Wednesday, 22 October 2014

COFFIN HOP 2014


WELCOME COFFIN HOPPERS...

COFFIN HOP GIVEAWAY: WIN a Katie M John Randoms pack
This year for Coffin Hop, I have decided to do a little scroll of micro-blog posts on this one blog page. It's a chance to share with you my love of Coffin Hop and writing horror. It's also a chance for some of you to catch up with what's been happening over the last 12 months - like a sort of Halloween round robin ... only he's wearing a comical arrow through his chest and a lot of fake blood.

PSST... There's a funky giveaway at the end of the scroll for a chance to win a Katie M John randoms pack, which includes a signed paperback copy of 'Beautiful Freaks', a Tibetan silver & Semi-precious stone book charm, and a set of groovy plastic skull string lights
 :D

WHY I LOVE COFFIN HOP

1) It's the one time of year that I actually check in with some amazing writer / author peeps who I admire and respect - and like every true friendship, it doesn't seem to matter that a whole year (where the hell did that go?) has passed since we last talked properly, we just go on and hook right back up where we left of.

2) I get to check out a brilliant array of fringe horror - by that I mean, Horror stories that are not afraid to play around with expectations, tropes and boundaries. Many of the Coffin Hoppers are independent authors and with their work comes an amazing authenticity of voice that personally, I feel is a little lost in the mainstream horror market.

3) It's great fun and I get to have a go at bagging lots of funky swag - some serious and some that is just darned right ludicrous. (In this vein, check out my cheesy Coffin Hop prize this year - tasteful, I'm sure you'll agree.)


2014 saw the launch of WITCHCRAFT (Book One Of The Meadowsweet Chronicles) 

I've just launched book one of The Meadowsweet Chronicles, called 'Witchcraft'. It is the first book of a seven book series that explores and blends together The American Gothic and traditional English folklore and Pagan mythology.

I cut my teeth on works like James Herbert's 'The Magic Cottage' and films like 'The Wicker Man'. When I was a teenager, I fell in love with retro 70's road trip movies that inevitably ended up with some poor blonde virgin being stuck on an altar - and of course, their was Poe and Lovecraft. In a way, The Meadowsweet Chronicles are a very selfish indulgence - it is a project for my own entertainment; blending every trope and feature of such cultural cache. Be sure to have your trope bingo board ready.
You can find out more about 'Witchcraft' at US Link http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00NG5CLTE and UK Link http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00NG5CLTE

As part of the launch celebration for 'Witchcraft' I am running an epic giveaway, which includes a Samhain Blessings Chest - whilst you're here take the opportunity to enter at http://www.katiemjohn.com 

NaNoWriMo - A chance to indulge the dark-side

This year I shall be using NaNoWriMo to attempt the completion of my adult classic style horror novel called 'The Crow Man'. I have been wanting to dedicate the time to finally writing my first full length adult horror novel for years - only I've come to realise that I don't have the luxury of time. I did my first NaNoWriMo back in 2012, and with spirited newbie enthusiasm I completed it - almost to the word. In 2013, life became a little more demanding for all kinds of reasons and I Failed miserably, only completing just 4,000 words of 'The Crow Man' manuscript. Not this year! This year I am going to do it. Especially as I have kind of challenged my fabulously talented friend Belinda Frisch to the finish line.


BECOMING A FULL TIME WRITER: Why Teaching and ; Writing Aren't Always an Easy Marriage. 

In Spring of this year I made one of the most difficult decisions of my life, I quit my day-job. Only my day job was a job I loved; it was teaching English in a London secondary comprehensive school (High School for my U.S friends) After 13 years of passionate teaching service, I came to the heartfelt decision that I needed to take a sabbatical from the profession. The main reasons for this were, firstly, my children - who may as well have been in boarding school for five days of the week, and secondly, my other baby, my writing. I was becoming intolerable to live with - a frustrated writer with too many stories and characters in their head with too little time to let them free.

Teaching and writing are not exactly easy bed fellows - they both demand your whole soul. But more than that, when writing I was always conscious of my social role and position in society. I write primarily fiction for Young Adults and so there are of course 'normal' boundaries in place when writing for such an audience, however, any deviation, challenge or subversion of such structures put me in a really vulnerable position. And yes, I could have written under a nom de plume - but somehow it didn't feel right - somehow that made it feel even more dishonest and unacceptable.

