Clarissa Johal: 2017

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.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

New Release -The Exile of Elindel (The Elwardian Chronicles) (Volume 1) by Carol Browne #fantasy #elves

The Exile of Elindel (The Elwardian Chronicles) (Volume 1) 
by Carol Browne

Print Length: 349 pages
Publisher: Burning Willow Press, LLC
Publication Date: October 8, 2017
ISBN-10: 1947584065
ISBN-13: 978-1947584068


Elgiva, a young elf banished from Elvendom, must seek shelter among the Saxons as her only hope of surviving the coming winter.
Godwin, a Briton enslaved by the Saxons, is a man ignorant of his own inheritance and the secret of power he possesses.
A mysterious enemy, who will stop at nothing to wield absolute power over Elvendom, is about to make his move.
When destiny throws Elgiva and Godwin together, they embark upon the quest for the legendary Lorestone, the only thing that can save Elvendom from the evil that threatens to destroy it.
There is help to be found along the way from a petulant pony and a timid elf boy but, as the strength of their adversary grows, can Elgiva’s friends help her to find the Lorestone before it falls into the wrong hands?

Author Bio
Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her hometown. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol usually writes speculative fiction. Carol’s first novel The Exile of Elindel was published by Musa Publishing on 18th April 2014. Following the demise of Musa Publishing, she became a contracted author at Burning Willow Press. Her non-fiction novella Being Krystyna - A Story of Survival in WWII was released as an ebook by Dilliebooks on 11th November, 2016.

Twitter @CarolABrowne

Monday, October 9, 2017

#MeatlessMonday - Granola Super Bars #vegetarian #vegan #recipe

These have a ton of ingredients but are super easy to make. The recipe is quite versatile; substitute nuts of choice, raisins instead of cranberries and add any extras. They're great for hiking, snacking or a healthy after-school treat. Enjoy!

Homemade Granola Super Bars


4 cups whole oats
3/4 cup almonds, whole or sliced
3/4 cup cashews, chopped
1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
2/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup brown rice syrup
1/2 cup coconut oil
1-1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt


Pour 1-1/2 cups of the oats in a food processor. Pulse until finely ground.
Mix all oats, nuts, seeds, coconut, and dried fruit in a large bowl and set aside. 
Spray a 13x18 glass dish with cooking spray and set aside. 
Mix brown sugar, honey, brown rice syrup, and coconut oil in a sauce pot. Bring to a boil and remove from heat immediately. Stir in the vanilla and salt. 
Pour the syrup over the dry ingredients.
Mix well and transfer the mixture into the glass dish. Spread and press mixture until packed. 
Refrigerate for 2 hours and cut into squares. 
Wrap individual bars and store in the refrigerator. Keeps for up to 2 weeks.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

#FolkloreThursday - The Sandman #European

De Zandman. Frontispice uit de Nederlandse vertaling
'Sprookjes: tweede verzameling', 1847

Most think of the Sandman as a benevolent character from European folklore. Sprinkling magical sand onto the eyes of children, he was responsible for good dreams. His appearance was usually that of an old man wearing golden robes, and carrying a small bag of sand. Innocuous enough, right? But there were other folkloric versions of the Sandman who were quite different, and creatures you wouldn't wish to encounter.

A "less-beloved" version of the Sandman had long fingers, sharp teeth, and discolored skin like a that of a dead person. Hiding in the dark, it whispered, "tik-toc, tik-toc" in order to lure its unlucky victims into a deep sleep. Once asleep, this Sandman would come out of hiding and devour its prey. It only needed to feast once per night, but would sometimes choose to kill for fun.

Yet another version was used to scare children. If a child refused to go to sleep, this Sandman would sneak into their bedroom and throw sand into their eyes, causing them to itch. When the child rubbed, their eyes would fall out onto the floor in a bloody mess. The Sandman would then collect those eyes to feed to his pet bird.
Sleep well, little children.

By the late 19th century, the Sandman had transformed from a monster, into a more benign character. This led to the belief that there were two Sandmen, perhaps brothers. One brought good dreams, while the other had more evil intentions. In some folklore, their powers were even more varied. There were family Sandmen who offered special dreams, power over dreams, or glimpses into the future.

Over the years, the folklore has continued to change due to popular culture. It will be interesting to see what happens to the Sandman fifty years from now.

So...which Sandman will be visiting your dreams tonight?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Tangled Tuesday - #Paranormal #Cat Fur and the #Dog Days of Summer

Summer is here! The teens are off from school and at Day Two, already bored. My latest book, Whispers in the Wood is proving to be quite the challenge to finish. That said, my goal is to finish it by the end of the year. My characters are already complaining I've put them on hold during the day, but I find it impossible to write with other people around. Unfortunately, that leaves the wee hours of the morning and late, late nights when my brain is babbling weird crap that makes no sense.

