My Podcast Interview – Breaking the silence and becoming an author & activist – It’s Never Too Late

Hello my little demons!

For those of you who follow me on social media (see the links below if you’d like to follow), you may have noticed that I did a podcast interview recently and was waiting for it to air.

Well, it all started when I was approached by Megha on Twitter, asking me to do a podcast interview and I jumped at the opportunity. Not necessarily because I love supporting fellow authors and creative minds (which I do), and it’ll be good publicity for me, but because I will be getting out of my comfort zone HUGELY.

If you don’t know, I had Selective Mutism as a child, you can read my previous post on ‘Why “The Girl Who Whispered“‘ here, which explains more about it, and as silly as it sounds, talking is something I have always struggled with.

When we scheduled to do it, I was very nervous, I could literally feel my heart beating in my chest. Megha was so lovely though, so understanding and I eventually felt myself calming (okay, a little).

I’ve been waiting for it to go live with baited breath, although the hard part was over, I was still really nervous about it going live. All those years worrying about speaking and I was going public on the internet. But the podcast went live today at 14:30 BST and I couldn’t be happier. It came out great!

If you’re interested in listening, here it is on spotify:

Huge thanks to Megha for the opportunity, it was great to make such a lovely connection too, and thanks everyone who has already listened to it – I was told Megha’s listeners love it (I think it’s my British accent!)

If you’d like to support Megha and her podcast, please check out her links:

website: meghaupadhyaya.com
facebook: facebook.com/itsnevertoolatepodcast
instagram: instagram.com/takeitsleeazy/
twitter: twitter.com/Young_blackbird

If you’d like to support Megha’s podcast, you can do so here!

Here was a little teaser trailer (I sound awful, but here it is for completeness anyway!):

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Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow!
I also recently had my hair cut off for charity! Read about it here!

thegirlwhowhispered.com

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Author Interview – Noir Hayes

Hello, my little demons! 😈

Here’s the third installment of Author Interviews, and I had the privilege of speaking to Noir Hayes.

This was another one I had good fun with, and upon reading her answers, it’s amazing how much we have in common (minus the ballet bit!)

Razor Blades

Of course, first I wanted to quickly speak about her book “Razor Blades”. It sounds really interesting; dark and gritty gangs set in New York. What’s not to love?

Here’s the synopsis:

Enter into the minds of the most dangerous gangs in the city. Razor, the gang’s leader, is known for his brutal, cut-throat methods, and cold eyes. His arrogance, getting to the better of him, prevents him from noticing some of his member’s evil intentions. Every man in the gang has their role, and it’s up to you to determine who is genuinely Razor’s right-hand man.

You can find it for sale here

Within Cessation (Out October 2020!)

And, of course, can’t leave without talking about her next book which is out next month; Within Cessation.

In case you can’t see the image, for what ever reason, this is what it reads:

“Tatum Hyland is a man obsessed with reinventing himself. Determined to cast off his reputation as a washed up former romance novelist, he challenges himself to write something completely different – an apocalyptic survival story. But as the world arround him spirals into chaos, Tatum must learn to differentiate between reality and fiction, choosing between his own survival and that of his work.”

Interview with Noir

Now let’s get into the interview… I bet you’re all excited to read this, as much as I was!

What got you into writing?

I’ve always been super anxious and quiet, even as a kid. A lot of times, I used writing as an escape. In my mind, I figured, if I couldn’t say certain things or open up about my experiences, I would just write and create character that could do the things I was unable to. I also loved the idea of having no real rules. In math or in science, it’s either wrong or it’s right. In writing, I make the rules and I have always loved the freedom that came with that.

What’s your writing Kryptonite?

I care too much about what people might think. Sometimes I hold myself back and think, “No, I can’t write that. What will they think? Will they think I’m this super violent person? Will they think differently of me?” A lot of it is mental, and I’m always trying to work through it.

What comes first, the plot or characters?

It’s always been the characters for me. I have always found enjoyment out of building a character from the ground up. I let them tell me what they like, don’t like, what their fears are, and what their story will be. I let them create the plot for themselves – I am merely the person that writes it all down for them.

Do you want to be more original or write that the reader’s want?

Original, always. I once stumbled across Billie Eilish’s Vanity Fair interview and in it, she said: “If everyone dropped dead right now and I didn’t, I would be left with what I had created for myself. And what the hell would the point be if I was just creating something that somebody else wanted me to create that I had no say in? And that person died, and everybody else died, and nobody else matters but me? I’m stuck with this stuff I didn’t want in the first place and that’s trash.” And that has always stuck with me. I create what I want. It will reach the people it is meant to reach, and those who are meant to love it will love it.

If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

Don’t create with the intention of being the next Hunger Games or Divergent. Write what you want to write and do it unapologetically. It doesn’t need to be cookie cutter. Those who are your true fans will never judge your writing material – so just write what you want.

What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel?

I really, really loved I Have No Secrets by Penny Joelson. It is a book about a fourteen-year-old that has cerebral palsy, so she can’t speak or move. Whenever her caretaker’s abusive boyfriend admits he murdered someone and tells the narrator because he knows she literally can’t tell anyone, it creates this amazing and thrilling story. I have hardly seen anyone talk about it and it surprisingly doesn’t have too many reviews on Amazon.

Do you hide secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Yes, of course! I sometimes hide song lyrics that inspired my writing in character dialogue. In “Razor Blades” one of my characters gives out a series of codes, and some of them are my parents and sibling’s birthdays. There are too many hidden secrets to count!

What was the inspiration for your book, “Razor Blades”?

It’s actually an interesting story, haha. Back in my younger years, I did a ton of online roleplaying. Two of my characters, Razor and Brett, were originally characters I just roleplayed with. Both Brett and Razor were inspired by songs off of this industrial metal band’s (their name is Combichrist, I definitely recommend looking them up) album entitled We Love You. So, Brett and Razor have been with me since the beginning. Things really got rolloing whenever I visited New York last summer with my dad. From there, I said screw it, dropped Razor and Brett in New York, and let them tell the stories themselves.

What do you hope readers take away from this book?

