Jenny Kane & Jennifer Ash

Jenny Kane: Coffee, cupcakes, chocolate and contemporary fiction / Jennifer Ash: Medieval crime with hints of Ellis Peters and Robin Hood

Tag: Halloween

Opening Lines: Dark Magic by Tom Williams

This week’s Opening Lines is just perfect for Halloween.
Please welcome Tom Williams, with the first 500 words of his latest novella, Dark Magic.
Over to you Tom…
Here’s a Halloween treat – the first 500 words of my novella, Dark Magic. It’s a big change from the historical fiction I usually write. I’m not sure quite how to describe it. It’s part thriller, part supernatural horror story (don’t worry, it’s not scary), and part (I hope) comedy. It grew out of an evening spent with a bunch of magicians and a few drinks and it just sort of grew by itself. It’s being published today, as Halloween seems a particularly appropriate launch date. I hope you love it.
Blurb
Two magic shows: the Maestros of Magic touring the country, playing provincial theatres; the Carnival of Conjurors successful in the West End. When the Maestros learn that the Conjurors are using real magic – Black Magic – to do their tricks they decide that they must use their own, distinctly unmagical, stage skills to stop them. Soon people are dying on stage – but can the Maestros really beat a team that has the devil on their side?
FIRST 500 WORDS
“Baby’s blood?”

“That’s what it says. Mix in baby’s blood and use that to mark the pentagram.”

There were six of them, and Claudia looked from face to face waiting for someone to say that this was a ridiculous idea. She could, she supposed, have said it herself, but it was not as if anybody would have listened. Nobody ever listens to the magician’s beautiful assistant.

In fairness, they didn’t exactly rush to agree with the plan either. When Jerry spoke, he had the decency to sound embarrassed.

“Does it have to be a human baby?”

Jerry’s role in their conjuring show was to do the tricks that appealed mainly to children. It brought in family audiences, but the other magicians secretly – or, to be honest, not that secretly – despised him. Still, Claudia thought that one or two might have taken his side here, but Daniel didn’t allow time for any of them to join Jerry in questioning his plan.

“It’s true that it doesn’t specify human.” Daniel smiled. It was an unconvincing smile and Claudia thought he did it mainly to show off his teeth. They were quite startlingly white, though marred, in her opinion, by rather over-developed canines. “But human seems fairly clear from the context.”

“Well, could we try it with something else first?”

Daniel’s smile vanished. It was as if someone had flipped a switch. Where there had been a big white smile, all you noticed now was a very square jaw and full, but rather sulky, lips. And, if you raised your eyes to his, something about his irises that made you look away again very quickly.

“It’s hardly as if the other ingredients were easily come by. We don’t want to mess it up and have to do it again.”

They were quiet at that. Claudia had the impression that they were all thinking of different things. She reckoned they would say the worst was the virgin’s tears. Despite all the tired old jokes, finding a virgin had been the easy bit. It was keeping her crying for long enough to collect a vial of tears that had been wearing on their nerves.

After a pause, long enough for all of them to remember details they would rather have forgotten, Daniel spoke again.

“Baby’s blood, then.”

There was an uncomfortable nodding of heads.

“How much blood are we talking about?” That was Tor – almost certainly not his real name but there was something about the way he looked at you if you questioned him which discouraged you from asking twice. He was an illusionist, constantly fretting about the mechanical details of his act. “And what about clotting? Are we going to add an anti-clotting agent?” Claudia remembered an illusion that involved an arm being cut off. Tor had been dissatisfied with the stage blood most magicians used and had experimented with various concoctions of his own. Claudia had never enquired as to what they were, but one had clotted and spoiled the act and…

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Links
Bio
TOM WILLIAMS has published six books of historical fiction but this is his first contemporary story and his first novella (33,000 words). He has spent far too much time hanging round with magicians.

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Many thanks Tom.
Happy reading everyone,
Jenny x

Guest Blog from Nell Peters: All Hallows Eve and so on….

