Sunday 25 January 2015

Cover Reveal: Dark Winter #3: Last Rites

Back in Spring 2012,   I was furiously making notes about a girl, alone in the woods, who possessed an item of great and unknown power. This was to shape the first book in my paranormal horror trilogy, Dark Winter.

Hard to believe that we are now in 2015, and I am looking at the draft of the third and final book, due for release this October. 

From that first book, The Wicca Circle, to 2014's Crescent Moon, this final book in the series will be called Last Rites.

You can add this book to your read list here

I want all readers to know that whilst I spent a lot of money on getting the covers for each of the books just how I wanted them, I really gave it my best whilst writing too.

Of course, any writer can say this. So I will leave you with the cover for now, with more news to come as we near that final release date.

Finally, if you have read either or both of the first two books, you have my eternal thanks and gratitude. This final book is for you then!

You can buy them here 

Best wishes and happy reading to you all!

Saturday 24 January 2015

Book Review (BBC Edited Audio Version) - Carmilla by Sheridan le Fanu

I haven't read this book in many, many years. So I was delighted to hear this special audio version on BBC 4 over the Christmas holiday.

The book is famous for being published ahead of the even more famous Bram Stoker's Dracula, but Carmilla is no less powerful.

I read this book as a teenager, but saw the film version called The Vampire Lovers which could be said to be a loose interpretation of the book.

I felt that the Carmilla of the book was much younger in appearance than Ingrid Pitt's sultry vampire.

But this review is about the audio version, and our heroine, Laura, is acted well; showing her elation at the vampire being in her room, to a great show of fear when she realises the young woman is nothing short of a monster.

Carmilla is a short read, at just 108 pages long. The story does not need any more length, as it is a powerful, unsettling story. I would argue that it is far more frightening than Dracula.

Carmilla harkens back to a time when vampires were truly frightening. If you are in Laura's position, hearing people around you dying of a fever, knowing that you too are unwell, and yet unable to resist the vampire makes for an interesting spectacle.

I believe there is a modern day tv series featuring this character. I wonder can it work? For me, Carmilla is a throw back to those Victorian periods, and I am not sure I would work in a modern setting.

When Laura ends up in the house of Carmilla, she has already been warned not to ask Carmilla anything regarding her heritage.

Carmilla is rather too forward on Laura, and yet, when Laura finally plucks up courage to ask the reason as to why she cannot know about her past, the vampire naturally gets annoyed. Of course, she holds power over the young girl.

Laura could hardly get Carmilla out in the daytime. This book puts paid to the thought that vampires are burned to ash in the daytime sun. It is handled extremely well, with the vampire complaining of headaches because of the sun.

As other young girls start to die, the net begins to close in on Carmilla. In the end, she cannot outrun them, or can she?

Expect thrills, (blood) spills and drama aplenty in this brilliant adaptation. Seek this story out in whatever format you can, and enjoy it.

Tuesday 20 January 2015

Cover Reveal and Book News: Innocent While She Sleeps (A Tale of Vampires, #3)

May 2015 will see the release of the third novella in my vampire series. Titled Innocent While She Sleeps, the book's story closely follows the previous installments, Murderous Little Darlings, and The Blood and the Raven.

Here's the cover:-


Tormented by all the wicked and evil deeds she has committed in her life, Juliana has never known what it is like to truly rest in peace. Far from the confines of the Blood and the Raven; at Castle Dreymuir, a most unlikely source offers her a way out of the life.

Initially, Juliana dismisses it out of hand; stating the cost is far too high for her to possibly consider. But as time goes on, one overwhelming desire eats away at her - a return to innocence in both her waking hours and whilst she sleeps.

Will Juliana accept this deadly but most compelling of offers, so that she can put her deadly existence to rest, once and for all?

I'm really enjoying writing this series. Novellas are fun to do, but what's great for me about this series is that all seven novellas will tie into one whole book. So we are only on book three, there's a lot more fang related fun, horror, twists and thrills to come.

My thanks to the following people for their reviews so far for the series. Your support is amazing!

Aditi Saha, Cristiane Serruya, J Kahele, Merril Anil, S.R. Gibbs, Maxine Groves, Donna O'Neill, Charlee Henley, Sofhy Haisyah.

Cheers and happy reading!

GoodReads Giveaway: The Blood and the Raven

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Blood and the Raven by John    Hennessy

The Blood and the Raven

by John Hennessy

Giveaway ends March 01, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Friday 16 January 2015

Book Review: Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell


Synopsis: We're waiting for you to come and play. Dunvegan School for Girls has been closed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and students are long gone. But they left something behind...Sophie arrives at the old schoolhouse to spend the summer with her cousins. Brooding Cameron with his scarred hand, strange Lilias with a fear of bones and Piper, who seems just a bit too good to be true. And then there's her other cousin. The girl with a room full of antique dolls. The girl that shouldn't be there. The girl that died.