Razor Blades is really violent and gritty. That being said, I want readers to see that even in the darkest of corners, you can find stories of love and hope. I want them to meet a character like Razor, someone who is bad through and through, and see his development and see the way he changes, the way that he has different sides for those he truly cares for.

How many unpublished or half-finished books do you have?

Well, next month my second book entitled Within Cessation comes out, which is exciting! As for unpublished books, though, I’ve been holding onto a Young Adult Dystopian novel that I wrote way back in high school. I plan on taking it, revamping it, and publishing it by next year. Half-finished books and ideas, I have anywhere between five to ten rolling around, even if it’s one paragraph in a google document somehwere, haha.

Who is your favourite author, and why?

Chuck Palhniuk’s Snuff helped me write Razor Blades, as I loved the way he changed multiple POVs (point of views) so well. From there, I just started reading and falling in love with a lot of his work. More on the cliché side, though, I’ve always been inspired by big names like Stephen King. In fourth grade, I was already reading Pet Semetary and The Shining, and it was King that helped me realize that writing was what I wanted to do – that I wanted to big like him.

Do you prefer to read the book first, or watch the movie first?

Good question and when it comes down to it, I’m not sure if I have a preference! I think there’s something so magical about reading and falling in love with a book and seeing it on the big screen. To have your favorite moments comes to life and to have them pulled together with music, the looks certain actors and actresses can pull of, ugh, it’s so magical! There are also some movies out there that are better than the books… a controversial opinion, I’m sure haha.

What are your thoughts on audiobooks?

I appreciate audiobooks so much! I commute to school and work three to four jobs (when we aren’t in the middle of a pandemic) and last semester, I was driving five-hundred miles per week. I really dove headfirst into having an arsenal of audiobooks to keep me entertained during my long drives. Sometimes holding a physical book just isn’t possible, and I think having an audiobook is a great option if that’s the case. Especially if you spend more time in your car than in your house, like I do.

Was writing your dream job as a child, or was it something else?

Always deep down, yes. I was writing horror stories and giving them to my mom to give to her friends at work as a kid. Every single experience I had I made into a story. As I got older, unfortunately, I somehow convinced myself that I could never make a living out of writing. So, I wound up going to school for something else I’m interested in. I’ve said since the beginning, though, if I could wave a magic wand and have whatever I wanted – to write all day every day as an occupation would be my dream.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’m a jack of all trades, honestly, haha. I am a full-time student in my senior year of a Criminal Justice program. When I’m not in school, I’m probably in the dance studio teaching ballet (yes, I was a bunhead for the majority of my life). Outside of all that, though, I am a huge nerd – I love to play video games and watch all kinds of movies. I also have a pretty impressive Funko pop collection.

Thanks, Noir Hayes! It was a pleasure.

Please do check out her out, here’s the link to her twitter page.

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Author Interview – S. D. Reed

Hello, my little demons! 😈

The second instalment of Author Interviews is here, and today I have an interview from “a new author on the block,” S. D. Reed!

I really enjoyed this interview, S. D. was a pleasure to talk to, and after speaking to him, I’m really interested in his new book that is coming out! Today is the day the cover, title and release date was annonced, and I have to admit, it looks really good (I’m a little jealous!). See more about it below.

We also seem to have a few similarities with ideas when it comes to writing too, especially question 6 in the interview, this is certainly something I have been doing in my upcoming book, “Rose Garden Sanatorium” and I really like this approach, like we both agreed; it benefits the long-term readers.

Kerwall Town (Out 18th October 2020!)

Before we get into the interview, I first want to plug his book a little. It’ll be rude not to – besides doesn’t the cover look fab?

The novel is set in the late 70’s and is centred on a fictitious failed goverment experimental town that has long since been forgotten. That is until one day when two strangers arrive in town and claim to be the new owners and mayor.

Here’s the synopsis S. D. gave me:

After two strangers appear in the dilapidated town of Kerwall, the lives of every resident change. Members of the community are forced together as the number of bodies and secrets increase with every passing moment. With knowledge as their only tool against the world’s deadliest predator, the hunt for power commences. Kerwall’s hope rests on the shoulders of its youngest residents, forcing them into the depths of the earth, questioning everything they’ve ever known.

Inverview with S.D.

Right, now let’s get into the interview!

What inspired you to start writing?

I don’t think one singular thing inspired me, but rather a collection of things, and I also think it’s been brewing inside me, like I was born to write… does that make sense, or is it too cliché? Well, that’s it anyway. I would watch films and read books, and I was totally immersed. I wanted to do the same for others, to give them hope and escapism in the form of a book.

Do you use a pseudonym? If not, have you considered it?

I do, yeah, just because I feel my novels are more interesting than me. I want them to speak for themselves.

What was your hardest scene to write?

Well, without giving too much away about my debut novel, it was a certain death scene. I didn’t want to write it as I grew so attached to the character, but alas, the book needed one final sacrifice.

What does being a successful author look like to you?

Being Happy, and yes, with a capital ‘H’. Isn’t that what life is all about too? It’s not about the race, it’s about the humans, earth and making a difference. Ultimately, I’d like my novels to make a positive difference in someone’s life. That’s the mark of success to me.

Do you Google yourself?

Ha! I did once and Google didn’t know who I was… Nor did Alexa or Siri.

What is your most unusual writing quirk?

I have two, the first is that I’ll often have a character that enjoys making puns and the second is I work in long term story telling. What this means is, you may not get all the answers in one novel, but you may in another, as all my novels are connected in some way, you just gotta look for them…

Do you have any writing blogs you recommend?

I do indeed! There are so many wonderful writing blogs out there, but it would be remiss of me to not recommend and of course, yours too!! (aww, thanks!)

The ones I can recommend right away:
@PamelaRossAA

@avidbookworm78
@dansbookblog
@FootnotesMgmt
@CanvassartS

What is your favourite word, and why?

So, so many! Right now, it’s a simple one; fantabulous! I just love how positive it sounds. Another favourite is beatific!

Are there any themes in your work you are trying to portray?

I always try to convey a sense of good and evil, and a strong sense of teamwork too, as that’s how I believe we will all achieve things; together.