It’s the last day of the month, which only means one thing on my blog – its time to hand over to the fantastic Nell Peters…

Good morning/afternoon/evening, folks – and thank you for inviting me back, Jenny!

Apart from it being the three hundred and fifth day of the (leap) year, the most obvious thing to say about the last day of October is that it’s Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, preceeding All Saints’ Day on November 1st. While it has a dodgy rep for witches, scary monsters, ghouls and ghosts, and creepy things that go bump in the night (in Mexico it’s called Day of the Dead), the celebration is actually rooted in the Celtic holiday, Samhain. That’s not a person, but a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter, the darker half of the year. To symbolically lighten these months, lanterns were originally made from hollowed-out turnips in the UK (arguably the best possible use of that particular root veg), but when Irish immigrants in America found that pumpkins were more readily available there, the tradition evolved.

ghost

Halloween became a big thing over the pond and one of the most commercially exploited days of the year, along with Mothers’ Day (when I lived in Montreal, a friend was given not a measly bunch of flowers, but a top of the range dishwasher!) and Thanksgiving. British retailers haven’t been slow on the uptake either, with costumes (whatever happened to an old white sheet with eye holes cut in?), plastic collecting buckets for loot shaped like pumpkins, scary masks and decorations and a whole host of other tat. I expect you can buy Happy Halloween greeting cards too, if you’ve a mind – after all, when Happy Divorce cards started to roll off the printing presses, good taste flapped out the window faster than a vampire bat that’s spotted a blood bank.

carved-pumpkins

Some pumpkin lanterns are truly works of art and so intricately carved, it must take the whole of October at least to complete the design – imagine your weapon of choice slipping at the last millimetre and all that work going to waste. We’ve never been big on Halloween in this house, but I pay lip service to the day by attacking the smallest pumpkin I can find with an apple corer to make eyes and a large knife to slice a zigzag mouth – sorted. They are horrid to scoop out, with all that slimy stringy stuff (reminds me of Donald Trump’s hair, and that of his separated-at-birth twin, Animal from the Muppets) and zillions of sticky seeds that get everywhere. I’ve only actually eaten it once – at a Thanksgiving weekend party in Toronto (in October, unlike the US version in November), when the host insisted I give it a go. Pumpkin pie may well qualify as one of the most hideous foods going, even worse than oysters (tried at a champagne breakfast) and whelks (I’d rather stick needles in my eyes!) Maybe a soup tastes better, and I have seen some quite adventurous pumpkin recipes on social media lately, but I think I’ll give them a miss – thanks anyway.

animal

Usually I buy a fun bag of sweeties to hand out to any waifs and strays who arrive on the doorstep, but it’s all a bit of a leap from the nineteenth century children in Scotland and Ireland, who went from door-to-door praying for souls, or performing for money or cakes on All Hallows Eve. My faith in modern day Trick or Treaters was somewhat tarnished years ago, when one of the little buggers stole the pumpkin lantern I’d put at the front door to make them feel welcome. Now our lantern sits safely in the back garden on one of the tables, to radiate its radiance when we have the family here for a Bonfire Night party – and I bought life-sized glow-in-the-dark plastic skeletons to string up in the trees, when I remember, to combine the two events.

Of people born on this day, we continue the horror theme with Jimmy Savile (1926), whose lifespan of almost eighty-five years (he died two days before his birthday) encompassed more debauched behaviour than the folk of Sodom and Gomorrah on performance enhancing drugs. And I wonder which genius felt he was a worthy candidate for a knighthood? Perhaps Jim fixed it? Just goes to show you can make a pretty good job of fooling nearly all the people all the time, by wearing shiny tracksuits, stupid glasses, having a ridiculous haircut, and saying ‘now then, now then’ at every given opportunity, while waggling a fat cigar. Let’s leave him to rot …

Much nicer people (not that I knew them of course, but I feel it’s a very safe assumption) to be born this day were Dick Francis (1920) – he of steeplechase jockey fame and author of crime novels set around all things gee-gee, and Daphne Oxenford (1919), actress.