Oh boy. Doesn't that cover creep you out? Does the synopsis grab you? For the first third of this book, I was utterly enthralled by this book, which explains its urban legend of the horrid Frozen Charlotte dolls expertly and with great clarity.

Sophie is our heroine, and she spends time at an old house along with her cousins. Prior to this, we learn in the first few chapters of Sophie's encounter with a phone-app enabled ouija board, the use of which has some terrible consequences.

Well, of course horrible things happen. Have you ever known a ouija board not fail to deliver? I had one in the house that I grew up in. How it got there, I don't know. I must ask my mum some time about that. If I had to guess, I'd say my Nan put it there!

Anyway, Sophie ends up at the house with her distant family members, and sure enough, things start to happen.

Most chilling for me was Lilias, who had such a fear of bones, she wants to take a knife to her skin so she can cut the skeleton out. If you got that image, perhaps you can understand the power of author Alex Bells writing. It is good - very good!

I'd advise you look up the legend of Frozen Charlotte for yourself. It is in this where the book's power resonates, and any mention of them in the book sent chills up, down and across my spine.

The book perhaps suffers a little in its length, if only a chapter or two shorter I think it may have been just that little bit tighter. I for one would not want to stay in a house where such freaky things are happening - the piano is a case in point - you'll know when you read it!

As always, well written books like this have a great baddie - and in this book, it is not so obvious who it is.

Let me just say, as horrid as they are, the Frozen Charlotte dolls are not the worst thing in the book. It's a human - and what this person does is horrific and unforgettable.

Frozen Charlotte has the right balance of horror and suspense for a YA level story. I enjoyed it immensely, Thoroughly recommended.

Thursday 8 January 2015

Book Review: Revival by Stephen King


Revival sees the Word Master, (yes, you, Mr King) take us on a journey that thrills, excites and haunts us. I started reading Stephen King as a twelve year old, and He had me at Carrie, he truly did.

I've been waiting for a novel like this since Desperation, his last truly great novel, in my very humble and often humbled opinion.

Reviewing King is something I find near nigh-on-impossible to do. Why? Because he has a reputation for writing way above anyone else, and I have to say, it is a reputation deserved. He crafts a tale in a way that his peers must remark at, and fledgling authors like myself come away thinking  Darn it, John. That's how you write stories.

So I must review this book as the reader, so here goes.

Charles Jacobs is an eccentric Reverend, whose sermons veer from apocalyptic warnings to ranting about inconsistencies in The Good Book. Jamie, our hero (of sorts) meets the Good / Bad Reverend when he is aged just six.

Rev C is not just into God - he believes he has the power to see past Death, and Revive it in some way. He believes he can cure an impending death, so when someone gets cancer or a similar disease, out pops the Rev's box of tricks, through which he runs - and controls an electric current.

Most times, this works. Other times, there are horrific consequences to these acts. Throughout, Jamie is the link, thinking he has moved on from the Reverend, but never really taking care of that side of things. 

There's another thread to Revival that I have noticed in other notable King novels, Insomnia, and Mr Mercedes, to name but two. I'll now add Revival to that little-known rock band.

King is in his late sixties now. I'm seeing, and understanding the things he talks about. The three stages of age - youth, middle -age, and you look f****** terrific. I'll do what I can to stay the wrinkles, but I notice more each day. I can relate to what he is saying.

It takes a master like King to make you relate to the characters and yourself whilst you are reading. Usually, I lose myself in a book like this, but on many occasions I had to rest it down and think - "Christ, he's right."

And he is. It makes me see things in a new perspective. His writing is THAT good.

There may be some naysayers who think King fans like myself will automatically rate his books as awesome and flawless story telling. Actually, it is because he is so good, I'm probably harder on him. I'm not a fanboy - I call it like it is. And if I really hated  a book, I would not trash it, I would just move on to something else that I hope I would like. Life's too short to hate, kids.

As the story evolves, we see Jamie grow up, get laid, join a rock band, get old. A lot of the growing pains cliches, you might think - but it is not the case here. Near the book's final act, Jamie's life, and his connection with Jacobs comes full circle. The 'pull' is so great I cannot nor will not reveal it here.

I just felt so happy, because on the first few pages of the book, I knew Stephen King was writing at his best once again. It falls short of Pet Semetary, Misery, It, and The Shining, but it towers above recent efforts Doctor Sleep and Mr Mercedes - which were both good in their own right.