Is your book “Kerwall Town” based on a real person?

Nope, all my novels are fictitious. But I do do (hehe) an awful lot of research as I write in a lot of different time periods and countries.

If a film were made of your book, who would you cast in the leading roles?

I would LOVE for Debra Jo Rupp, Catherine O’Hare and Tom Holland to be in the leading roles, but who knows. I’d be happy either way, but they would certainly be very cool. Ideally, I would have loved Robin Williams.

What other projects are in the works?

I’ve just started work on my next novel, based in suburbia and most notably, America, and with Foodnotes Management, it’ll be out next year sometime… as will something else…

Do you prefer writing in silence or to music?

I don’t really mind, as long as the music isn’t club level loud, haha.

What would you advise young writers trying to build a publishing history or an author platform?

Stay connected, stay grounded and most importantly, have fun and just beleive in yourself. Write often too, that is the key. It doesn’t have to be a lot either, just often to keep the practice up.

Thanks, S.D! It’s been a pleasure.

Please do go check him out, here are the links to his website and social media handles:

sd-reed.com
Insta: sdreedauthor
Twitter: S.D.Reed.Author
Facebook: S D Reed

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Goodbye Goldi-locks

Well, they’re not gold, my locks, but it’s catchy, don’t you think?

…Yes, hello, my little demons! 😈

You might be following me on social media and have already seen that I have had my hair cut off! …It’s short!

….Is it suddenly cold or is it me?

I had the intention of getting my hair cut short anyway as I am moving to a hot country in the next few months (thats another story, watch this space!), I had booked myself into The Hair Chair in Lanark, after going down to see my parents, and it was the salon’s suggestion to donate my hair to charity!

What a fantastic idea!

So, I got the two ladies to photograph the progress (thanks, girls!) and then style it into something cool (in both senses of the word!)

As I don’t live in the area anymore, having moved to Inverness for work (yes, I have a full-time job that I love as well as writing!), I had to take my locks with me and post them from there.

… I must admit, it was a little weird having a little paper bag with hair in it!

When I got back to Inverness, I got in touch with The Little Princess Trust to ask about the process (I don’t currently have access to a printer, so I had to put a hand-written note in with my hair!) and they were extremely lovely to speak to.

So, I wrote them a letter, wrapped up my hair in a plastic bag to keep dry and popped the plaits into a padded envelope.

Yes, the envelope is being reused, I had the intention of buying a brand new envelope when I went shopping last, but after forgetting to pick one up (although, I seemed to remember to pick up a motorcycle magazine!) I decided to reuse one I already had – I figured it was more environmentally friendly and I saved my pennies (ha!)

A few days later (unfortunately I couldn’t get to the post office while working – awkward hours!) I decided to venture out into the outside world, taking a trek down to the local Tesco’s where the nearest post office is located.

Okay, I cheated taking that photo of my legs, the first one came out blurry and awkward, so I had to stand still on the pavement… I must have looked a right idiot standing like that while I photographed my legs.

I know, why take a photo at all? Well, then I wouldn’t have this funny thing to tell you… and brain decided it would be a good idea… I’m still not convinced! But you all get to see my cool boots!

Anyway… back to my hike… trek… okay, short walk… to the post office! It was touch and go for a while, when it started to rain…

This photo is not sponsored by Cranfield University… don’t look at the logo! Stop it!

But I finally made it to Tesco’s!

I did a little bit of shopping to get myself some dinner (and a little treat for myself). Running up and down the shop like a mad woman… this way to the chicken… this way to the tea bags… oh I need… better go this way… ooo, what about cake….? Is this way to the… nope… okay, screw it… ooo…. what about if I got some decent instant coffee… HOW much?! Okay, tills…

When shopping was done. I was free to continue on my quest… to the post office!

And alas!… posted my hair off to The Little Princess Trust!

After weighing the parcel and seeing if it fits the “large envelope” sizing (it didn’t!), the conversation with the lady on the desk was funny:

Her: “Is there anything flammable in this?”
Me: “No, it’s just hair.” 😊
Her: ….
Her: *puts the stamp on the parcel*
Me: ….
Her: *finally reads the address*
Her: Oh! *points to the lable*
Me: Just clicked, has it?

Hahaha!

She then proceeds to ask me how long it was before and praises the charity.

I leave feeling pretty good about myself. Even though it’s raining again – and harder this time.

BUT, this happened…

Look closely, you can just about make out the rainbow.

taste the rainbow

…..I think it’s a sign.

… that it had been raining while sunny….

Anyway, when I got back, I made a well deserved cup of tea and sat down with my cup cake I bought from Tescos.

My little adventure to Tesco’s complete.
Now I can relax.

Oh, and I’ll be keeping a close eye on my email inbox over the next week or so, as they apparently will be sending me a certificate! Win!

Update 18/09/2020: I received my certificate yesterday, check it out at the end of the blog! 🙂

Thanks for coming on this little journey with me! I’m really glad my long hair, that had been annoying me for ages, will light up a little girls face one day, when it’s finally made into a wig!

And I love my new hairstyle… so, big shout out to the girls at The Hair Chair in Lanark, Scotland!

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Don’t forget to like, reblog, share, comment and/or follow! 😊

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Rose Garden Sanatorium – Chapter 7

Note: If you’re new to the story please read from the beginning here.

Chapter 7

Officer Jennifer Finley

The young female agent slid through a dark internal door as quiet as a mouse, keeping every one of her senses alert for sounds, sights, smells, strange touches on her body, or maybe even changes in temperature. She stepped silently and slowly through the Sanatorium, but her mind was running one-hundred miles an hour going through the training sessions; move slow, check corners, especially dark ones, don’t trust anyone or anything. She held her P90 out before her, her grip tight on it, her focus through the infrared scope, the torch illuminating the way, and felt that little bit safer knowing that it had been modified specifically for these sorts of situations.

But she still felt defenceless, even with her specially modified gear and her extensive training. She had been told about the horrors of the enemy she faced; some were able to inhabit your body, take control of it, some were large, strong and ruthless. But there were those who were just so clever, stronger, quicker, able to take most living shapes, able to control fire, make things move with just their minds, knock people unconscious with just a flick of their hands, that Finley doubted her average intelligence and physical fitness along with all her modified equipment was enough to beat them.