Daphne Oxenford

Daphne Oxenford

To those of us who are of a more … erm … mature vintage, Daphne will forever be the (radio) voice of Listen with Mother, broadcast daily Monday to Friday at 13.45, if I remember correctly. For me, that was fifteen minutes of sheer bliss, lost in my imagination – although without ‘Mother’, who would always find something better to do. On TV, Daffers clocked up an impressive list of credits, including Coronation Street, The Sweeney, To the Manor Born, Midsomer Murders, Doctor Who, and many, many more.

More recently, international rugby scrum half Matt Dawson was born on this day in 1972. He was a member of the England team who won the 2003 Rugby World Cup in Australia. At that time, #3 and 4 sons (plus the OH on the rare occasions he was around) were playing (grass) hockey for local team, the Pelicans, and all the players and their families went to the clubhouse to watch the final, played against the host nation.

Jonny Wilkinson

Jonny Wilkinson

Matt Dawson

Matt Dawson

Apart from a St Patrick’s Day I spent in Glasgow, I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much beer swilled so early in the morning! Not by me, I hasten to add. With the score at an even 17-17 the game was into extra time with just twenty-six seconds left on the clock, when that nice Jonny Wilkinson kicked a drop goal. As the funny-shaped ball sailed through the air toward the posts, every bottom left its seat, every neck craned and everyone stopped breathing in that clubhouse – I think even the beer remained temporarily undrunk in glasses – for what seemed like forever, but could only have been seconds in reality. And when the score notched up to 20-17, the roof left the rest of the building far behind. More beer …

While #3 played on the wing, #4 played in goal for Pelicans – quite a dangerous position when you are punching well above your age in a male team full of strapping, athletic brutes. His kit was unbelievably expensive and so bulky with wall-to-wall padding, it was dragged around in a 5’ long kit bag with wheels one end. He needed help getting it on because of the sheer weight, and he looked like a brightly-coloured deep sea diver (the helmet with metal caging over his face helped here) when standing in his goal, trying to look menacing. I was always quite surprised he could move at all, let alone with any speed, when one of those evil, hard white balls was heading toward his net and him at the speed of light. I’d have run a mile.

hockey-goalie

In contrast, when we played hockey at my all-gels school (not through choice, I might add) the field players wore regular PE kit – stupid culottes, knee length socks, an aertex shirt and (but only in blizzard conditions, when the Gym Mistress strutted around in a huge sheepskin coat and fur-lined boots) a tracksuit top. Our regulation hockey boots were glorified black plimsolls with circles of rubber to protect ankles – and the only concession for the goalie was a pair of very unattractive (and no doubt pretty cumbersome) cricket pads to protect her shins. I played right wing because I could run fast and it was much easier to pass to the left wing, so I could trundle up and down and amuse myself for an hour or so, without having to hit the wretched ball.

cabbage-patch

The school was in Twickenham, home of rugby (do you see what I did there?)  Every morning my friends and I would swarm from the train station en route for the school gates, passing a pub called the Cabbage Patch. The name comes from the early nickname for the now magnificent Twickenham Rugby Ground, after all-round sportsman and property entrepreneur, William Williams (whose parents obviously had no imagination whatsoever), was asked by the RFU to find a home ground for the England game in 1906. But they were so doubtful about his choice of agricultural land, it was scornfully dubbed ‘Billy Williams’ Cabbage Patch.’ Despite difficulties, two covered stands were eventually built east and west of the pitch and the ground opened on 9 October 1909.

Twickernham

Twickernham

Less than two thousand spectators watched the new home team, Harlequins (long ago banished to a much smaller ground the other side of the dual carriageway), beat Richmond 14-10. The railway station in Twickenham taken so much for granted by my friends and I, was only built originally to bring in rugby fans, as the ground grew in size and the game in popularity.

