Posts Tagged ‘authors’

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.

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It’s a humble Friday night and I’ve finished stewing my apples. My three sons are out and about, getting on with their busy lives and my husband has the remote – everyone’s happy. Me? I’m here in front of this computer screen and talking to you. I’m happy about that too.

The dogs are at my feet – Koster (English Staffy) is licking his paws in his clumsily, silly way and Fiona (Shih Tzu) is doing a better job of being dainty. A lot has happened since my last post, including finishing the edit on my new horror/paranormal thriller, Blood Visions.

My short story horror/paranormal collection, Evil Imminent, was released before Christmas to good reviews and I’m busy thinking about my next project – another paranormal thriller. Can’t wait to start writing that one.

As I sit in my upstairs home office, I’m looking out on a new year – one that is full of creative promise, time with family and cultivating my garden – which reminds me, the figs will be ripening soon and I can’t wait to taste those. There is definitely something wonderful about eating your own produce. Now I’m digressing from the real reason I began this blog tonight.

Below is one of my absolute favourites from Evil Imminent about a young couple who literally miss each other in this world. Without giving too much away, it’s here below for your reading. I hope you like it. If you do, head over to Amazon and pick up your e-book copy of Evil Imminent and the other six short stories on offer http://www.amazon.com/Evil-Imminent-Collection-Paranormal-Stories-ebook/dp/B00QRE42J8.

LOVE OUTLASTED

She drove down the long, overgrown driveway with its rambling greenery that once was a clipped hedge. The thick canopy overhead reminded her she was in the woods, miles from the nearest town. That had been their dream, to get away from the city and find a place where they could start a new life; one that was definitively their own – not their parents, or her sister’s, or even his older brother’s. One that was their’s: Gabby and Levi Allman.  “Of course, it would be rambling and eerie looking,” she said to her husband in the passenger seat, but like the shattering of glass all over again, remembering he wasn’t there. Would never be there again.

She brushed the tear away, as it slid down her cheek, the next welling up and spilling over to follow its track. With an impatient sniff, she wiped her hand hard across her face. Tears would do no-one any good she had learned in the past months, least of all herself.

It had been twelve months since the defence force messenger arrived at her work to break the news that Levi was missing in action, presumed dead. The allied forces had sent several platoons to search for Levi and his companions, without any luck. The Special Forces ranger had been on patrol with four of his regiment when they were ambushed close to enemy lines. At first the family liaison team had given her daily updates and it became clear it was unlikely he had survived the attack. As the weeks wore on, and then months, their visits became less frequent. Now she felt like a stalker, trying to get information out of them.  After receiving the news she had put her life on hold. How could she not? Their future was entwined like the heart-shaped ruby with its filigree patterned ring that he’d given her when he proposed five years ago. ‘Forever Together’ was engraved on the gold band.

It was only when she felt herself slide into depression, mixed with what had become nightly drinking sessions to obliterate the pain that ached like a knife in her heart, that she knew she had to at least try and move on. She called the real estate agent they’d been talking with before Levi left on deployment; it was supposed to be his last with the army. They had agreed that she would continue her playwriting, while he investigated establishing his own security firm. She would try; just try to live the way they planned, but without her husband. The air in the car felt stuffy, so she opened the window and swallowed the lump rising in her throat. She would not cry.

She slowed the SUV for the deep potholes that had carved their way into the road. How much further, she wondered, to the three bedroom cottage they had chosen, complete with verandas and a garden of lavender and honeysuckle roses…. She wasn’t disappointed. Through the trees ahead she saw the house. It was just like she had imagined. She felt the glass inside her begin to shatter again and taking a deep breath, she gripped the steering wheel and slipped the car back into second gear for the climb up the steep track.

Slowing the car to a stop in the driveway, she sat for a minute to take in the landscape. It was isolated alright and she wondered how she would cope with that, but she reasoned that nothing could be worse than losing her husband. The psychiatrist she’d been seeing during these long, lonely months without Levi, had warned her against the move.

“You’re not strong enough,” Dr Gambert had said. “Barely twelve months widowed …I mean having lost the love of your life, and you are planning to leave all your support systems behind. It’s not the sensible thing to do, Gabby.”

