Clarissa Johal

Thursday, March 22, 2018

#ThoughtfulThursday - Top 10 Twitter Tips

Feeling snarky today. Uh-oh.

Thought I'd share some tips regarding Twitter. These are part of a larger, personal list (compulsive list-maker here).
See if you agree with my Top 10.

1. Don't send a direct message with something like, "Thanks for the follow. Like my FB page! Review my book! Buy my product! Have my baby!"

Um...can I get to know you first? All that awesome stuff usually comes after someone has read your book or discovers your product. Personally, high-pressure tactics make me want to run in the other direction. Quickly. It's worse when an author DMs another author. Really? You do realize I'm also writing/editing/promoting, right? How about you like my Facebook Page? How about you buy and review my book? Yeah...that's what I thought.

2. I can't say this enough: If you follow me and I go to your Twitter page and see an endless string of self-tweets, I'm probably NOT going to follow you back. Twitter is all about give-and-take. Tweeting about yourself 24/7 is obnoxious. Do you talk about yourself 24/7 too?  Yikes. I feel sorry for your friends and co-workers.

3. Don't try and pick someone up on Twitter and don't send naked pictures. That goes for Facebook, Google Plus, LinkedIn, pretty much anywhere on the internet. Tacky as hell and I'm pretty sure it won't get you laid.

4. Don't ignore someone who mentions you (unless they're trying to start a fight). It's flat-out rude. Would you ignore them in a face-to-face conversation? Hopefully not.

5. Pay it forward. I'll return the favor if somebody retweets my books (unless I find their tweets distasteful). For the people who don't return the favor, I wonder what your relationships are like. Ditto for what goes on in your bedroom. Yeah, I'm kind of twisted like that. Sue me.

6. Don't announce how many people you Followed or Unfollowed. Seriously, who the f*%k cares?

7. PLEASE pin a tweet to the top of your page if you want a decent retweet. Don't make people go through your feed to find something relevant. Odds are, they don't have the time.

8. Be mindful of the profile picture you post. Selfies in the bathroom, duck faces, and boob shots make me think twice about following you. They also make me wonder what you're selling.

9. Don't start fights or get personal. In fact, here's a Golden Rule: Say nothing online that you wouldn't say face to face. Don't be a coward and hide behind your computer. There's this weird thing called reputation. Just because you're online, doesn't mean you don't get one if you act like an ass.

10. Maybe it's a writer thing, but please spell check your tweets. Please. It makes you look oh-so-much smarter if you can spell correctly and manage a sentence.

Now...go tweet something. Or better yet, go outside and enjoy the day.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

#FolkloreThursday-Spring-Heeled Jack #England

English penny dreadful (c. 1890)
Image Use: Public Domain, Expired Copyright
Stepping from the shadows of Victorian folklore, Spring-Heeled Jack, as this entity came to be known, is one of the most unexplained mysteries to come out of Victorian England. He reputedly scratched, slapped and attacked his victims and then bounded away with a supernatural ability. The attacks began in 1837 in Southwest London and continued well into the 1920s.

Wide-spread accounts of Spring-Heeled Jack describe him as wearing a dark cloak over a tight-fitting white oilskin suit. He had a hideous face, glowing eyes like balls of fire, claw-like fingernails made of iron and the ability to spit blue and white flames from his mouth, paralyzing his victims. Eluding capture, the entity could jump incredible heights and distances--a reported 20-30 feet with ease.

The first reported victim was Polly Adams, a pub worker. In September of 1837, a group of four people were accosted by a 'Devil-like' creature. All of the victims ran but Polly was left behind. The creature allegedly tore at her clothing, scratching her skin with iron claws, before bounding off into the night. In October of 1837, a servant by the name of Mary Stevens was walking to work. The creature sprung from an alley and attacked her, ripping her clothing and kissing her face. The next day, the creature jumped in front of a carriage and caused it to crash. It then bounded over a nine foot wall. Vigilante groups were formed but the creature managed to evade them.
English penny dreadful - (c. 1886)
Image Use: Public Domain, Expired Copyright