This was especially the case when it came to writing horror. No matter how carefully crafted and tailored the pieces were, I always lived with that fear that someone, somewhere would take offence and even more so because I was a teacher with the responsibility of young innocent *coughs* teens in her care. It's not that I want to go out there and write torture porn or extreme gore (casting no value judgement, just not my thing) but I do want to write books that explore the nature of 'evil' both in a traditional sense and a contemporary one - and sometimes the findings of those explorations don't fit neatly with the twin-set and pearl image of a high school English teacher.



Phantasmagoria

Heart sorrow full, followed by pale phantoms
He winds his way through darkened avenues.
Far in the distance, the echo-yap of
A hell hound’s bark splinters the silence. 
This citadel of restless, walking dead,
Holds not the warmth of a beating human heart; 
Save one. 
The fading heart of Lillibet. 

Suddenly, the fear of being alone,
Is outweighed by fears of duplicate shadows
There is blood on the moon, cries from the ground, 
For in this place only the dead are found. 


A STORY

Last year for Coffin Hop, I wrote a short flash story called 'Burial Rites'

Here is the opening ...


Ever since the sixteen year old Lillian Gladstone had been the unfortunate child to have been locked in the play chest as a playful prank, her worst fear was being buried alive; the thought of suffocating on her own screams plagued her dreams for years. 
 In an attempt to know her enemy better, Lillian had become obsessed with all things death – it was an obsession that both her parents and her peers thought too weird to be loveable, and so death ironically both her dearest companion and her most fearful foe.

To read more, head over to Wattpad on this link http://www.wattpad.com/story/9337711-burial-rites-a-coffin-hop-treat  I would love to hear your comments and feedback.


That's all folks - oh except for the giveaway. 

So to be in with a chance of winning these fabulous skull head lights, a handmade 'Witchcraft' book mark made from real semi-precious stones and Tibetan silver, a signed paperback copy of 'Beautiful Freaks' - call it a pack of Katie M John Randoms, all you've got to do is leave a comment in the box below.



HEAD BACK TO THE COFFIN HOP and HAVE LOTS MORE FUN HOPPING AROUND. CLICK http:/www.coffinhop.com TO GO.

Thanks for stopping by. Don't forget to leave your comment.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Summer Holiday Reviews I. Scary Mary by S.A Hunter



Scary Mary by S.A Hunter

Product Description
Mary has always been different. She’d like to be normal, but being able to hear ghosts means she’ll never be like everyone else. She starts her junior year of high school hoping to be left alone, but Cyrus Asher is new and doesn’t know or seem to care that she’s an outcast. They start hanging out and all is well until she goes over to his house. Cy’s house is haunted, and not by Caspar, the friendly ghost.

But it’s not the ghost that ruins the evening. That honor belongs to Vicky “The Hickey” Nelson with her borrowed Ouija board and stuck-up friends. They make her so angry that she uses the ghost to freak out everybody. Cy orders her out and Mary thinks she’s lost whatever chance she had with him. But there’s still the ghost to deal with. He’s mean, nasty, and possibly homicidal. She has to get rid of him or Cy and his family could be hurt. Or worse.


I downloaded this Indie on a Freebie whim. The slightly amateur cover  (which has since been updated to this lovely one above) hides a real gem. I can’t get over how much I really enjoyed this story. I consumed it quickly and was loathed to put it down – it’s a fast paced tale with characters that immediately click.  I can’t wait to read the sequels to this! It's an entertaining piece of story telling with good characterization, an absorbing story line and a sense of world building that is both believable and a good place to hang out.

There is a delightful sense of humour and lightness of touch that runs through the story. Can’t recommend this highly enough for readers of teen paranormal romance and ghost stories – and even better still, it’s still currently on free download.

5 STARS (Well deserved) 

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Free Short Story Magazine: Siren's Call (Celebrating Women in Horror Month.)

CLICK HERE FOR FREE COPY
Some of you know that I have a darker side to my writing, and that at least a couple of years I make the conscious effort to take some time out of my novel writing to write a couple of good old fashioned horror shorts. One of these times is in January, with the hope of having something worthy to submit to one of my favourite publications; Siren's Call. In February, they host their Women in Horror Edition. Both last year and this year I have had the privilege of having a story included.

This year my piece is called Burial Rites, and blends my usual paranormal fantasy genre with some classic horror tropes.