She had shaken her head at the doctor’s attempt to influence her decisions. She was having none of it. She knew what she wanted to do and she owed it to Levi to start the life they planned. Gabby still hoped Levi would come home to her and what better place to come home to, than their dream home which they had been looking at online – it ticked all the boxes – to begin their new life. She hardened her resolve and opened the car door, grabbing her overnight bag from the backseat – the suitcases and boxes could wait until the morning. She trod wearily up the stairs. The agent had left a ‘welcome’ note on the door and the key was under the mat. She jiggled the old lock and, opening the front door, she was hit by the dust that enveloped the inside of the house. She sneezed. This would not do at all. Inside she heard the phone ringing and, slamming the front door, made her way through the dim light that struggled through the blinds, following the ringing, until she found the wall phone in the kitchen.

“Hello,” she said impatiently, annoyed that someone was disturbing her already. The worried voice of her protective sister, Carey, greeted her.

“Gabby. Oh, thank God you’re there safe and sound. I’ve been worried about you all day.”

She stood on one foot, hand on hip and gripped the receiver. “Why would you worry Carey? For the hundredth time I’m telling you ‘I’m okay’. I know this is what Levi would have wanted. Why won’t you try to understand?”

She could hear her sister’s thoughts, wondering how best to pacify her, without her taking offence and hanging up the phone. “You know Gabby I’m not trying to interfere. It’s just that it’s miles from anywhere and you haven’t been well lately. I’m worried about you.  At a time when you should be near people, you remove yourself altogether and isolate yourself. Come on Gabby, have a think about it.”

“If you think I’m coming back to be fussed over and have other people make my decisions like you’ve all been trying to do, you’ve got another thing coming. I haven’t forgotten sis, that it was you who signed the forms to put me in that hospital. Emotional exhaustion they said. Well that was no excuse for those drugs they pumped into me, day in day out. I couldn’t think.”

Her sister interrupted, hoping for common sense. “You and I know you’d been drinking, and mixing that with your sleeping pills. God knows what could have happened. Look Gabby, I don’t want to fight. You are my sister and I want to help you.”

Gabby was about to hang up and Carey knew it.

“I’ll call you tomorrow?” her sister said, before the line went dead.

She leant against the bench. It was a modern kitchen with a view of the woods stretching all the way back to the nearby mountains. Perfect for cooking romantic dinners. She let her mind wander to happier times.

“You got the wine, Honey?” she called to him from the kitchen. She was making his favourite dish, beef fillet mignon and he was supposed to be uncorking a twenty-year-old Shiraz.

“I have,” he said, breezing past her with a kiss and selecting two long stemmed glasses from the cupboard. “Music too.”

“You’ve thought of everything,” she said, taking their meal from the stove. “Done.”

She lifted the fillets onto the waiting white plates. The steam and fragrances reminded her she hadn’t eaten all day, thinking about his impending departure. It was only two weeks until he shipped out and she desperately didn’t want him to leave. She carefully carried the plates into the dining room and heard him draw in his breath.

“Beautiful.”

“Oh, I hope it’s okay,” she said, not entirely confident in her cooking skills.

“No, I mean you. You’re beautiful.”

She looked at him, held in his gaze for what seemed a long moment. He mouthed, “I love you.”

She smiled. “I love you,” she said out loud.

Gabby shook her head, suddenly aware that darkness had fallen while she was lost in her dreaming.  She wasn’t in their marital home anymore. She was in a cottage, miles from anywhere and waiting for God knows what. She felt the cold emptiness of the room drowning her. She felt the tears beginning again; the glass breaking. With renewed determination, she flicked on the light and lit the small gas heater in the lounge room, briefly contemplating starting the fire in the hearth but the thought of gathering wood in the dark was too much. That was something Levi would have done. She wandered upstairs and opened the window in the master bedroom, glancing ­­ at the queen bed. She felt the loneliness of the room and its emptiness. She knew she would never look at a marriage bed again without the sharp pain that hit her in the chest.

As she opened the window, she paused. Out of the corner of her eye, she thought she saw the familiar red flannel shirt he used to wear at home. “Levi,” she called, questioningly. She peered into the darkness. No, it was just her mind playing tricks. She sighed and decided that she would eat the sandwich she hadn’t wanted at lunch time and then go to bed. A deep fatigue overcame her, as she descended the stairs and dug the sandwich from her bag. She made her way to the lounge room and sank into the sofa near the heater – their sofa – that had arrived from the city a day before her. She tugged the rug from the other end of the sofa and covered her legs, watching the red and blue flames of gas dance their way across the heater. It was no open fire, but it would do she thought. She leant her head back on the sofa’s arm, adjusting the lumpy cushions. Perhaps she would eat that sandwich in the morning; or perhaps not. She slipped the blue sleeping pills in her mouth and took a long sip of the wine she had brought in from the car.

