Category: books

I’m Meeeellllttttiinnnnggg

Going into our third straight week of temps in the upper 90s. This is crazy, this is Oregon. It shouldn’t be allowed. Wonder if the crazy old coot down the street feels silly about his “Stop Global Cooling” bumper sticker yet?

I think I gave myself heat exhaustion yesterday. Went out kind of midday, which I thought would have been ok, and mowed the yard, washed the car, and watered the veggie garden. Apparently it was already too hot because I felt really ill later. I brought water out with me, but forgot to stop and drink it often enough, I guess. Be careful out there.

In writing news, I’m making slow progress on the Revenants Abroad sequel, and also working on a couple other things. I probably shouldn’t split my focus, but when you get an idea you need to write it down. Or at least I do.

I can’t help thinking of this every time I see balloons up.

FINALLY! Revenants Abroad available in paper!

Revenants Abroad - Final for Web Display 501x800

Never thought I’d see the day, but I approved the proof on CreateSpace moments ago, which means Revenants Abroad is officially available in paper through the CreateSpace store! It said it’ll be 2-3 days before it’s up on the main site, I have no idea why. It is still, and will remain, available for Kindle and for KindleUnlimited. I’m going to order a few copies for giveaways and for those who’ve requested signed copies. I have to say wanting a signed copy strikes me as surreal in the extreme. All I can say is I have the best friends who think more of me than I deserve. Thanks you guys, love you all.


Links updated 3 June 2015

Revenants Abroad Paper Proceeding

The good news is: paper copies of Revenants Abroad are back on! I finally caved and contacted my cover artist, Jason Juta, and he graciously said he’d provide me a lighter version of the cover at no charge. I love this guy so hard. I felt bad going back to ask him for yet another change (of course I intended to pay him, but still) because I know he’s busy. He graciously said he’d do it gratis, since it’ll only take him about 30 seconds to lighten the image up. If the book ever really takes off, I’ll be throwing a few extra dollars his way, believe you me.

If all goes according to plan, the paper copies should be available in a couple of weeks. Once I get the file from Jason, I need to upload it to CS, and get another proof copy to make sure they don’t hose it up again. Those of you holding out hope for a paper copy shouldn’t have long to wait now.

The advantage to publishing paper books via CreateSpace is that it’s no charge, unless you hire them for design, edit, and marketing. It’s not cheap. “Custom covers” from them are $399 (starting with a stock image), a custom cover ‘Premier’ is $599, and still starts with a stock image. After the customer support I’ve experienced (essentially, none), I don’t think I’d trust them with something this important. So the disadvantage to going through them rather than another self-publishing route that would charge hundreds or thousands of dollars is lack of support. Also, while some bookstores will now stock self-published books, those same bookstores are often not happy about stocking books pubbed through CS, as Amazon takes a bigger cut of sales.

So, if you’re going to self-publish hard/paper copies of your book, do your homework. There are so many options it makes my head spin. That’s one reason I decided to use CreateSpace. I basically had everything (electronic files, cover art) and not a lot of cash up front.

And here are some of my latest shots, just for fun.

‘Cause I Just Don’t Have Enough To Do

So my latest thing is I’m thinking about doing a newsletter focusing on my book and the upcoming sequel as well as other writing, and offering some exclusive content (backstory on characters, new stuff related to the Revenants series and other projects), contests and giveaways. Yeah I know, like I don’t have enough to do already, right?

If you’d like to sign up you can do so here. Unfortunately with sites you can’t embed the forms so I have to have an off-site page for it. I’ll be moving the blog to a self-hosted site soon, though. I’m not sure when I’ll start sending out the newsletter, and it will be monthly if I can keep up. Otherwise maybe every other month, so you won’t be inundated with stuff every week.

The white flowers below are Oregon’s state flower, the trillium. It’s protected, so don’t pick them if you see them.

We’re still getting a lot of fog in the mornings, as you can see.

The Stars Seem So Far Away – Margrét Helgadóttir

I’d like to introduce you to Norwegian-Icelandic writer, Margét Helgadóttir, whose first book, The Stars Seem So Far Away, has just been released through Fox Spirit Books. Congratulations, Margét! Let’s talk about the book.


What is The Stars Seem So Far Away about?

The Stars Seem So Far Away is a story set in a distant future, where plagues, famine and wars rage across the dying Earth. The last shuttles to the space colonies are long gone. Fleeing the deadly sun, humans migrate farther and farther north. The story is told through the tales of five survivors: One girl who sails the Northern Sea, robbing other ships to survive; one girl who guards something on a distant island; one guerrilla soldier; and finally, two siblings who become separated when the plague hits Svalbard.

