Several readers have commented that they are eager to get their next Mike Travis fix. So … with Halloween coming soon, what better time to release 4 short stories about our favourite paranormal investigator and his clan. ‘Halloween’ comprises: Halloween Party, The Ancient Oak Inn, Nine Tenths of the Law and The Woman in the Grey Dress. The stories will be available in the very near future on amazon to pre-order, for delivery to your Kindle/PC on the magic night – 31st October – when ghosts roam, beasties howl, and things go bump in the night. Here’s a cover reveal for you :
And there’s a Christmas bonus coming your way too – more on that later.
In the meantime, I’m working on the next full-length novel for you.
Also, the Beckett Vampire Trilogy is getting a make-over. Coming soon Midnight Wine and Lycan will be sporting posh new covers! Lane and Co are the next in line, after the new Mike Travis Paranormal Investigation, for a full-length novel to complete the trilogy.
I hope you enjoy ‘Halloween’, ideal for reading around the fire by candlelight. Trick or Treat!
Almost without exception the book is exceptionally better than the movie, is better than the re-make, is better than the sequel. I say almost without exception, as I bow to the pen of Winston Graham and his fabulous series of novels about Cornwall and its folk, the Poldarks and their family, friends and neighbours.
I first read the series of novels when I was in my teens and they have been favourites on my bookshelves ever since. When the BBC announced the serialisation of the first few novels in the 1970s, I waited with baited breath and a deep anxiety that the series would somehow tarnish my ‘love affair’ with the good Captain and my other favourite characters. I needn’t have worried however, as Robin Ellis and the beautiful, late Angharad Rees, otherwise known as Lady McAlpine CBE, portrayed the characters with a flare and diligence to Mr Graham’s books that more than did them justice and the series soon won the hearts of the nation and became modern classics.
Now we see the re-make on the horizon, complete with modern effects and technology that promise to enhance the series even further. Captain Ross looks set to be ably played by the brooding Aidan Turner and along with many others I look forward with relish to the re-make being aired on our screens, the sooner the better. Fingers crossed that it won’t disappoint. Trailers and teasers of the show promise the goods.
HAPPY 200TH BIRTHDAY TO ONE OF THE BEST GOTHIC HORROR WRITERS EVER.
Gothic horror fans would have marked the 28th August this year as the 200th anniversary of Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, born in Dublin and became the foremost and most sensational gothic horror writer of the Victorian Era.
His best work is undoubtedly Carmilla, a vampire novel to keep you awake and afraid of the dark for many a night. In my opinion creepier and more terrifying in parts than even Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Carmilla isn’t full length fiction, more a novella, but the imagery and shivers remained with me for a long time after reading it. The House by the Churchyard and Uncle Silas are two other of his other books that qualify high in the ranks of the downright scary.
When you read the paragraph below, taken from the beginning of Carmilla, you have every right to expect the very best in gothic horror writing, and you won’t be disappointed.
‘The nearest inhabited village, only three miles westward, that is to say in the direction of General Spieldorf’s schloss,lies a ruined village with its quaint little church, now roofless, in the aisle of which are the moldering tombs of the proud family of Karnstein, now extinct, who once owned the equally desolate chateau, in the thick of the forest, overlooks the silent ruins of the town.’
Most of his work is free on amazon kindle, so to start you off, the link below will get you your free copy of Carmilla. A word of advice though, read it with the light on!
But did you know …
That traditionally harvesting in this country began on the 24th September in medieval times, and when all of the crop was safely harvested and stored there would be the ceremony of ‘Calling the Mare’. All farmers wanted to boast that they had the best reapers and tried to be the first farmer in the locality to bring in the last of the crop.
They used to fashion the last sheaf of the crop into a rough shape of a mare and sent it around to other farmers who were still hard at work on their harvest, the meaning understood, that ‘wild horses would be among their crop’ if they didn’t hurry up with the job. Farm workers would run around to neighbouring farms and throw the ‘mare’ over the hedge into the fields still being harvested and shout ‘Mare! Mare!’ before running away.