Gabby woke from a deep slumber to the early morning rays of the sun warming her feet. She rolled over, remembering she had fallen asleep on the sofa. Sounds from the kitchen startled her. She was alone in the house, but there was no mistaking the clatter of saucepans, and eggs being beaten in a ceramic mixing bowl. She crept to the door and holding her breath, peered round the corner. She saw red flannel. Unmistakeable. Shock ran through her body, electrifying her fingers with excitement. “How…” She swallowed hard and called his name. “Levi.”

He turned, gazing intently at her, as though he was seeing her for the first time.

For that one, long moment their eyes locked. “You’re home. I knew you would come,” she said.

Levi Allman drove the hire car all night. He didn’t care that tiredness seeped through his bones. It was winter and he’d only been back in the country for a month. Long enough to learn what had happened.

He turned the radio up as far as it would go, listening to the sounds of Coldplay’s Violet Hill. Why? He’d been asking himself this question over and over. For twelve long months he and his companions had been detained in a Taliban training camp, along with a handful of westerners captured around the same time. He’d fared better than most of them because of his training, but he’d learned the hard way that there is no ‘why or how’.

The countryside was slipping away as he pressed harder on the accelerator. He wanted to get to the cottage. It should have been their cottage; the home they’d planned to live in, long into the future. He’d been driving since yesterday afternoon and it was nearly dawn. He just needed to see the house. Carey had told him what had happened. How deeply Gabby had grieved for him until it sent her over the edge. The early morning fog was drifting in, giving the forest an eerie feel. He stared ahead at the thin white line in the middle of the road. When they had discussed moving to the country, they had joked that miles from nowhere they’d still have each other. He let the memories wander – of their anniversary dinner just before he went on tour, of their last night of lovemaking and the way he had held her until the early morning hours, stroking her hair and promising he’d come back.

Oncoming car lights brought him back to reality, and the last hour on the interstate slipped by in the memories of their life together. Before long he turned the car into the winding driveway, with its thick, overgrown hedge and the encroaching woodlands. She would have found this eerie, but kind of fun. As a playwright it would have appealed to her ‘sense of the dramatic’. He gripped the steering wheel as the rustic cottage came into sight with its honeysuckle covered veranda. The sweet smells of home, he thought with such irony that it hurt.

He found the key under the mat and let himself in, taking no time to absorb his surroundings. He was hungry after the long drive, so he found the kitchen, not wanting to disturb the deathly quiet of the house in the dawn. He searched for the ceramic bowl they always used to prepare scrambled eggs and took half a dozen small brown eggs from his backpack, along with the loaf of bread he’d bought at the last town he travelled through. He whisked the eggs just the way she liked them and set two places at the table. Old habits were hard to break. In the long months in Afghanistan he’d dreamed of their breakfasts together in their new home.

It wasn’t long before the eggs were cooking in the pan and he turned the mixture over, not wanting to overcook them. He shivered. The air in the cottage was cold. Perhaps he would turn on the heater after all. Something in his periphery made him turn toward the door and he could have sworn he smelled her smell. He looked into the dusty air hoping she would appear, but knowing that was impossible.

He sat down heavily at the table and let the pent up emotion wash over him, wave after wave, and he cried until it seemed there were no more tears left. One month. One month was all it took between her suicide and his repatriation. A special operations force had broken the Taliban’s defences and he, along with the other prisoners were liberated. But he had come home to find his wife couldn’t wait for him. Consumed by her grief, she had chosen this house, their future home, to take her life.

“Oh Gabby. Why?” he said. “Why couldn’t you have held on…not let hope slip away…I had nothing but hope to live on, but you…you stopped looking for it…why?”

But there was no answering him in this world, and perhaps the next.

He would not stay on at the cottage. He could not. He ate the cold eggs and cleaned up quickly. There was nothing left here for him. Gathering his backpack, he walked slowly to the front door – a doorway that marked both his past and future. He stopped at the lounge room. Carey had told him it was here that she’d done it. He shuddered.

“Goodbye my love,” he said, through the tears streaming down his face.

With grim resolve he walked through the door, shutting it firmly behind him.

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

I have just finished another short story for my upcoming horror anthology called ‘Trinity of Terror’. It’s about ghost hunter, Sybilla, who is very good at what she does, and knows it. Without giving the story away, there’s a lesson to be learned when readers reach The End.

Mind you, there’s nothing wrong with being confident as long as you are not belligerent and naive with it. Then, as I have observed, something will inevitably take you down…a rung or two. Better to be savvy, confident and with just a hint of caution. In my story, Sybilla shows absolutely no caution and there is someone who is second guessing her…which is not that hard to do with arrogant and naive people because they have given up covering their tracks, and even keeping a look out for danger; and their instincts are blunt.

