Clarissa Johal: May 2014

Monday, May 26, 2014

Welcome to the: "Is it Summer Yet? Blog Hop!" #bloghop #paranormal #gothichorror

This blog hop is hosted by Julie's Book Review and runs from May 26-June 1st

Please visit the author blogs at the end of my post for a chance to win more books and prizes!

"What is your summer favorite book or series?"

Is it a mystery? A romance? Something *cue in spooky laughter* a bit scary? I'm hoping you answered scary, because I write paranormal and gothic horror. Not the bloody slasher kind of horror, but the kind that will make you look over your shoulder and question, "What if?"

Let's talk about summer reads! I'm a paranormal and horror addict. Fiction, non-fiction; if things go bump in the night, I'm running towards them and not away. Personally, I love Simone St. James and will read anything by her. Her gothic ghost stories are very atmospheric--the perfect thing to send chills down your spine on a hot, summer day. If you like contemporary fantasy on the steamy side, The Legacy of Buchanan's Crossing by Rhea Rhodan is a good read. If you like paranormal mysteries, give The Graveyard Queen series by Amanda Stevens a try.

When I'm not reading the scary stuff, I'm writing it. And there's nothing that makes me happier than getting email from readers. I love hearing that someone couldn't put my book down until the end. Even better if the subject matter kept them awake long afterwards. That's my diabolical plan.

Speaking of chills down your spine...enter my Rafflecopter Contest for a chance to win an ecopy of my latest release STRUCK.
Included as an added bonus: one ecopy of COOKING WITH MUSA. 
(Consider the bonus a gift from Seth, one of my characters from STRUCK who loves to cook.)

The shadows hadn't been waiting.
The shadows had been invited.

After a painful breakup, Gwynneth Reese moves in with her best friend and takes a job at a retirement home. She grows especially close to one resident, who dies alone the night of a terrific storm. On the way home from paying her last respects, Gwynneth is caught in another storm and is struck by lightning. She wakes in the hospital with a vague memory of being rescued by a mysterious stranger. Following her release from the hospital, the stranger visits her at will and offers Gwynneth a gift--one that will stay the hands of death. Gwynneth is uncertain whether Julian is a savior or something more sinister... for as he shares more and more of this gift, his price becomes more and more deadly.


Buy Links
Musa Publishing
Barnes and Noble

Author Website

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Hop Participants

Julies Book Review
The Wiccan Haus
Sara Daniel Romance Author
June Kramin
Mindy Hardwick, Author
Zara Stoneley
Sharon Kleve Romantic Ramblings
Kaitlin Bevis
Dark Mist
The Dark Writing of Carole Gill
How to Be Human by Florida Frenz Activities
Louisa Bacio -- Love Knows No Bounds
Laci's Place
Caffeinated Book Ladies
Clarissa Johal: Writing with Scissors
Unfiltered Speech in a Politically Correct World
HL Carpenter, Author
Kelly Ann Jacobson, Author
Kimberly K. Comeau Sci Fi
Natasha Blackthorne
Suzzana C Ryan Romance Author
Andrea Bellmont Erotic Author
Dominique Eastwick
Iyana's Rainbow
Sharon Bidwell
Stories about Love
Fun books. Great writing.
Romance Through the Mist of Time
Jackie Marilla
Ellyn Oaksmith Books
Kinky Vanilla Romance


I just signed a contract with Permuted Press for the publication of VOICES, a paranormal psychological horror. My thoughts are all over the place right now. I'm excited, terrified, elated, exhausted, but most importantly, recharged and ready to dive into my work-in-progress. There's nothing more rewarding than working on a novel for over a year and having it picked up by a publisher.

I'll leave you with an unedited tagline and blurb from my novel to come. Release date TBA.


Sometimes the ghosts from your past...are real

Moira Flynn is arrested for attacking a door-to-door solicitor with a knife. She claims a voice told her the man was intent on assaulting her. The trouble is, she was the only one that heard that voice. Moira strikes a plea bargain and is sent to a psychiatric hospital for voluntary treatment. Dr. Richard Cassano is hesitant to treat her as schizophrenic, as she does not show the standard symptoms. As their sessions progress, Moira confesses there are two voices—and they aren’t voices in her head, but the voices of ghosts. Are they imaginary? Or are they actual spirits, attached to her for reasons of their own? As Moira’s doctor uncovers more of her past, he begins to realize that her ghosts are real. And one of them is determined to drag Moira into the afterlife with him.

