Posts tagged “Ghosts of Winter

Promotion!

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Special Offer – Limited Time Only!

Hi folks. I hope January has treated you well and that those New Year’s Resolutions are sticking. Just in case one of those resolutions was “read more”, then here is a nice little offer:

For a limited time only, the first and second books in the Echoes of the Past series, Seeds of Autumn and Ghosts of Winter, are on offer on all major retailers for just 99p (99c in the US). So pick up your discounted copies today.

If you’d prefer to have a FREE copy of the first book, Seeds of Autumn, then click here.

I’m off to bake a birthday cake now for a very excited young man who turns four tomorrow!

Let me know in the comments if you have any book recommendations for me to read this year 😉

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Inspired By Ravens

I’ve always been fascinated by shamanism, which is probably why it wove its way into Echoes of the Past almost without my realising. As a teenager I would meditate for hours, searching for my spirit guide and longing to traverse the astral plain. Now I’m writing a series that features a magnificent plain of pure crystal that the shape shifting protagonists can travel to, and ritual magic that is sometimes performed in trance-like states. It’s not difficult to trace the inspiration!

Raven

Image courtesy of Willow C. Winsham

Norse mythology has also been hugely inspirational and has some wonderful examples of shamanism. Odin, the Allfather, highest of the gods, is depicted as a shaman in various primary sources of Norse mythology. He undergoes a great trial and loses an eye in order to receive the knowledge of the entire universe, he then spends most of his time in a trance, observing life in the other eight realms. He has two helpers in this task, two ravens called Hunin (thought) and Munin (desire), who fly out into the world to be his eyes. The idea of spirit familiars, or a shaman projecting their consciousness into an animal is common in mythologies from around the world. It is unclear from the original texts whether Hunin and Munin are animal familiars or Odin’s own consciousness. Either way, he uses them as his messengers throughout the nine realms.

Another example of shamanism in Norse myth are the berserkers, fierce warriors thought to channel the spirits of wolves, bears and dogs on the battlefield.

Archaeologist Neil Price has this to say:

They run howling and foaming through the groups of fighting men. Some of them wear animal skins, some are naked, and some have thrown away shields and armour to rely on their consuming frenzy alone. Perhaps some of the greatest warriors do not take the field at all, but remain behind in their tents, their minds nevertheless focused on the combat. As huge animals their spirit forms wade through the battle, wreaking destruction.

– Price, Neil S. 2002. The Viking Way: Religion and War in Late Iron Age Scandinavia. p. 394. As referenced here: http://norse-mythology.org/concepts/shamanism/

The Berserkers in Echoes of the Past are based heavily on these accounts, and are able to channel “Odin’s fire”, or ecstasy to propel them to great feats of strength and ferocity in battle, as well as rapid healing. This of course is linked to the phenomenon of adrenaline enabling humans to display apparently superhuman speed and strength.

I have connected these two elements of Norse mythology, and so ravens feature heavily in Echoes of the Past. These enormous, black birds come and go as messengers for Odin’s Warriors, and are often seen observing Ariana and her fellow Berserkers. The symbol of the city of Caerton is a raven, and the oldest pack, The Watch, have it as their identifying mark. The shifters of the city have long had a close connection to Odin, and that is reflected in their traditions, their allies and their rituals. Readers will see far more about this history, pack symbols and the pecking order of power between packs in the forthcoming third book in the series, Tides of Spring. Ariana also begins to explore her ancestry, where she came from, and what makes her so different from other shifters.

It’s interesting that ravens have evoked similar feelings in different cultures, being linked to similar themes in mythology. In Celtic mythology they are thought to be messengers and protectors of warriors. Irish Celts believed that the Morrigan would take the form of a raven and fly over a battle, protecting warriors. The god Lludd was also said to have two ravens, like Odin. Ravens are also associated with wisdom, another of Odin’s attributes.

Image via Duncan @ Creative Commons

Image via Duncan @ Creative Commons

Ravens are heavily associated with the Tower of London, being a permanent feature of the historical landmark. It is believed that if the six ravens of the tower leave then the kingdom will fall. When the site was bombed during WWII and the ravens disappeared, Winston Churchill ordered them replaced immediately, fearing the superstition. Today there are seven ravens kept at the tower, the minimum six, and a spare!

It’s fair to say that ravens have inspired many people to incorporate them into their beliefs, so it’s no surprise that authors would draw on the strong associations and feature them in fiction.