A farmer who received the ‘mare’ would then double the effort to bring in his crop before another neighbouring farm and if he was successful, he would then throw the ‘mare’ over the neighbour’s hedge. The farmer who was the last to finish bringing in his harvest would keep the ‘mare’ on display for the entire year so that all could see he had been the slowest that year.
It was all good natured and meant that the harvest was usually gathered in before the autumn weather turned towards winter and there was wheat and other crops to sustain everyone throughout the coming bad weather.
The Christian interpretation of this time of year is one of thanksgiving for the bountiful harvest and churches and alters are traditionally adorned with the years harvested produce. It is in fact a continuation of the ancient and sacred festival of Mabon, the pagan second harvest celebrated on 21st September, which predates the Christian harvest festival services by millennia.
A more familiar celebration of this month is the making of corn dollies. The corn dolly is traditionally the representation of the Goddess of the Corn. who the people believed was present in their fields and needed to be kept alive until the next year’s sowing. The corn dolly was made and placed in the field until the next harvest. Farmers and other country folk would also make the corn dolly as a symbol of the fertility of the fields and the people and place them in their homes until the next harvest when a new dolly would be made and the old one burned.
The corn dolly is still a popular decoration but sadly these days the full meaning of
the corn dolly is forgotten. There are many different patterns of dolly, all with their own special meaning, but a simple corn dolly is easy to make. Why not have a go and bring your own fertility and prosperity into your home until next year’s harvest?
Here’s a link.
What if? Two little words that mean a lot. Well, if you’re a writer they do.
There are times in every writer’s life when the brick wall looms in front. How do you get your hero to do something that will move the plot forwards? How do you manoeuvre your villain into the right place to wreak his or her havoc? And just how do you bring about your happy, or otherwise, ending?
What if …?
The beauty of writing fiction is that those two little words can bring about a sudden change in a character’s fortune for the better or the apocalypse. The page is blank, your characters await their instructions, or do they? What if they refuse and do their own thing? Not possible because they aren’t real, you may say. Funny thing is, I used to think that. But what if your intended outcome disappears as you type? What if you then have to rethink the whole chapter, or heaven forbid, the entire book?
What if your readers could see your notes and reams of research? Maybe its as well they can’t, because what if those notes don’t bear any resemblance to the finished work?
Two little words that the novel writer can’t do without … What if?
What if your no-one reads your work? What if they do but don’t like it? What if your hero becomes ill …now that’s a thought … I just have to go and change something, see you later!
I was delighted when I received an invitation from NLPIs founder and radio host, Mickey Gocool, to be a guest on their show which was broadcast live last Friday. This was Internet Radio and it soon became obvious to me that being a Technosaur, I wasn’t going to find it easy to get connected! I needn’t have worried however, as Mickey kindly talked me through it and invited me to take part in a ‘test show’ on Thursday. Navigating myself around different browsers I eventually connected with the show and got to know some great people. Kurt Logsdon, the co-host of the show in the US and Rachel Darby from GCUK Southeast Region joined in the fun and chat.
Friday evening arrived and lo and behold – panic! – I couldn’t connect to the show whatever I did! In blind desperation I sent Mickey a message asking for help. He immediately assumed the role of knight in shining armour and sent me a link that took me directly to the chat room. Phew!
One thing that was immediately apparent was that while these guys obviously liked to have fun, when it came to the serious business of paranormal investigation, ethics and professionalism are their priority. The hour passed very quickly, ending with a paranormal quiz in which our buzzers were animal noises made by our good selves! Now, I’m not good at this and I blame my lack of points on my buzzer being broken!
If you wish to hear the broadcast, it will be on demand from NLPI’s website very soon.
I was equally privileged to be invited to join them on an investigation. NLPI’s next investigation clashes with a family wedding unfortunately, but I’ll be delighted to join Mickey and his team as soon as possible. Meanwhile, I have accepted Rachel’s kind invitation and will be joining her team, GCUK, on an investigation into Chelmsford Museum on 26th August.
Watch this space …
I came away from the show with the happy feeling that I had made some friends that night. Thanks all. 🙂
If you missed the show and want to listen in, here’s the link
In a recent poll, Llancaiach Fawr Manor House, in Tredegar, South Wales was voted one of the most haunted locations in Britain. Paranormal phenomena have been recorded in almost every room in the building, but the most often recorded are the ghosts of ‘Mattie’ who was believed to be a housekeeper at the manor in the 19th century, appearing in the bedroom where she was thought to have died tragically, accompanied unseen footsteps and the rustle of her petticoats.
