said. The very people chanting they wanted to save the whales out of love ended up being cruel to other humans.

The problem is there are arguments for and against (for practically anything in life).

The bigger problem is how we react to those arguments.

So many seem incapable of saying, “You think that way. I think this way. I respect that there are differences between us.” People are entitled to their own opinion; we have free will. We don’t have to agree with them. We don’t even have to like them. But we should all respect that they have their own opinion. I have unfriended many on Facebook whose opinions varied from my own too much. I cannot change their opinion, as much as I would want to try. And in some cases I have indeed offered more information so perhaps they can have a more informed opinion. But there comes a point when you have to realise this person just doesn’t fit with your ideals and you need to release them with love and light.

Even typing this is hard; I want to fill it with my opinions of right and wrong. I accept there are certain subjects I want to say, “No, you’re wrong! You should…” I’m human! And therefore imperfect.

I guess what I’m trying to say is; be kind to one another!

Disagree, fine. But don’t be cruel about it. Otherwise we perpetuate the hatred we were trying to avoid in the first place.

 

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Technology - Love it or Loathe it


This blog topic is inspired by my loss of access to this beloved blog for 10 days!

I’m of an age where I can remember life before iPhones, CDs, portable computers; let’s just say pre 24/7 jacked in. fyi this historic/ancient period is featured in my book Rekindled Love. I consider it an education to "da yoof, innit" ;-)

These days you send an email and expect a response almost immediately. When did this happen?

Not so very long ago we sent letters via “snail mail”. One found a nice piece of writing paper, thought about what message you wished to convey, and carefully constructed a wonderful piece of communication. You’d then wander (not very far) to a nearby post box and send said letter. In a day or two it would reach the recipient, and a few days later you could expect a response.

With the popularisation of computers and therefore email this long wait has been eradicated. This on the surface seems a good thing.

However, particularly on social media the temptation to put out every thought (or details of every bowel movement of your newly arrived child for some) is now too great. We end up filling our walls and newsfeeds with what is, let’s face it, mindless drivel.

I have read some very good books by Ben Elton, but his scary version of a future where everyone is obliged to post every last little thing online seems to draw ever nearer.

If you watch horrendous trash TV such as Jeremy Kyle you cannot fail to notice how often “but she said that he said on (social media of choice)…” is mentioned in arguments. The common gossip and mud flinging that now happens has increased.

The phenomenon that is the “troll” has emerged. Once upon a time a troll was a rather ugly fearsome creature which lived under bridges, and took pleasure in scaring people (or goats) who trip trapped over said bridge. These days a troll is a cowardly person who hides behind the anonymity of the internet to torment others, often complete strangers, to try to destroy their fragile ego. These trolls have been cited as causing some to take their own life. A truly awful side effect of this insta-messaging. Can you imagine a troll taking time, effort and expense of doing the same in a letter? No. It is purely because they can infuse their poison instantly and with little effort. I do feel sorry for them though; their own loves must be so devoid of interest or love. It is a pity they feel so bad about themselves they find it necessary to try to demoralise others.

And as a wider spectrum, technology causes us great stress. At work my computer often seems to take on a mind of its own, and in the middle of the office I have often been reduced to requesting my PC to ‘fornicate off’. The amount of people who now have access via phones to emails etc. that it has become an expectation that you still look at work emails whilst on holiday; it’s preposterous! One needs to go on holiday to relax and unwind to help us cope with the overloaded world we now live in. Give us a break!

It also fuels consumerism. We can actually live our lives now without ever stepping foot outside our own home. In theory, there are jobs where you can work from home – source of income. With that income you can then order food, clothing, items of all sorts with a click of a button and within a few days (or with Amazon’s new service, within hours) it arrives at your door. This in turn leads us to becoming more isolated and insular. We have started to become more about ‘self’ than ever.

If we have an accident, instead of shrugging it off and dusting ourselves off we have to blame someone else and sue the pants off them, as we ‘need’ more money to buy more stuff. But does this stuff makes us happier? Seemingly not, as we as a people are now unhappier than we were even 50 years ago. People were actually happier during World War 2!! It makes my heart and soul cry for our race.

However, we are also able to use this resource for good. We can use tools to help us whittle down prospective partners, and find good relationships via online dating. It saves our precious time.

But why are we so time poor now? We have many many labour saving devices, yet we are all crying out “I don’t have enough time” or “I’m too busy”.