If you would like to see how I have been inspired by these magnificent birds, and the shamanism associated with them, then do please check out my books, Seeds of Autumn and Ghosts of Winter!

Don’t forget, you can still nominate Ghosts of Winter for the BooksGoSocial Book Awards. For more info, see my previous post.

If you like what you read here, subscribe to my mailing list to be among the first to hear all the latest news about my books and for special offers. If you subscribe today you get a free copy of my short story The Storm Riders’ Vigil.


Books Go Social Book Awards!

red rosetteNomination Time!

I’m rather excited to announce that Ghosts of Winter is in the running for the BooksGoSocial Book award for Best Self-Published Book of the Year.

I’m asking all of my lovely followers to add their nomination for my book so that it stands a better chance of being shortlisted for the public vote, which will follow in June.

You can nominate Ghosts of Winter here.

The URL that you need to link to Ghosts of Winter is as follows, just copy and paste it into the URL field on the nomination form: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ghosts-Winter-Echoes-Past-Book-ebook/dp/B00PUQMUZC/

Please put your reasons for nomination in your own words.

GWIf you happen to be a member of BooksGoSocial, you can also nominate the cover of Ghosts of Winter in the Best Cover Award category.

I’ll keep you up to date with the nominations, and if I am shortlisted I’d really appreciate it if you could vote for my book and share the link with your social networks.

In other news, revisions on book three in the series, Tides of Spring are well under way and I’ll be running my crowdfunder campaign on Pubslush throughout July!

I truly hope that I can count on all of you to support the campaign. There will be pledges to suit all budgets, from £1 right up to £500, with exciting perks that include naming a character in the next book and the chance for a one-to-one Skype chat with me about the series!

Subscribers to my mailing list will be the first to know when the campaign page goes live. You can subscribe here: http://eepurl.com/bifpgf

Last but not least, happy Star Wars Day! May the fourth be with you.

That’s all from me for now folks, thanks for reading.


Ghosts of Winter in Print and News Roundup!

IMG_6151Great news folks, you can now buy Ghosts of Winter in print from Amazon and there is still time to get a copy in the UK  before Christmas! Amazon’s print on demand service is remarkably quick and efficient, and if you’re a Prime member you will receive your copy in just 2 days – one to print and one to ship.

In other news, I have been featured today on The Story Reading Ape, so do hop on over to have a read and give your support to a fab blog and platform for indie authors.

I’m also answering questions on Goodreads for the month of December, because this month isn’t busy enough! So if you have a burning question about me or my books, please visit my profile there and put your question in the “Ask the Author” field!

Thanks for reading.


Happy Launch Day!

Image via Creative Commons

Image via Creative Commons

In case you missed it, yesterday was the launch of my second book, Ghosts of Winter! It’s out there now, for anyone with a Kindle or Kindle App to read. A print edition will follow shortly, and I will update readers on here and social media when it’s available. Happy reading.


Book Tour For the Digital Age

smart-booksIf these were the “good old days” of publishing, then assuming I had managed to secure a publishing contract, I would be about to embark on a book tour of book shops around the country to promote my new book, Ghosts of Winter. However, the industry has changed radically, though the traditional publishers are largely stuffing their fingers in their ears and ignoring this. There has been a paradigm shift, it is now authors that hold all the cards, and the former gatekeepers to literature are floundering.

Given that I am a self-publishing author in the digital age, I won’t be doing a physical book tour. But I thought it might be nice to recreate elements of one online. So in the coming weeks I’ll be posting excerpts from Ghosts of Winter here, like doing readings in person to a gathered crowd.

Given that this is book two of a series, I have tried to find a short excerpt that does not contain significant spoilers, and would like to remind readers that the first book in the series, Seeds of Autumn is available here. This section comes near the start of the book, and demonstrates some of the supernatural elements and the raw beauty of the world of shifters, Hepethia.

The pack set off at a run, heading south to the spot where the lightning had struck. The air was still buzzing with static when they got there, there were tiny ripples coming off a mound of pure crystal. It gleamed silvery blue in the late afternoon light and the sides jutted up from the smooth ground to form a wall over six feet high. The afternoon was drawing late and the tumultuous sky overheard was darkening, the storm was abating, the Lord having tired himself in the fight, but the rain persisted.

Stalker approached the mound and clucked her tongue in thought.

