Clarissa Johal: September 2016

Thursday, September 29, 2016

#FolkloreThursday - Icelandic #Ghosts

Lately, I've been thinking about taking a writing trip to Iceland. I have no idea why, but I can't seem to get the idea out of my head. I know it's expensive and remote, but perhaps a story awaits...

Because of that, my folklore today is on Icelandic ghosts.

Ghost folktales and beliefs are very popular within the Icelandic community. What sets Icelandic ghosts apart from others is that they usually carry weapons, come in many different forms, and have difficulties assimilating in other countries. It is believed that ghosts who immigrated with Icelanders to Canada in the late 1800's, didn't survive very long due to difficulties of being accepted by the native ghosts. But on the home front, Icelandic ghosts are "alive" and well. Talking skeletons, ghosts disguised as animals, male, female and infant ghosts - all of these can be found across Iceland.

Móri - The Male Ghost

The most talk-about ghosts in Iceland are the móri, or male ghosts. The name originates from their clothing; a brownish or red sweater and farmer's hood. This is not unlike the clothing worn by the people of Iceland, centuries ago. Some móri were the spirits of drowned sailors whose sole purpose was to harm the living.

Skotta - The Female Ghost

Icelandic female ghosts are called skotta. The name also originates from their clothing; a brownish dress/skirt, red socks or shirt, and a headdress turned backwards. It is mentioned that skotta often suck on their fingers. They cause death and insanity, and may follow the same family for generations. 

Infant Ghosts

An infant who was not baptized before its death was doomed to haunt. Murdered infants would also transform into ghosts, enacting vengeance toward their mother. Since infants lack language, they can only cry disturbingly in their cribs.

Not a ghost, but this Icelandic horse is gorgeous!
Ghosts in Animal Disguises

Icelandic ghosts can appear in all living shapes or forms. They may choose to transform and appear as a dog, grey mare, or whatever animal strikes their fancy.

Mountainside Ghosts

These ghosts live in mountain shacks or caves. They may lead travelers astray, and are often seen by shepherds.

Stable Ghosts 

These are the spirits of farmers who have passed away. 

Nude Ghosts 

These ghosts are a premonition of approaching death. Stories tell of people who have seen the nude form of familiar person, who then disappears. Several days later, the person who appeared naked died. 

Talking Skeletons

A story about a talking skeleton goes like this:

In the 18th century, an intact and complete skeleton of a woman was found in a grave. She was later placed in the basement of a church. Several schoolboys challenged a servant maid to steal the skeleton, which she did. On her way back, the skeleton told the maid a story of how she had died. Apparently, the woman couldn't rot completely in her grave due to a dispute with the bishop's wife. The servant relayed the situation to the bishop's wife, the dispute was settled, and the skeleton turned to dust.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tangled Tuesday - Benevolent Ghosts, Witches, and Mourning Dove Locket by Juli D. Revezzo @julidrevezzo #paranormal #fantasy

Benevolent Ghosts, Witches, and Mourning Dove Locket

by Juli D. Revezzo

My paranormal fantasy series, Antique Magic, deals with Caitlin Fulmer, a witch who finds herself pulled without her consent into a world filled with the supernatural, with gods, and magic. While that frightened her at first, by this point in her life, in the latest novel, Mourning Dove Locket, she’s getting used to it. Ghosts float around town and she’s no longer skittish about them. They simply are—almost as if she views them as other citizens of her Gulf Breeze home. There are times when they can get out of hand, however, for instance, whenever someone (corporeal or not) comes to her for assistance.
This spring, in Mourning Dove Locket, it was the teenaged Maria. Or more specifically, Maria’s grandma who, in effect, is the girl’s guardian spirit. The poor ghost seems to have an insistent problem related to an antique locket, and Maria doesn’t know what to do, even though Caitlin realizes the teen is a budding witch herself. Though a bit too young to invite into her coven’s helpful circle, there are ways Caitlin can instruct the girl: for instance she can pass along the charms she uses daily to strengthen her own shields; and there are spells and other witchy tools she can teach Maria to help her recognize the benevolent ghosts from the spiteful and what to do about them.
How? And will they truly be helpful especially when it turns out a ghost is a bit peskier than Caitlin expected? Well, you will have to read to find out!

If you’d like to know more about Mourning Dove Locket, here’s the synopsis:

For antique shop owners Caitlin and Trevor Fulmer, the intrusion of gods and ghosts is an unfortunate daily occurrence. After a young girl offers Caitlin a gold locket, however, she can’t help but notice it’s oozing with paranormal energy.
More significantly, the locket’s owner is surrounded by Otherworld spirits. Caitlin recognizes in the girl all the signs of a budding witch in the midst of a dangerous crisis.

Can she and her covenmates protect the girl and assist her in embracing her powers, before those beyond the veil extract their revenge?