Billy Williams

Billy Williams

webb-ellis-cup

Another pub in the town was in more recent years renamed the William Webb Ellis, after the Rugby School pupil who supposedly ‘invented’ the game, when he caught the ball and ran with it, during a football game in 1823. Tsk! The Rugby World Cup is named the Webb Ellis Cup after William, who was at the school as a foundationer – i.e. he attended fee-free, after his army-widowed mother moved with her sons to live within a ten mile radius of the Rugby Clock Tower to meet the criteria. Good for her! Had she not upped sticks, on the £30 pension she received following her husband’s death in the Peninsular War, she would never have been able to afford such a good education for her boys. William became a clergyman and his older brother, Thomas, a surgeon.

William Webb Ellis

William Webb Ellis

Out of season, the Rugby Ground is used for other things – when I was a kid, I remember every few years hordes of Jehovah’s Witnesses would descend from all over the world to camp there for a convention lasting several days. I don’t expect the Cabbage Patch noticed an upsurge in trade though, as drinking is only allowed very much in moderation – as are music, parties and dancing. One of the DinLs was brought up as a JW, but strayed many years ago – possibly after she found vodka comes in litre bottles. She’s also heavily into Christmas, Easter and birthdays, none of which are celebrated by those of the faith – certainly cheaper that way! We had a bit of a worrying time a few months ago, when her second child was – like his big sister – born very early and by an emergency caesarean section. Because she and #2 son aren’t actually married, her parents are still technically her next of kin – so it was very fortunate that no permission had to be sought for a blood transfusion, which is a definite JW no-no. William (another one!) is now eight months old and thriving, in case you were wondering …

Rock concerts are also held at the ground – including over the years local bands like the Rolling Stones, The Who and Genesis. I went to junior school with Phil Collins for a while until he transferred to stage school, but sadly I don’t remember him – and it’s always possible he doesn’t remember me too well either.

phil-collins-genesis

Hang on! I do believe his autobiography was published just recently – maybe I’ll nip over to Amazon and see if I get a mention. You think?

Toodles!

NP

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Author.to/NellPeters

All of Nell’s books can be found on amazon, and at all good book retailing sites.

nell-peters-books

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Another fabulous end of the month blog!

Many thanks Nell,

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

Guest Post: Twists and mystery in A Year of Light and Shadows, by Helena Fairfax

I’m delighted to welcome Helena Fairfax to my blog today, to talk about her brand new book, A Year of Lights and Shadows.

Over to you Helena…

This time of year, when the nights are drawing in and the days seem to be eternally shrouded in gloomy mist, is traditionally full of mystery, mischief, and trickery. I live in Yorkshire, and the tradition of “Trick or Treat,” which takes place on Hallowe’en, is more treats than tricks in our part of the world. Hallowe’en is for children in cute fancy dress, and if we’ve run out of sweets to give them, we don’t really expect the “trick” to follow; at most, just a look of disappointment.

Mischief Night in Yorkshire is different. It takes place on 4th November, the night before Bonfire Night, and it’s a time for proper mischief. Householders can wake up in the morning to find broken eggs on their car windscreens, treacle on the gate handle, and flour down the garden path. For mischievous teenagers, it’s a night of fun. For everyone else, it’s a right royal pain…!

A season of tricks and deception is the perfect time to release A Year of Light and Shadows –  a collection of two romantic suspense novellas and a short story in which trickery and deception play a major role. I can’t give away too many of the twists without spoiling the plots but I can say that the stories revolve around the fictional country of Montverrier – a principality so tiny that the inhabitants have come to rely on sly cunning rather than brute strength. My heroine, Lizzie, begins to realise that the people of Montverrier are a force to be reckoned with…

a-year-of-light-and-shadows-cover

Here is the blurb to the anthology:

A Year of Light and Shadows contains three romantic mysteries in one volume.

Palace of Deception

From the heat of the Mediterranean….

When the Princess of Montverrier goes missing, Lizzie Smith takes on the acting job of her life. Alone and surrounded by intrigue in the Royal Palace, she relies on her quiet bodyguard, Léon. But who is he really protecting? Lizzie…or the Princess?