She slowly kept her breathing under control in an attempt to steady her heartbeat as she looked around a corner. The only way she was able to keep herself from panicking was to continue with her job, to keep moving. She just hoped no one, or nothing, could hear the panic swelling in her chest. Part of her training was to regulate her heartbeat, to keep it steady; her instructor told her that the panic was a reaction from high levels of cortisol running through her body; the fight or flight syndrome, and it affected concentration, but she always had trouble keeping it down.

Ahead of her, she noticed a wall had fallen, opening up the next room. Slowly she moved, carefully avoiding the rubble on the floor as she did, to investigate the next room.

As she made her way towards the opening, however, she heard a noise. Her skin prickled at the sound; something was shuffling. She stopped dead in her tracks and listened out. Her heartbeat thumped in her ears, and she felt a roll of sweat run down her face. She doubted it had anything to do with the amount of gear she had on, keeping her safe but unavoidably warm. The sound continued as if what ever was making it didn’t know she was there. The shuffling was also complimented with what sounded like heavy breathing and rubble being moved. Suddenly her body felt heavy with fear.

She put her eye through the scope, not picking up any heat signatures yet—not that she could pick up anything through the thick walls of the Sanatorium. She didn’t have a visual. It could be anything. It could be the wind. She willed herself to continue towards the gap in the wall.

But as she moved again, the shuffling sound stopped. She stopped herself. She pursed her lips together to stop her from breathing heavily, not even noticing the grip on her gun had tightened, her knuckles going white. The sound started again only a few seconds later, as if what ever was making it had stopped to listen out but hadn’t noticed her. She moved her hand slowly up to the gun and turn off the torch accessory, then up to her smock and turned off those lights, her sole visual was now through the infrared scope—although she still saw various shades of blue, no oranges or reds to indicate a living being.

She continued to move slowly towards the break in the wall, keeping tight to the remainder of the wall that was still left standing, using it as a guide with the use of her elbow and being careful not to accidentally knock something on the floor, either resulting in her making a noise or tripping over. She shuffled her body towards the hole and stopped for a few seconds to listen out.

There certainly was something just there, only a few feet away. All she had to do was to take one large step to her right and she could swing herself round to see her enemy. Within a split second before changing her mind, she committed to her manoeuvre. She stepped and span her whole body round and saw the classic oranges and reds in her scope.

Something barked and the orange and red blob ran off. She turned on the light attachment on her gun just in time to catch sight of a red bushy tail flapping as it ran out of the door.

Finley sighed, relaxed slightly and let out a small laugh. It was just a fox. Although she was told to be vigilant of all living things, she was sure if it was anything but sinister, it would have just attacked her, and it didn’t.

Rubbing her face with a hand and letting her gun drop a little from her grip, she steadied her breathing to slow her heart and relaxed her tight muscles. She snorted suddenly in amusement at the situation, the fact she got so wound up over a fox.

She turned around to go back out of the room she had just recently deemed now clear, but she turned around to face a grotesque and inhuman face mere millimetres away from her face. She screamed and automatically stepped backwards, her heel hit a loose brick and she fell backwards, smashing her head—which was luckily protected in her helmet—on the debris of broken wall.

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Next chapter coming soon!


If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

Check out these other posts about Rose Garden Sanatorium!

New Full Book Trailer! For Rose Garden Sanatorium

Rose Garden Sanatorium Top 10 in the Cryptic Awards 2018!

My love for animals – Animal Advocacy

Hello my little demons,

If you’ve been following me on Facebook and Twitter, you may have noticed I post a lot about animals; pet adoptions, missing pets, fundraisers, even just funny videos or posts about animals to brighten someone’s day.

I have a huge love for all animals. Dogs, cats, rats, mice, horses, snakes, and even the smaller ones. Yes, even creepy crawlies! (I have a keen interest in entomology)

Although I wish I could adopt and rescue all animals, big and small, my current situation means I cannot. And, I cannot yet make the commitment. It sounds like a bad thing, selfish even, but it’s not. I currently haven’t got my own house.

And yes, okay, I have also got a love for travelling too and thus don’t want to have a pet in the case I need to uproot without a moments notice. But this is one of my mental health coping mechanisms; travelling (I’ll explain that in another blog post for another time). I therefore cannot commit to having a pet (at least nothing as big as a cat or a dog) because my mental health would be at stake from my inability to uproot and travel, and thus the well-being of that pet would be at stake too.

However, I have considered fostering temporarily if my future landlord is okay with this.

So, because I cannot personally adopt, rescue, or otherwise own my own pets, I try to help in others ways.

This is Melli, she is up for adoption here: https://www.niagaradogrescue.org/pet/melli

An actor I follow on social media also does his own advocacy for adoption and fostering dogs with Niagara Dog Rescue in Niagara, Canada (Niagara is the region on the Canadian side of the Niagara Falls), and because of him, I have posted a lot of dogs from Niagara Dog Rescue.

I have a bit of an interest in Niagara Dog Rescue now, because they specifically rescue dogs from high-risk kill shelters. They have rescued many dogs from the US, but they’ve also rescued dogs from other countries, including Iran. I’ve even heard they are happy to relocate dogs to future homes in other countries.

I’ve personally been in touch with them and they have informed me they do relocate dogs to homes in other countries, they have done so before. It is up to the new owner to organise the dog’s transfer and if, for some reason, it didn’t work out, they would want to ensure you were properly set up with a local rescue who could help with rehoming.

They’re specifically a volunteer-run fostering organisation, they don’t appear to have an actual shelter but instead have a load of volunteers that foster the dogs until they find their true home. I think this is a great idea, the dog gets used to home-life before adoption, rather than being stuck in a kennel.

Because of this, I have posted pictures on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in order to help these poor pups get their forever homes they deserve. Like I said, I cannot personally adopt, but if I share, there might be someone I know who can, or maybe a chain reaction of re-tweets/re-posts might happen and someone somewhere is willing to adopt.

