Am I haunted? Or just going crazy?

AM I HAUNTED? OR JUST GOING CRAZY?
Guest Post by Lacy Sereduk

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“The evil is coming…” says a voice in the darkness.

Something woke me up, last night.  Not the usual creepiness that comes at night.  Not my kids.  I don’t really know what it was; it was like a night terror experience but it wasn’t terrifying — almost calming.  This was a whole new way to wake up for me.  But, being who I am, I laid there and tried to go back to sleep until my brain made it clear that it wouldn’t let me.  My brain likes to think about food pretty much all the time.  So, not being able to vanquish the visions of a late-night snack, I got up.

My room and the house was quiet and dark because it was just after midnight.  I quietly opened my bedroom door; slowly so as not to bump anything behind it.  Just as I’ve got it three quarters of the way open, a voice, on the other side of the door, whispers, “Damnit.”  I’ll admit it: I jumped.  I turned away from the voice, toward the switch, and flipped the lights on, expecting to find one of my kids had just been caught (and now this is serious because of the language).

Turning back to the room, there’s no one around.  Just the quiet stillness of our house at night.  Experiences like this aren’t very new to me so I just furrow my brow and search out a treat.  However, this got me thinking back down a path that I’ve thought a few times before.  Am I haunted?

A few weeks ago, I had come home and saw an old man in my driveway.  I was driving my husband’s truck, so, pulling into his parking spot, I watched the old man walk in front of my own truck.  I waited, expecting the man to come around the other side.  He looked like he was dressed for church: black suit, black tie, white dress shirt.  He was very thin, old, and had a good amount of short white hair on his head.  Maybe he’s going to the front door of the house?

I waited.  I reached forward and shut the truck off and still I waited.  I waited until it was completely clear that the man had just *poofed* into non-existence and would not be rejoining reality on the other side of my truck.  For hours, I wracked my brain, trying to figure out where he could have gone, where he could have come from, why I would have thought I even saw a man.  This wasn’t the first time that I’ve seen someone that shouldn’t be there and most likely won’t be the last.

I wrote my first novel, Discernment, because of what I see at night, under the cover of darkness.  The things that come into my room (or wherever I’m sleeping), the shadow people that haunt me, and the monsters under the bed.  Having the night terror disorder, in and of itself, is enough to drive someone to crazy way faster than they’d have arrived on their own, BUT, I don’t think I’m crazy.  So, if I didn’t accidentally fall off the planet for a minute, while sitting in my driveway, that leaves me to wonder: other than being haunted, what else is there?  A strange link to a parallel universe?  My brain showing me a memory, out of the blue, and accidentally getting it crossed with my optic sensors?  I don’t know.  If you do, I’m all ears.

I love hearing feedback from readers about their own experiences and their own stories.  Have you ever seen someone that you were positive was standing right there and then they disappeared?  Have you ever walked into a room and heard a voice without a body that belonged to it?  Ever woken up because you had an eery feeling that someone was watching you?  Trust me, there’s no judgement here if bumps in the night freak you out just a little.

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LACY SEREDUK is an Idaho native and enjoys long walks on the beach, reading, coffee, and video games. Her hope for her book, Discernment, was, originally cathartic, as a way to ‘get out’ some of the demons that have haunted her from childhood. With her published novel, she now hopes to help other sufferers know that they are not wholly alone in their fight toward the light.

Lacy Sereduk Online: BlogAmazon | Goodreads | Discernment I | Discernment II

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by Lacy Sereduk

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Interview: Mel Sherratt

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I am pleased to present an interview with Mel Sherratt: a writer of murder and mayhem…and a hoarder of killer heels!

Describe yourself in 5 words:

MS: Emotional, loyal, obsessive, creative, determined.

Share a short excerpt and blurb of your latest book:

Excerpt: At eight thirty that evening, Ella grabbed her handbag and almost bounced down the front steps to the pavement and into a waiting taxi. She slid into the back seat and closed the door.

‘Rendezvous, Marsh Street,’ she told him.

They set off for the city centre, and she gazed idly out of the car window as they drove down Trentham Road. She ran a finger up and down her leg from her knee to the hem of her short skirt. In anticipation, her hand moved to the neckline of her sheer blouse, fingertips running over the naked area of her chest. She couldn’t wait to get into Hanley now. It had taken her a few hours to control her anger today but, God, she needed to be screwed.

She turned slightly to see the driver studying her through his rear-view mirror. Not taking her heavily made-up eyes from his, she ran her tongue suggestively over red-coated lips, fingers trailing across her skin. While he adjusted the mirror to get a better view, she moved her hand down inside her blouse, splaying her fingers and rubbing the palm of her hand back and forth across her nipple.

Already she could feel it erect, sense the heat building up between her legs. The driver crunched his gears and she laughed silently before looking away. Who was she to give a free show? And besides, she was saving herself. It was her night tonight.

Blurb: Following the death of her husband and unborn child, Charley Belington sells the family home and bravely starts life over again. On moving into a new flat, she is befriended by her landlady, Ella, who seems like the perfect friend and confidante.