The Scottish Diamond

To the heart of Scotland…

Home in Scotland, Lizzie begins rehearsals for Macbeth, and finds danger stalking her through the streets of Edinburgh. She turns to her former bodyguard, Léon, for help – and discovers a secret he’d do anything not to reveal…

A Question by Torchlight

A story of mystery and romance…

The approach of Hogmanay in Edinburgh means a new year and new resolutions. Lizzie and Léon have put their year of danger behind them. But something is still troubling Léon, and Lizzie fears the worst…

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BUY LINKS: A Year of Light and Shadows is available on pre-order on Amazon: http://mybook.to/lightandshadows

and on Kobo https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/a-year-of-light-and-shadows

and other major e-retailers. The print version is coming soon!

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Social Links

If you’d like to get in touch, or find out more about my books, writing, and photos of my settings or the Yorkshire moors where I live, please follow my newsletter by subscribing here: http://eepurl.com/bRQtsT

All new subscribers to my newsletter will receive a FREE copy of Palace of Deception – the first book in the collection A Year of Light and Shadows

You can also visit me on my website at www.helenafairfax.com, or on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HelenaFairfax/, or Twitter https://twitter.com/HelenaFairfax

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Author Biography Helena Fairfax writes engaging contemporary romances with sympathetic heroines and heroes she’s secretly in love with. Her novels have been shortlisted for several awards, including the Exeter Novel Prize, the Global Ebook Awards, the I Heart Indie Awards, and the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme Award. Helena is a British author who was born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She’s grown used to the cold now, and these days she lives in an old Victorian mill town in the north of England, right next door to the windswept Yorkshire moors. She walks this romantic landscape every day with her rescue dog, finding it the perfect place to dream up her heroes and her happy endings.

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Do you have a Mischief Night in your part of the world? Or any other local traditions? If you have any comments at all, I’d love to hear from you!

 Thanks very much for having me today, Jenny. It’s been fun revisiting the devious inhabitants of Montverrier!

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Huge thanks for such a great blog Helena,

Happy reading,

Jenny x

A Potted History of Halloween and Trick-or-Treat

I’m popping my historian hat on today- here is a whirlwind mini guide to the history of Halloween and Trick or Treat…

Halloween

Every 31st October we celebrate the night of Halloween. Pumpkins are carved into jack-o-lanterns, white sheets are ripped in half and turned into ghost costumes, and children go trick-or-treating. These activities are a very modern, rather commercialised, take on a festival steeped in history.

Halloween has its earliest originals in Celtic times, beginning life as a ceremony known as Samhain (pronounced sah-win). A pagan festival that was both a celebration and a thank you to the spirit world that marked the end of the harvest.

Traditionally in Gaelic culture, Samhain was a time when records were made of the harvest stocks, and the local population prepared their land and homes for the trials of the winter to come.

SamhainThe pagan Gaels believed that during Samhain, on 31st October, the boundaries between our world and the world of the dead thinned and then overlapped. They thought that the dead would return, bringing sickness to infect the living, and disease to damage the crops.

In order to keep these evils at bay, the Gaels dressed up in costumes with masks, mimicking the evil spirits. It was this tradition that is reflected in the dressing up outfits worn during Halloween in the modern century.

bonfire

Whilst wearing their evil spirits outfits, the pagans would light bonfires to keep the bad forces at bay. It has also been speculated that the fires attracted insects, and therefore bats, who would come to feast upon them- giving us another symbol of Halloween today. Historians believe that the pagans prayed into the bonfires for the souls of the dead stuck for eternity in purgatory, in the hope that they’d attain release.

Another name for Halloween is All Hallows Eve. This dates from 835AD, when the Roman Catholic Church made 1st November All Souls Day; a happy celebration to honour all of their saints. The word for saint in old English is ‘hallow’, and so, the night before All Souls Day, became All Hallows Eve- and then, in time, Halloween.

trick or treat

Although the celebration of Halloween can be traced back to the time of the pagan Gaels Samhain festival, the tradition of trick or treating has its origins much later.

