Clarissa Johal

Friday, March 17, 2023

Excerpt - The Lighthouse by Clarissa Johal #newrelease #paranormal #ghoststory

Sent to cover the haunting of Pelican Rock lighthouse, Riley Murdock vows to write a historical piece instead. Ghosts aren’t real. And she wouldn’t ruin her reputation as a serious journalist by writing the contrary. Photojournalist Dillon Page loves anything to do with the paranormal. Carefree and open-minded, he’s happy to treat their assignment like a ghost-filled vacation.

​But there’s more to Pelican Rock than either expected.

​When night falls, the mood in the dilapidated lighthouse shifts. Unexplained sounds, fleeting shadows, and icy breezes keep them both awake. And when Dillon starts acting strangely, Riley fears something is going on that she can’t explain.

From the author who brought you bestsellers Poppy, The Island, and Struck; comes a haunting tale that will keep you awake long past lights out.

Excerpt from The Lighthouse:

Riley woke to a loud “thump!” resonating across the floor. Followed by several more, the thumps were in succession. The door in the entry room probably blew open. Her tired thoughts began to wander before there was another thump, followed by yet another. Heavy, purposeful footsteps were coming up the lighthouse steps. Riley sat up, instantly awake. It looked like Dillon was burrowed in his sleeping bag. Weak moonlight traced the rumpled edges.

“Dillon!” she whispered.

The footsteps became louder and louder before they finally stopped at the door. Riley fastened her gaze on the broken handle, holding her breath. The door slowly swung open.

“Dillon!” She shot out of her sleeping bag and made a grab for him.

Dillon’s sleeping bag was empty. He’d left his sneakers behind, along with a rumpled hoodie, ripped-up jeans, and T-shirt.

What the hell? Riley turned with a frown, ready to tell him off for scaring her. The doorway was also empty. Confused, she crept forward and peered down the stairwell.

He probably went to the bathroom, she thought with a sigh of relief. I must have heard him going down, not coming up. Her bare foot brushed against something cold and she bent to pick the object up. “You forgot your flashlight, dummy!” Riley waited for him to respond. “For someone who’s afraid of the dark… You’re going to break your neck without your flashlight!” Her voice echoed against the walls of the lighthouse. She turned it on and shone the flickering beam of light down the stairs. The sound of footsteps echoed from below. “Jack-ass.” Riley slipped on her boots and trench coat and went to follow him.

The weak beam of light bounced erratically off the brick walls. It was pitch-black, and she grasped the railing to keep herself from tripping. As she rounded the curve, she caught a shadow disappearing around the corner. “Slow down!” When Riley reached the landing, she stopped to catch her breath. The footsteps continued down the stairs before they too stopped. “Dillon?” she called down. The footsteps started again. Angry, she debated whether to leave him on his own. The footsteps faltered. And if he breaks his leg, then what?

Riley descended the second flight of stairs, anger growing with each step. Every time she reached a landing, the shadow slipped down the stairs, just past her. And every time she stopped, the sounds of footsteps also stopped, as if Dillon were goading her on. By the time she reached the bottom, she was sputtering with white-hot anger.

The front door to the lighthouse stood open. Muted moonlight fell across an empty beach like an afterthought. Confused, she shone the flashlight in the outhouse’s direction. There’s no way he could have run that fast. I would have seen him. Riley scanned the rocks, expecting to see Dillon crouched beside one, laughing at her. Nothing but normal shadows lurked in the crevices.

She started towards the outhouse when she caught movement at the cottage. Anger again pricked at her insides. She marched toward the doorway, shining the flashlight needlessly on her path. The moonlight was enough to see by but she felt better holding the flashlight in front of her, like a club. I’ll clobber him over his dear little head when I catch up with him. She stopped and pointed the beam of light inside, like an accusing finger. Dillon’s quiet singing sounded from the bedroom. Continuing inside with a scowl, she found him sitting beside the cradle, rocking it slowly.

“What are you doing?”

Dillon paused, his attention still focused on the cradle. 

“It’s the middle of the damn night.” Unbridled anger washed away threads of fear. “You woke me up stomping down the stairs like that—”

“Shh,” he interrupted. “I’m singing to my baby.”