If you’re interested in adopting a dog (such like Melli above, who is still available), please do give Niagara Dog Rescue a look:
https://www.niagaradogrescue.org/

Here’s the list of available dogs they have: https://www.niagaradogrescue.org/status/available

In the past, I have also given monthly donations to WWF (I adopted a snow leopard). Which, due to deciding on a career change and going back to university meant I had to cancel my monthly donations. But once I start back at work and get a wage coming in each month again, I will be looking at doing more for animals (and my other charitable interests).

I hope that what ever little bit I can give or do, will make even a small bit of difference.

I also hope that my small actions will inspire others. You don’t need to do a lot to make a difference. But if we all at least make small chances, this can make a big impact overall.

I’ll also be blogging about my other charitable interests (such as Mental Health, the environment and LGBT+), so keep an eye out for my other blogs!

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If you liked this post, please don’t forget to like and I’d love to hear your comments too. Have you adopted a rescue pet? Do you give to a wildlife charity such as WWF? Or do you do other advocacy, such as sharing missing pet posts on Facebook? I’d love to know other animal fans!

Also, please don’t forget to check out my others posts:

Charity News

My Books

Travel

If you’re interested in giving to WWF, here’s the link: www.wwf.org.uk/

A little of topic, but if you like sci-fi / space themed films and TV shows, please do check out ‘The Expanse’. It’s not only a great TV show, based on a book series, but the actor I mentioned plays in it. Everyone is also very lovely!

Be My (Dark) Valentine? – Valentine’s Day Special!

Hello, my little demons!

I wanted to write a new blog post, this one I wanted to discuss one of the days I dislike… Feburary the 14th.

Valentine’s Day.

This blog is in two parts; the first part I want to explore with you guys the history behind Valentine’s Day, who is St. Valentine? When did it start? And, of course, exploring the dark side of it (because I do love a bit of darkness every now and then). The second part, is the concept of Valentine’s Day, and why I dislike it.

What is Valentine’s Day and where did it come from?

Most of us, at least those in the Western World, will know about Valentine’s Day. The day of love. Valentine’s Day cards, chocolates in heart-shaped boxes. Buying wilting sevice station roses in cheap red glass vases in a mad rush to get something for a loved-one because you forgot all about it… Ahem…

But the real origins of Valentine’s Day is actually a little hazy, even Historians are a little unsure. There isn’t one ‘definitive’ answer, instead there are a number of theories. This blog post will explore these a bit more.

Is Valentine’s Day originally Catholic/Christian?

One of the issues with understanding where Valentine’s Day comes from, is that there are numerous martyrs called ‘Valentine’, and there are many sources that appear to mix them up. (So, bare in with me if I get something wrong!)

Valentinus comes from the Latin “Valens” which means ‘to be in good health’, and was unfortunately a common name in ancient Roman times [2].

However, one source suggests that two holy martyrs of the same name was recorded on the 14th of February [2].

But, the problem is, when I dig into these names I found, there are many different versions. I guess this is the problem with having a popular name, and the power of the internet; facts get mixed up. And to avoid being part of the expanding problem; giving false/mixed facts, I’ll instead just mention the names and the different versions and let you make up your own mind. I think this topic is something historians and archaeologists spend decades researching and a simple novice and her blog simply cannot delve into in a day or two!

Aside from this, however, most sources talk about at least two Valentines.

Saint Valentine of Terni (c) Melanie Renzulli.
Img src: https://www.italofile.com/saint-valentine-terni/

One story is about Valentine of Terni, it suggests he performed marriages for young lovers in secret [1]. He did this because the Emperor Claudius II outlawed marriages for young men, suggesting single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families. Claudius found out, of course, and ordered Valentine to be put to death. The source suggests that that many hagiographers (a writer of the lives of the saints, and yes, I had to look up that word!) agree that this was the ‘real’ Saint Valentine.

Another story, which again is mentioned in the same source [1], but I found mentions in other sources [2, 3], talks about a ‘Valentino falling in love with the daughter of the prison guard (Asterius) when he was imprisoned in Rome’. It talks about a note which has ‘Your Valentine’ or ‘From your Valentino’ (you have to remember the issues of translating languages), which was left before his death. One source even suggests that he performed a miracle of restoring her sight [2]! Valentino was apparently beheaded on the 14th of February 273 [2]. The issue is, within the first source [1] it is unclear whether the author actually talks of two different Valentines.

Another issue is that source [3] not only talks the Valentine that married soldiers when marriage was outlawed, but the source then continues to talk about another Saint Valentine… of Terni, as if this Valentine was seperate from the marriage Valentine. The line “he, too, was beheaded…” suggests this Saint Valentine of Terni was a seperate Valentine to the second. However, it doesn’t really seem to suggest this other Valentine was the imprisoned one from the previous paragraph (You can begin see my confusion with researching for this blog post!)

To backup source [3], Saint Valentine of Terni being a seperate Valentine to the Valentine that married soldier’s, another source talks about Valentine or Terni ‘debating a potential convert’ and he too ‘was beheaded’. But unfortunately not much else is given in this source for this version of Valentine of Terni.

One line I found from source [4] suggests the two Valentines decapitated were in fact different versions of just one saint, which appeared in both Rome and Terni. This would offer an explaination as to why sources appear to confuse the two. Source [5] also offers this as a suggestion too.

Wikipedia [6] also talks about two seperate Valentines; Saint Valentine’s of Rome and Saint Valentine’s of Terni. Which could be another name(s) for the two most common Valentines. However, I always take what I read on Wikipedia with a very large pinch of salt, anyone is able to make changes to pages on Wikipedia, and I have always been told in my past university professors to not use wikipedia as a reference in essays and other university work.

Just to confuse things even more, some sources talk about other ‘Valentines’. Source [1] also explains (which the author admits doesn’t ‘buy’) that Valentine ‘offered roses to a fighting couple and told them to love each other as if they had only one heart’. I would have to agree, this story seems a bit too far-fetched and not strong enough to be ‘written’ and thus become a legend.

Source [4] also talks about another ‘Valentinus’, apparently the earliests of Valentines, who died in Africa along with 24 soldiers, but the source says there isn’t much more information about him, other than birth and death dates, which also makes me consider isn’t enough to turn into a Valentine’s Day.