‘I guess we need to get inside,’ she said quietly. Weaver came up beside her and placed a hand on the crystal. Stalker copied her and felt the cool, hard surface against her palm. She pressed hard against it and felt a little give. She glanced at Weaver, who looked surprised and quickly retracted her hand. Stalker persisted and felt the crystal softening and warming. She watched in wonder as it slowly melted away from her palm and a small opening appeared. It wasn’t a mound at all, it was an impact crater. She looked around at the others, unable to hide her excitement and beamed at them. Eyes watched carefully, a small smile playing on his lips. Wind Talker frowned, caution written on his broad face.

Stalker took a step into the opening and stopped short, her gaze settling on the snake-like elemental curled up and glowing bright blue-white. It was about six feet long and the light radiating from it rippled along the supple body. It had huge chains shackled around it and rooted into the crystal floor.

‘That must be him,’ she whispered, looking over her shoulder at Wind Talker for confirmation. He peered around her and gave a single nod of his head and the four of them filed carefully in through the doorway and stood and watched the elemental for a minute.

Eventually he raised his head and looked at them with lamp-like eyes, obviously not surprised to see them, he must have been aware of them before.

‘Hello.’ The fae’s voice was little more than a crackle of electricity, but the one word somehow came through clearly.

‘Hello,’ Wind Talker replied and took a few steps closer. ‘Bound-and-Chained-Lightning, are you all right?’

Stalker was taken aback by the concern in Wind Talker’s voice and she smiled to herself.

‘Who? Me?’ The elemental lifted himself up more, looking at Wind Talker with wide eyes the colour of a tropical sea. ‘I don’t know. Am I?’

Wind Talker glanced back over his shoulder and gave a shrug to Eyes, clearly unsure how to proceed. Eyes moved up to stand next to him and looked thoughtfully at the elemental.

‘Do you know what you are?’ Eyes asked him.

‘Lightning?’ the elemental asked in a childlike voice. ‘Electricity?’

He seemed to be confused. Stalker and Weaver moved closer. Stalker felt so sorry for him, he was caught in a confusing limbo state between the two forces that made him, with powers pulling him in two directions at once. She could relate.

‘Can you tell me what I am?’ he asked, his eyes almost seemed sad. He was hard to read.

‘Power,’ Stalker replied without thinking, looking into his deep blue eyes.

There was a sudden shimmer from the elemental, he shook all over and flexed from nose to tail. Everyone jumped back as sparks flew off him and scattered across the floor. He flared up bright white, filling the whole crystal cage with blinding light and Stalker covered her eyes and turned away.

The light dulled and she looked back at him. He had grown; his chains had tightened around him but were still intact.

‘Thank you,’ he said, his voice suddenly older and with more of a crackle to it. ‘Things feel clearer now.’

Stalker grinned from ear to ear and looked back at her pack. They were smiling too.

‘We’re a new pack and need an ally. Are you willing to support us in establishing ourselves?’ Eyes asked, stepping forward and speaking kindly but with an edge of authority.

‘Yes. If you will free me,’ the elemental replied.

‘Consider it done,’ Eyes said with a firm nod.

Stalker looked around at the crystalline cage and the chains that bound this beautiful fae to the ground. It was raw Hepethia, alien and incredible. Making one small hole in the wall had taken a great deal of focus and mental energy, to break Bound-and-Chained-Lightning free would be a massive effort. She grasped Weaver’s hand and they exchanged determined glances.

‘We’ll need to all work together,’ she said quietly.

‘Can we change this?’ Eyes asked, raising a sceptical eyebrow.

‘I think so,’ Stalker replied, trying to keep the doubt from her voice. She focused her thoughts on breaking the crystal chains that snaked around Bound-and-Chained-Lightning, willing the fae to be free from its bonds. The chains began to shimmer and shake and the fae within them flexed. A crackle of electricity issued from it and it suddenly glowed brighter. Stalker was distracted for a moment, in awe of the beauty of the fae before them, but she quickly refocused. The chains were trembling and clinking slightly, making strangely melodic sounds.

She felt Weaver’s hand tighten on hers and a smile burst onto her lips; they were doing it. The chains began to creak and strain and suddenly a single link snapped, splintering into two pieces that scattered across the smooth floor. Another quickly followed and the fae rapidly expanded, free to move more than it ever had. With one last flex, the remaining chains snapped and Stalker reflexively shielded her face as the small pieces went flying in all directions.