But, unbeknown to Charley, Ella is fighting her own dark and dirty demons as the fallout from a horrific childhood sends her spiralling down into madness—and unspeakable obsessions.

As Ella’s mind splinters, her increasingly bizarre attentions make Charley uneasy. But with every step Charley tries to take to distance herself, Ella moves in a tightening lockstep with her, closer and closer and closer…

What do you enjoy about the genre in which you write?:

MS: I can murder people – it’s a license to kill… Seriously, people are complex, good and bad – there is literally nothing as queer as folk. So I like to write ‘whydunnits’ as well as ‘whodunnits.’ I love creating dark, dangerous characters – with lots of sexual tension, fear and violence. Yet, you’ll always find emotion in my books too – I like to root for the underdog. It all makes for interesting plots. It’s what I’m known for, which is why I aim for a particular market of readers who like that type of thing.

Seriously, apart from staying within the realms of reality as well as, with some of my books, police procedures, it’s fiction so anything can happen.

What is your definition of “good writing”?

MS: As long as the grammar and structure are good, it’s all about story for me. What I mean by that is, I want a good book that I can lose myself in, immerse myself into its characters and enjoy timeout in a world that someone else has created. I read a lot of books in different genres – literary and easy read, but it’s the story that I think defines good writing.

Please share your #1 tip for writers in the mystery/suspense/thriller genre:

MS: Write the book you always wanted to read.

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MEL SHERRATT is a writer of murder and mayhem…and a hoarder of killer heels. Taunting the Dead, her standalone crime thriller, was an Amazon Kindle Top 100 Bestseller of 2012.

Mel Sherratt Online: Website (new URL) | Website (current URL) | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads

Write About What You Know

WRITE ABOUT WHAT YOU KNOW
Guest Post by Benjamin King

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Image by Frank Miller

I wrote about angels. I wrote about the Roman Empire. I wrote about hoboes riding trains. No one understood what I was trying to say. Then I remembered a Mark Twain essay I had read long ago and dug it out and studied it again. It’s a convincing argument that William Shakespeare never wrote the masterful dramas attributed to his name. He couldn’t have written them, and Mark Twain explained why.

A short paraphrase of what he said is, “A butcher can’t talk lawyer talk and make it sound convincing.” Whoever wrote the plays was intimately familiar with the inner workings of the royal courts of Europe, and that didn’t mean butchering calves by the Thames River or holding horses outside a London theatre that catered to rabble, which were William Shakespeare’s only qualifications.

Twain was right you know. And I realized he was right and started writing about what I knew – really knew – and it paid off. I was fortunate in that respect, because the things I knew best were exciting things and things that a lot of authors write about anyway. And yet, many of them get it wrong.

You see I was raised on a small mountain farm that might better be described as a mini-ranch. Horses, ponies, mules, cows, pigs, rabbits, chickens, squirrels – every animal, tame or wild – was either a playmate or a possible target. I had two other lucky circumstances that influenced me from the age of three. My parents were musicians and readers. My father read strictly westerns because he also loved guns.

Everyone has absorbing interests – things we are deeply involved in – and those are the things we learn the most about. For me it was horses, guns, and guitars, in that exact order. As an adult I’ve loaded, shot, and cleaned hundreds of firearms.

It’s hard for me to accept an author of Larry McMurtry’s caliber allowing one of his principle protagonists to carry a Colt’s Dragoon revolver for 800 pages without ever having him load it with the necessary black powder, lead balls, and percussion caps. I don’t think Larry knew the difference between that particular weapon and one that shoots pre-packaged metallic cartridges, or maybe he thought no one else did.

In the first book of my series about a young country singer and guitar player, When a Lady Lies, I use a symbol that enhances the mystery – a collection of old pistols. Those guns are in my mother-in-law’s gun cabinet. I’ve cleaned them and shot them and can describe one so accurately you feel it in your hand. In the sequel, I switch to percussion pistols and have both the victim and the falsely accused protagonist portrayed as Civil War era gun enthusiasts. I own one of those, too.

I was lucky. I absorbed volumes of exciting material without really trying. It was part of my environment. If you want to write murder mysteries or psychological thrillers about guns and the way they operate and feel and have no real experience to draw on, there is a ton of online material you could read. But I suggest you take the time to go to a gun store, explain your situation to the owner, and have him let you hold a real one in your hand. It’s a powerful feeling. Who knows? You may end up on the firing range, which would enhance your writing to the Nth power.

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BENJAMIN KING is a writer, world traveler, sculptor, and professional musician. He had his first country song published in 1971 and followed that with numerous magazine articles, a volume of short stories, and a future-fantasy novel. His colorful characters are drawn from the eventful life he has pursued.

Benjamin King Online: Website | SW | FacebookAmazon | Goodreads | Interview

Writing a Psychological Thriller

WRITING A PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER
Guest Post by Maria Savva

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Image from EWZine

Whenever I write a book or story, I always try to see things from the point of view of my characters. I like to think about every action in the book from the character’s perspective, and imagine how he or she would be feeling, what they would be thinking.