Friday, May 23, 2014

#Frightening Friday-What's Under the Bed

Scene from The Unborn also known as The Mother (2003)
You're trying to sleep, when suddenly you have the feeling that someone...or something is under the bed. Have you experienced that? Try as you might, the feeling won't go away. Your heart pounds in your chest and sweat breaks across your brow. That's silly, you tell yourself. You're a grown-up after all. Only children are afraid of what's under the bed. You close your eyes and try to block out the uncomfortable feeling.
But it lingers. And lingers.
Wait! Did the bed just shake? Was that a whisper? Did something just tug on the corner of the sheet? You can't sleep until you check of course. You sit up and quietly swing your feet over the edge, drop to the floor...and you look.

Movies such as Mama, Ju-on: The Grudge, and even Poltergeist (clowns, why does it always have to be clowns?) all indulge our "what's under the bed?" fears. When I was a kid, I remember stuffing as much junk as I possibly could under my bed, just so there would be no room for anything to hide. Did it work? No, I was still scared. Because, as you know, monsters can fit into very small spaces.

For your viewing pleasure on Frightening Friday, I thought I'd share some movie scenes with you.
Enjoy, and sleep well tonight. *;) winking

Mama (2013)

Ju-on: The Grudge (2002) Technically, this takes place "over" the bed, but it still applies

and Poltergeist (1982) Though the movie is a bit dated, this is still a great scene.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday-A Writer's Pause

Not all who wander, are lost. I wandered yesterday. I wandered into YouTube and got lost in all the videos. I do this sometimes when I have a writers pause (not a writer's block, a pause). This video made me laugh the hardest, so I've decided to share it with you. It's horribly sexist and not "truly" funny, but I was thinking about how I would have reacted in any of these situations. *evil laugh*
Now that would have been funny.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

#Paranormal Wednesday-Native American Mythology: Little People

Little people (fairy folk, dwarves, water spirits, goblins, pixies, gnomes, brownies, etc.) have been part of many cultures in human history. When immigrants settled in the United States, they brought the folklore with them, to be passed down from generation to generation. But the Native Americans had been telling stories of little people for hundreds of years. They tell of a race of little people who live in the woods and around bodies of water. From tribe to tribe there are variations of what these little people were like. They could be tricksters, good or evil, but it was also said that, if seen, they would reward humans for keeping their existence a secret by helping them in times of need. In general, they were described as hairy-faced dwarfs with large heads, large eyes and no nose. Their voices were said to be strange, sounding like the hum of a dragonfly. They had long, thin legs and arms and were said to have six fingers on each hand. Some petroglyphs show them with horns on their head.

The following is only a small list taken from Native American mythology. I found them all quite interesting.

Anishinaabe: Memegwesi - riverbank-dwelling water spirits. Generally benign, but known to blow canoes astray or steal things when they are not shown proper respect. In some Ojibwe traditions, Memegwesi can only be seen by children and medicine people; in others, they can appear to anyone, and may help humans who give them tobacco and other gifts. It is sometimes said that Memegwesi were originally created from the bark of trees. 
Cherokee: Yunwi Tsundi - a race of small humanoid nature spirits. Benevolent creatures, they have magical powers and are said to harshly punish people who are disrespectful or aggressive towards them.
Comanche: Nunnupi - dangerous man-eaters and enemies of human beings.
Cree: Mannegishi - a race of trickster people said to live between rocks in the rapids. They like to capsize canoes and cause other mischief. 
Crow: Nirumbee or Awwakkulé - a race of savage dwarves. They are able to bestow blessings or spiritual insight to certain individuals. They have large, round bellies; strong but short arms and legs; and little or no neck.
Inuit: Ishigaq - similar to fairies. They leave no footprints in the snow--it is said they are either too light or float above the ground.
Shoshone: Nimerigar -aggressive man-eaters and enemies of human beings. They shoot poisoned arrows from tiny bows. 
Wampanoag: Pukwudgie - resemble humans, but with large noses, fingers and ears. Their skin is described as being grey, and they've been known to glow. They can appear and disappear at will, transform into a walking porcupine, attack people and lure them to their deaths. They have poison arrows, use magic, and can create fire at will. Pukwudgies control Tei-Pai-Wankas which are believed to be the souls of Native Americans they have killed.
Yup'ik: Ircinraq - one side of this creature is animal, while the other side is that of a man. Ircinraq are said to inhabit mountain areas.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tangled Tuesday-My Writing Process Blog Tour: #amwriting #paranormal #gothichorror

