Clarissa Johal: March 2013

Friday, March 29, 2013

Sewing Like a Sailor

So, sometimes my Mom Stuff takes precedence over my Writerly Self.
For the past month, I have a long-dreaded sewing project that’s been on my “to-do” list. It’s right up there with cleaning out my closets and dusting the attic, actually.

My older daughter is a fan of all things manga and cosplay. There’s a huge event coming up in May and she’s decided that she wants to dress up as an Assassin’s Creed character. And I’ve agreed to sew the costume.

*face palm*

Why do I set myself up for these things? I’m a writer, not a fashion designer. I write about ghosts and demons and things that go bump in the night. I write about what’s under your bed, and what creeps in from the Otherworld. And I have minions. I don’t sew. 
Correction-I can sew, but I hate it with a passion. The last time I sewed something, it was a squid costume. Yes, you read that correctly. When my daughter was in Kindergarten, the class was encouraged to dress up as their favorite character from their favorite book. While the other six-year-olds were dressing up as Angelina Ballerina or Batman, my daughter decided she wanted to dress up as the giant squid from Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. I was cursing like a sailor trying to sew that baby up. But it rocked, if I do say so myself. 

So, back to Assassin’s Creed. We went to the material store and leafed through countless catalogues looking for a pattern that remotely resembled what you see in the photo. The closest we could come, was a costume if you were dressing up as Jesus. Yeah.
After we decided that was as good as it gets, it took us an hour to peruse the countless bolts of fabric to find the right material. And then, there were the notions…the bits and bobs that would make the fine details. By the time the pattern, the material and the notions were purchased, the costume ended up being roughly $50 total. Ouch. When we got home, I saw that the jacket also requires interfacing.

Off to cut, pin, sew and curse. My minions would be proud.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Monday, March 11, 2013

Spectrum of Speculative Fiction Blog Hop Winner Announcement

Thank you to everyone that entered the Spectrum of Speculative Fiction Blog Hop! The winner of my drawing for an ecopy of BETWEEN is Emily.
Happy reading!

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Spectrum of Speculative Fiction Blog Hop

Crossing Over
by Clarissa Johal
Speculative fiction—crossing the line between real and the imaginary. Hypothetical story-telling.

I’m going to tell you a story. A ghost story. Whether or not it’s real doesn’t really matter because hopefully, I’ve got your attention. 

There is a house at the edge of town, a very elegant Victorian house. You know the kind I mean, one of those Victorians that looks as though it’s been decorated with lace and gumdrops. 
But this one stands empty and in disrepair. It holds a tangible air of something forgotten. In the back, there’s a doghouse that used to have a shepherd chained to it. Now there’s nothing but a few cobwebs and a scratched place in the corner where the dog tried to dig its way to freedom.

I dream of this house every couple of months, though I’ve never actually been there. A layer of dust covers the furniture and floors, it looks untouched every time I visit. For some reason, however, a fire always burns in the fireplace. There’s a part of me that feels the fire has been lit because the house knew I was coming.

There’s a ghost in this house. Oh, didn’t I tell you that? Well, there is. I’ve never seen him face to face, but I know he’s there. Waiting. 
I catch him ducking into the shadows, elusive as always. Sometimes, I feel him standing behind me, but when I turn, he’s gone.

There are times I’ve visited and done nothing but gaze into the fireplace. The ghost and I have an unspoken impasse during those dreams. The hours will tick by and neither one of us will say a word.
Other times, however, I’m overcome with fear and choose to run. He becomes quite upset and I can hear him yelling. I run up the stairs and down a long hallway lit by gas light fixtures. One of the bedrooms is small with a single window that's been boarded up. I choose that one. I hide inside the bedroom’s tiny storage closet, thinking the ghost won't be able to find me there. The closet door has uneven gaps between the wooden slats and a handle that can’t be locked from the inside.
But there is no running. He’s behind me and I’m no longer trying to keep the door closed, but trying to push it open.  I can’t seem to get my fingers to work the latch and the more I claw at the door to escape, the closer he comes. 