Mourning Dove Locket is available at Amazon
And in paperback from Createspace

Sign up for my Newsletter

I hope you will enjoy Mourning Dove Locket! Thanks, Clarissa, for inviting me here today!

Author Bio

Juli D. Revezzo loves fantasy and Celtic legend, and writing stories with all kinds of fantastical elements. She is the author of The Antique Magic series and the Paranormal Romance Celtic Stewards Chronicles series, the steampunk historical romance Watchmaker’s Heart, and short stories published in ETERNAL HAUNTED SUMMER, LUNA STATION QUARTERLY, among others. She is also a member of the Independent Author Network and the Magic Appreciation Tour.

Visit her at:

Monday, September 26, 2016

#MeatlessMonday - Homemade Macaroni & Cheese with Cauliflower #vegetarian

Yet another recipe to hide incorporate vegetables into the diets of my teens. This one was well-received. You can't taste the cauliflower - if you're brave, add broccoli for color and a nutritional boost. You can even add Morningstar Farms recipe crumbles to make it a one-dish meal.


Photo courtesy of Su-lin via Flickr
Homemade Macaroni and Cheese with Cauliflower

8 ounces uncooked elbow macaroni
2 cups chopped cauliflower, cooked
1/4 cup butter
2-1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
3 cups milk
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook macaroni, drain and pour into baking dish.
Chop cauliflower (and broccoli, if you wish) into very small pieces. Parboil until tender. Drain and add to macaroni.

In a saucepan, melt butter and whisk in flour to form a roux. Slowly whisk in milk until blended. Whisk in Cheddar cheese until smooth. Cook until mixture thickens. Pour over macaroni/vegetable mixture.

Top with Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 375F for about 30 minutes or until top is slightly browned and bubbly.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Frightening Friday - Whispers in the Wood #excerpt #paranormal #darkfantasy

It’s been quite a summer. Thank you for all the emails and kind words, I appreciated them more than you know. I write for you.
On the home front - my teens both started school this week. I’ve had to throw lots of chocolate their way, because school’s always an adjustment after a lazy summer – for everyone! It looks to be a good year, though.
On writing - my goal is to finish Whispers in the Wood by the beginning of next year. For those who've read Poppy, Whispers in the Wood focuses on the side-character of Rowan. Find out how Rowan received her “gift” in my paranormal dark fantasy.
For now, I’ll leave you with my opening chapter. I rarely let readers take a peek at my work in progress, but I asked my characters for permission. All but one said it was okay. If I go missing, blame Firth.
…and check the trees.