There is also the sad phenomena of a small boy who reputedly fell to his death from one of the high windows. He can sometimes be mischievous and playful or sometimes sad. When he’s playful, visitors often feel a tug on the arm or a ruffle in the hair, but when he’s sad, he’s been known to put his hand in that of a visitor as if asking to be taken home.
Edward Pritchard, one time Master of Llancaiach Fawr during the Civil War has been the subject of speculation regarding the figure often seen looking in deep contemplation in a chair bye the fireside of the library. Was he worried about where his allegiances should lie?
Visitors during the day are treated to tours by staff in costume of the period giving an insight into the history of the manor, but at night ….. that’s when the Ghost Tours begin. If you dare!
The Merlin Manuscript has been at no. 1 in the freebies for a week now and pulling in some great reviews. Thanks everyone!
5.0 out of 5 stars Another great read by Jan McDonald 25 Jun 2014
By Chez Reed
I was not sure that I would like this one of Jan McDonald’s books as I thought it might not be quite my usual reading genre….I needn’t have hesitated for a second…. I loved it. As with her other books, the pages keep turning, just as you think you can put the book (kindle) away you just have to keep reading to find out what happens to poor old Jack, and then of course there’s what is happening to Adain…..I won’t say anymore other than read it, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.
5.0 out of 5 stars Yet another triumph from Jan McDonald 28 Jun 2014
Having just read this latest book of Jan’s I have to say I am really hoping for the next book. I found this another enthralling read and just could not put it down.
I think this author just might be a famous writer in disguise and if she isn’t she should be.
Thanks Jan McDonald for this brilliant read, you have to read this book and you will be hooked like me.
Midsummer madness seems an appropriate phrase when looking at the British folklore surrounding this time of year. Our ancestors were particularly interested in Midsummer Day when the sun was at its peak and each day after that, the sun became weaker and the people less secure. Their crops were almost ready for harvest but the dark half of the year was fast approaching and the need to propitiate their beloved Gods was strong.
Whilst no-one really knows the purpose of Stonehenge and its like, and can and will speculate as to the builders, no-one can deny the alignment of the stones in relation to Midsummer sunrise, in particular, the Heel Stone. Modern day Druids and pagans of various persuasions gather there still to mark the event with celebrations and drumming in praise of the sun. And on Midsummer’s Eve bonfires are still lit on the hilltops of Cornwall and other parts of the West Country and Wales, to ‘call in’ the sun. We know why the days are going to get shorter, and we understand the path that the sun travels throughout the year but still there are pockets of society that feels the magic and mystery of this important time of year. Some say it’s living in the past, some say it’s harmless escapism, but there can be no denying the feeling of awe and mystery when witnessing the sunrise over the Heel Stone or topping one of the other stone circles dotted around our landscape.
So to whoever built Stonehenge and for whatever purpose – Cheers!
I’d like to say a big thank you to Dave Lyons here at Raven Crest for all his help getting ‘The Merlin Manuscript’ out and available on amazon. It’s the sixth in the Mike Travis Paranormal Investigations series and who would have guessed when The Crowsmoor Curse was published that so many of you would come to follow Mike Travis and his family, but you did! So I would like to take this opportunity of saying a big thank you to all of you too!
Writing a series is not only fun but, like the readers, I have become invested in Mike and & Co., and I’ll try and keep you all entertained with more of his paranormal exploits for a while to come.
The Merlin Manuscript finds Mike getting entangled with the Inquisition and on a journey that takes him back to Avalon, in another dimension ‘behind’ Glastonbury, a place of myth, magic, Merlin and Excalibur. His best friend Jack Carter is in trouble, the kind that inevitably draws Mike into the vast realm of the paranormal. And what’s going on with Adain, his daughter? Find out all about it at
The Merlin Manuscript (A Mike Travis Paranormal Investigation Book 6)
Hope you enjoy the latest in the series. Back at the keyboard now for his next investigation!