Is There A Conspiracy?

Heart Search: Betrayal blog tour day 6 – so what have I got in store for you today?

Well, today the lovely Deborah Jay hosts an interesting and exclusive excerpt from the book. Is there a conspiracy? Are the vampires actually vulnerable? You need to click here to find out.

And I’ve decided to run a mini competition, mainly to see if you’ve been paying attention. The first person to comment below with the name of the blogger who gave me my first 5-star review, wins a FREE eBook of Heart Search: Betrayal.

Watch out for other mini competitions – I could spring one on you at any time!

Betrayal front cover

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A Flash of Inspiration – Or Is It?

The next post to appear for the Heart Search Blog Tour was written for C M Skiera. He gave me the topic of inspiration to write about and I decided I was going to do something a little different for this one. Here is the end result.

Inspiration – what does that word mean to you? In the dictionary it’s defined as:            1. Stimulation to do creative work; stimulation for the human mind to creative thought or to the making of art [found inspiration in the landscape around her]. 2. Somebody or something that inspires; somebody or something that inspires somebody to creative thought or to the making of art [His book is an inspiration to all would-be travellers]. 3. Creativeness; the quality of being stimulated to create thought or activity, or the manifestation of this [a moment of inspiration].

As writers we all need inspiration to put pen to paper or our fingers on the keyboard. Yet there’s a missing ingredient here – imagination. To me, inspiration and imagination go hand in hand, like eggs and bacon or toast and marmalade. Yes you can have eggs without the bacon or toast without the marmalade, but will it taste as good?

So let’s explore imagination for a minute. As children we had truckloads of it; we would do drawing and paintings, play with dolls or toy soldiers making things up as we went along yet as we grow into adulthood our imagination seems to get stifled by life. Yeah, sometimes it’s hard to let our imagination run riot when we’re worried about paying bills, work, and maybe we’ve got kids and a spouse. But to be a writer we need to allow our imagination out of its box and go wild.

The dictionary defines imagination as: 1. Ability to visualise; the ability to form images and ideas in the mind, especially of things never seen or experienced directly. 2. Creative part of mind; the part of the mind where ideas, thoughts and images are formed.

Do you see the link between the two definitions?

Okay, so let’s put the two together and see what we get. Your scenario is – you’re out for a drive in the countryside and you come across a little church tucked away behind some trees or bushes. You’re intrigued so you stop for a closer look. It’s just a small abandoned church with weeds and overgrown grass in the yard. Or is it? Now let your imagination soar . . .

Why is the church abandoned? Perhaps it was used for pagan or satanic worship and a posse of god-fearing folk drove them out. Maybe there was a small town around the church at one time – what happened to the people and houses? Did a plague wipe out the town and the homes razed to the ground to eradicate the disease? Was there something supernatural which drove the people away, like a poltergeist? Perhaps a serial killer methodically wiped out the town, one family at a time. Did extra-terrestrials have something to do with it?

Going back to the church itself, is something hidden in the crypt, something magical? Is someone or something evil buried beneath the church? Is the crypt now used as a vampire’s resting place? And what about the churchyard – have the grass and weeds been allowed to grow wild to hide something? If so, what could it be? Do some of the gravestones hide clues to a secret treasure or symbols to summon demonic forces.

Now you’ve let your imagination picture all these possibilities for a simple abandoned church, you have created the inspiration to work some magic with it. Now you can grab your keyboard or pad and pen and begin to sketch out a story. Once you’ve decided which scenario you’re going to write about you can then start thinking about characters and building your plot.

Anything you see, no matter how ordinary can be made extraordinary just by using your imagination. This also applies to people. A man walking down the street looking shabby could be a millionaire, a celebrity in disguise, a spy, a witch hunter, a wizard or a homeless ex-soldier.

If you struggle to find inspiration for your writing it’s probably because you’re not allowing your imagination to feed it. So as you travel to work, walk down the shops or out in the countryside, or drive somewhere in your car, really open your eyes, let your imagination take flight and allow yourself to be inspired.

The lesson from this is that inspiration is all around us – we’ve just got to open our eyes and see!

The Hunger – Flash Fiction by Shaun Allan

I’m so chuffed to welcome by friend and ‘stable mate’ Shaun Allan to the blog today. He’s written a fabulous flash fiction piece and although it’s the last day of the Heart Search Blog Tour, it’s also All Hallow’s Eve. So what better way to celebrate than by having a scary story to sink your teeth into?

The Hunger

I heard the sound, loud in the still of the night.

Well, it wasn’t exactly still…  Cars went by, people huddled down against the cold, lights were on in houses and shops were closing up for the day.  Shutters were pulling down, the windows’ eyelids closing for their night-time slumber.