It is an honour to have my story sit alongside the works of other authors that I really admire. This year, it is a bumper issue and I promise you that you'll discover some amazing new authors.

If all that wasn't brilliant enough, you also need to know that it's available for FREE PDF download!! That's right, all that awesomeness for FREE! (and being in PDF format, the file is easily transferable to your Kindle or other e-Reading device)

Issue #13 - The Second Annual Women in Horror Recognition Month Issue. Features 168 pages of Short Stories, Flash Fiction, Poetry & Photography by a Women in Horror. Feature interview by Angie Gallow, author of 'The Coven'

The following authors are included: Magenta Nero, Rivka Jacobs, Cassandra Webb, Linda Harris Sittig, Nina D'ArcangelaFoinah JamesonMiranda KateClaire RileyPaula Cappa, Andrea van Lit, Hope Schultz, Marija Electra Rodriquez, Julianne Snow, CL Raven,Laura A. RingRoh Morgon, K.Z. Morano, EF Schraeder, L.A. More, E.a. IrwinMari WellsD.m. SlateGloria BobrowiczShenoa Carroll-Bradd, Brittany Warren, Lori R. LopezEmerian RichAlee Aris, Caylee Slansen, Tabitha Stirling, Megan Stewart, Jenn Monty, Eden Royce, Rebecca J. Allred, Arriane Kerr, Shawn Arnston, Rose BlackthornGeorgina Morales, Eli Constant, Gerri Leen, Angeline Trevena, LE Jamez, Elaine Pascale,Suzie Wargo LockhartCara MichaelsLori Wolfe SafranekRebecca Besser, Marjie Myers, Candy BurkeSelena KenworthyKatie John, CA Christine VerstraeteAngie Gallow, Author

Why I've taken the plunge and Revised 'The Forest of Adventures'


Several weeks ago, JK Rowling announced that she had regrets about how she had chosen to end Harry Potter. She said (to loosely paraphrase) that she had shied away from the ending that should have been; Harry and Hermione should have ended up together.

Her admission of regret (and that she had felt that she had made a mistake)  had a profound effect on me and I want to share with you what happened.

In a nutshell, I revisited The Forest of Adventures, the first novel I wrote and published, and I reworked it. There, I’ve admitted it to the world – my debut novel needed work!  And by doing this I’m running a huge risk of distorting (maybe even destroying) the smoke and mirror illusion of confidence so crucial in the magical world of publishing.

Firstly, let me assert that I didn’t do it because The Forest of Adventures was a flop - far from it. (It has sold over 10,000 copies, been a number 1 Best Selling Fairy-Tale on Amazon, reached the giddy heights of the top 1000 paid bestsellers and has a star rating of 4 on Amazon and Goodreads) but it isn’t averaging 5 star. 

Yes, it’s had plenty of 5 star reviews (and some from some very respected bloggers and reviewers) but on average it hits a 4. On average only 78% of people think it is worth 3 or more stars – and the reason… annoying editing errors.

I knew they were there. Occasionally some grammar-typo-zealot would berate me over them (and despite “loving the concept”) still felt that those incy-wincy errors meant that the book (and the author) should be punished with a 1 or 2 star rating.

I’d read such reviews and sigh, not able to get upset, because I knew they had a point. I was so aware that they had a point that I refused to read my own book for three years!!! I just couldn’t face the humiliation of stumbling across them. So I put my head in the sand and when asked about my author-life, I found myself apologizing for my first book.

It didn't meant that I didn't learn my lesson; every subsequent book I published was professionally edited (at great and probably irrecoverable cost) but there just weren’t enough pennies in the pot when I set about my journey to afford a professional editor.

So it was with great trepidation that I breathed in deep and opened up my MS of The Forest of Adventures; one eye closed, the other only peeping, in anticipation of the horror I was certain I would  find.

I started to read, and then I read some more, and before I knew it, I was wrapped up in the world I had created; falling in love with my characters all over again. I discovered that my writing (albeit a little flawed in places) was really quite beautiful at times, and certainly nothing to be ashamed of – not for a debut novel: not for someone starting off on their journey.

And boy, have I learned A LOT on that four-year writing journey. My writing is much stronger, more crafted, less passive, less purple. It’s  tighter, sharper and more grammatically accurate then it was four years ago. It was a joy to revisit my less experienced self; to see the heart of my authorship. So I applied my newly learned craft to my novel. (Big thanks to Mr S King!)  