In February of 1838, 18-year-old Lucy Scales and her sister were returning home when Spring-Heeled Jack reportedly jumped in front of the sisters and vomited blue flames into Lucy's face, temporarily blinding her.
Two days later, he appeared at the door of another victim, Jane Alsop. Dressed in a black cloak, he stated, “I’m a policeman. For Gods sake, bring me a light, for we have caught Spring-Heeled Jack in the lane.” When she returned to him with a candle, she saw it was Spring-Heeled Jack himself. He immediately attacked her, spitting blue and white "gas" into her face. Thankfully, her sister was able to pull Jane from his grasp and, once again, he bounded away into the night.

The only known fatality connected with Spring-Heeled Jack occurred in 1845 on a bridge in New York. In broad daylight and in front of witnesses, Spring-Heeled Jack grabbed a prostitute and spat blue fire into her face. The girl was thrown into a sewer where she tragically drowned.

In August of 1877, Spring-Heeled Jack appeared before a group of soldiers in Aldershot’s North army camp. Private John Regan was standing sentry when he heard the noise of someone dragging something metallic down the road. When he went to investigate, Spring-Heeled Jack leapt on him and spat blue flames into his face. Witnesses claim that the attacker, tall, thin and wearing a helmet and oilskin suit, jumped over them, clearing them by 10 feet or more.

In September 1904, Spring-Heeled Jack appeared on the roof of a church in Liverpool, England. Onlookers claimed he fell from the church's steeple to the ground. Thinking that he had committed suicide, they rushed to his aide only to find a man clothed in white, wearing a helmet and completely unharmed. Laughing, he ran away from the crowd and disappeared into the night.

The final recorded event occurred in 1920 at the Central Railway Station in London. A man in a white cloak was seen jumping from various rooftops to the street below.

Who or what was Spring-Heeled Jack? Some claim that he was a demon or supernatural entity. Others speculate it was one or more persons with a diabolical sense of humor, causing mass hysteria. The only physical evidence left behind was a set of footprints in 1837, the depths of the prints suggesting that a "spring" mechanism was used in the shoes of the assailant. But in this case, it was argued that a jump of that magnitude would break the ankles of the jumper.
Regardless, the legend lives on.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

On Hiatus #amwriting #paranormal #darkfantasy

I haven't posted in a while (and may do some re-posts) but I'm still here!

I've been working hard on Whispers in the Wood, my new paranormal dark fantasy. It's been a few rough and busy months for my family but never fear! The novel is being fine-tuned before it goes off to the publisher.

Join my mailing list or follow my Amazon Author Page to stay in the loop.

Whispers in the Wood - Coming 2018

It all began with an acorn.

There are some places you shouldn’t disturb, places where history lingers. When Rowan travels to England, she finds a remote village, hidden in the shadow of an ancient forest. Vague warnings from the local people aren’t enough to stop her from venturing into the trees, or from picking up a single acorn. It seemed a simple action. But when a stranger emerges from the forest claiming the acorn belongs to him, Rowan finds herself pulled into something both centuries old, and deadly.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Top 10 #Anime Picks #paranormal #horror

I've been a fan of anime for 20+ years. I love the artwork, complex themes and the fact that they glean from Japanese folklore and mythology. Take a peek...

**All links go to Hulu, except for Vampire Hunter D (movie site) and Tactics (AnimeHere).

My top 10 picks in paranormal horror no particular order

Photo courtesy of Keng Susumpow via Flickr
1) Death Note (2006-2007)

Manga written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata.

Yagami Light is a bored A-student with great prospects. One day, he finds a notebook (Death Note) from the realm of the death gods or shinigami. The book has the power to kill people in any way he desires, he merely has to write their name in it. Light decides to create his perfect world, one without crime or criminals. However, when criminals start dropping dead one by one, the authorities send the legendary detective 'L' to track down the killer. A battle of wits, deception and logic ensues, much like a chess game. 

My thoughts: This the crème de la crème of anime. The story is complex and the concepts of good and evil are challenged.

