Showing posts with label john hennessy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label john hennessy. Show all posts

Monday, 27 February 2017

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Ghost of Normandy Road by John    Hennessy

The Ghost of Normandy Road

by John Hennessy

Giveaway ends March 13, 2017.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Cover Reveal: The Ghost of Normandy Road (Haunted Minds Book One)


Three Legends. One True Horror.

An old house stands on Normandy Road, uncared for and uninhabited for years, until one day, believing an urban legend that no-one dares to live there, a young boy decides to cross its threshold.

Yet the house is far from empty - within its walls, a terrible evil has been disturbed. 

It will take one brave soul three of the longest nights of his life to unlock its secrets, but will he live to tell the tale?


Although told as a work of fiction, this tale really is based on a true story.

Wait. True story, you say?

Yes. Well. Sort of. You see, there really is a Normandy Road, and there is a red-brick house that stands on its own there too. When I was a kid, it was a bit run down, so I could go into the house, even though I wasn't supposed to. The house certainly had something eerie about it. I only wish I could have shown you what it looked like back then. It has since been done up. It looks like this now.

On the upstairs landing, there was a room and I dared to enter it. There was a wardrobe in one of the rooms, and one of the double doors was ajar. I didn't look into it, the first time I went inside, but I was braver the second time.

What was inside? A bloody corpse. A skeleton. The carcasses of a family piled on top of each other.

No. Nothing so dramatic as that. But there was something odd. The wardrobe had lots of clothes in them - and the'll have to forgive me, but it was a long time ago and I really have think hard to work out the details. The wardrobe had clothes in it. That's all - but they were maybe from the 1950s and 1960s, and when you think I first went into the place in the early to mid 1980s...that means the house was probably empty for all that time.

I never had the 'GET OUT' moment that happens in 'Amityville' but there definitely was a presence there. But there's no more to the story....except that I believe I saw the ghost of a girl in the window. My imagination has always been vivid...but not that good! 

So yes, I would say the place was definitely haunted. I wonder do the current inhabitants know?  

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Weekend Writing Workshop #1: My Tips for Writing and Getting That Book Written - Part One

I remember an interview on Michael Parkinson's long running chat show where he interviewed Sir Anthony Hopkins.

MP: So how did you get into acting?
AH: By accident, really.

What did he mean by that? Surely someone as good an actor as Anthony Hopkins, who I first saw in The Elephant Man, later, The Silence of the Lambs, and understated but beautiful films like The Remains of the Day, would not have fallen into acting by accident? Yet, that is what he said on the show.

It's true that I've always enjoyed reading and writing. But my start - the actual beginning of getting something down that would end up in a book, was slightly accidental.

As a martial arts teacher, I often scribble down notes outside of the syllabus I am actually teaching. The notes would run and run. It grew legs, you might say. And the first book was created some two years after I finished my scribbles.

So maybe I started by accident, but the basics were always there. I liked reading and exploring new worlds. That's what a book is - an unchartered world and especially so if it is a new author.

So here are some of my tips for writing and getting the book done. I cannot stress the latter part enough, because if it remains as a file on your computer, that's what it will remain. At some point, let it go.

1. Tell the story you want to tell, not the story others may expect of you.

You can write. You have a story, an idea, and you want to flesh it out, and get feedback. I would recommend that if you do have a story to tell, be it fiction or non-fiction, perhaps you should tell it to yourself first.

You will have your influences, but do not write in their voice, no matter how tempting it is. Find your own writing voice. You have to be the next big thing, not the new 'whoever it is.'

If you constantly seek out advice from others, authors or not, you will be stuck in an ever-depressing circle of 'if only I change this, it will be better.' Only you can know that for sure. Be the authority on writing that you want to be - not in an arrogant way, but as a writer confident of knowing their subject and doing it better than anyone else (hopefully) !

2. Fight for privacy in a very open world.

Writing is a private thing, but in today's fast moving and demanding social environment, you are expected to share, share and keep on sharing. No bad thing in itself, but in a bid to be heard we've sometimes given in to
Amazon free downloads and the campaigns they entail. Do they work? Only if they give you long lasting exposure and a real climb up the rankings. Otherwise you fall off the radar very quickly.