Another summer event is that my dogs and cats go out of their way to shed extra hard. I keep thinking they'll eventually go bald. C'est la vie, it's always house cleaning day. While sweeping up their offerings, I noticed that fur is quite paranormal in nature. Here's why:

Spiritual Attachment - It will attach itself to you and nothing short of an exorcism can get it off. Be forewarned.

Full-Bodied Apparitions - It hides under your bed and drifts out when you least expect it.

Feelings of Being Touched - Usually around the face and nose.

ESP - Black fur is especially sensitive to white clothing, while white fur is drawn to black clothing. I can only attribute this to the fact that fur must be psychic.

Reincarnation - Fur is reborn even after you brush it away. Fur is eternal.

Feelings of Dread - Usually experienced on house cleaning day.

Orbs - Fur appears "front and center" in photographs. Every. Time.

Unexplained Odors - Coming from the dog bed. Even after you wash it. Twice. 

I've tried salting and saging my house but the fur keeps returning, more powerful than ever. Crystals are next but I've never had luck with those.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

#FolkloreThursday - Gashadokuro #Japanese #ghost

"Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre"
Ukiyo-e woodblock print by Japanese artist Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798–1861)
Creative Commons
The gashadokuro are skeletal giants created from the bones of people who died of starvation. A class of supernatural monster, or yōkai, their teeth chatter and their bones rattle as they walk. If they come across a human at night, they will turn invisible and silently creep up on their victims to crush them in their hands or bite off their head. It is said the victim can hear the sound of ringing bells before they strike.

Victims of famine who die without receiving proper funerary rites are at risk of becoming gashadokuro. Unable to pass on, these souls are reborn as hungry ghosts. When the bones of hundreds of these victims gather together (due to a village famine or soldiers who die in battle) they can form the skeletal monster. Too large and powerful to be killed, it will continue to feed until the energy and malice stored within the creature has completely burned out. The gashadokuro are indestructible, though Shinto charms can ward them off.

The earliest record of a gashadokuro goes back over a thousand years ago. A samurai named Taira no Masakado led a bloody rebellion against the central government of Kyoto during the the Heian period. His daughter, Takiyasha-hime, was a famous sorceress. When Masakado was killed in battle, his daughter continued his cause. Using her black magic, she summoned a giant skeleton to attack the city of Kyoto. Her monster is depicted in a famous print by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (shown above).

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wishlist Wednesday - Sucreabeille @sucreabeille #unique #handmade #bathproducts

Welcome to Wishlist Wednesday!

Photo used by permission, courtesy of Sucreabeille

My shout-out is to a shop I found at Animazement. 
Sucreabeille makes atmospheric sprays, bath and body oils, soaps, lotions, hair products and deodorant. Her scents are unique - check out her scent list. With products such as, Norman Loves Mother soap,  It Puts the Lotion On Its Skin unscented lotion bar, and Calm the F**k Down relaxation and stress relief aromatherapy oil, what's not to love? 

I went on a soap shopping spree and bought several - Graveyard, Jareth, King of the Goblins, Wicker Man, Papa Legba, and Frau Perchta. I went a little crazy because they smell THAT good. 
Dragon's blood, dirt, cedar, woodsmoke and papyrus? I'm all in. 

Order via

*Products are made to order - make sure you check her shipping time.
Instagram hexennacht.scents

Monday, June 5, 2017

#MeatlessMonday - Another Tofu Recipe...Run in Fear

Photo courtesy of Puno 3000 via Flickr
It's time to share one of those recipes. (cue in scary music) Mua-ha-ha! Tofu isn't scary, I promise. But it only works if you do something with it. Marinate it, spice it up, put it in something, but for goodness sake, don't just lay a white slab on your plate and call it a meal. That's just gross. Think of tofu like a sponge. And on that culinary note, here we go...

Because the weather is warming up, I decided to share a tofu burger recipe. I see you trying to sneak away! Come back, or I'll send my minions to fetch and make you eat tofu for eternity. It's just one recipe.  Enjoy!

Tofu Burgers

1 red onion, finely chopped
2 tsp olive oil
6-1/2 oz mushrooms, finely chopped
11 oz firm tofu
1/2 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
2-3 cloves of garlic
2 T basil
2 cups breadcrumbs
1 T tomato paste
2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T chili-garlic sauce
1 egg (to make recipe vegan, you can add 1/4 cup tomato sauce)

8 hamburger buns
*Cooking oil

1) In a pan, heat 2 tsp. of olive oil and add onions, mushrooms, and spinach. Cook until softened.

2) Blend the tofu, garlic, and basil in a food processor until smooth.

