Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Every morning multitudes of people wake up and reach for their phone to check their facebook newsfeeds. On their specially crafted reel of favourites, they’ll scroll through and maybe like or share content with other users. Instead of going to websites, perhaps even newspapers now, people open facebook for connection to society and the world.

It’s the portal to end all portals; one that sucks us in and keeps us there. There are quizzes and tests to take on facebook that predict everything from which movie star you look like, to the year you are going to die. It’s both infotainment and a humongous time waster.

I took one of the tests once – the one about which celebrity you look like. I got the ‘grumpy cat’ – a facebook famous identity. Yes, it’s a real cat who looks grumpy and has more than 8,000,000 followers.

Are we stupid to devote so much time to an artificial and I would say influential learning environment? As of the third quarter of 2015, Facebook had 1.55 billion monthly active users. While the grumpy cat mightn’t have much to teach us, the news, lifestyle and new age sites might. Just about everyone – artists, authors, the Dalai Lama – is on facebook.

I remember when I first started out on facebook. I liked Oxfam and the RSPCA, spiritual sites and the New York Post. As newspapers realised the news distribution had entered a new era, they too began to build their facebook platforms but the twist for them is they don’t control the advertising dollars. Facebook does.

And it is attempting to control our memories now too. Aside from the greeting facebook gives you when you logon in the morning, it is now providing you with ‘anniversary’ posts for you to share – so you and your friends can reminisce.

What’s next? Hopefully it won’t attempt political influence though I’m sure there are subtle signs there if you looked.

I would really ‘like’ to take a break from facebook for a week. It would take real discipline, as I’m one of those people who reach for their phone and newsfeed each morning upon waking. Someone once likened that to reaching for a glass of whiskey. They might be right.

We all have them. They are the times when we’ve been hurt and scarred by unfairness and, at worst, inhumanity and evil.

It’s these dark moments and our understanding of what, and who, caused them that helps us eventually understand the dark moments of others and, potentially, the perpetrators of our pain. We understand the pain of others because we’ve experienced it.

In my new novel Blood Visions I’ve taken this theme and built the story of Fortuna Cavalieri and her dark moments. Blood Visions is a horror/paranormal thriller that stares evil in the face an12193364_924946864253046_4061271237306570367_nd asks, ‘why?’

Fortuna Cavalieri is an unwilling receiver. After a car crash which nearly claims her life, Fortuna is cursed with a psychic link to evil which she numbs with the help of bottle of whiskey.

When serial killer Brandon Keys goes on his murderous rampage, Fortuna is drawn into the edges of his world like prey to a spider’s web. Every time Keys kills, Fortuna knows. She knows because her sixth sense is activated by evil; she knows because she can see him in what she calls her blood visions.

But Fortuna is not the only one with a psychic ability. Keys too has been blessed with the second sight since childhood – the ultimate gift for an efficient killer.

With Brandon Keys closing in on her, Fortuna must try and outwit a serial killer and find a way to stop their mind links. If she can find the courage, and the sobriety, she must stop the killings, but Fortuna is no hero. She’s just a drunk carrying a curse.

It’s only with the help of washed up ex cop Danny Manchester whom she meets randomly at a bar one night, that Fortuna stands any chance of staying alive…but somewhere between a new dawn and a blood red sunset, and an ex cop finding himself again, Fortuna finds the courage to turn the tables on Keys.

It’s a showdown with a high price. Who will survive to see the dawn?

Blood Visions is out on 12 November 2015 via Whiskey Creek Press. You can head over to Amazon for more information.

It’s raining here. The air is still, although the clouds overhead are heavy and grey. Despite the lack of sunshine, it’s comfortable, warm and welcoming within my humble abode. Such luxury; to have the time to write this blog post. This time last year I was toiling away, completing multiple jobs, juggling people and deadlines, in an office where my colleagues were equally busy, stressed and strained.