When you write, get your writing space as you want it. I have heard from family that 'a writer can write whenever and wherever'. Spoken like true non-writers. For me, I need peace and quiet. That means house empty or those in it keeping the noise down, and the cats....they must be fed.

Otherwise you will find these time-eaters destroying your project. It's not that you shouldn't care about these things, but those in your life must support you too.

Shut the door, unplug the phone, cut the internet connection. And start writing.

3. Goals - Daily, Weekly, Monthly, Yearly

What are your writing goals? To 'write a book' is a fine, and yes, realistic goal. It won't be done without hard work, and without a plan.

People, life and other things will mess up the plan. Don't let your writing be the be all and end all (unlike the very funny scene in Blackadder with Dr Samuel Johnson!!!) -

you've got to be alive and living in those around you. So what should your goals be, when there are so many Time-Eaters around?

Every day, write something / plan something / note something / read something.

Because you may not be able to write every day, not even a hundred words. Am I joking? No - life gets in the way. The people in your life are a priority, but no matter what you do, life will play out the way it is going to play out. In the end, the book lives and dies with you. If you don't get it done, you will be in a continual spiral of hate and self loathing - at least I feel like that sometimes!

It's no-one's fault but your own, if that book doesn't happen.

So....Every day, write something / plan something / note something / read something.

You will reach your goal.

For some, it's writing 250 words of absolute clarity that somehow, they know will make it into the book. These words won't be deleted. 

For me, it's anything between 200 and 5000 words a day. And I will probably end up deleting a lot of it and re-writing it (more about drafts in a future post, but if you want some motivation about getting to that first draft and editorial critique, read my thoughts on it here).

Some make a plan at the start of the week to state that 'by the end of this week, I will have written 10,000 words / completed four chapters' and so on..

But - It is not just about a word count. Whatever you write, it must be quality. I don't speak as an expert, but I am probably my own worst critic, so any abuse I received in real life or on-line no longer hurts. Get something quality written, and how it looks to you - that is the most important thing.

Then, under your critical glare, if you believe you have written something of quality, find an agent, get a publisher, or go independent. But if you have done all you can, let the book go with your good wishes.

Then work on the next one.

In the end, your writing goals can be summarised into one goal - get the book done. Nothing else is relevant.

4. Handle your time better.

You cannot save time, but you can manage it better. Ask yourself truly what your on-line presence actually adds to your daily life. If it impacts your writing, take a break from it. Your true fans and on-line friends, as well as real life friends, will understand, wait, be supportive, and will be there for you when you return.

Don't simply dump or ignore them though. They've invested in the friendships and you do need to maintain them. If they remove themselves from your life, as people do sometimes, let them go. Their loss.

Do prioritise. Your writing is a personal project, that at some point, you can involve everyone in. Not to beta read, not to critique as you are learning your craft - there are professional editors who you can and should pay for proper, brutal critique. Others, who may handle you with kid gloves (but made from real kids) are perhaps not the best ones to assist you.

Maybe you are a morning person. If so, get up even half an hour earlier, and start typing. You'll be amazed that you can get 500 words down in half an hour or less!

Whatever works for you, handle your time better. Phones are a necessary evil, but that doesn't mean you have to answer every time it answers. Turn it on silent. I do!

5. Show interest in others, and LISTEN.

Whilst you are writing that first mega blockbuster, as much as it is exciting to talk about the project, it can't always be about you. Show interest in others, ask them about their day, don't just ping them on facebook - write an email, phone them, chat on-line or in real life. But take interest in others. One of the most valuable things I have learned is to listen to others. Not whilst playing with your phone or iPad. Put it down, and listen.

Why? Will it get you more sales? Who knows, who cares? But the people you interact with will recall you as someone who is interested in them.