Chapter One

“We share the upstairs bathroom. There is no en suite. This isn’t a fancy London B and B."
"No problem, Grace," Rowan said with a sigh. "I was just asking."
"That's Mrs. Lyon." The stout woman gave her a once-over before continuing up the stairs. The hem of her dress scraped against her knee socks. "Please clean the tub after you bathe. Towels are on the shelf next to the sink. Only use one, as I’m not a maid. I lock the front door at ten pm. The back door will be locked as well, so mind your time when you’re out.”
“Do I get a key?”
       “No.” She turned with a frown. “The doors are unlocked during the day. You’re expected in by ten pm. It’s a small cottage, and I don’t take kindly to be woken at all hours.”
 Rowan shouldered her backpack wearily. “Okay.”
“That door is to remain closed at all times. The room is off-limits.” She stopped at the end of the hall and opened another door. “This is your room. It’s over the kitchen, so it should stay reasonably warm. Extra blankets are in the storage chest at the foot of the bed.”
The room had a slight musty smell to it. A single bed, topped with a well-worn, quilt took up most of the space. An old, wooden storage chest filled the rest. A small window faced rolling, green hills that ended at a thick forest.
“If you wish to hike, there’s a footpath that leads to the village. Don’t bother the sheep. And leave your hiking boots in the mudroom so as not to track.”
“Yes, ma’am.” Rowan saluted her.
“Are you being cheeky?”
She opened her mouth to answer and was immediately cut off.
“I’m up at four-thirty am. Breakfast is at six am. If you want breakfast later than that, you’ll have to walk to the village.”
“Six is fine—”
“No loud music, drinking or smoking." Grace pointed an accusing finger at her. "And no guests or funny business. There’s a pub in the village for socializing. This is my home, not a party house."
"I wasn't planning any funny business"
"You paid for three nights. I’ll expect you out by noon on Monday. If you decide to stay longer, you’ll have to pay for another three nights by three pm on Sunday. I don’t do one-night lets.”
“I’m flying back to California on Thursday
“And no drugs.”
“I don’t do—”
“Welcome to Sheep’s Crossing.” Without further ado, the woman turned and shut the door behind her.
“And what a warm welcome it is.” Rowan tossed her backpack on the floor. 
Backpacking across England had been everything she’d hoped for, up until a couple of days ago. She’d been hiking along a deserted stretch of road when a car stopped to ask for directions. Before she knew what was happening, the two men made a grab for her backpack and there had been a struggle. She’d delivered a good kick to one of them, but the other had pulled a knife. She’d woken in the middle of nowhere with a lump on the back of her head, a deep cut across her shoulder, and the contents of her backpack strewn across the surrounding field. Out of habit, she’d kept some cash in her hiking boots, but her cell phone and the rest of her money were gone. 
For two days, she’d hiked across miles of rolling lowlands, but the English weather had not been cooperating. It had rained non-stop and her backpack and clothes were completely soaked through. Even her skin felt water-logged. By the third night, Rowan was ready to give up she’d find civilization, when she'd encountered a stranger who directed her to Grace’s. The remote bed and breakfast was a godsend. And in spite of Grace's less-than-welcome attitude, she couldn’t talk herself out of spending the money. One more night sleeping in the rainy cold would have done her in.
I’ll file a police report tomorrow, Rowan mused. After that, I’ll catch a bus back to Heathrow and it’s bye-bye England. She gingerly touched the lump on the back of her head. “And I thought student life was rough.”  She pulled off her wet boots and absently scratched at one of the many insect bites she'd acquired.
Rowan stood and peeked out the bedroom window. The rain had finally stopped and the sounds of sheep echoed across the hills. In the distance, a clump of thick forest was touched by the sun’s dying rays. A chilly breeze slipped through the cracks of the window-frame. She gave the window a tug and latched it.
The shared bathroom boasted a large claw foot tub with a shower attachment.  A sponge and plastic bottle of what she assumed was tub cleaner had been placed next to the tub. Wooden planked floors were painted white, as were the walls. Over the sink, an accordion-style mirror was affixed, it’s metal showing traces of rust.
 Peeling off her wet clothing, she tossed her underthings in the tub. Rowan eyed her muddy jeans and sweatshirt as she waited for the tub to fill. There’s no way I'll be able to wash those and have them dry by morning. And the rest of my clothes are just as disgusting.  
"Maybe Grace will let me use her washing machine," she said aloud with mock-cheerfulness. "After a lovely breakfast in bed, and some warm and welcoming conversation, of course." She let out a snort.
Rowan stepped into the tub, and sank into the hot water with a sigh. Scrubbing off several days of travel, she winced as the soap stung her shoulder. Her namesake tattoo, one of a rowan tree, felt ruined. Sustaining the brunt of the knife attack, the tree's trunk was now split in half. Red berries that scattered the tree's branches like ripe fruit, now resembled dried blood drops. She rinsed the wound carefully, before settling back into the water.
Leaving school mid-quarter was probably a mistake, she reflected. She'd set the money aside for a summer backpacking trip, not for a last-minute trip in the spring. Most of that money is gone now. Crap. Lately, her grades had slipped, she’d missed several days of work, and she’d felt little joy spending time with her friends. She wasn’t running away, Rowan told herself, she just needed some time to get her life together. So much had happened in the past few months.
Finishing her bath, she stepped from the tub. Rowan wiped the mirror and met her gaze. The dark circles under her eyes stood out against her pallid complexion. No wonder Grace gave me the stink eye. I look like shit. She ruffled her short, black hair. Her dark blue eyes reflected the stress over the past few days, but at least she was clean. She wrapped herself in a fluffy towel and gathered her clothes. I’ll wipe out the tub later.
The door to the verboten room remained closed, and she could hear Grace downstairs in the kitchen. In spite of the woman’s stern warning, she was tempted to peek inside. You’re going to get yourself kicked out. And don't think Grace wouldn't do it, either. She hurried down the hallway to her room and closed the door behind her.
Twilight was descending and Rowan switched on the light next to her bed. Tossing her dirty clothes and towel on the floor, she draped her washed underthings across the storage chest. She hunted in her backpack for something semi-dry to sleep in. After several moments, she gave up.
Rowan slid naked between the clean, cotton sheets with an exhausted sigh. I’ll hike to the village tomorrow morning. I’m sure they’ll have a laundromat and a store of some kind. I can stock up on cheap food, maybe I’ll explore a little, and... She was asleep before she finished the thought.
It seemed like seconds later when she woke with a start. It took several moments to orientate herself. I'm not outside. I'm safe. She let out a breath of relief before snuggling into the covers again. Her vision focused on the curtains, waving like beckoning hands. I don’t remember opening the window, though.  She quickly got up to close it. 
Moonlight traced a path to the forest. Her gaze was pulled to a red-orange glow within the trees. She leaned out the window to get a better look, and a breeze hit her naked skin. Rowan shivered and pulled back. Feeling grateful she wasn’t the one camping outside in the cold, she closed the window and latched it.


Intrigued? I hope so. Look for Whispers in the Wood, coming 2017 via Faeriemoon Press