Bound-and-Chained-Lightning soared into the air and seemed to explode into a thousand stars, scattering tiny sparks over the shifters below. Stalker squinted, shielding her eyes with her hand as she tried to watch the fae. The explosive flare died down and in place of the snake was a beautiful silver dragon flying in a figure of eight above them. He was a wingless, Chinese dragon, all rippling muscles and a bobbing head. He flickered constantly, like lightning behind clouds. Stalker drew a slow breath and looked around at the others.

‘He’s beautiful,’ Weaver whispered.

‘His name has changed,’ Wind Talker said, his voice full of wonder. ‘Unchained Lightning,’ he added slowly.

‘I love it,’ Stalker said, a bright smile lighting her face.

‘Unchained Lightning,’ Eyes called out. The fae stopped circling and looked down at them. ‘Will you honour our agreement and help us?’

‘The honour is mine,’ the fae replied, and he landed in front of them with a soft thud.

‘Excellent,’ Eyes said. ‘Then let’s begin.’

 


Cover Reveal!

I am absolutely delighted to reveal the cover for Ghosts of Winter, designed by the wonderful Nathalia Suellen.

The book will be going on sale on Kindle on Monday 24th November.

cover

Deep within the city of Caerton, shape shifters hide in the guise of humans, secretly fighting to protect them from the unimaginable demons that threaten their world.

Caerton’s newest shifter, Stalker, faces an uncertain future; as her pack struggles to cope with their devastating loss, dark forces begin to mass in the shadows. Tensions with the Witches continue to threaten the north, while the young shifters desperately strive to determine which of the city’s elders they can trust.

As an ancient and deadly evil emerges from beneath the city, Stalker and her new pack face a frantic race against the changing face of the moon. Can their demonic enemy be defeated? Heroes will rise in this, the second thrilling instalment of the Echoes of the Past series, where creatures from our darkest nightmares stalk our world…


Stupid Girls

I’ve been giving some thought to the role models I had in my teens, and whether young women today have similar or very different ones. British culture has definitely changed in the last fifteen to twenty years, and it concerns me to think about the influence of that culture on young people in their formative years. I’m coming at this as a woman and feminist, very much aware that young women today are often afraid to identify as feminists.

Joan Jett and Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna on stage and angry in 1994. Photograph: Ebet Roberts/Redferns

Joan Jett and Bikini Kill’s Kathleen Hanna on stage and angry in 1994. Photograph: Ebet Roberts/Redferns

The teen years are all about self-discovery, and my own journey was one of rebellion against the mainstream. It was the 1990s; we had Britpop, and loud, lary entertainers. We had The Big Breakfast and TFI Friday, entertainment was all about volume. Girls like me had some amazing women in music to look up to; Skunk Anansie, Garbage, No Doubt and Alanis Morissette dominated the charts and blasted from my stereo. We had the flash-in-the-pan Ladette movement, with which I strongly identified, led by the in-yer-face Sara Cox, Zoe Ball and Denise Van Outen.

Even for those whose stream was a little closer to the main one, there were the Spice Girls. Manufactured and awful as they and their pop hits were, they were presented as five distinct young women, each with their own style and the freedom to speak their minds. Their “girl power” mantra defined that era. Today’s female pop stars seem to lack that, they’re pre-packaged, homogeneous tools to sell sex. Young girls aren’t watching Elastica rock out with their guitars, they’re seeing Miley Cyrus in nude underwear, twerking up against a man singing a song that normalises date rape.

At the age that I was reading Point Horror books that featured young women who had to get themselves out of deadly situations, girls today are reading books that romanticise controlling relationships.

What will this mean for the future? In ten years what kind of relationships with these young women be in? Will they feel confident in the workplace? Will there be fewer female politicians?

I am aware that not everything about my influences was positive. At fourteen, I wasn’t really aware of the emphasis on heavy drinking that was attributed to ladette culture, it wasn’t about that to me; the impression Coxy and her fellows made on me was positive and profound. They stood for the idea of being able to express yourself, and not conforming to an outdated archetype of femininity. Social commentaries seem to sit in one of two camps: either that these awful “girls” (adult women are often described as girls in this context, I have noticed) corrupted others into becoming binge drinkers and potential rape victims (Hello? Victim-blaming, slut-shaming culture!); or that ultimately, the movement was flawed because it still defined women in relation to men, and as an inferior version; younger sister trying to walk in big brother’s shoes.