I was invited to join in on the My Writing Process Blog Tour by the lovely fantasy writer, Carol Browne. Please take a peek at her blog as she writes good stories.

What are you currently working on? 

I was just offered a contract by Permuted Press for my paranormal horror novel, VOICES. I’ll keep readers posted on a release date for that on my website. I’m working on another paranormal gothic horror, THE ISLAND. I expect to be done with that by the end of the year.

How does your work differ from others of its genre? 

I write gothic horror and paranormal. I've had several reviewers say that my story lines are new and different, which makes me very happy to hear! I don't do romance, which seems to define paranormal these days, and I don't do gore and extreme violence, the calling card of many horror novels. So there you go.

Why do you write what you do? 

I write what the characters tell me to write. I'm at their mercy, so to speak. I was pulled into the paranormal genre by accident. The characters of Lucas and Cronan (from BETWEEN) came to me with complete back story while I was working on a YA fantasy series. They wouldn't go away and they didn't belong in young adult fantasy literature. So, I stopped working on the series and started on BETWEEN, a story of the paranormal. My novel STRUCK followed, as did VOICES and THE ISLAND, which I'm working on now. I don't think I'll go back to writing YA fantasy. I've been pulled into the Otherworld permanently and the ideas come faster than I can write them down.

How does your writing process work?

At the risk of sounding odder than a writer should, characters will pop into my head and start telling me their story. Some appear in my dreams, some just hit me full-force and I'll start writing. It usually takes me a month of furious writing time to finish the first draft, and a year to do edits and research to get the details right. 

Thank you for stopping by! I've tagged these two authors to continue the tour. If they don't have their writing process post up now, they will very soon. Meanwhile, please take a look at their blogs...

Annie Anthony
H.L Carpenter
Holly Rutan

Monday, May 19, 2014

#MeatlessMonday-Butterscotch Funny Cake #dessert

Photo courtesy of Dorothy SH via Flickr
We're doing a dessert today! If you're looking for a vegetarian entrée, please click on the #MeatlessMonday tag at the bottom of this post to see any recipes you may have missed!

My (very) British grandmother was known for her sweet tooth and endless array of dessert recipes. She carried them all "in her head" and never wrote anything down. This was a challenge, because unless she was around to make something for you--good luck at reproducing it! There were several recipes we managed to get her to write down before she passed many years ago. They never turn out as good as hers did, of course. Grandma's cooking is just special like that.

This is a recipe she used to make and I've never seen it in the States, so I thought I would share. It's a combination of a cake and a pie, with the butterscotch sauce as a layer between both. Enjoy!

Butterscotch sauce
In saucepan melt:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2T corn syrup

Cook until boiling. Add 3T water. Boil for 3 minutes, stirring consistently. Let cool

3/4 cup sugar
1-1/4 cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup shortening
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix dry ingredients. Add shortening, egg, milk and vanilla and beat until smooth.
Bake at 350 F for 50-60 minutes on foil-lined pan in case butterscotch drips over during baking.
Pour cake batter into uncooked pie shell. Pour butterscotch sauce on top of cake batter. (Butterscotch sauce will end up at the bottom after cooking.)

Friday, May 16, 2014

Frightening Friday-The Grim Reaper

Public Domain photo
You know the guy. Long black robe, scythe, a bit underfed? If you see him coming, it would probably be your cue to turn and flee. Or check yourself into a mental institution, whatever strikes your fancy.

The personification of Death in this form has been around since the 15th century. In some cases, the Grim Reaper could actually cause the victim's death. For the most part, however, the Grim Reaper came to reap a person's soul and drag them into the afterlife.