In February this year I made the decision to take some time off and focus on my health. 2014 had been a tough, tough year and it, along with a backlog of decades of hard slog, child raising and getting through a long and merciless to do list, had taken its toll. I was sick and I needed to get better. So I removed myself from the stress of an executivebless level job and burrowed into my home haven. Six months later, there is no resemblance between the me of last year and the me of now.

Often it takes a health crisis to bring on an epiphany. My realisations are simple – all he best ones are – I’ve realised that the things I was focusing on and allowing myself to be burdened with were really very trivial. We are given a short time here; no-one is immortal though we tend to act like we are, and yet we waste precious energy on the people and situations that don’t matter.

I used to worry about the office politics or get resentful when I was overworked. I stressed over my children, money and the future. I looked for approval in all the wrong places, and for the wrong reasons. I missed the moments that mattered because I was too preoccupied with my worries. I was tired all the time. The truth? I was holding onto the edge of the cliff by my finger nails. Looking back, I wondered how I kept going.

Now, I’m in the now. I am conscious of the rain, getting heavier on our tin roof. I have my dog at my feet. He understands my slightest expression. I answer a text from a friend, wishing her well. I have quality interactions with my friends now – I used to fit them in vaguely and infrequently before. I have time for my writing and to immerse myself in literary journals, books and the writing craft generally. I notice the passage of time, and indeed the interplay of time, and I hold it in my vision, grateful that I have it.

I don’t take anything for granted anymore. The now is my sanctuary and it sustains me like my previous chaotic, high achieving, life never did.

I have had a few momentous happenings this year also. After years of slogging away with my creative fiction writing, I am beginning to gain traction as a creative writer. Earlier this year, I was selected among 25 other writers from around Australia for a writing mentorship program. The judging panel thought my non-fiction manuscript had merit. Just this week, I also found out that my horror novel ‘Blood Visions’ would be published by Whiskey Creek Press, an imprint of New York based Start Publishing. Also, one of my short stories ‘Dark Star’ was chosen in an upcoming, and successful, horror anthology series.

All these happenings are welcomed and gratefully received, but they are not the main game. The main game for me is to continue to live without complacency, and within the full awareness of the gift of life.

My novel ‘Blood Visions’ is due out in November. If you would like to read more of my writing in the horror genre, you can head over to Amazon to find my collection of horror short stories ‘Evil Imminent’.

Driving home from Sydney today the lightening arced downwards to a point in the landscape I was glad I was still far enough away from. The skies opened up and the rain came down hard. It reminded me of a storm I struck on the way back from my Canberra daily commute about seven years ago. That storm was equally, perhaps more ferocious, and hammered my car to the point where I had to pull over and stop.

The storm was directly over Lake George, an eerie and mysterious place, full of myth and legends and considered a sacred place to Aboriginal people in Australia. After the lightening and rain, came the hail and only after it abated did I consider driving on. The funny, well actually it was quite a spooky thing, was that once I negotiated the length of the lake, the storm abruptly ended and I drove into sunshine.

Some time before that I had an unnerving dream about an old Aboriginal man and Lake George. He was walking across the lake landscape and there were felled trees all around us (Lake George was turned from a natural setting into Soldier Settlement blocks – small farms – in the 1950’s or thereabouts). I got the impression that this man was very powerful because I knew instinctively that I wasn’t allowed to look into his eyes. Nevertheless, he motioned that I come with him and we negotiated the scarred landscape, walking toward the water in the distance. I also knew, instinctively, that his message for me was that the landscape needed to be traversed, even though it was difficult terrain, and that once I reached the water I would be OK.

Such is the power of a dream that this has stayed with me over the years, ready to be conjured at the memory of an afternoon storm.

I have often wondered why I had this dream at that time but my best reasoning is that it was a portend of the future. There are times in life when a hard-edged challenge threatens to derail you but you just keep walking, one foot in front of the other. You keep walking until you reach the water where life begins again.

If you would like to visit my author page on Amazon, head to http://www.amazon.com/Maryann-Weston/e/B00HSH0OXQ. There you’ll find books from young adult fantasy/paranormal, to women’s fiction, and my latest collection of horror/paranormal short stories, Evil Imminent.