And then I paid to have it proof read. It won’t mean it’s 100% perfect (I’m sure there will be still some pesky typo somewhere, hidden amongst the 70,000 words – even the traditionally published authors by the big 6 find out how difficult it is to reach perfection) but it’s certainly eradicated almost all of the demons, and hopefully enough of them to appease the purists.

I know that I’m never going to please every reader, but I have pleased this author. I will never again apologise for Book One of a series I love with a whole heart. I will never find myself wincing when a friend tells me they love it (and I know that are too ‘kind’ to tell me its errors).

So if you have been one of my awesome readers kind enough to purchase a copy for your Kindle, you will be able to download a FREE REVISED COPY over the weekend of 14th-17th of February.  Hopefully you will re-fall in love with Blake & Mina's story as I have.

Or

If you are a potential reader, put off by some of the reviews that suggest it needs better editing perhaps you’d also like to download a FREE copy this weekend and give it a go for yourself.

And of course, if you spot any errors please contact me at www.katiemjohn.com and I’ll reward your efforts with swag – I guess we can’t say fairer than that. 

Friday, 31 January 2014

COVER REVEAL

It is my great pleasure to host a cover reveal for debut novelist, Helen Whapshott. Her novel, 'The Glow' (which I've had the privilege and enjoyment of reading already!!) is a lovely read that will appeal to young adult readers and cross over paranormal lovers.


TITLE: THE GLOW

AUTHOR: HELEN WHAPSHOTT

RELEASE DATE: MARCH 14th 2014

AUDIENCE: YOUNG ADULT

THEME: PARANORMAL – GHOSTS, WITCHCRAFT and FRIENDSHIP




SYNOPSIS: What would you do if you saw a ghost? Would you ignore it hoping it would fade away, or would you go up to it and see if it needed your help?

When Thirteen year old Megan Webb discovers she has been gifted with The Glow, so called because it gives off a light, like a candle in a dimly lit room attracting ghosts, spirits, and others who belong to the supernatural and paranormal world, she has to learn to come to terms with seeing the world in a whole new way. 
And if this wasn’t enough to deal with during the delicate years between childhood and adolescence, her parents makes the shocking decision to move her away from everything and everyone she knows to live in a creepy hotel inherited by a late aunt.

But it isn’t just the hotel that is creepy, the whole town seems a little odd until she makes friends with a strange boy, a Witch, and a chain-smoking spirit guide who help her adjust. Life couldn’t get any more complicated … could it?

AVAILABLE FORMATS: e-Book on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com and Paperback available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. (It will be available for other retailers after October 2014)

BIOGRAPHY: Helen was born in Aldershot in the year of 1980. She survived the infant, junior and senior schools of Cove. Helen started her working life in a bakery before deciding catering wasn’t really for her that she wanted to work in the care industry.

After attending Farnborough College of Technology, where she did her diploma in nursery nursing she took on a variety of roles that included being a Nursery Nurse, a Special Needs Teaching assistant, a support worker for people with special need and a care assistant in a nursing home.

She’s worked as a Health Care Assistant at a local hospital for eight years and also works as a bank carer at a children’s hospice in surrey.

She has five wonderful nephews, a lovely niece, two very understanding parents and extremely patient brother and sister.

Helen has always loved stories, ever since her Mum used to read Hans Christian Anderson and Roald Dahl to her at bedtime.  When she learnt to read by herself she couldn’t get enough of books becoming a big fan of authors such as Arthur Conan Doyle’s, Sherlock Holmes stories, as well as Neil Gaiman and Ben Aaronovitch.

With a love of reading came a love of creative writing. She recalls how her first hit was, “How The Kangaroo Got It’s Hop, at infant school when I was six, but I missed out on seeing my classmate’s enjoyment because I was off several weeks with the mumps; when I got back the hype had died down. A disappointment I’ve never really gotten over! Being able to share my creations this time and is a dream come true.”

REVIEW COPIES: We are delighted to offer free PDF review copies or paperback review copies under certain circumstances littlebirdpublishinghouse@Yahoo.com

INTERVIEWS and BLOG APPEARANCES: Helen is delighted to participate in interviews, spotlights and giveaways. Please contact the author directly at Helen Whapshott  ghostrat@hotmail.co.uk.




Book Trailer