Many of my holistic friends share their positive messages online. It reaches a wider audience. Even the wonderful man who is His Holiness the Dalai Lama is on Facebook, and puts out wonderfully inspiring messages of compassion. So there is hope.

And I myself could not be an author without the internet. I have written my books on my laptop, self-published online and indeed publicised my books on social media and varying websites (admittedly with little effect), but they are at least there. And they are not having to conform to a traditional publisher’s ideals. I can be my own person, and write in my own style. It leads to a broader spectrum of reading material, and hopeful thought flows. We can expand our own consciousness and find like-minded souls to link with and share these wonderful ideals exponentially.

Unless some mass extermination event or massive EMP goes off, we have technology. It is a massive part of our lives. If we have communication problems we suddenly feel cut off from the world, and we go into panic. As we retreat into our homes we rely on technology to reach friends (often in far flung places of the world).

So, whether you love it or loathe it (or a little of both), technology is here to stay.

You can make a difference in its application.

I think I’ve mentioned “The Universe” before – a great resource for positive thinking. But “The Universe” says “Thoughts become things, choose the good ones!”

I would ask you to bear this in mind. Please; when you use technology do so responsibly.

If you must post online, take care to post from a place of love. Share the good, and together we have a chance of reducing the bad.

 


 
 
 
 
 
 
Love and light,
TL

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

My Crafty Side

 
Thanks P.J. Maclayne for passing on this blog topic from your blog
 
For those who aren’t aware; as well as being a full time Admin, author and all round busy person, I am also a witch! “Aaargh!” I hear you cry, “She’s going to cast an evil spell on us!! Run awaaaay!!!” Actually, people’s first response to this is usually a rather worried, “What kind of witch are you?”
 
Well, let me reassure you that you’re quite safe; I am a hedge witch. This is a “good” witch, mainly concerned with herblore. It’s all part and parcel of my goody-two-shoes, I want to heal people side.
Although, technically I could access dark magic and curse you with a big warty nose, it’s really not worth it as the law of thirds comes into force, and whatever I dish out I get back threefold, so unless I want a full face of warts I’m just not going to do it!

So, what do I do? I’m still very new, and am studying lots of things. But the sort of things I do are observing the moon's phases, honouring Mother Earth (sister moon and father sun too) and offering thanks. Some of this involves 'craft' work.

This weekend I harvested some of my lovely fresh herbs. I was feeling all grumpy Friday night, and despite a good night’s sleep I was still in a bad mood Saturday morning (how vexing!). So I went out into the garden and picked lemon balm like there was no tomorrow! Some of which I brewed into a fairly pleasant tea (the gorgeous smell as I picked the herbs and the tea had me feeling quite a bit better instantly).

I also plucked a rose to get petals, and a few heads of white lavender (most intoxicating!).

I laid these ingredients out on a sunny windowsill to help dry them out (having washed them to get rid of bugs).
 

I drank the tea whilst I waited for the herbs to dry, and having spent some time standing in the sunshine, absorbing the light and re-energising my heart chakra (my very own ‘familiar’ cat in my shadow whilst I did), I was ready to make my bath bag. So simples even I can do it; square of muslin, whack herbs in, crushing a little, and tied up with a bit of string. Hang from faucet as you run bath! I then took it off the tap and had it bobbing as a flower bomb whilst bathing and relaxing.
 

Also this weekend I picked a whole bunch of mint leaves, washed, dried, bruised and tore into a jar. And then poured loads of olive oil on top. All air sealed, and now brewing in a dark place for 4-6 weeks, so I can get some yummy mint oil. My main intention is to help ease headaches, but I’m sure I’ll find many uses for it.

 
 
Gasp! No cauldron, no newts, nothing. Just herbs and oil!
 
So now you know a little about my witch self. Please feel free to ask any questions.

 

 If you liked reading this (or indeed if you just fancy reading about a different kind of craft/DIY project) please hop over to my author friend Paula Shene's blog here to read 'Splatter Platter'.
She's also written this rather lovely book:


Saturday, 4 July 2015

Advice for New Authors

Wow; that was a spectacular disaster! So, you’re happy to read, but don’t want to talk to me? That’s OK. It’s your choice. So with an overwhelming majority with one vote, this blog will be ‘advice to new authors’! :-O

Sit down, make yourself comfortable. Have you a cup of coffee/tea? OK, listen up people. What I have to say on this subject is important.
 