It’s been a while since I posted but I haven’t been idle, though sitting here in my loungeroom with its sweeping vista of poplar trees interspersed with the occasional gum, I could be forgiven for kicking back a bit and letting the late summer afternoons drift by me and into the evening.

I have decided to take a few months off from the madness of professional consulting to recover health and wellbeing, and to give my writing the best chance of flourishing. I’ve always managed to write in between my day job – at nights and on weekends – and that put a type of performance anxiety overlay to the creative process. Well, not any more. At least not for the next few months.

I have begun to write a memoir of sorts, a personal account of the processes we go through to heal and reach wellness. There’s nothing superficial about this. Real wellbeing starts at the core of you and influences every choice and option you take. It’s about boundaries, and ongoing calmness, as much as it is about what you put in your mouth and how much you give into your vices/addictions. It’s about recognising who you are, and living authentically. It’s about owning your weaknesses and strengths and, most of all, it’s about being deliberate and about staying in the present.

Over the next few months I intend to explore just what it means to be really, truly well. I’ve deliberately stepped off the rollercoaster ride of work/life and chartered myself a rowboat instead. I’m listening to the little bird’s beautiful song outside my window as I write, and I can hear the rustle of leaves in the Elm Tree nearby.

I am able to see the expressions on my family’s faces and take note – do they need a special word or a little help from me – but mainly to stay in the moment and listen to them…and respond.

Right now, I can almost hear the rhythm of life. It’s a calm, peaceful stillness. Of course, I’ll have to emerge at some point from my peace and quiet to rejoin the workforce once again, but who knows, I might discover a way of living that is totally different from before. I hope so.

If you would like to visit my author page on Amazon, you’re very welcome. My latest release ‘Evil Imminent’ – a horror and paranormal short story collection – is doing unexpectedly well. Writing in the horror genre is a one place it seems I fit. http://www.amazon.com/Maryann-Weston/e/B00HSH0OXQ

I have been catching up on my reading these holidays, something that a writer never gets enough time for. With any spare time I get I’m usually plotting, writing or editing, marketing or on the social media juggernaut. But reading plugs up the gaps just as surely as writing and reflecting on what I’ve written. Such is the creative process that it is cathartic and insightful, and getting the insight from other writers is just a huge privilege.blog

I’m not going to harp on any more about Stephen King. Anyone who follows this page will know that I have a professional crush on his storytelling genius, but I’ve also been thoughtfully reading other authors’ blogs and musings and am loving their descriptions. I read Hayden Thorne’s blog today about how he spent New Year’s eve watching Hercule Poirot on Netflix while drinking out of an old [possibly lead laden] teapot. It struck me as very comical because I pretty much did the same thing minus the teapot. I had been out the night before and most of the day and the very thing I wanted was an early night. And that was that. So I rang in the New Year with sleep and living up to my own expectations at that time. It all worked and was a great way to start 2015!

On that subject, one of my main aims this year is for better health. That means saying ‘no’ more often, doing what energises not what depletes and being around positive people sans any draining drama. Yoh! Now that’s what I’m talking ’bout.

I also watched an interview with Ariana Huffington over the break. My god that woman resonated with me. She’s just released a book called ‘Thrive’. Her message is that power and money [and the pursuit of] are not enough [not a new concept I know] and that you need to find a rich inner life, including sleep, to be successful. Her story is borne from experience when her former overworked self collapsed at her desk giving her the wake up she needed.

It was so good to hear her speak about the importance of finding meaning within yourself; of developing that inner life which is what I’ve been raving on about for decades. As a former workaholic I know only too well the dangers of giving your all to a pursuit you really haven’t thought all that deeply about. Yes workaholics can be shallow, stupid people until they wake up to the fact that life is so much more than the external. The answers to life’s riddles are within.