“This isn’t funny, Dillon! You could have broken your neck running down the stairs like that! Worse, I could have broken my neck running after you.” She waited for him to explain himself, her heart thudding in her chest. Instead, he continued to sing quietly, as if it was perfectly normal to sing to an empty cradle. A sudden realization dawned on her. Oh, my god, he’s sleepwalking. She inwardly rolled her eyes. Of course, he is. She felt the muscles in her neck relax a fraction as her anger dwindled. “Dillon, it’s time to go to bed. I’m going to take your arm and we’ll walk back together—” She made a move towards him and his gaze snapped to hers. There was something in his expression that made her stomach lurch. For a moment, he didn’t look like himself at all. His features were too soft, too feminine. And his eyes… They didn’t even look blue in this light. Riley took an involuntary step away. 

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

July Charity Event! #books #paranormal #nonprofit #cats #shelter @SafeHaven4Cats

July Charity Event

My birthday month has crept up on me...again!
This marks the 8th year I'll be donating 100% of July royalties. 
It's my way of giving back to causes I care about.
This year, I will donate all royalties from the sales of my books to Safe Haven for Cats
a non-profit, no-kill rescue organization.
Please check them out, they do amazing work.
Happy Reading!

You can find my books on:

 We adopted Dusty from Safe Haven in November.
He's my constant writing companion! 



Thank you to everyone who bought one of my books this month! 
All royalties were used to sponsor Winni

UPDATE to my UPDATE 😜 - Winni has been adopted!

Winni has been at Safe Haven for Cats for 100 days — I have a soft spot for black kitties and especially ones who are "looked over" because they take a while to trust people. 
Winni will be an excellent companion once she finds her special someone. 
Could it be you?

Thursday, July 1, 2021

#Smashwords 13th Annual Summer/Winter #Sale #paranormal #bestsellers #books

"Readers! It's summer in the northern hemisphere and winter in the southern hemisphere. That means it's time for the Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale, their largest sale of the year! Whether you're looking for a great summer beach read or something to warm your heart in front of a crackling fireplace, you'll find it here!"
The 13th annual Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale has begun, running now through July 31."

My following bestsellers are on SALE at 50%
Happy reading!

Whispers in the Wood via Smashwords

It all began with an acorn.

There are some places you shouldn’t disturb, and where history lingers. When Rowan travels to England, she discovers 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.

Poppy via Smashwords

A red-headed, pink-loving mortician who speaks to the dead.
A moody, unsociable funeral director.
Poppy and Dante from Struck are back.

Something is lingering around Skyview Funeral Home, and it's stealing the souls of the dead. With Dante in tow, Poppy is determined to put a stop to it. Can she protect those who are trying to cross over, or will her soul be next?

Exploring a remote island can sometimes get you into trouble.
Especially when you stumble upon a cave and awaken two demons.

Rumours and superstition.
That’s what Emma thinks about local gossip concerning her family's “cursed” private island. After the death of her grandmother, Emma journeys to the island to ready it for sale. While out exploring, she unearths a hidden cave that holds answers to the island’s dark past.
There may be more to the rumours than she thought.

Struck via Smashwords

Struck by lightning, claimed by shadows.

Caught in 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 saviour or something sinister, for as he shares more of this gift, his price becomes deadly.


Friday, June 11, 2021

Frightening Friday - The Devil's Tramping Ground of #NorthCarolina #haunted

Photo by Jason Horne
The Devil's Tramping Ground is a camping spot located 10-miles from Siler City in western Chatham County, North Carolina. A circle 40-feet in diameter, the "tramping ground" has been the subject of legends and lore pre-dating the American Revolution. The lore alleges the Devil walks in circles on certain nights, thinking of ways to bring evil into the world. Despite being within a forest, only wiry grass grows inside this circle, and no plant life of any kind grow on the path leading to it. Locals have been unsuccessful in trying to transplant the wiry grass to other soil types. 

It is rumoured that objects left overnight within the ring disappear, animals won't go near the area and those who spend the night within the circle experience strange events. Numerous theories have arisen which try and explain the phenomena. One theory states the circle was originally a Native American meeting ground, another theory states the area is part of Croatan, named for a fallen tribal chief who may be buried there. In both stories, the tribal gods purportedly preserved the barren circle as a memorial to their followers' loyalty. 

Scientific explanations exist as well. Soil samples show the circle contains higher sodium, copper, zinc and pH levels than the soil from a few yards away. However, the difference isn't enough to make the circle soil toxic to plant life. Another interesting observation is that at certain points within the circle, a compass will move by about five degrees. Only soils with a high iron content would cause this to happen, which the soil does not have. 