In winter, when your breath takes form and your hands battle your money for dominion in your pockets, the night takes over from the day at a time just when everyone actually needs it.  To walk from work or school.  To drive home.  To feel safe.

But, though that world was spinning down to rest, the cold made the air crisp and clear.

And sound travelled on it like a surfer on a wave.

It was… odd.

You know when you recognise a voice, but can’t place whose it is?  It was like that, except no-one spoke.  It was more than simply a random noise, slipped from the dark.  It had substance.  Ownership.

But… I couldn’t place it.  It was, in fact, out of place.  Unusual in that you wouldn’t and shouldn’t hear it whilst walking down a street in the evening.

It was… eating.  Crunching with a side order of slurping.

I stopped.  I was the only one.  Other pedestrians went on the way, some alone, some in couples or groups.  One or two looked at me as if I was a mad for stopping so randomly.  As if I’d insulted them by daring to waver in my walking.  They continued on their way, however.  Unheeding and unhearing.

The alleyway sucked the light from the atmosphere, hungrily devouring it, seemingly gaining sustenance from the illumination – a deeper darkness in contrast to the glow of the streetlights.  It felt heavy.  It felt, somehow, material.

The sounds of hunger were not coming from the night, however.  Thankfully.  Well, I suppose ‘thankfully’.  They were coming from further in.  Further back.

They would be, naturally.

I should leave it.  It’s a dog.  A cat.  Maybe a lion, for all I knew, escaped from a travelling circus.

No, it was none of these.  Not even the lion.  It wasn’t so random.  It didn’t feel like an animal.

Perhaps some homeless man huddled in the shadows, hiding from the cold and the world.  If so, I’d offer a few coins and be on my way.  The mist of our combined breaths would mingle, akin to a shake of the hand as I did my good deed and felt a little saintlier.

In for a few coins, in for a pound of flesh…

I pulled my hands from my pockets, where they’d been duelling with a couple of fifty pence pieces, with a two pound coin being the referee.  All the better to defend myself, my dear.  Just in case, you know?

The cold air nibbled at my fingers like tiny Piranhas and I wanted to shove them back into my jeans.  I didn’t, though.  Nor did I carry on walking.  I was being drawn in, my curiosity overpowering my reason with a face-hugging pillow.

I waded through the cloying darkness, the sounds of feasting making my own stomach grumble in sympathy.  My eyes adjusted quickly as I walked, enough that I could avoid the empty beer cans and puddles of what I assumed wasn’t simply water.

There was a big bin.  A general waste container for the businesses around.  Practically the size of a skip, with bulging black bags piled around it, the bin watched me as I approached.  I felt it judging me.

“Idiot,” it was thinking.

I tended to agree, but I couldn’t stop my feet as their steps carried me on.

Then, I saw.

On the floor, a woman.  Or what was left of one.  The darkness deemed the scene worthy of allowing some moonlight in.  I could see her long hair.  I could see the swell of a breast beneath her coat and a heel, snapped from the sole of the shoe she was wearing, hanging loosely.

I could see a pool of blood spreading, reaching towards me, beseeching me to save her.  Too late.  I could tell.  The gaping hole at her waist was proof enough.

That was the sound.  That was what was being eaten.

The figure bent over her, crouching, heard my gasp before I’d realised I’d uttered one.  It stood quickly and turned to me, blood smeared across its face.

I always thought they were just in the movies.  Along with vampires and werewolves and witches.  I always thought they were something to shoot in the games on my phone.

They’re not.

I always thought they’d have dead eyes, too.  Their brain would have rotted away taking all but the need to eat the living along with it.

That’s what I thought.

I was wrong.

They’re not just in the movies.

And their eyes aren’t dead.  They have a fire in them.  An intent.  A hunger.

The zombie lunged.

I don’t know about any of you, but I’m going to steer well clear of alleys today! Thank you so much for sharing that with us today, Shaun.

Stay safe during Samhain and don’t become monster chow or vampire fodder!

* * *

Shaun Allan

A creator of many prize winning short stories and poems, Shaun Allan has written for more years than he would perhaps care to remember. Having once run an online poetry and prose magazine, he has appeared on Sky television to debate, against a major literary agent, the pros and cons of internet publishing as opposed to the more traditional method. Many of his personal experiences and memories are woven into the point of view and sense of humour of Sin, the main character in his best-selling novel of the same name, although he can’t, at this point, teleport.

A writer of multiple genres, including horror, humour and children’s fiction, Shaun goes where the Muse takes him – even if that is kicking and screaming.

Shaun lives with his wife, daughters, cats and fish. Oh and a manic dog. Though his life might, at times, seem crazy, he is not.

Honest.

Sin is now published by Fantasy Island Book Publishing and is available in print and as an ebook!Dark Places is now published under Myrddin Publishing Group and is available as an ebook. Print version coming soon!