In the medieval period it became popular to dress up and go from door to door on All Hallows Eve (or Hallowmas as it was beginning to be known). The poor would knock on doors and receive gifts of food in return for prayers to the souls of the dead to be made on All Souls Day.

In modern times, it is the USA that is most associated with the celebration of Halloween, where trick or treating has become a multi-million dollar industry. However, it wasn’t until the 1900’s that there is any recorded evidence of this annual practise. It was in Britain, Ireland, and across parts of Europe where reports of alms being given in return for prayers for the peace of the souls of the dead were first recorded. Even Shakespeare mentions the custom in his Italian based tale, The Two Gentleman of Verona (written in 1593) – “puling [whimpering, whining], like a beggar at Hallowmas.”

Although Halloween is known to have been celebrated in America from c.1910, and many thousands of Halloween postcards were produced from around the 1920’s showing children celebrating, none of them show the act of trick-or-treating.

The term “trick or treat” doesn’t appear in America until 1934, and it wasn’t until after the end of post-war sugar rationing, that trick-or-treating began to become popular.

By 1952, however, the tradition was firmly established, and in that year Walt Disney even included it in one of his cartoons, the appropriately entitled “Trick or Treat.”

So there you are guys- a very simple guide to Halloween.

Happy pumpkin carving folks!!

Jenny xx

Guest Interview with K.A. Hambly: Danny Hallows

Who better to interview so close to Halloween, than K.A.Hambly, who has just released the second book in her The Town Halloween Forgot?

So why not grab a weird looking pumpkin drink, put your feet up, and join Kelly and myself for a chat.

Pumpkin latte

What inspired you to write your book?

Danny Hallows and the Stones of the Aurora is the second book in the The Town Halloween Forgot series. I had only intended to write the one but after I had re-written the ending to the first book I realized there was an opportunity here for a series of books. So now I have four planned; the second out on the 29th October. For this particular book I took inspiration from the Northern Lights, otherwise known as the Aurora Borealis. I’ve always been fascinated with it, although never seen it, so as I was pondering on ideas for the second part, I got to thinking that my character’s magic had to come from somewhere and so I took the Aurora and based this particular story around that.

Do you model any of your characters after people you know? If so, do these people see themselves in your characters?

Well Danny, the main character is named after my six year old son. I wouldn’t say my character’s traits are similar to him as Danny in the book has just turned sixteen but if my son ever turned out like him, I think I would be very proud. Yet, if he starts showing signs of being a wolf, I think I’d be very concerned, of course. There are no wolves in my family that I know of and no magic stones or books.

StonesofAuroraFINALCOVER

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

In the beginning when I normally just have a title and very little else, I’ll start writing, not thinking too much about plot or anything and just go with the flow and see where it takes me. More often than not this has played to my advantage. So when I have a substantial piece of work, I’ll then start planning. It’s probably the hardest way to work, but it works very well for me. But I don’t always stick to the plan. I think the best ideas come spontaneously.

What is your writing regime?

I do try and write every day, whether on paper or on the PC, I’ll try and get something down, even if it’s just jotting down an idea. Usually I write better at night.

What excites you the most about your book?

The fact that it’s being published ha-ha. The one thing that excites me the most is my son has been looking forward to seeing his name on the book cover. When I’m stuck for names or ideas, I usually get my children involved so they have been a big part of this process also.

If you were stranded on a desert island with three other people, fictional or real, who would they be and why?

Elvis Presley because I adore him and he can sit and play us some tunes. The second would be Dracula. I love that book and being a vampire fan, he would be a great person to talk to – so if we starve to death he can make us all immortal ha-ha. And the third would be Shakespeare. Being a writer I think there would be a great opportunity here to learn something.

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You can buy Kelly’s latest book from all good retailers, including- http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0171L4CRM/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_afmmwb16S3Q8E

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Bio

K A Hambly lives in Swansea, South Wales with her husband and two children. She studied English and Media, where she wrote a thesis on Dracula (From Novel to Cinema), Vampires and Gothic Horror have always been an interest of hers so it is no surprise that she began writing her own vampire series in 2011. She states music and movies play a huge part in her inspiration.