It’s not a novel, but it’s not a collection of stories either. It’s a hybrid, a fusion of linked tales that together tell a larger story.

What inspired you to write the book?

I think the idea of this alternative future for the northern parts of the world has been dormant in me for many years.I have long pictured a world where humans, due to climate changes, must flee to the northern world, and where places that today are sparsely populated could become covered with cities. I’ve had the image of the skyscraper city on Svalbard in my mind for many years. But mostly it’s the small details of this dark and apocalyptic world I have mulled over for a long time. I have for instance been fascinated by the doomsday vault, the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, ever since it was built. Also, the image of the killer whale in Nuuk has stayed with me for a while.


It’s such a beautiful cover. Could you tell us a little about it?

The lovely cover is by the talented Sarah Anne Langton. I am very happy about it because I feel it reveals some of the atmosphere in the book like I picture it. The cover has ice, snow, ocean, a giant bear, a crashed Hercules, an apocalyptic city and the human who longs for the stars. Sarah even made sure it’s the correct star maps on the cover.


What is your relationship to the speculative genres?

It’s more about what mood particular books/stories put me in, rather than who wrote them or what genre they are within. I’m the same with movies. Fantasy and science fiction are always good choices when needing to escape real world and seek comfort.

But I also find that these genres challenge the readers/audience, force them to think in new ways, be it space exploring, new species, new ways of thinking, new technology. They turn the world as we know it upside down, and few things are impossible. I love this. There are of course often used tropes and clichés in these genres too, but still, now and then I can read something or watch something which is so challenging, so brilliant, I almost can feel my brain cells squeal in delight. I love the space opera subgenres and I adore the science fiction classics from 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, filled with optimism and confidence. But my favourite science fiction is the narratives close to contemporary fiction, often about power structures and dystopian societies. They are not new, but we have seen these stories more often the last decades. I am also increasingly fascinated by stories within ‘the weird’, twisted and dark stories, often very surreal and surprising.

Could you tell a little about your writing and other stories?

It was only two and half years ago that I found confidence enough to start writing fiction for publication. A few of the stories in the book are actually amongst the first stories that I wrote. I have chosen to write fiction in English, which is not my native tongue, so working on the book has also been part of a tough language-learning process. Today, when I read through the book, I can see clearly how I have developed as a writer; the later stories flow better and have a more sure voice.

I know my writing and language can’t compete with Hemingway or other great authors, but I’m very concerned about telling a good story, so I hope I have succeeded in this and that people will like the stories and the characters.

My stories have appeared in several magazines and journals, including Gone Lawn and Luna Station Quarterly. My fiction has also been or will be published in nine print anthologies, including Impossible Spaces, six volumes of Fox Pockets, and two more Fox Spirit publications. I am co-editor of the coffee table book European Monsters, a collection of fiction and art released from Fox Spirit Books in December 2014. It is the first of an annual monster series. In 2015 I will co-edit the second volume in this series, African Monsters, and I will also edit an anthology of winter tales. Hopefully there will be time to continue writing as well.


You have an unusual background, can you tell a little about yourself?

I’m born in East-Africa to a Norwegian mother and an Icelandic father. I grew up in East- and West-Africa and in Norway. On my webpage you can find small musings about different aspects of being a third culture and cross cultural child. I moved to Denmark two months ago, where I will stay for a few years due to work. I am a movie junkie and a book worm, and can often be found in the history museums and galleries in the weekends. Learn more about me at my webpage, or on Twitter, where I am @MaHelgad

Thanks so much, D.D., for inviting me to talk about my debut book.

The Stars Seem So Far Away was published by Fox Spirit Books and released on Valentine’s Day. It can be ordered as paperback and Kindle from Amazon. Epub is coming soon.

Amazon UK (paperback):

And Kindle:

Amazon US (paperback):

And Kindle:


Thanks so much, Margrét, and best wishes for the success of your book!

Revenants Abroad – Chapter 26

Chapter 26 went live yesterday, sorry to be a day late with the notice! Only two more chapters to go after this so time is winding down to read it for free online. There have now been over 5000 reads of Revenants Abroad on Wattpad, so thank you everyone! :D

Revenants Abroad – Chapter 24

Chapter 24 is up now on Wattpad! This may be the longest yet, at 12 Wattpad-pages. If you’re snowed in this weekend, or it’s just too cold to be outside, it might be a good time to catch up on your reading. Four more chapters to go, then I’ll give it about a week and pull the story from Wattpad to get the book up on Amazon. It is still available as an ebook from Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Kobo.