This may seem to go against the whole 'get your book done and written' principles above, but once in a while, you have to take a break, look up, and see the world around you. Maybe your fantasy world is a great escape, and that's fine. But if you deal with the real world, and do it properly, you can spend more time in your writing world.

More tips next week on WWW - The Weekend Writing Workshop.

See also: Editorial critique and how it helped me

Happy reading and writing!

Monday, 29 September 2014

Goodreads Giveaway: Dark Winter, Crescent Moon (Dark Winter #2)

Enter...or else...

I have one copy to give away. Check to see if your country is listed. And make sure you have read Book One, The Wicca Circle. You need it before reading this one! Dark Winter: The Wicca Circle - Buy on Amazon here>
If you enter, leave a (hopefully!!!) positive review for The Wicca Circle, you will be entered into a draw to win a crescent moon pendant.

If you leave a review for Dark Winter Crescent Moon, you will be entered into a draw for a $25 Amazon gift voucher.

If you don't enter, I am not responsible for what happens. You'll be referred to Dana, above. Just sayin.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Dark Winter by John    Hennessy

Dark Winter

by John Hennessy

Giveaway ends November 21, 2014.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Monday, 1 September 2014

Book Review #24: Createspace and Kindle Self-Publishing Masterclass by Rick Smith

In the minefield of books, it is difficult, if not near-impossible to select a book you will be happy with. Sure, you can go by the reviews, but ultimately, you go with your gut (unless you have bags of time and money) and with Amazon's Look Inside feature, or the sample you can send to your Kindle, you can get a good feel for a book without actually buying it.

If you are an author, at whatever stage you find yourself, at best, this book will certainly help you sell more books and at the very worst,  you will have learned something about the dark arts. I'm not talking about witchcraft - I am talking about Marketing.

This book is the perfect guide to assist authors who want to publish on Createspace. It's amazing what assumptions people make - the typographer for one of my books said 'Oh all you have to do is send me your Createspace template'...I had no idea what she was on about. That was more than two years ago now (scary) and I can say I do know more about Createspace and what it does.

There are no assumptions that I could find in this book, just clear, concise facts and it is a truly excellent step by step guide to help with publishing on Amazon, which is the easy part. The dark art of Marketing, however, is covered extremely well here and even though I majored in the discipline, that was years ago before the age of social media. The basics of marketing and sales have not changed since the dawn of time. There is a market and there are sellers that operate within that market.

All one has to do, is provide supply for the demand. What demand though? How can you create demand for your book? My other half has a way of putting it, whenever I go into overdrive about one of my favourite books:-

"Whichever book you have, you will still want a new one, a new story, a new adventure. People always want something new."

That's true, and I feel she is right on this. I may love Lord of the Rings, but people will always want the new Lord of the Rings, the new Hunger Games, the new Harry Potter. Dare I say....the new Dark Winter book?

This book helps someone like me....who admits to not being very good at promoting or marketing himself. That's not because I lack confidence - it's more about that I don't want to be a nag, and I believe that if people want to read my books, then they will. I just needed a push to say 'hey, read my book' once in a while, whilst hopefully being supportive to others.

Rick Smith has organised the thoughts we often have, turning them into meaningful actions, and you'll find yourself doing it.

I am trialling a few things from this book:-
  • Doing the Createspace edition first, not the Kindle version
  • Joining relevant groups without being a PITB (pain in the butt)
  • Taking myself seriously as a writer and involving people I know in the process

The last point is very relevant for me. My first non-fiction book came out in 2011, and it was a full two years before I had a meaningful non-fiction book to push out. Two years! Now I do believe in quality over quantity, but we can write more faster than we do. It's shameful when you think about the time we waste.

I have the Kindle version of this book, but I am inclined to purchase the paperback as there is information that may get by you on the e-book. The print edition would force to write your little darlings. Yes, the words nag at you, but unless you park yourself in that chair and disconnect the internet - the words will not get done. Once they are done, you will need a constant reminder to push the book out.

Things I loved:-

"People frequently fail at new things they attempt simply because they do not have a system to follow."
True. Give yourself a system, and follow it, follow it. Follow. IT. (That's enough of the CAPS fury!)