Twitter – @celtic_nimueh

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Many thanks Kelly.

Happy Halloween reading everyone!

Jenny x

 

Guest Post from Kelly Hambly: The Best Advice I Ever Got

Today I’m pleased to welcome young adult author, Kelly Hambly, back to my site today, to share a little of her writing journey. 

Over to you Kelly…

The Best Advice I Ever Got

Unlike many authors, my journey to traditional publication was not quite as long but nevertheless, it doesn’t mean to say it was by any means easier.

When I took up writing fiction just over five years ago, after being inspired by a song I had heard, I had not written anything as such for years. In essence, I had to learn from scratch. By this, I mean, even the basics of storytelling and grammar, not to mention structure.

For a while I wondered if I had thrown myself in at the deep end, but the story I had formulated in my head kept gnawing away at me. So for the next 18 months I worked everyday teaching myself as I went along how to put this story down into words. I didn’t take any classes, I couldn’t. I suffered with anxiety so going out to meet people was a definite no. So I read, and read some more. I wrote, I wrote some more. And this passion continued, and by the end of the first 18 months I had produced my first novel. To say I was chuffed is an understatement.

My English at school wasn’t pretty good but I went on to do an English degree course, but that was 8 years previously, and did pretty much no writing after it. Well, I know a lot of authors can relate to the wonderful feeling of holding your first piece of work in your hands, but when I put it out there for feedback – the result wasn’t what I hoped for. To put it bluntly like this woman did, she told me to give up. I was crushed, but after moping for a day or two I took her advice. I made sure I improved, and set out to prove people like that wrong.

So I wrote another four novels and many short stories. And like I always say to those who ask me for advice, it only takes one story and one person to see its potential and you’re on your way, so you should never, ever give up.

hallows poster

I wrote The Town Halloween Forgot in June 2013. It was intended to be released as a short story for that Halloween, but something about it kept me wanting to write more, and the following year I toyed with the idea of self-publishing. It wasn’t a route wanted to go down again, and by chance I discovered Accent Press, and thought I had nothing to lose by trying. Three weeks later I got an email from them offering to publish it for me.

So, to any aspiring writer out there, right now, reading this, keep writing, and keep the dreams alive. Listen to criticism when it is given, but learn how to respond to it. It may not be what you want to hear, but it could help you reach where you want to go.

Buy link-
http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Town-Halloween-Forgot-Willow-ebook/dp/B00OFU7DRE/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_img_1

Bio-
K A Hambly lives in Swansea, South Wales with her husband and two children. She studied English and Media, where she wrote a thesis on Dracula (From Novel to Cinema)

Vampires and Gothic Horror have always been an interest of hers so it is no surprise that she began writing her own vampire series in 2011. She states music and movies play a huge part in her inspiration.

She is currently working on her new YA series, The Town Halloween Forgot.

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Many thanks for coming to visit today Kelly.

Happy reading everyone,
Jenny xx

Introducing Kelly Hambly – The Town Halloween Forgot

Today I’m pleased to be able to introduce one of the newest voices from the Accent Press stable, Kelly Hambly. Kelly’s new book, is one of the very first of Accent’s brand new Young Adult/Teenage fiction publications.

Release Blitz!!

The Town Halloween Forgot, The Curse of Willow Creek is Kelly Hambly’s debut novel with Welsh publisher, Accent Press. Kelly is a Welsh author of Fantasy and horror. She lives in Swansea with her husband and two children.

The Town Halloween Forgot

Halloween is a YA novel, inspired by her children and the move to their new house, where she states her kids were convinced the hallway was haunted. Whether it is or isn’t, this gave her an idea to write a young adult fantasy novel. It took about a year to write and she was even going to self-publish it, until she decided on a whim to try her luck with a publisher. As her children were her main influence, she even named the main character, Danny, after her son.