Here’s our lonely mountain (sans dragon) at sunset, an eagle perched in the next-door neighbor’s tree, last night’s moon, and a spider web in the power lines under the streetlight.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Blog Tour – STRUCK by Clarissa Johal

Welcome to the blog tour celebrating the 1 Year Anniversary of the release of Paranormal Gothic Horror Novel ~STRUCK by Clarissa Johal.  Follow the tour (schedule posted below) to read new reviews, interviews with Clarissa, and exclusive excerpts.“The shadows hadn’t been waiting. The shadows had been invited.”


After a painful breakup, Gwynneth Reese moves in with her best friend and takes a job at a retirement home. She grows especially close to one resident, who dies alone the night of a terrific storm. On the way home from paying her last respects, Gwynneth is caught in another storm and is struck by lightning. She wakes in the hospital with a vague memory of being rescued by a mysterious stranger. Following her release from the hospital, the stranger visits her at will and offers Gwynneth a gift–one that will stay the hands of death. Gwynneth is uncertain whether Julian is a savior or something more sinister… for as he shares more and more of this gift, his price becomes more and more deadly.

Book Details:
Genre: Paranormal Gothic Horror
Author(s): Clarissa Johal
Cover Artist: Kelly Shorten
ISBN: 978-1-61937-690-8
Number of Pages: 255
Price: $4.99
Purchase Links:
About the Author:
Clarissa Johal has worked as a veterinary assistant, zoo-keeper aide and vegetarian chef. Writing has always been her passion. When she’s not listening to the ghosts in her head, she’s dancing or taking photographs of gargoyles. She shares her life with her husband, two daughters and every stray animal that darkens the doorstep. One day, she expects that a wayward troll will wander into her yard, but that hasn’t happened yet.
*Member of the Author’s Guild
Coming May 19, 2015 from Permuted Press
VOICES, a paranormal psychological horror
STRUCK, a paranormal gothic horror
(2014) Musa Publishing
*Indie Book of the Day Award
*Nominated for the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll 2014
BETWEEN, a story of the paranormal
(2012) Musa Publishing
*Second place in the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll 2012
*Paranormal Reads gives BETWEEN 4 out of 5 Bats
PRADEE, a young adult fantasy
(2010) CreateSpace
*Second round finalist in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award Contest 2012
Short stories:
PIGEONS, published in the literary journal Susurrus
THE ROPE, published in the literary journal Susurrus
A WAY OF LIFE, published in The Sacramento Bee
Find Clarissa Online:
Praise for STRUCK:
Lovely Reads

“This book grabs you in right away and hold your attention…I so loved this book and didn’t put it down until the very end.” Read More ~ Lovely Reads

Bex ‘n’ Books

“This is a spooky thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat. You won’t be able to put it down because you must finish it to see what happens, even if it keeps you up late at night to do so.” Read More ~ Bex’n’Books

Bibliophilic Book Blog

“STRUCK will get beneath your skin from the very beginning. Gwen’s a likable character with a difficult past and tenuous future after meeting Julian. I liked the secondary characters, especially Fenten and Poppy. The characters were definitely all well-developed and engaging.” Read More ~ Bibliophilic Book Blog

Straight from the Library

“The characters are well drawn and likable….The action is fast paced– I read the book in one sitting.” Read More ~ Straight from the Library

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
How did you come up with the idea for STRUCK?
Some stories begin as random scenes, some as characters, and some are born from asking the question, “What if?” I was hit with the idea of STRUCK while running on a forest trail near my house. It was during a thunderstorm and I wondered what it would be like to be hit by lightning. I write about ghosts and things that go bump in the night and in essence, those entities are energy. What if a portal was opened by a lightning strike? And what if that portal allowed the energy from those entities to escape? The idea was intriguing and I went to bed still thinking about it. That night, I dreamt I stood in a field, with lightning striking the ground all around me. But the lightning wasn’t just releasing electrical energy, the lightning was releasing negative entities from the Otherworld. I woke from the nightmare in a panic, thinking those entities had somehow attached themselves to me. And so a story is born.
I went on to research the effects of being struck by lightning, interviewed several lightning survivors, and began writing STRUCK. I’m continually amazed how a, “What if?” idea can expand into a novel.
What first inspired you to become a writer? And what compels you to continue your career as an author?
I wrote my first short story in grade six. I was asked by the teacher to read it aloud to the class, which terrified me. After I was finished, I realized that I actually had everyone’s attention! I was shy and we moved every year, so I was always the new kid. When you’re in that situation, it’s kind of like being invisible. Finding my voice through story-telling made me realize how powerful writing could be. As far as continuing—truthfully? I think I’d go nuts if I didn’t write.
What made you choose the genre of paranormal gothic horror?
I started out writing fantasy fiction. I was working on the second installment to my PRADEE series when there were two characters that kept showing up on the page, over and over. They didn’t belong in fantasy novel, nor did they belong in my story! But their backstory came to me so vividly, that I set aside my series and wrote my first paranormal novel, BETWEEN. I’ve been pulled into the Otherworld permanently now. The ideas come faster than I can write
them down.