It is also worth noting that February the 14th became an official holiday associate with romantic love around the 14th and 15th centuries [5, 6]. One source talks about the oldest mention of ‘valentine’ from the 15th century, Charles d’ Orléans, who was held in the Tower of London after his defeat at the Battle of Agincourt (1415). He addressed his wife with “I am already sick of love, My very gentle Valentine” [2]. However, another source explains it was the poet Geoffrey Chaucer in the 14th century who linked love with St. Valentine for the first time in his works “The Parlement of Foules” and “The Complaint of Mars”, the source then suggests Chaucer invented Valentine’s Day as we know it today [7].

Another note here is that, if St. Valentine’s Day originated from one two martyrs, these would have been many centuries before these first mentions of the ‘Valentine’s Day’ above.

Or… was it actually originally Pagan?

But (get ready for the darkness), the [7] source previously also talks about February 14 also being considered the first day of spring in Britain or more generically, has it’s roots in paganism.

A few sources talk about the feast of Lupercalia [7, 8]. From February the 13th to the 15th, men sacrificed a goat and a dog, then whipped women with the hides of the animals, beliving this would make them fertile.

Although, again, sources make these references in history a little fuzzy. One source explains it was the Romans who celebrated this feast [8], whereas another explains it’s a pagan ritual (I’m sure the Roman’s were Christians, not pagans…)

Source [7] also talks about another tradition at this time, where men selected women’s names at random to ‘couple’ with them for either the duration of the festival or longer, if the match was right.

Source [7] goes on that it was Pope Gelasius I who combined St Valentine’s Day with Lupercalia to expel the pagan ritual, so like a previous post I have written (Samhain), it was the Christian’s way of ridding of paganism but combining pagan festivals with Christian ones.

And lastly, Source [8] mentions the Norman’s celebration of Galatin’s Day. Galatin meant “lover of women”, and it could be possible that the two days were confused.

To conclude, therefore, it isn’t definitive as to where Valentine’s Day originated. It could be that it was from one of the martyred Valentines (or it could be that this was indeed one man), it could be a pagan festival whether it was murged or not by the Church, or it could have come from the Norman’s Galatin’s Day. Or, it could have come from the other lesser known stories of Valentine’s I mentioned, or something else entirely.

Why don’t I like Valentine’s Day?

No, it’s not because the last five years I have spent Valentine’s Day alone. I’m not that cynical. I’m actually very happy being single! And trust me, I feel the same when I am in a relationship.

One reason is that, like many holiday’s celebrated in the United Kingdom; Easter, Christmas, Halloween, it’s heavily commercialised. Of course, if it was just commercialised and it didn’t affect my everyday life, I probably wouldn’t care. It’s up to those who want to celebrate it. But, it does affect my everyday life.

It restricts my ability to go out for a meal, not only is it difficult to just go and find a table anywhere, but some restaurants deliberately put the prices up knowing they’ll have people willing to pay it. It can also make things busier, not just restaurants but take-away deliveries too.

Another issue is if you went out with a friend of the opposite sex (of which I have many friends from the opposite sex), it’s immediately assumed they are your partner. Of course this tends to happen to me frequently regardless of whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not, but it’s more prevalent on Valentine’s Day.

Another issue is that shops, such as supermarkets, move items on their shelves to fit in the Valentine’s Day gifts and cards. Sometimes this can mean stock isn’t available, given me less options, and I already have a dislike for supermarkets in this country (that’s a rant for another day!) I will admit, this is more of an issue at Christmas time rather than Valentine’s Day, as there are usually rows and rows at Christmas, yet Valentine’s Day isn’t as commercialised as Christmas, but this still pays a small factor into it.

And, of course, the commercialism from companies that promote Valentine’s Day, not only profiting from it and giving more rise to consumerism (given more power to companies) but making it more of a thing, giving it more social construct and thus giving rise to the guilt people can feel when they don’t conform to the holiday. This is one of the reasons why I didn’t use the day to promote my romance books, as I’d be a hypocrite if I did!

I also dislike the way it makes single people, those who have recently lost love ones, those who generally feel low/depression/isolated and those who are in violent relationships, feel worse. The day is thrown in these’s people’s faces.

And of course, lastly, the one that I constantly tell everyone… why do we even have Valentine’s Day? One day of the year that is devoted to love? Those who are in relationships shouldn’t be using the one day of the year to confess their love!

Rather than celebrating love on one day of the year, let’s remember the reason why we even have Valentine’s Day…

…If we could just remember the reason!

References:

[1] https://www.italofile.com/saint-valentine-terni/

[2] https://www.italyheritage.com/traditions/calendar/february/14-san-valentino.htm

[3] https://www.history.com/topics/valentines-day/history-of-valentines-day-2

[4] https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/gory-origins-valentines-day-180968156/

[5] https://www.britannica.com/topic/Valentines-Day

[6] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentine%27s_Day

[7] https://www.countryliving.com/life/a46353/history-of-valentines-day/

[8] https://www.npr.org/2011/02/14/133693152/the-dark-origins-of-valentines-day

I Fell in Love with a Psychopath – Prologue

Hello, my little demons!

This isn’t a new story, but I realised today that the published book has a prologue and I haven’t posted it on my website/blog. So, here it is… the first page ‘I Fell in Love with a Psychopath’.

Prologue

A knock at my door made me jump out of my skin. The cold tea I had been nursing spilled over the blanket that was wrapped around me. I stared at the door in a panic, refusing to move. My previous thoughts momentarily forgotten about. I had a feeling I knew who it was on the other side of that suddenly too thin piece of wood; someone I didn’t want to see again, someone who made me extremely nervous, someone who everyone should be scared of.

I had been sat on my sofa while staring into nothingness when it happened; the knock at the door. I had been hiding out in my small apartment for a few days now, since I found out. I refused to leave, refused to go to work, I had invented some story about being ill—although it was technically true, I was feeling a little ill. I even started to ignore calls and my buzzer to my apartment out of fear. I hadn’t even noticed the tea had gone cold, let alone had splashed me when I jumped, I had more important things on my mind, like who was knocking at my door.