My latest novel, Haunted, is a psychological thriller. The novel is a character study and it’s a very dark book. Nigel, the main character in the novel, is living with the consequences of something he did in a moment of rage. Throughout the novel we see the deterioration of his mind. There are elements of horror, paranormal, and drama, as Nigel tries to come to terms with what happened and he is haunted by the mysterious woman from his past.

Getting into the mind of a murderer is quite an intense thing. When I was writing Haunted I had to almost become Nigel, so that I would know how he felt. I had to imagine what he would be thinking, how he would be behaving, and considering the dark nature of the novel, this was quite an emotionally draining thing to do.

HauntedI have been told that Haunted is the kind of book that stays with the reader long after they have read it. I see that as a great accomplishment because when I decided to write the novel, I had a particular aim and that was to make people think about how one moment of anger could change a person’s life for ever.

I was inspired to write the novel after hearing a news snippet on TV about a random murder. In London, it’s not unusual to hear news about murder, but for some reason that particular story stayed in my mind. It was a young boy, teenager, who had stabbed a nurse. It was disturbing because the boy didn’t know the nurse, so I started to think about what the boy would feel like if he found out about her background, if he knew what she was like, if he met her family, would he regret what he had done? The key element in my novel and one which I wanted to portray at the forefront of Nigel’s character was regret.

In my novel I have also added possible reasons as to why Nigel ended up committing the crime. It is clear that he is not a bad person. He was quite ‘normal’ before the incident that changed his life. In his upbringing there were possible signs that he might end up rebelling. He grew up to be quite an angry young man, but at the time he committed the crime he was quite settled in his life.

I wanted to portray a man who was ‘normal’ but who commits an unforgivable crime. I wanted to explore in the novel how that affected his family and the victim’s family.

The psychology of crime is a very interesting area. One thing that I hope to get across in Haunted is that often the criminal is also a victim, and that what happened to Nigel could happen to anyone.

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MARIA SAVVA was born in London on 19th March 1970. She studied Law at Middlesex University and The College of Law. She writes novels and short stories in different genres, including drama, psychological thriller, and family saga (although she has not written a courtroom drama to date).

Maria Savva Online: Website | Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Playmates, Book Review

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Reviewed by D. Donovan, Senior eBook Reviewer, MBR

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PLAYMATES (Wilde Twins, Book #1)
by Jess C Scott

Playmates is the first book in the ‘Wilde Twins’ trilogy — a psychological thriller about abused siblings who turn into a serial killing team.

The story opens with a bang: the bang of children seeking to escape, and the bang of family violence that dominates their lives: “My birthday wish was simple: run away with my twin sister….(sic) There was a loud yell from the living room then — Dad’s voice — and the familiar violent jolt of the sound of glass shattering. Someone had once again broken a bottle on the wall just outside our room.”

Because their parents inflict psychological and physical pain upon each other and their children, Tania and her twin Trevor learn that violence and pain are normal everyday events inside a house where, to the outer world, their parents are respectable citizens: “I would see him nicely dressed in the morning for work, looking every bit the studious professor he was. Black rectangular glasses, trimmed beard, ironed shirt, nice shoes…He was all smiles at his workplace, with a pleasant face and greeted all around by smiley faces. He was happy during the drive back home too…”

Because they live in fear of the alcohol and violence which dominates their lives, the twins have never had a normal, happy childhood. Their mother only wanted one child (a son) and takes out her frustrations on daughter Tania; and this is where Tania learns that humans are selfish by nature. Most people, she perceives, don’t care about children. Add her mother’s prostitution when their father is away and you have a frightening home filled with secrets, violence, and extraordinary measures required for survival.

But Playmates isn’t just about survival: it’s about how these early lessons take root in a child and themselves beget warped human nature. Tania discovers the only person she can really count on is her twin … and so begins a relationship born of a survival instinct and reaction to danger (“That was when I first realized Trevor was always there for me when I needed him. He was the only person I could trust with anything. He was my best friend. He was my everything”) which evolves into something more sinister.

Unlike The Bad Seed and other classic novels of psychopathic behaviors, Playmates delves into the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the evolutionary process. The children absorb their parents’ violence and insecurities like sponges, then find themselves attracted to the power and compulsion of violence in their own lives — first with small things (such as ants); later with victims more their size.

Games revolving around violence, television documentaries of killers and psychopaths, and an emotionally charged home environment filled with abuse on different levels (emotionally, physical, and sexual) all conspire to cultivate the seeds of homicide, rage, and (ultimately) empowerment.

Playmates provides alternating viewpoints between twins who share experiences and build their own conjoined perceptions of murder, violence, and power. From warped views of justice to ideas of safety and violence, the story line delves into the winding mental processes of each twin and provides riveting perceptions: “I needed to do that first one — murder — so I’d be able to compare that with Rick and Dad doing “what they did” to me. That way I could compare sex and murder directly. I might learn something. I loved the idea. It helped create a sense of justice in my view on this silly little thing called life.”

Events progress to a crescendo — and offer no predictable conclusion. This means readers should be prepared for the second installment of a slowly-building psychological thriller of the emergence of evil and sociopathic responses to an impossible life.

Review Posted: October 2013

ISBN: 978-1492818328

MORE INFO: jessINK.com/playmates.htm

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