The Grim Reaper has been depicted in many other forms too. In the television series, American Horror Story; Asylum, Death was represented as a dark angel. Played by the beautiful actress Francis Conroy, Death seals the deal with a kiss. In Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics, Death is personified as a goth female dressed in casual clothes. She wears a silver ankh on a chain around her neck, and has a marking similar to the Eye of Horus around her right eye. In the television series Supernatural, Death (personified by the brilliant actor Julian Richings) is a father to many reapers, who act as his minions. In my novel BETWEEN, Death is the spirit of an individual (who has committed suicide, in this case) assigned to a living person during the course of their lifetime. When it's time for that person to die, the Death Spirit steps in to take them where they need to go.

These Death forms are similar in that they appear human. Why? Because death is a scary concept for most. In appearing as a human-like entity, there is the small chance of being able to bargain for one's life. I have yet to see Death in the form of a toothbrush or a crayon. Maybe a fluffy white kitten. One with a wide-eyed stare who doesn't give a damn about your pleas.  Hmm...

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday-A Picture...

Super busy week, so I'm leaving you with a picture. It may or may not be worth a thousand words.

"Peter Breaks Through" from my Peter Pan series. Kudos to my daughter, who endured a gazillion takes before I settled on this one. The rest of the series is in my "Clarissa Johal's Photography" album on Facebook. If you haven't joined me on Facebook I'd love to connect with you!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

On Vacation...

I had all my blogger posts scheduled for when I was on vacation. Apparently, Blogger decided not to auto-publish any of them. Soooo, my vacation blog posts will be posted this week, lol

My UK vacation was wonderful and I was sad to leave.

Our cottage was absolutely awesome. I highly recommend this place if you're looking for a historical country cottage in the Cumbria region.

Ona Ash, High Bankhill, England

Castlerigg Stone Circle, Keswick, England

Caerlaverock Castle, Dumfries, Scotland
Second time I've visited this castle--one of my favorites

Friday, May 2, 2014

Frightening Friday-Behind You

Photo courtesy of Seemann via Morguefile
You've probably experienced it before--that feeling of someone standing behind you...when there isn't. Even though there's nothing visible there, you find yourself glancing over your shoulder repeatedly. Are you feeling the need to check now? Go on. I won't tell.

I'm sure there's a scientific explanation for it, but no matter. Someone is standing behind you and there's not a darn thing you can do about it. Now, they're following you up the stairs. And now, into the bedroom. Aaaand....yep, the bathroom too. Sorry. You may want to make that shower a short one. And cover your naughty bits too.

So, when does this feeling happen the most? For me, it's when I'm writing. I always feel like someone is standing over my shoulder, reading my "stuff." I hate that. I don't even let my family read my "stuff" before it's published. But the feeling is there and I've learned to live with it.

When do you have that "look behind you" feeling?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday-The Writing Bug

My daughter has caught the writing bug. I swear I didn't write in her general direction or leave my writing around for her to catch. Perhaps it was unavoidable, for we share the same house. She sits in the corner for hours, typing away, a look of intense concentration on her face. Those that see fit to bother her, run the risk of being incinerated by lasers shooting from her eyes. Okay, maybe I jest about that. Maybe.

While I can only work on one book at a time, she boasts that she's working on no less than 14 books right now. According to her, she goes from book to book, depending on her mood. Show off. If I tried to do that, not only would my characters have a hissy-fit, but they would become hopelessly tangled like a ball of string. One book at a time, thank you very much.

Sometimes, my daughter and I bounce ideas off each other. It's interesting to hear her thoughts and what input she offers to my own. Invaluable, in fact. Last week, I hit a wall with the book I'm working on. Try as I might, my characters remained tight-lipped about what they planned to do next. Usually, I wait until they begin speaking to me again--in the shower or the middle of the night when I'm sleeping. You know, an opportune time. This time however, I decided to talk to Miss 14 Books and see what she thought. It took exactly five minutes to break my wall down to rubble. Take that, characters. I know exactly what happens next and I don't have to wait for you tell me. Guess I don't feel so bad about sharing my writing bug after all.

Now, if only I could manage 14 books at a time...