Risk takers have always fascinated me though. They live on the edge and, it seems to me, are not really ‘living’ unless there’s risk involved. At first the risks might be small but, after a while, they get bigger – just like the thrill that accompanies them. At some point, they will cross the line, almost becoming habitual, and then it’s just inevitable really that the risk becomes real.

I’m not sure what attracts me to the horror genre but I think it’s a fascination with the edge of life. I might not be a risk taker myself, but I am an intuitive and analytical observer. And I know that most things in life are rarely simple but overlayed with complexity and, often, dysfunction. Sometimes that dysfunction borders on the bizarre.

I also believe that this life and this reality is not all there is. There are energies, universal and karmic laws that, while not readily understood, can manifest in real ways. So bring together an active imagination, experience, observation and analysis, and a certain ‘psychic’ sense, and it’s not that hard to conjure the horrendous. Did I mention a certain cynicism too? I don’t think you can write horror with happy endings…well not for every character in the story. Someone must, inevitably learn and there is often suffering involved in learning.

Writing horror also allows for a fertile imagination. I can be inspired by grey clouds and a windy half-light, or a slightly bizarre encounter with an individual, or even observing a couple who are overly affectionate. What lies beneath, or ahead, given just the right twist.

My horror anthology ‘Evil Imminent’ will definitely be out before the end of the year – just in time to take away with you on Christmas holidays, perhaps to read late into the night or in broad daylight if you prefer.

 

Life has been, well, challenging in the past few months as I’ve had to catch the odd curve ball. Not that I’m complaining, really I’m not. But I am human and when times get a bit tough, you tend to reflect, question and ultimately take time out. I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve been on a less than ideal ride lately, but I’m here and yes, I’m counting my blessings.

Taking time out to reflect is not such a bad thing because it can lead to renewal. One of the more positive outcomes recently has been a rediscovery of myself. It’s been a slow and painstaking process – not over yet I guess – but I’m re-emerging better than before. I’m remembering feelings and motivations from years ago, and as I plant my herbs in my garden in time for spring, I’m remembering the beauty of this world. And that there is new life around the corner.

So what do I want to do with my life? I reckon it’s a question we should ask ourselves often, and not just when we lose a loved one, have an emotional or health crisis or lose a job. We should ask that question every time we stop living in the moment and find ourselves going through the day to day motions without much joy or passion. If we are really living honestly, then making sure we are on track with whatever our purpose might be, and aiming for what makes us happiest, is what we need to accomplish. Not just putting one step in front of the other and being emotionally cut off from ourselves and others, day after day, month after month and God forbid, year after year.

If I had to put something out to the universe right now, it would be happiness for myself, my kin and my friends. And I don’t think it takes that much to be happy. Here are some rules that I’m ‘reflecting’ on at the moment, and even trying and retrying some of them out already:

  • Live simply, count your blessings, stay in the present and not the past or future.
  • Go outside and spend some time in nature. If you really listen, you can hear the connection between all living things.
  • Get a dog. They will be your best friend in the whole world.
  • Do what you love. That could be anything from cooking creatively through to spending time with friends. Doing what you love is not just a phrase associated with a career; it’s about how you live each day.
  • Connect and reconnect with old friends…after all, they’ve known you for a long time and likely you don’t have to pretend to be anyone but yourself.
  • Find your purpose. What makes you uniquely you? If you’re in a job where you’re not satisfied, find something else. Don’t waste your time stuck in a rut because time is precious and your lifespan is precious. No-one’s being granted extra time in that department as far as I can see.
  • Don’t put things off. If you want to get into a car and drive to a beach, then find time to do it.
  • Love yourself. You know what they say, if you don’t know how to do that, it’s an invitation for others to walk over you because your boundaries will be loose.
  • Make sure you’re loving others as well. Spread it round and see what comes back to you.
  • Say no more often. You’re allowed to do that.
  • And one of my absolute favourites, enjoy…no really enjoy, the thoughts, the talents and uniqueness of others. Whether that’s watching a great film, reading a wonderful book, or listening to someone else’s sheer brilliant thoughts, appreciate them for the great human beings they are. And on a universal level, the infinite capacity of human beings to be wonderful and inspiring.

So, armed with my little list, I will go forward, onwards and upwards and no doubt still catching the odd curved ball in the future.

Ps. I have started writing again, and am working on the remainder of my horror anthology ‘Evil Imminent’, before I start on my next full length novel. Yeah! (picture me doing a high 5 now)