We all have creativity inside us and I would urge anyone to follow that, in between whatever external life demands you have. And it can be as simple as putting in a garden, a vege patch, painting up some old furniture, getting a good lead pencil and drawing what you see. If you are like me it is finding the meaning and joy in the words.

Here’s to 2015 and an abundance of creativity and free flowing prosperity in whatever it is you are imagining and creating.

Speaking of creating my short story collection Evil Imminent has just been honestly reviewed over @iheartreading. Head over and take a look at what I was creating last year.

Well, now that we have Christmas behind us, it’s full steam ahead with plans for 2015. I’m still in the middle of editing my horror manuscript Blood Visions, have released my short story collection Evil Imminent which is currently on a book tour, and I’m tossing around ideas for my next work.

Early ideas have been around a manuscript that might focus on the lives of four psychically gifted women who attend Thursday night art classes together. They are babes in the woods when it comes to acknowledging, or even using their gifts, until one woman gets stuck between worlds and the other three have to help her return. It gets complicated when the woman is put into a mental hospital because outwardly she looks like she is having a psychotic breakdown.

But back to the present. My horror/paranormal short story collection Evil Imminent is currently on a virtual book tour. As part of this tour, I was asked to delve a bit further into one of the characters Dutton Forrest from ‘Dark Star’ and provide a character interview for readers. Here it is, along with an excerpt from the book for your reading.

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Dutton Forrest and I’m a huge fan of Star Trek. I’m what’s known as a ‘Trekkie’ actually, but seriously – I mean we take it seriously – the Great Barrington chapter of the Star Trek Foundation that is. I live on a pig farm with my dad. My mom died when I was three. We don’t talk much, me and my dad, and he definitely doesn’t understand about Star Trek, or my night-time excursions to hunt down aliens. I’m not supposed to talk about that though. Let’s just say I’m into astronomy and I spend a lot of time outdoors. Between you and me, they’re real. The aliens that is…they’re out there. 

What is your role in the story?

I go out searching for the Dark Star. I know my mom is still alive. I’ve seen her, only they have her in that place. It’s like a dark cave and silvery beings come and go from it. It’s deep in the woods but I haven’t told anyone ’cause they wouldn’t believe me if I did. I’m going to rendezvous with the Dark Star soon, and I’ll be able to see my mom then.

What is your favorite hobby? 
Why searching for aliens of course. That, and watching reruns of Star Trek. Captain Kirk is my favourite. Then again, he’s everyone’s favourite isn’t he?

What is the challenge you’re trying to overcome during the story? 

If I can just find my mom, everything will be alright. I’ll fit in better at school and I’ll have more friends too. And I won’t have to be so alone all the time.

If you could make one wish, what would it be? 

To have my mom back.

 

Excerpt:

It glided over rocks and grassy mounds, jumping the small creek, pausing every now and then, as if to call him forward. He followed until the silver light stopped in a small clearing at the front of a cave. Dutton stopped too, hidden by the safety of the tall forest trees. He peered around him, trying to see what was happening. As the silver light paused he saw something drift out of the cave. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on edge. His heart missed a beat. It looked like a woman – with hair the colour of a cornfield.

He choked on his breath. The woman looked identical to the photographs at home. His mother. He squeezed his eyes shut. Was he dreaming? When he opened them again she was still there, walking toward the silvery light. As she reached the light it engulfed her; she became one with the light. The silvery beam spun in his direction, motioning to him. His knees began to shake with excitement. His heart pounded so loudly in his ears, he thought they would explode. The light floated toward him, closer and closer until he could feel it pulsating on his skin. He raised his head and gazed into it. He had hoped to see the kind, gentle face of his mother but, instead, dark eyes blinked from within the silvery cloak. He frowned. This wasn’t his mother. It leant closer to him and hissed, “Look to the skies in three days; look for the dark star and you will find all you seek.” He nodded frantically before he blacked out and slumped to the ground.

Where to get Evil Imminent:

Amazon US: Amazon US

Amazon UK: Amazon UK

Amazon Aust: Amazon Aust

Gumroad: https://gumroad.com/l/QkWF