 
1)      You will NOT be an overnight success!
Get that idea straight out of your head. Now! Go on; clear it. That way disappointment lies!
Let me tell you about some of the ‘greats’…
·         Agatha Christie – 5 years it took her to get a publishing deal! She now has sales totalling over £2 billion (a feat only outdone by Mr Shakespeare himself). Om mani padme hum Agatha.
·         JK Rowling got 12 refusals, and was told to get a day job! Doh! She now has set records with four of her books! I hope those publishing houses are crying themselves to sleep!
·         I love this one as a fellow indie: Beatrix Potter…heard of her and her “bunny book”? She was rejected so many times she turned to self publishing (which was a lot harder back then, I can assure you!). Now sold over 45 million!
·         Louisa May Alcott was told to “stick to teaching” when submitting ‘Little Women’, but she is still in print 140 years later! That publisher is not!
·         Stephen King’s Carrie was turned down no less than 30 times!
·         But even that’s outdone by ‘Jonathan Livingston Seagull’ by Richard Bach was rejected 140 times! That’s some grim determination right there! Kudos to Richard!
·         Even Jewish sweetheart Anne Frank was rejected 15 times. Shame on them!!
 
Am I getting through here?
 
2)      So, if we learn anything from the above it has to be: if at first you don’t succeed try try again (and then keep on trying. Try until you think you can’t possibly go on, and then once you’ve done that, guess what; try harder!)
 
3)      Please write something good!
I’ve read some books that make me cringe! Get a proof reader or two!! Spelling and grammar mistakes in books are a massive turn off. You can get away with a few; to err is to be human. But if your book is riddled with errors you will never succeed.
 
4)      Don’t be needy!
So, you must set up social media accounts. That’s a given. You knew that already, I bet. You clever folk! But don’t just sit there harping on about how wonderful your book is, buy buy buy! Boring!!! Get some interaction going; talk to people, pretend you’re interesting! ;-)
When asking for reviews don’t just blurt it out within the first sentence of your social interaction; how rude!! What I’m saying is just don’t ram your book down people’s throats.
 
5)      Write because you love it!
So few people actually manage to quit their day jobs even with their book sales. I know that’s the dream, but please don’t expect it. See, I’m trying to protect you from disappointment again. Write because you feel your life is empty without it, not to try and make a quick buck.
 
6)      You will get frustrated!
Jealousy is a very natural reaction, especially when a talentless chav bint like Katie Price gets announced “best selling author of the decade”, outranking the great JK Rowling. She doesn’t even write the novels, she has a ghost writer, and hasn’t even read them – for crying out loud!!! You’ll want to seethe with rage and jump up and down shouting, “WHY GOD, WHY???” Just me?? ;-)
Do not envy others’ success; they have their own life path, as do you. What will be will be.
Now breathe, and relax, let it go (sorry; instruction to myself; got a bit worked up thinking about Katie!) ;-)
 
But then, what do I know?  I’ve been self published for 2 years, and almost made back the cost of one of the covers of my four books!? Don’t take my advice!!
 
Interesting facts…I just looked up the best selling authors of all time (since records began, but not sure when that was), and the list was created in 2012, but quite interesting:
 
1)      JK Rowkling - £237.6m
2)      Jamie Oliver – £126.4m
3)      James Patterson - £100.7m (American)
4)      Terry Pratchett - £93.5m
5)      Jacqueline Wilson - £83m
6)      Dan Brown - £ 82m (American)
7)      John Grisham - £74.6m (American)
8)      Richard Parsons - £69.5m (for GCSE guides, really??)
9)      Bill Bryson - £67.6 (aweseome American)
10)   Delia Smith - £64.4m
If you want to see more, the link is here
I make it 35 out of the 50 are English; yay, I may stand a chance yet!!
And yes, my nemesis is there at number 46 (and another at 26)!! Thre’s a lot of food books in the list, maybe because we don’t have the same family culture any more, so we turn to books and not our mums to teach us to cook? Or maybe because of all the new foods we can choose from, and we want to have a clue what to do with a starfruit?
But I’m chuffed to see Mr Man author Roger Hargeaves is in the top 50; those books were a staple of my childhood! And Bill Bryson makes me laugh. Many of the authors on there get the thumbs up from me actually (I’m sure they’ll be relieved to know that!?).  “Oooh, I’ve sold £x million, but now TL Clark praises me I know I’ve made it”!! Haha!
btw, if you want to read what other authors have to say, take a look at Self-Publishing! In the Eye of the Storm! Yours truly makes an appearance (but takes no royalties at all from this).
OK, enough of my mind vomit for this blog? Yeah, go do something interesting now. Go! Shoo!