Fave character: Ryuk. Gotta love an apple eating shinigami with a sense of humor.

*I prefer sub-titled anime, but this dubbed version of Death Note is quite good.

2) Blue Exorcist (2011)
Manga written and illustrated by Kazue Katō. 

Humans live in the world of Assiah, and demons live in Gehenna. The two dimensions are not meant to interfere with each other. In spite of this, demons still possess creatures in Assiah. The humans who can fight these demons are known as exorcists. Rin Okumura bears the curse of being Satan's illegitimate son. His foster father sacrificed himself to save him from demons. To avenge his foster father's death, Rin decides to follow the path of an exorcist.

My thoughts: This anime has many similarities with the current television series Supernatural. See if you can spot them!

Fave character: Mephisto Pheles. He enjoys chaos and is always ahead of the game. Plus, he dresses fab.

3) Vampire Hunter D (1985 Film)
Manga written in 1983 by Hideyuki Kikuchi and illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano. 

Technology and the supernatural have overtaken the world. What's left of the human race live in fear of vampires, who keep werewolves and mutants to protect them. Doris Lang trespasses into vampire territory and encounters Count Magnus Lee, who tastes her blood and chooses her to be his next wife. Doris hires a vampire hunter by the name of 'D,' a dhampir (half human, half vampire), to rid her of this fate. 

My thoughts: Vampire Hunter D remains a cult classic.

Fave character: Carmilla. This vampire is deliciously evil, cunning and intelligent...and her clothes are awesome.

4) Black Butler (2008-2010)
Manga written and illustrated by Yana Toboso. (The second season, Kuroshitsuji II, aired in 2010 and did not feature in the manga.) 

In Victorian-era London, a young boy sells his soul to a demon in order to avenge his family's death. The demon takes the form of a loyal butler and is required to protect, serve and arrive whenever summoned by his young master until the deal has been completed.

My thoughts: I love the Victorian costumes and artwork in this series--flat out. I will drop a warning however, the relationships between the butlers and their underage 'masters' toe the line.

Fave character: Grell Sutcliff in his Grim Reaper form. Over-the-top, flamboyant and outspoken. What's not to love?
5) Mushishi (2005-2006)
Manga series written and illustrated by Yuki Urushibara. 

The story follows Ginko, a man who dedicates himself to keeping people protected from supernatural creatures called Mushi. The Mushi are beyond the shackles of the words "good" and "evil." They can exist in countless forms, and are capable of mimicking things from the natural world such as plants, diseases, and even phenomena like rainbows.

My thoughts: This anime is beautiful to watch and the concepts are very thoughtful. It's paced very slow, so if that's not your thing, it's not for you.

Fave character(s): Technically, there's only one main character (Ginko) but I really liked the concept of the Mushi

6) Vampire Knight (2008)
A shōjo manga series written by Matsuri Hino

Yuki Cross is the adopted daughter of Kaien Cross, the headmaster of Cross Academy. Yuki's earliest memory is of being attacked by a rogue vampire and of being rescued by Kaname, a Pureblood vampire. Ten years later, her adoptive father is the guardian of the vampire race and leads a group of vampires at the elite boarding school. At Yuki's side is Zero Kiryu, a childhood friend whose hatred for the creatures leaves him determined never to trust them. The coexisting arrangement seems all well and good, but have the vampires truly renounced their murderous ways? 

My thoughts: This series gets a bit Twilight'ish towards the end. Turning a blind eye to that--if only because of the artwork and story arcs.

Fave character: Zero Kiryu because he always tries to do the right thing.

7) Boogiepop Phantom (2000)
Manga written by Kouhei Kadono.

The story takes place a month after a pillar of light appears in the night sky, and five years after a string of serial killings. High school students have started to disappear and the blame is placed on Boogiepop, an urban legend who is said to be the personification of Death. Each episode centers on a different character who had a short involvement in the major event. Some episodes are out of sequence and scenes are shown from different perspectives. Through this non-linear style, the characters are used to develop the central themes of Change, Escapism, Memory and Relationships.