He had come for me.

There was another knock, this time a little louder as if the unwanted visitor didn’t think I heard the first knock. I had heard it alright, I was just ignoring it. I stayed as still and silent as possible, worrying that the person behind the door had superhuman hearing or something and could hear even my erratic heartbeat. My hands clutching my mug like it was somehow tethering me to safety.

Suddenly my mobile began to ring, making me jump yet again. I cursed silently at it. My door was thin, I was sure he’d be able to hear the shrill sound of my boring ringtone. When I caught a glance at the caller ID I saw it was my friend and work colleague; Leah. I made a mental note to give her an earful the next time I saw her. If I ever saw her again. If I survived to see her again.

The knock on the door suddenly got louder and more aggressive. A rushed pounding on the door. Panic coursed through me. Had he heard? Would he break the door down? I was sure it wasn’t too difficult, he had done it before.

But it was short lived.

“I know you’re in there, Jo, answer the door!” said a female voice.

I let out a large sigh, not even realising I had been holding my breath and laughed out loud at my foolishness. It wasn’t who I thought it was. I scrambled down from my sofa, nearly tripping over the blanket as I did and absentmindedly took the cold tea with me as I rushed to answer the door.

“What the fuck?” my friend Leah asked me when the door finally opened to her, her strong New Zealand accent wafted through my door along with her beautiful perfume.

“Hi, sorry! I thought you were someone else!” I sighed and stepped aside for her. But Leah hesitated as she looked from the cold cup of tea I was nursing in my hand, to my old baggy clothes on my thin body and finally resting on my clearly blotchy yet pale face.

I was English; I was bound to have a pale face. But lately it had become even paler, even though the sun was still showing its beautiful yellow face mid-autumn—well, they call it fall here, not autumn. But even I had noticed I was whiter than usual.

“You look a mess,” Leah said, and thankfully waltzed into my small flat.

I scanned the exposed corridor quickly behind her before I closed the door. I didn’t even noticing Leah had insulted me.

“Who did you think I was?” she continued, as she surveyed my mess of empty Chinese takeaway pots and unwashed mugs on the coffee table. “A cleaner?” she snorted.

“Don’t start,” I huffed, as I walked back to my sofa and plopped myself down. The sofa almost groaned in protest underneath me. I wasn’t fat, I was stick thin, but the sofa was old.

“I’m surprised to see you alive, I’ve not seen you at work for a few days,” Leah said, crossing her arms as if trying to avoid accidentally touching something poisonous. “People at work were starting to take bets on what was wrong. Vi suggested you contracted that awful bug that has been going around. Ben suggested you got annoyed with old Mole Face and went back to England”—the thought had actually crossed my mind, but not because of that awful supervisor we had; Mr Garcia—”I suggested you’d been murdered and your body was decomposing in your flat as we speak. Naturally I was the one who had to go and check.”

“Not far off the truth,” I muttered under my breath as I nervously wrapped the blanket around me again.

Like the blanket will protect me! I thought to myself.

“What?” Leah asked, not hearing me properly. Not that I intended for her to hear.

“Nothing, I’m fine, I just… I need some time to myself,” I explained.

Leah’s lovely brown eyebrows rose. “You mean… you’ve been skipping work because you needed time to yourself?”

I hated Leah’s eyebrows. Well, I hated Leah’s beauty. Well, not hated her; envied her. She was beautiful without even trying. I was pale, thin, with boring limp brown hair. Leah had curves in all the right places, a lovely brown face that made you think she was constantly going on exotic holidays, and had full luscious dark brown hair. Her eyebrows even looked perfectly shaped. I envied her.

“No, I mean… I’m not feeling well and I was keeping to myself.”

“You don’t look ill,” Leah said. “I mean, yeah, you look a little… off, but not ill. What’s going on, Jo?”

I sighed. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to tell Leah my problem. It’s not like she could help me. Not that I was sure I should tell her. It was a delicate situation.

“Seriously, girl!” Leah said, when I didn’t speak.

She plopping herself on the sofa next to me. This time the sofa groaned. I wondered for a moment if it was going to break under the both of us. Not that I was really concerned about it. Normally I would have been concerned, I would have worried that my landlord would have murdered me, considering it was her sofa, not mine. But even joking about it in my head didn’t seem funny anymore. Not when I had someone after me that was actually capable of murdering me.

“What’s going on?”

I shook my head and felt my eyes well up with tears involuntary. I hated it when I did that. I didn’t like to seem like I was doing it deliberately, asking for attention. I wasn’t. I didn’t want to cry in front of Leah.

“Jo, talk to me!” Leah demanded, looking extremely nervous suddenly.

“He’s dangerous,” I muttered, not really thinking about what I was saying as I was concentrating desperately on trying to hold back a sob.

“What?”

“He’s dangerous. He’s—” I paused, wondering maybe I shouldn’t say what I was about to say? It might scare Leah.

“What? Who? Jo, you’re not making any sense,” her voice went flat in worry. Probably more worried for my own sanity than the prospect of a dangerous person after me.

“I know, I’m sorry, I don’t want to scare you.”

“Scare me?”

“It’s okay, forget it.”

“No, tell me, what’s going on?” Leah asked, touching my arm. Her face dropped suddenly before she said, “Is this about… a guy?”

I nodded. I could nod, that was easy enough.

“Who?”

“I can’t tell you,” I choked.

“Okay, why is a guy causing you to skip work?”

“Because I think he wants to kill me,” I said, feeling a little panicky. “If I step outside that door, he will find me and he’ll kill me.”

Leah’s face paled. “So, you’re telling me your life is in danger?”

I nodded ferociously. “Yes, I’m telling you; the guy is dangerous. He’s… he’s a psychopath and he has a weird obsession with me.”

“Who though, Jo?” Leah pressed.

“I can’t tell you that.”

“Why not? Do I know him?”

“Yes.”

I saw Leah’s face pale even more. “Jo,” she started to whisper, “how am I going to help you if you won’t tell me who it is?”

I opened my mouth to say something, say anything, I wasn’t sure if I was going to explain everything or not, but I was interrupted; another knock pounded at the door. Leah and I both jumped and looked round.