"99c/99p is the new free." 
Yep. 'Free books' don't have a value attached and I am not certain they create run-on sales. My first non-fiction book sold just fine without a free book promotion. That doesn't mean I haven't done one; I have, just in my view they do not work. Rick is right - 99c does at least give you a bump up in the early weeks when you are trying to get traction.

"Even in the lower reaches of the top 10k, you'll be moving anything up to 500 units a month."
Doesn't that motivate you to get there too?

Finally, I have to say thanks to my good friend and fellow author Elizabeth for recommending this book. You see, friends, recommendations are so important. We need them. So get reading, get reviewing, and get productive making the best book you can. Give the readers a professional, awesome book that they will happily recommend too!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Paranormal Haunts #2 - A Visit to Baddesley Clinton

A view of the house of Baddesley Clinton in Warwickshire.

This is one of the back views of the house with the main garden.

Inside the house, you can see a shot of the library. The bookshelves are on the other side of the room. Have a look at the carpet.

Can you see the close-up of the carpet? On this patch is a section of dried blood.

In 1438, John Brome, the Under-Treasurer of England, purchased the manor house. It later  passed to his son, Nicholas, who is thought to have built the east range of the property, which is the main entrance. Nicholas is also responsible for the extensive rebuilding of the nearby parish church dedicated to Saint Michael, done as penance for killing the parish priest, a murder reputed to have taken place in the great house itself.

Apparently he killed the priest for having an affair with his lover, and the blood above is on the floor in the photo above. England in these times was quite brutal, any knowledge of England from 1200AD-1600AD would reveal the country to be quite effective in how it dealt with criminals.

In Brome's case, he clearly wasn't felt to have paid full penance in his life. So in death, he was buried standing up, which still chills me when I think about it!

I do like the beams inside the property.

The stain glassed windows are a big feature of the house.

A very ornate set of bellows for encouraging heat in the fireplace!

The fireplace was built by the Ferrer family, who owned the property in its later years before handing over to the National Trust.

Scare rating: 4 out of 5

It's fair to say that this is a truly lovely property in a beautiful part of Warwickshire. I did feel particularly sensitive to the bedroom, where it is said that footsteps can be heard but no-one can be seen. The library, with the blood on the floor...I was expecting it to be darker in colour, and maybe because it was busy in that room with lots of people it felt less foreboding. It certainly has got something about it, which is hard to define.

Perhaps the most unsettling feeling I had was in climbing the stairs. I imagine a lot of issues in the household got sorted upstairs. Maybe there were more killings than we know about. It remains a scarily beautiful house, one I would go back to again.

Check out the supernatural ice-cream that on sale too!

More photos below.

A stuffed animal. Run!

One of the many paintings in the house.

The powder room.

Let's finish with a nice image for once!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Back Cover Preview - Murderous Little Darlings

Murderous Little Darlings is the first in a series of vampire novellas I am writing. Book One comes out on Halloween this year. This may not be the final cover, but I like that three vampire bats feature on the back cover. I may have to tweak font colours, but maybe you can tell me what you think!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Book Review #23: Embers & Ice (Rouge #2) by Isabella Modra

    "Everyone is wrong about hell."

Rouge#1 was a throughly entertaining ride which introduced us to high-kicking heroine Hunter.

Rouge#2, which is a continuation of the story, is even better. Titled Embers & Ice, and complete with yet another stunning cover, one wonders if it could match the first story, or hopefully - better it?

I bought the paperback version of this book, and it is truly awesome to have on my shelf.

From the very first line:-

"Everyone is wrong about hell."

you, dear reader, will be hooked.

Embers & Ice raises the intensity of the first and then some. I relate it to being thrown into a cement mixer at high speed and ejected at said speed. That's what this book is like. I may have mentioned in my review of Rouge#1 that you could definitely see this on the big screen.

The author, Isabella Modra, is in clear command of her universe and you can tell she had great fun pulling us along with the story.