8) Ghost Hunt (2006)
Manga written by Fuyumi Ono. The last novel was published in 1994 and the story was left incomplete. 

The story follows the adventures of the Shibuya Psychic Research Center as they investigate mysterious occurrences all over Japan with a team of other spiritualists and assistants.

9) Tactics (2004-2005)
Manga written by Sakura Kinoshita and Kazuko Higashiyama.

Supernatural sleuth and writer, Kantaro Ichinomiya, spends his days fighting demons and writing about his adventures. Accompanied by a mysterious Demon-Eating Goblin and a band of demons, Kantaro travels the Japanese countryside in search of ghostly mysteries and the paranormal.

10) xxxHOLiC (2006)
Manga written and illustrated by the group of manga artists known as Clamp. The manga was adapted into an animated film, xxxHolic: A Midsummer Night's Dream which premiered on August 20, 2005. It was followed by two anime series which ran from April-September 2006.

The story revolves around Kimihiro Watanuki--a high-school student disturbed by his ability to see the supernatural, and Yūko Ichihara--a witch who owns a wish-granting shop. When Watanuki asks Yūko to remove his ability to see spirits, she grants it--on the condition he pay for his wish by working for her.

That's my list! What are your favorite anime?

Monday, February 26, 2018

#MeatlessMonday - Hungarian Mushroom Soup

I love to cook with mushrooms. They’re versatile, add a heartiness to a dish, and they’re good for you—high in protein, low in fat, and filled with potassium. You can’t go wrong!

Here’s a vegetarian recipe sure to please your palate.

Photo courtesy of su-lin via Flickr

Hungarian Mushroom Soup

3 cups milk
2 onions, diced
1 tbsp. plus ¼ cup butter
1 tsp. salt
2 pounds mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
4½ tsp. dill
2 tbsp. paprika
2-3/4 cups vegetable stock
½ cup flour
1 tbsp. lemon juice
2T soy sauce
1½ cups sour cream

Warm milk in saucepan at low heat.

In soup pot, sauté onions in 1 tablespoon of butter. When they are translucent, add mushrooms, dill, paprika, lemon juice and 1 cup vegetable stock. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.

In separate saucepan, melt remaining butter. Slowly whisk in flour, forming a roux. Add warm milk, whisking to eliminate lumps. Add this mixture to soup pot. Add remaining stock and simmer for 10 minutes.

Just before serving, whisk in soy sauce and sour cream.

Yield 10 cups

Sunday, January 21, 2018

New Cover & #Sale - Struck by Clarissa Johal #paranormal #darkfantasy #KindleUnlimited #99cents

Book Details:

Genre: Paranormal
Author: Clarissa Johal
Editor: Samantha Ettinger
Publisher: Faeriemoon Press
Number of Pages: 228

About Struck:

Caught a terrible storm, Gwynneth is struck by lightning. She wakes in the hospital with a vague memory of a mysterious stranger. 

Following her release, the stranger visits her at will and offers Gwynneth a gift—one that will stay the hands of death. She is uncertain whether Julian is a savior or something sinister... for as he shares more of this gift, his price becomes deadly.