In a nutshell, if you fell out of love with his writing, Revival offers you a perfect way to return. I'm sure in Stephen King's mind, he'd say 'I've been expecting you, anyway.'

Thursday 1 January 2015

How to Overcome Your Writing and Self Publishing Worries in 2015 (and beyond)

First of all, happy new year!I hope 2015 delivers all you want from it.

Many of us have the same worries about different aspects of our lives, but for writers (and for the purpose of this blog post I am focussing on the independent and self-published amongst us), what drives us to commit countless hours in front of a white screen, filling it will words that hopefully make up a coherent story.

It's far from easy, and surely, better things to do with our lives.

My main profession is that of a martial arts teacher. It started out very difficult. I knew I was a good teacher, and I knew I was a good martial artist, and I believe I am better in both aspects today.

It's what keeps a roof over my head, so you bet I pay attention to it.

In 2007, I had begun making extensive notes for what emerged as my first book in 2011, The Essence of Martial Arts.

What had started as a extended notation exercise quickly turned into something else. I found I actually enjoyed the creative writing process. This was a life-changing thing for me, because as soon as I finished, work began on a new story; albeit a fiction one.

I never knew what a huge undertaking that was going to be. My first non-fiction book was 170 pages long, but I put my heart, soul and twenty years martial arts experience into it.

I was interviewed on radio; I started to get a trickle of reviews on Amazon. I had not even heard of GoodReads back then. I was disinterested in yet another social media site. But I was happy to be wrong - GoodReads is anything but that, and I have made many friends and heard from terrific reviewers during my time there.

Then something happened to me. I started to wonder if I could make it as a writer. Against a lot of odds, I had made it as a martial arts teacher. Considering I was a very poor fighter at school, I went through a savage fire in order to beat my fears and confound worries to the trash can forever.

Having established myself in my given area of expertise, why was writing distracting me? Surely only the canniest and most cunning of people made it as a living. I wouldn't go as far as JK Rowling or Stephen King because they are in a different league to most of us mortals. I'm more mortal than most.

I know my limits too. But that didn't stop me penning Stormling, my first fiction novel. My other half read the draft, expecting it to be of a Tolkien level. I knew that my writing might never be that good, but it would be my own style of writing, and it would be raw, and real. That says to me, that I was writing for the right reasons.Not money, not fame.

But that is not a business plan. It is not good marketing. It's a terrible propect for the future, if one is to make a living off writing, which I aim to do.

Worrying that You Can't Make It as a Writer

Yes, we all have those worries, and I wouldn't believe someone if they said they never worried about it. My motivation is to one day replace the income from martial arts, with a solid writing income. Without troubling the number one spot in the Kindle lists too often, I have seen a sure and steady income this year from writing.

This is not Year One. We are into Year Five of this project. It's hard. There are down days. But there are more up days than not. Inbetween, I don't worry. I have to write, keep writing, keep working on the craft.

At the time my editor said that, I thought it was too obvious. But I needed to hear it. I needed to keep working on the craft. One book wasn't going to do it for me. And readers deserve better than that. They need to know you have put your everything into writing what they are reading. Make it easy for them to like you, root for you, and look forward to your future releases. Treat your readers like gold - because they really are and should be treasured as such.

Worrying about stuff you cannot change is plain stupid. Worry about the stuff you can change, then, when you have done all you can, move on.

Aspiring to write the book is not the same as writing the book. You may aspire to get out of bed ten minutes earlier in the morning, but unless you actually do it, it remains aspirational. It won't help you make it as a writer.

Whatever you have to do to get that book written, do it. You may even have to  be a bit selfish to get it done. Your other half may get upset that you spend more time in front of the computer than with them.

Sorry to say, it's not likely to happen unless you knuckle down.

Once it is done, revel in your success as a published author. Amazon has levelled the field. Just make sure when you plant your flowers, they are blooming red roses, and not the kind of weeds everyone tramples over.

You probably won't be revisiting this book again. You will have to move onto other projects.

Write it the best you can. Edit the best you can. Get a professional cover (Photoshop may be great, but poor Photoshop skills will rat you out). Have a killer synopsis.

Tell your friends. Build a Twitter and Facebook following.

And repeat.

To summarise - worrying paralyses you. I know you know this, and for sure, I've done it too.

I've survived two serious health scares since the turn of the century, and I can tell you, I am done with worrying.

I write because it makes me happy, and yes, I'm making some income.

I'm not under any pressure at all >>>>

Not much, anyway.

Here's my link if you want to check out what I do when I'm not teaching!

My Amazon Books List

You can do it too. Quit the worrying and hit those keys.

Good luck!