“I know you’re in there! Open the door!” said a very angry male voice.

I knew who it was. I recognised the voice. I panicked. I had just realised I had forgotten to lock the door behind Leah. He could get in.

~~~

Click here to read the next chapter!

If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Prologue

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

If you’re interested in buying the book, here’s the links:

Rose Garden Sanatorium – Chapter 6

Note: If you’re new to the story please read from the beginning here.

Chapter 6

Henry Blackburn

The sound of Highway to Hell from AC/DC filled the air, filling out into the garage and which was loud enough to hear from the office. It was still quite early so not everyone had arrived yet, but there was just the one person there to appreciate the classic music; the owner of Blackburn Garage.

A man with mousy brown hair, mid-thirties, an unshaven face, navy overalls that looked overused with the patchwork of oil, dirt and rust marks, stared out through the window into his workshop, mouth agape as he was mid-yawn.

He was wondering about when his delivery would arrive. He had gotten to work early that morning, much to the dismay of his wife, to attempt to finish a customer’s car. It was a lovely Mercedes-Benz C220 AMG in a deep blue and he had already delayed the customer as he found the front brake-pads had to be replaced—someone loved their breaks! The customer was quite okay with it, being appreciative that he had checked, but Henry wanted to get there early to make a start anyway.

Blackburn Garage was well known in London, it came highly recommended and specialised in German cars as the owner was a big fan of them. A lot of Audi, BMW and Mercedes drivers preferred to go to Blackburn Garage, it was cheaper than going to the dealership and it was actually guaranteed not to get ripped off. Even if you sold the car, local people would prefer to buy a car that had been serviced at Blackburn Garage over the dealership. Of course, they got a lot of other cars; Fords, Jaguars, Toyotas, Hondas, they even had a lovely 1967 Chevrolet Impala once, a local guy had moved over from the States and brought a few from his collection over from America.

Henry Blackburn loved his business. Ever since he was a small boy, he loved cars and loved learning how they worked. He was adamant from a young age he wanted to be a mechanic. Dreaming of owning his own company, hiring staff, ordering tools, having a large house and his own private collection of interesting cars, teaching his own son mechanics. He spent ages one night looking through a catalogue of tools with his brother listing out all the tools he would get.

Part of his dream came true, he now owned his own business; Blackburn Garage, but he didn’t own any of the cars in it, they were all customer’s cars. He personally only owned two; his own E90 BMW M3—which he was sure the clutch was on its way out—and his wife’s Fiat 500 which he wouldn’t admit to her, but he hated. He also didn’t have a son, he didn’t have any children, mostly because his wife decided she didn’t want children and he was talked out of the idea of having them too, made to think it was his idea. Although a part of him felt he was missing out. But she was right, it wasn’t a good idea bringing children into this world.

Henry’s daydream of the time before was broken when he heard his mobile phone go off, he dug it out of his overall’s pocket, ignoring the large crack on the screen and opened the message. It was his younger brother, who had no concept of time, and laughed at the childish and crude picture he had decided to forward to him. He sent a quick reply back before pocketing his phone and remembered he was making a cup of coffee.

Henry’s brother, Dean, had gone a completely separate way to him. Dean wasn’t really interested in cars and mechanics like Henry. In fact, Henry couldn’t really remember Dean being enthusiastic about much when he was young. He had a troubled life, struggling to fit in. Both the boys had been home-schooled, their family deciding it was for the best. This didn’t really bother Henry, he easily made friends, always outgoing and bubbly, but Dean wasn’t so lucky. Although Dean seemed to have figured out his calling in the end.

Henry finished making his strong cup of coffee; a dark mess in a questionable hygienic mug with a Ford Capri on the side and headed back into his workshop. He placed the coffee on top of his big black toolbox and got back to taking the wheel off the deep blue Mercedes.

~~~

Click here to read the next chapter


If you liked this story, please check out my other works!

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1

Ender’s Love – Chapter 1

New Story idea! – Butterfly House

Check out these other posts about Rose Garden Sanatorium!

New Full Book Trailer! For Rose Garden Sanatorium

Rose Garden Sanatorium Top 10 in the Cryptic Awards 2018!

My problem with perfection…

Hello my little demons! 😈

So, as you have probably noticed, my blog has changed a little over the past few months, it’s gone from soley about my books, to incorporating posts about travel and history (I’ve had other ideas too, but I’ve refrained for now!)

Anyway, I’ve been going back to my favourite book lately; Rose Garden Sanatorium, since my career is back on track and I’ve had some spare time.

My problem with perfection

But, I get a lot (okay, not a lot, but a few at least!) of people asking me when it’s coming out. I cannot honestly answer that, as I’ve been waiting to save the money to hire an editor.

I also went back to it after a long time – while doing my Masters – and I not only have fresh eyes to see the mistakes, but I’ve also come up with a few changes. Yeah, some are only small, but others are big – like a whole new prespective in the book.

I have a problem… with perfection.

This book is my baby. It’s been developing and growing for years, and I want it the best it can be.

I want the characters to be interesting, the plot to be believable, add in the little details that I like.

I’ve recently been watching a bit of Amazon Prime, not only been watching Supernatural, because of course, angels and demons! But also been getting into the Sci-Fi ones (I’ve always had an interest in space and space travel). I watched most of Dark Matter and then went onto The Expanse…

and, oh my goodness, the difference! The Expanse is so much better. The detail. The laws of physics. The plot as well other little stories off it. It gave me the inspiration to make my book better!

So, I’m sorry it’s taking a while to publish… but trust me, it’ll be better for it!

Also, watch this space! I’ll be updating the pages on my blog too! 🙂

Feel free to read the prologue here!

~~~~

As always, don’t forget to check out my other posts!

My Normal – A Short Story by Penny Hooper

No one likes you! – A short story.

It’s My Mistake – Chapter 1 – UPDATED

New Story Idea – “I fell in Love with a Psychopath”

I’m moving to the Highlands!

Living in Australia – Part 1: Breakup from hell and Brisvegas

The HALO Trust: Safe Steps – Challenge Complete!