She stared into his pale eyes, the color of storm clouds. A scream welled up in her throat. He pushed her against the wall and shook his head in a warning.
“Do not scream.”
His voice was low and soothing. She nodded quickly with every intention of screaming her lungs out as soon as he removed his hand.
“Do not scream,” he repeated.
Gwynneth could hear her breath heavy against his hand. He wore finely made black leather gloves. Why would he be wearing gloves inside? She thought frantically. It’s not cold enough to wear gloves. Dressed in black from top to bottom, except for a white, high-collared dress shirt, he looked archaic. She tried to match him with a time period. Mid-eighteenth century? Even his demeanor was aristocratic and proud. Small silver buttons ran the length of his jacket. They pressed sharply against her thin hospital gown.
“Do you trust me?” He studied her intently and removed his hand.
“You were there when I got hit,” she whispered.
“Why didn’t you bring me to the hospital? You left me at the funeral home.”
“I had no transportation. I left you where you would be found.”
“Why didn’t you stay with me?”
“I have my reasons. I am here now.”
Gwynneth paused. “Thank you for saving me.”
“I wish something in return.”
“I-I don’t have anything.” She flinched as she felt a small tug from deep inside. It was as if probing fingers were searching for something. Fear bloomed within her. The probing stopped.
“Are you saying no?” His voice held an edge.
“I don’t understand.”
“Are…you… saying…no?”
Confused, she nodded slightly. Suddenly, Julian grabbed her around the shoulders, and they fell into blackness. Something powerful swirled around them. Something malevolent. She panicked and clung to him. There was pressure on all sides of her, as if the air was folding and becoming heavier and heavier. And then, everything stopped.
“Open your eyes, Gwynneth,” he whispered.
They were in a Victorian house. A fire burned in the fireplace. The scent from the burning wood filled the air. Muted light reflected off elaborate, but worn, wallpaper and furniture. A half-eaten biscuit lay on a delicate-looking plate next to an empty teacup resting on its side.
Julian took her by the hand and led her up a winding staircase. She studied him from behind. Tall and lean, though quite broad-shouldered, long white hair draped his back like silk. His form-fitting, tailored jacket hit mid-thigh. Matching black pants were tucked into knee-high leather boots. He walked with catlike grace, his boots making light sounds on the stairs.
Otherworldly, her thoughts whispered. Still in her hospital gown, Gwynneth felt vulnerable and naked. Her bare feet pressed against the wooden floor. Grit stuck to her toes.
He led her down a hallway lit by fluted glass light fixtures. At the end of the hallway was a door.
Never taking his eyes off hers, Julian opened it.
Dark figures scattered like exploding glass. Red…so much red. There was blood everywhere. Blood-soaked sheets, pillows; blood pooled onto the wooden floor and soaked into an ornate carpet.
A woman lay across the bed. She wore an old-fashioned white nightgown, which was plastered to her body. Her long dark hair spilled across the sheets. Gaping wounds covered her chest. A knife lay on the floor. The windows were open, and white curtains fluttered in the evening breeze.
The creatures writhed in the corners as light from the hallway shattered their darkness.
A strangled sound escaped Gwynneth’s throat. Julian wrapped his arms around her and urged her forward. The figures that had fled into the corners seeped into the scene once more.
“They come for her. I want you to watch.”
Gwynneth shook violently. He gripped her tighter.
The figures swarmed over the dead woman’s body. They snaked up her torso, across her face, and into her hair. Gwynneth felt their need, burning and relentless.
“Oh my God, she’s not dead,” she moaned. Her vision went black.

Indie Book of the Day Award
Second Place - Preditors and Editors Readers Poll 2014

Struck is 99 cents via Amazon!

                                                             YouTube Book Trailer

Thursday, December 21, 2017

#AuthorChallenge #blooddonation @RedCross

I hate needles. Hate them. I'll literally lose sleep the night before my yearly flu vaccine. That said, I'm also a proud blood donor for the American Red Cross. Why? Because blood is needed, and I have it. I would want someone to do the same for me. Please check out these Red Cross facts.

Every 2 seconds, somebody in the U.S. needs blood.
Although about 38 percent of Americans are eligible to donate blood, less than 10% eligible do so each year.
Approximately 36,000 units of red blood cells are needed every day in the U.S.
Nearly 7,000 units of platelets and 10,000 units of plasma are needed daily in the U.S.
A single car accident victim can require as many as 100 pints of blood.
More than 1.68 million people were diagnosed with cancer in 2016. Many needed blood, sometimes daily, during their chemotherapy treatment.

The average adult has about 10 pints of blood. Roughly 1 pint is given during a donation.
1 donation can help more than one patient.  

Christmas is the time for giving, so why not give the ultimate gift?

Find your local blood drive
American Red Cross 
UK Blood Donation
Canadian Blood Services 
Australian Red Cross Blood Services

I'm throwing the gauntlet to my fellow authors to become donors. It's a way of giving back.
And who knows? You may be giving back to one of your readers.