3) Transfer tofu mixture to a bowl and stir in onion mixture, breadcrumbs, tomato paste, vinegar, chili-garlic sauce, egg (or tomato sauce). Refrigerate 30 minutes.

4) Divide mixture into 8 patties and press together well.

5) Heat cooking oil in a pan and fry patties for 4-5 minutes on each side until they are golden. They will fall apart, so be careful! OR you can bake patties at 375F for 30 minutes. turning once

*Serve in wholegrain buns with avocado, cheese, sprouts or topping of choice.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Frightening Friday - Haunted #Raleigh #NorthCarolina #Ghosts and Urban Legends - Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of Haunted Places to Visit in Raleigh.

Photo courtesy of Mark Turner - Public Domain
Mordecai House

Built in 1785, the Mordecai house is located in the heart of downtown Raleigh. Once part of a thriving plantation, it is one of the oldest homes in the area. Historic outbuildings include the Badger-Iredell Law Office, the overseer's office and smokehouse, the Allen Kitchen, St. Mark's Chapel, and the Andrew Johnson house; birthplace of the 17th President, Andrew Johnson.

The ghost who inhabits the Mordecai house is said to be the spirit of Mary Willis Mordecai Turk, who lived from 1858 to 1937. She appears wearing a grey 19th-century dress, and can occasionally be heard playing the piano in the downstairs drawing room. Some visitors have also reported seeing a grey mist hovering near the piano. The Mordecai house is filled with original furnishings and many family portraits. It is said that any unkind remarks directed towards Mary's portrait will result in the portrait dropping from the wall. During a field trip, a child claimed they'd seen a man appear and disappear by the Andrew Johnson house. The child became so inconsolable, that they had to be taken back to the school. There have been many investigations on the property - all resulting in impressive evidence of paranormal activity.

The city of Raleigh hosts a family-friendly Haunted Mordecai Festival every October.
Year-round tickets for a guided tour of the home may be purchased at the Visitor Center.

Photo courtesy of Mark Turner - Public Domain
Governor’s Mansion

This Victorian-style mansion has been called home by North Carolina governors since 1891. It was once described by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as having “the most beautiful governor’s residence interior in America.” The mansion was built from native materials and occupied by 28 governors’ families throughout North Carolina's history. It is also reputedly haunted.

In 1891, Governor Daniel Fowle gave his carpenters precise measurements to construct a bed for the second-floor bedroom. The bed was constructed and moved into the residence. That same year, Governor Fowle died in the same bed but many have suggested that his spirit remained. In 1970, Governor Bob Scott decided to replace the massive wooden bed with a modern, king-sized bed. The old bed was moved to a room on the third floor, and the new bed put in its place. A short time afterward, the governor was awakened at night by a strange rapping sound coming from the wall where the original headboard had been. The rapping continued for several years, and the family nicknamed the pesky spirit, "Governor Fowle’s Ghost."

When a new administration took over the office, they decided to move the old bed back to its original location on the second floor. The ghost has not been heard from since.

Photo courtesy of Hans via Pixabay - CC0 Public Domain
Poole Woods

William Poole was a wealthy mill owner during the Civil War and owned large tracts of wooded land just east of the city. When Union troops marched into Raleigh, a rumor spread that Poole had vast amounts of gold hidden in the woods around his estate. The Union troops confiscated Poole's belongings, including his prized white horse, but the gold was never recovered.

Against Poole's dying wishes, the trees surrounding his mansion were cut down for timber. However, the trees were found to be worthless, having rotted from the inside. Shortly after Poole’s death, a ghostly white horse was spotted along the road in the woods surrounding the mansion.

Poole’s estate house burned to the ground over a century ago. The tract of land can be found between Walnut Creek Amphitheatre and the Neuse River.


Thursday, June 1, 2017

Thoughtful Thursday - The Overtoun Bridge Mystery

Photo courtesy of Allan Ogg Creative Commons License 
Overtoun Bridge, an arched bridge near the village of Dumbarton in the Scottish Lowlands, has gained quite a bit of media attention. Over the past 60 years, the crumbling stonework has seen more than 600 dogs taking a 50 foot plunge, with many of them meeting an untimely end at the bottom. All of the deaths have occurred at virtually the same spot, between the final two parapets on the right-hand side.

Rumors have long circulated that the bridge and the nearby Overtoun House are haunted, with the spectres said to be responsible for influencing the living. In 1994, a local man threw his baby son off the bridge, claiming the child was the anti-Christ. Shortly after, he tried to end his own life with an unsuccessful suicide attempt from the same bridge. In Celtic mythology, Overtoun was known as 'the thin place' - an area in which the veil between heaven and earth could easily be passed.