Thankfully it’s not all bad news for today’s teens. They have singers such as Pink, Olympians like Jessica Ennis, and access to many of my own generation’s influences, such as Judy Bloom. Even if the contemporary influences that youngsters group around don’t have much to offer in the way of empowerment, the community they find in fandom can be a good source of friendship and support.

My second book, Ghosts of Winter, will go on sale very soon. I like to think that my protagonist, Ariana, is a positive role model. She’s independent, confident (most of the time) and stands on an equal footing with the males in her society. She has vulnerabilities too, not least of which is her impulsiveness. A while ago I had a moment of doubt over my inclusion of a romance sub-plot in the series, I questioned my feminist credentials if my kick-ass female lead was distracted by romantic diversions. However, I decided not to preoccupy myself with any rules or expectations and to tell the story that demanded to be told. Ariana’s romantic relationships are conducted largely on her terms, she knows what she wants and decides what is best for her. The romance is also interwoven with the primary plot-line, providing tension and conflict as well as what I hope is a good source of character development.

I also hope to be a good role model to my own children, and maybe one day, the readers of my books. As one of my idols, film producer Gale Anne Hurd, is attributed with saying: role-model-1I love to hear from you. Who are your role models, and why? Leave a comment below and don’t forget to subscribe for all the latest book news.

 


Teaser!

The second book in the Echoes of the Past series, Ghosts of Winter, is coming very soon. To wet your appetites, here is the blurb.

Deep within the city of Caerton, shape shifters hide in the guise of humans, secretly fighting to protect them from the unimaginable demons that threaten their world.

Caerton’s newest shifter, Stalker, faces an uncertain future; as her pack struggles to cope with their devastating loss, dark forces begin to mass in the shadows. Tensions with the Witches continue to threaten the north, while the young shifters desperately strive to determine which of the city’s elders they can trust.

As an ancient and deadly evil emerges from beneath the city, Stalker and her pack face a frantic race against the changing face of the moon. Can their demonic enemy be defeated? Heroes will rise in this, the second thrilling instalment of the Echoes of the Past series, where creatures from our darkest nightmares stalk our world…

If you are interested in receiving a free copy to review, please contact me below.


There Are No Coincidences

iStock_000016905197SmallHappy Monday, folks. I wanted to kick start today by writing a little bit about the research and development process that has been such a huge part of writing Echoes of the Past. I have turned up some really fascinating facts and stumbled upon some rather striking coincidences. But as the title above suggests, perhaps there are no coincidences. Is it fate?

Echoes is not set in any particular year, I have deliberately kept it vague, but the entirety of Seeds of Autumn is a countdown to an epic event and the phases of the moon are significant, so I did use a real lunar calendar for a previous year to refer to in order to keep the dates and moon phases in sync. Long after the main events of the entire series were loosely plotted and in fact after I had completed Seeds of Autumn, I discovered that the day after the last day in that book in the year that I was using as a reference was a blue moon. One definition of a blue moon is the third full moon in a season that contains four full moons, which is relatively unusual as most seasons only contain three. For those who haven’t yet read the book, the main characters call themselves The Blue Moon. The enormity of this struck me and I couldn’t ignore it, so there is a reference to it in the second book, Ghosts of Winter (coming soon).

Photo by Sebastian Dario, courtesy of Creative Commons

Photo by Sebastian Dario, courtesy of Creative Commons

The series features animism and deities from various pantheons, so I do a lot of research into the world’s mythologies and do a lot of investigation to find fitting character names. The second rather large coincidence that I stumbled upon was also related to the Blue Moon. Echoes is set in the fictional city of Caerton. I can’t actually claim credit for this name, as a dear friend came up with it and gave me permission to use it. It’s origins are Welsh, the word caer means castle or fortress and the history of the city is richly detailed from the very first caer built in its location, which may or may not be in or close to Wales 😉

Now, the Roman pantheon features in the series, with one deity in particular as a rival to their Greek counterpart and so I sometimes find myself translating things into Latin. One of these translations was The Blue Moon. Google Translate gave me a couple of options, but one of them leapt out at me: Caeruleum Lunulam. I was stunned at the appearance of caer, the etymology is utterly unrelated but the coincidence was enormous. Readers will have to wait until book three to be rewarded with this particular morsel.

Two huge coincidences, or perhaps fate. Either way, too significant to ignore.

I love hearing from you, what curious coincidences have you stumbled upon? If you’re a writer or artist, how have you incorporated those into your work?