Exclusive Excerpt:

She woke with her cheek pressed against concrete. Paint tubes littered the floor. Gwynneth pushed herself up, but the floor tilted and she slumped down again. Daytime was always more difficult. The filtered gray light burned her eyes, and the sounds from the other artists hurt her ears. Gwynneth dragged one of the canvases toward her. It had been painted on, but it didn’t matter. She would cover it with another layer. She picked up a paintbrush and waited for the darkness to assail her senses once again. Her world slowly collapsed in on itself, and her hand shook…waiting. The tip of her paintbrush touched the canvas, and black tendrils sprang up, capturing it.

“Gwynneth Reese, open the door.”

She was jerked from her trance and dropped the paintbrush. So close.

“I know you’re in there. Open the goddamn door!”

“Go away, Fenten.”

“Don’t you tell me to go away.”

The tendrils that had been lending her power sank back into the canvas. “Go away. I’m busy!”

“You got two choices, girlfriend. You can unlock the door, or I’ll break it down.”

She heard the anger in Fenten’s voice. It took a lot to make him angry, and she reluctantly got up. She braced herself against the wall and opened the door.

“You need to open the windows in here.” Fenten stalked past her to the window and ripped the newspaper from it.

Light flooded into the dark corners, and she squinted. “That hurts my head.”

“You hurt my head,” Fenten replied, hands on hips. “What the fuck, Gwennie? You haven’t showed up at work for over a week, and Seth is boo-hooing in his apartment right now because he thinks he took advantage of his best friend. One that he’s completely in love with, I might add. You didn’t tell me that, did you? It took me two bottles of wine to get Seth to spill that bit of information. And you’re locked in here doing God knows what! You’re messed up, Gwennie. You know that?” He looked down at her, blue eyes blazing.

She tried to make sense of what he had said.

“I’ve taken about all I can from you. I’ve got a good mind to take you across my knee.”

“Leave me alone.” Wandering over to her easel, she collapsed in front of it.

“What the fuck is going on?”

Gwynneth picked up her paintbrush. Her hand shook, and she tightened her hold. “Nothing’s going on.”

“Bull. Shit.”

“Nothing’s going on. I need to get these done.”

Fenten squatted in front of her so they were eye-to-eye. “I’m going to only say this once. You can ignore or mouth off to me all you want to, Gwynneth Reese, because I’m your friend and I don’t give a shit. But Seth is another story altogether, and if you keep up with this, I’m going to disown you.”

She took in the fact that he was flushed red with anger…and returned her attention to the canvas.

Fenten grabbed her chin. “There’s only one time in our lives that our soulmate comes along, and if we don’t grab the opportunity and treat them like gold, they will slip away forever.”

Soulmate. A wave of emotion bubbled up from inside her, sucking the air from her lungs. What’s happening? Heat surged throughout her body, and she cried out. Bright, flashing lights filled her vision.

“Shit,” Fenten murmured.

She felt Fenten’s hands on the back of her head as he eased her to the floor. She heard him talking, and she shut her eyes tightly. The heat ripped through her again. Bright, flashing lights flickered under her eyelids. She fought against something that threatened to pull her away. Suddenly, it all came in a rush, the feelings she had been fighting the past few weeks. Pain ripped throughout her core. She bit her tongue, tasting blood in her mouth. Seth. A light went on in her soul and scattered the darkness that had been in there moments before. It was a moment of clarity, and she seized it.

Tour Presented by:

Tour Schedule:

January 1: Tour Kick-Off

January 2: Exclusive Excerpt

January 4: Review

January 5: Review

January 7: Exclusive Excerpt

January 9: Exclusive Excerpt

January 12: Review

January 15: Exclusive Excerpt http://darcnina.wordpress.comJanuary 17: Review 19: Exclusive Excerpt 20: Exclusive Excerpt

January 21: Interview

January 23: Exclusive Excerpt

January 26: Interview

January 28: Review

January 31: Reviews (by 3 different tour hosts)