Sometimes Halloween is all trick, and no treat. Danny Hallows is no ordinary fifteen year old. After his parents’ divorce, he relocates to a small Welsh town called Willow Creek where he accidentally sets off the beginnings of a 600 year old prophecy. Discovering his family are related to the last witch of the 1656 witch trials, he is faced with protecting his family’s legacy and saving Halloween from the dark sorceress Morwenna, who is hell bent on revenge for what Danny’s great-grandmother did to her all those years ago. Can Danny stop the prophecy before it’s too late?

 

You can follow Kelly on Twitter @celtic_nimueh

Book links http://goo.gl/5PDj5U  (UK) http://goo.gl/aorOvi  (US)

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/KA-Hambly-Author

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I hope that has whetted your appetite for a bit of an autumnal spooky read!! Good luck with your first book Kelly!

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

 

A Very Potted History of Halloween and Trick-or-Treat

Popping my historian hat on today- here is a whirlwind mini guide to the history of Halloween and Trick or Treat…

Halloween

Every 31st October we celebrate the night of Halloween. Pumpkins are carved into jack-o-lanterns, white sheets are ripped in half and turned into ghost costumes, and children go trick-or-treating. These activities are a very modern, rather commercialised, take on a festival steeped in history.

Halloween has its earliest originals in Celtic times, beginning life as a ceremony known as Samhain (pronounced sah-win). A pagan festival that was both a celebration and a thank you to the spirit world that marked the end of the harvest.

Traditionally in Gaelic culture, Samhain was a time when records were made of the harvest stocks, and the local population prepared their land and homes for the trials of the winter to come.

The pagan Gaels believed that during Samhain, on 31st October, the boundaries between our world and the world of the dead thinned and then overlapped. They thought that the dead would return, bringing sickness to infect the living, and disease to damage the crops.

In order to keep these evils at bay, the Gaels dressed up in costumes with masks, mimicking the evil spirits. It was this tradition that is reflected in the dressing up outfits worn during Halloween in the modern century.

bonfire

Whilst wearing their evil spirits outfits, the pagans would light bonfires to keep the bad forces at bay. It has also been speculated that the fires attracted insects, and therefore bats, who would come to feast upon them- giving us another symbol of Halloween today. Historians believe that the pagans prayed into the bonfires for the souls of the dead stuck for eternity in purgatory, in the hope that they’d attain release.

Another name for Halloween is All Hallows Eve. This dates from 835AD, when the Roman Catholic Church made 1st November All Souls Day; a happy celebration to honour all of their saints. The word for saint in old English is ‘hallow’, and so, the night before All Souls Day, became All Hallows Eve- and then, in time, Halloween.

trick or treat

Although the celebration of Halloween can be traced back to the time of the pagan Gaels Samhain festival, the tradition of trick or treating has its origins much later.

In the medieval period it became popular to dress up and go from door to door on All Hallows Eve (or Hallowmas as it was beginning to be known). The poor would knock on doors and receive gifts of food in return for prayers to the souls of the dead to be made on All Souls Day.

In modern times, it is the USA that is most associated with the celebration of Halloween, where trick or treating has become a multi-million dollar industry. However, it wasn’t until the 1900’s that there is any recorded evidence of this annual practise. It was in Britain, Ireland, and across parts of Europe where reports of alms being given in return for prayers for the peace of the souls of the dead were first recorded. Even Shakespeare mentions the custom in his Italian based tale, The Two Gentleman of Verona (written in 1593) – “puling [whimpering, whining], like a beggar at Hallowmas.”

Although Halloween is known to have been celebrated in America from c.1910, and many thousands of Halloween postcards were produced from around the 1920’s showing children celebrating, none of them show the act of trick-or-treating.

The term “trick or treat” doesn’t appear in America until 1934, and it wasn’t until after the end of post-war sugar rationing, that trick-or-treating began to become popular.

By 1952, however, the tradition was firmly established, and in that year Walt Disney even included it in one of his cartoons, the appropriately entitled “Trick or Treat.”

So there you are guys- a very simple guide to Halloween.

Happy pumpkin carving folks!!

Jenny xx

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