There are no filler chapters in the book and even though it ends with a 'what the hell happens now' scenario, you will want to know what does happen. Middle books of series are so hard to write - they are not the first nor usually the last in a series. Thankfully this is a fantastic middle book, and sets up the finale which I am sure will be awesome when it finally lands.

In addition, the paperback version is beautifully presented. The typeface is gorgeous and totally relevant for this kind of tale.

My favourite scene in the whole book was between Hunter and Will. Not to give the game away, but Hunter uses her incredible fire power (literally) to turn the tables on Dr Wolfe (a cool bad guy, but you'll hate him anyway).

Why I loved this book:-

Fantastic story.
Great characters that are not limited to only the main protagonist.
Hunter is a fantastic, believeable heroine. She is not needy, is tough as nails (but not in a plastic, predictable uber-heroine kind of way) and just keeps on going. Why wouldn't you root for her?
Romance is there, but thankfully kept to a minimum. This book is all action.
The bad guys are cool. You hate them but you cannot ignore them.

And here is perhaps the best praise I can give for this book:-
Katniss Everdeen has a new competitor for my heart and mind!
I'd like to see Saoirse Ronan play her in the movie.

I cannot stress enough how important reviews are. This book, and its counterpart, deserves to be read by many people. It's perfect for YA, but anyone with a pulse will enjoy the stories.

Bring on Book Three. We are waiting!

In summary: My favourite YA book of 2014 by a country mile.

Author Website:

Amazon Page for Embers and Ice 

Monday, 18 August 2014

Paranormal Haunts#1 - A Visit to Snowshill Manor

Snowshill Manor House

Set right in the heart of the Cotswolds, Snowshill Manor is a fascinating retreat, that, as ever with these places, is pretty hard to find, even without the map. I visited the place yesterday. It's about 50 miles from where I live.

I've wanted to go for ages, having heard about the ghost in the greeen dress in Ann's Room, or the duel that two men had in the most uppermost room. One died, of course, and still haunts the place today.

Scare rating 3.5 out of 5 :-

I'm undecided about this one.The house certain has 'something,' - I wasn't scared there but it just has a feeling of claustrophobia about it. But that is the case for many of these old houses. But there was plenty here which with to help my writing. Sometimes you simply have to get away from typing and get out in the big world.

This is from the National Trust website:-


Snowshill Manor is a Cotswold manor house packed with extraordinary treasures collected over a life time by Charles Wade

Inside these rooms you can discover this eclectic collection that he restored and displayed. We have maintained the atmospheric settings he created with low lighting and few labels. From tiny toys to Samurai armour, musical instruments to fine clocks, thousands of objects are laid out for you to see just as Mr Wade intended.
The garden is the perfect place to unwind and explore hidden vistas, quiet corners and unexpected delights including Charles Wade’s uncomplicated home, the Priest’s House.
“Let nothing perish” was his motto, and his life was dedicated to doing just that. From the everyday to the extraordinary, you can discover his passion for craftsmanship, colour and design."

Beautiful views of the Cotswolds surround you.

These quotes are dotted all round the place, from the house's most recent owner, Charles Paget Wade.

Look at the strange trees!

More wisdom from Mr Wade

Sheep enjoying themselves. I wish it would stay that way for them!

When writing a book, you need details. Even something as subtle as brickwork, and how you describe, can make it feel so real to the reader. The reader then becomes more involved, so that merely reading the book becomes replaced by a much more enriched experience.

Another view of the Manor.

There were apples, plums and tomatoes for sale. The honesty box for those who would pay (we did!)

Stunning views of the Shires. I think we are very lucky in England to have such views available to us.

One the many curiousities kept by Mr Wade, who was collecting since he was seven years old.On the first floor there is a rather stunning but scary collection of life size Samurai warriors which lay in the dimly lit Green Room. Charles Wade acquired them once the Second World War had ended. 

The site was full when we arrived. So many people visit these places!

Says it all.

I love the detail of this wooden door which adorned the priest's house.

You can enjoy more pictures down below, or find out more about Snowshill Manor here:-