The Devil's Tramping Ground remains a mystery...

Thursday, June 10, 2021

#FolkloreThursday - Brown Mountain Lights of #NorthCarolina #unexplainedphenomena

My husband and youngest are looking into university apartments around Boone, North Carolina. I've done a couple of writing retreats in the vicinity; the mountains are both mysterious and beautiful. Because of that, I'm going to venture into unexplained phenomena "in that general area." Today, I'm exploring the Brown Mountain Lights of Morganton, North Carolina.

For hundreds of years, people have seen ghostly lights moving throughout the Brown Mountain in the Linville Gorge area near Morganton, North Carolina. Witnesses have reported the Brown Mountain lights as being white, red, yellow, orange and blue. They've described the lights as large balls of fire, or even small as candle lights; floating near the ground before rising high into the sky. This unexplained phenomenon has baffled scientists, government researchers, and residents alike. 

Local folklore suggests the lights are paranormal in nature, citing tales of tragedy for early settlers and Native Americans. According to Cherokee legend, a great battle was fought in 1200 A.D. between the Cherokee and Catawba Indians. The mysterious lights are the women left behind, still searching for the men who died in battle. Another legend says the lights are the ghostly echoes of lights that appeared during a search for a murdered woman in the 19th century.

Local paranormal investigator Joshua Warren camped frequently at Brown Mountain as a kid. On one such camping trip, he claims to have seen a ball of light rise through the trees and ascend into the sky. Another local story recounts that Morganton resident Tommie Hunter actually touched the lights. He claims to have looked over the Hwy.181 overlook to see a hovering ball of light. Tommie said it felt like he had stuck his finger in a light socket when he touched it. Six other people were with him, and all corroborated his story. 

Scientists suggest natural gasses have caused the phenomena, or even car or train lights (others have debunked the suggestion of car/train lights). While there are many theories, including those of UFOs, no one truly knows the cause, and no evidence has been collected. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Tangled Tuesday - Hoarding Butterflies #etsygifts #etsyjewelry #beading

Today I want to give a shout-out to one of my artistic friends! 

If you like beautiful beaded earrings, necklaces and chains, please hop over and check out Hoarding Butterflies on Etsy. She uses beading as therapy for anxiety, which is awesome! Art is a wonderful tool for that. ❤️

She shared her two of her favorite pieces to showcase in my blog.

The one above is inspired by Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. Shadow and Bone was recently adapted into a show via Netflix. One of the main characters, Alina, is a sun summoner.

The second is butterfly inspired & the colors are gorgeous. I can see this necklace looking fabulous  with a lavender or white summer dress, or even jeans and a t-shirt. 

Check out some of her other pieces - there are a lot to choose from. My personal favorite are these green heart earrings you can find right HERE. In fact, I think I’ll treat myself right now.😉

If you have a special occasion to buy for (or want to treat yourself) 

Hoarding Butterflies is the perfect choice for a unique, one of a kind gift!

Monday, June 7, 2021

#MeatlessMonday - Spinach Calzones #vegetarian

Hello readers! The past few months I've been working super-hard but done little writing. Such is life, gotta pay the bills. 😜 In retrospect, I wasted valuable time and energy trying to make something work out. Have you ever felt like that? If so, I'm sending you a hug. Anyway, it's time to move onward & upward from a very frustrating and negative space and "cleanse" myself with some writing. 

I'm going to start the week by sharing one of my favorite "go to's" when I'm feeling pressed for time but still want something satisfying for dinner. If you want to make your own pizza dough and sauce, go for it!

Spinach Calzone

1/2 ball of pre-made pizza dough 

Pizza sauce (jarred)

1 cup fresh spinach, chopped

1/2 cup ricotta

1/2 cup shredded cheddar & mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped mushrooms

1/8 cup sliced olives

Garlic pepper 

On a surface coated with olive oil, roll out pizza dough to about 1/4 inch thick.

Mix together chopped spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, ricotta, mushrooms, olives, and cheeses. 

Spread pizza sauce evenly over dough. Spread spinach mixture evenly on half of the pizza. Fold dough over the mixture and pinch edges to seal. (It will look "stuffed" but the spinach will cook down.) 

Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic pepper. Cut three 1/2 inch slashes on top to vent. 

Place calzone on an oiled baking sheet or pizza slab and bake at 450-degrees for 15 minutes or until the top is browned. Remove and let sit for 5 minutes before slicing.