I wake from the dream with adrenaline coursing so strongly throughout my body that I’m quite literally in pain for several minutes.
Regardless, I keep going back to the same house. And he’s always there.

Who is this ghost? Is he a fear of something? Is he brought on by stress? I can tell you what he sounds like and what his presence feels like. I can’t however, tell you what he looks like. I can tell you what the wallpaper in the bedroom looks like. It used to be beautiful, stripes and little blue cornflowers, but time has taken it's toll. I can tell you what the fireplace looks like because I spend many hours gazing into it. I can tell you what the house looks like because I see it before I find myself standing in its living room. 
The house hasn’t changed since I first dreamed of it when I was six years old.
And neither has he.

What is real in our mind affects our perception of the world as we know it. Layers of time and emotion affect real life places. The blur between reality and our dreamworld is sometimes crossed.

Dreams figure prominently in my novels.

BETWEEN, a ghost story of a different kind.

How far would you go to redeem yourself?

As a young girl, Lucinda was able to see spirits, a gift that didn't come without its problems. Now, a dedicated young veterinarian, she is committed to the idea that every life can be saved.

After a devastating accident, Lucinda tries to escape her past by moving to a small town. There, she meets a newcomer and feels an immediate connection with him. But there is another mysterious stranger to the small town, one that stirs within her a mixture of unease and desire.

As Lucinda is drawn into a bitter tug-a-war from the forces around her, she is likewise pulled into a dangerous twist of past and present events. Forced to make difficult choices, she finds that the two men are locked in not only a battle for her life...but a battle for their salvation.


A young woman stood beside the bed, anguish on her face. She looked vaguely familiar, though Lucinda couldn’t place her. The forgotten colors of her blousy dress had faded into indistinct shades of grey. The woman grasped Lucinda’s hand and pressed a key into it. Lucinda felt the jagged, metal edges pricking her skin. Somewhere in the distance, a car engine roared to life. The woman’s lips moved but the growling engine drowned out all other sound. The sound became louder.
Growling. Darwin was growling.

“Darwin?” Lucinda woke with a start.

The shepherd growled again and hopped off the bed, padding into the living room.

A quiet knock sounded from the front door. Lucinda rolled out of bed to answer it.

Pushing Darwin aside to open the door, she peered sleepily into the moonlit night. A breeze blew across the clearing, stirring the grass. Confused, she shut the door before the breeze could make its way inside.

“Come on back to bed, Darwin. Nobody there.”

As she pulled the blanket up to her chin, the knocking started again.

Lucinda slipped out of bed and walked back into the living room. The sound clearly came from the other side of the door, faint but unmistakable. She slid her hand quietly over the knob. At once, the knocking stopped. Turning the knob slowly, she pulled the door open a crack, heart pounding in her chest.

“Hello?” An icy breeze slipped by her thigh as the scent of ozone assailed her senses. Her heart beat erratically. “Darwin, no!” The dog tried to push past her, growling once more. Rattled, Lucinda closed the door with a bang and locked it.

Lucinda lay in bed and shivered, unable to get warm. A chill slipped under her covers, stealing up her spine. The smell of roses clung to her blanket, the warmth from their scent seemed to be at war with the cold. An hour passed and she finally dropped off to sleep.

For the remainder of the night, the two unseen presences in her room remained at an impasse.

BETWEEN buy links:
Musa Publishing 

Now onto the Giveaway!
To win an ecopy of BETWEEN (Kindle, Mobi, NOOK or PDF) you can:

1) Follow this Blog OR
2) Add BETWEEN to your Goodreads shelf OR
3) Like my Author Facebook Page 

It’s that simple! Winner will be chosen at random and notified on March 11th.

**PLEASE leave a quickie comment so I know who you are and which you've done. 

Don't forget to visit my fellow author's blogs for more giveaways!
**House photo courtesy of edited by Clarissa Johal

Monday, March 4, 2013

Strays from the Spirit World

Musa Publishing: Strays from the Spirit World: by Clarissa Johal I’ve always been a half-way house for every stray animal that roams the neighborhood. There was a time, before kids and ...