Animal experts have conducted experiments as to why dogs would be jumping to their deaths. Their conclusion? The musky smell from mink living under the bridge was the culprit. For those who are not satisfied with that explanation, you are not alone. Dogs who survived the jump didn't run off to catch those minks--they ran back to jump off the bridge again. 

The bridge now has a warning: "Pet owners should only walk their pets at Overtoun with extreme caution. Dogs should be leashed, leash-trained and under the control of an adult."

The mystery continues.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Frightening Friday - #Raleigh #NorthCarolina #Ghosts and Urban Legends

I love urban legends and haunted places. There are many such legends and places in Raleigh, but whatever city you live in, I'm sure you have some of your own. If you visit Raleigh, here's a couple of less-known hotspots to check out. Whether they're "truly" haunted or not, is up to you to decide....

Ratcliffe Angel of Oakwood Cemetery

In the beautiful and historic Oakwood Cemetery is a grave belonging to Etta Rebecca White (1880-1918). The grave is marked with a stone angel, shown in my photograph above. I've taken photos of this angel numerous times. Little did I know, there was a legend connected to it.
Legend states that if you view the angel at night, the stone angel turns around to look at you. It has also been reported that, by day, people have felt the angel's gaze upon them, following their every movement.
The stone angel is beautiful and makes for a good photo, legend or not. My respects to Etta Rebecca White and her descendants. If this legend is true, apparently, the stone angel is her sentinel.

Dos Taquitos Restaurant

I've eaten at this place - the food was good, the staff was wonderful, and the artistic ambiance was really cool. However, the building itself made me oddly uncomfortable. I felt oddly agitated the entire evening. When doing research on haunted Raleigh, I was surprised when Dos Taquitos turned up! Apparently, the resturaunt has a history of paranormal happenings. The history is grim; the structure has burned down twice, there was a death on the premises, and another death next door. In addition to those two deaths, in 1995, John Williams Jr. murdered four prostitutes on the nearby railroad tracks. Patrons and workers alike have experienced whispers, knocks, and other spooky happenings. In spite of all that, I do recommend you check out the restaurant. Best nachos ever!

The Nazareth Catholic Orphanage c1930
Image courtesy the NC Division of Archives and History
Crybaby Lane

There are a few stories regarding the Nazareth Catholic Orphanage. Once a large and beautiful building, it is now no more than a little stretch of deserted grass off Bilyeu Street and referred to as Crybaby Lane. After doing some research on this place, here's what I came up with.

The story: In 1958, a fire broke out in the orphanage dormitory. The fire spread quickly throughout the building. By the time the sleeping children were aware of smoke filling the hallways, it was too late. When the fire department arrived, the building had already been gutted. Months after the remains of the orphanage were torn down and removed, neighbors complained the smell of smoke was still in the air. The smell was so strong that some people would choke when they walked across the field. There have also been reports of the cries of children, calling out in fear.

The truth: There were several fires, but none that reportedly killed the children. One death was reported on the property. In 1905, a fire consumed the priest’s living quarters. One of the priests was attempting to help his fellow priests to safety but was unfortunately killed in the blaze. In 1912, a fire burned out the stables, but no one was injured. In 1961, a fire was accidentally started by a priest who was attempting to burn wasps’ nests. It burned the rectory to the ground, but again, no one was injured.

Today, most of the houses surrounding the orphanage have been abandoned. The area is an empty field. If you hunt through the grass, you'll be able to find the cornerstone, which is all that's left of the old orphanage.

Stay Tuned for Haunted Raleigh: Part Two

There are several other reportedly haunted places in Raleigh. I'll post them once I finish checking the historical facts.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Tangled Tuesday - Luminous Spirits by Dusty Crabtree #newrelease #giveaway #youngadult #paranormal

Psst! Dusty Crabtree is having a giveaway. One lucky winner will win a print copy of Shadow Eyes or the sequel, Luminous Spirits, 3 will get the ebook version.

From 3/17-3/24, the first book, Shadow Eyes, is on sale for ONLY 99 CENTS!

Shadow Eyes

Iris thought she could ignore the shadows…until they came after everyone she loved.

Seventeen-year- old Iris Kohl has been able to see both dark and light figures ever since a tragic incident three years ago. The problem is, no one else seems to see them, and even worse…the dark figures terrorize humans, but Iris is powerless to stop them.
Although she’s learned to deal with watching shadows harass everyone around her, Iris is soon forced to question everything she thinks she knows about her world and herself. Her sanity, strength, and will power are tested to the limits by not only the shadows, but also a handsome new teacher whose presence scares away shadows, a new friend with an awe-inspiriting aura, and a mysterious, alluring new student whom Iris has a hard time resisting despite already having a boyfriend. As the shadows invade and terrorize her own life and family, Iris must ultimately accept the guidance of an angel to revisit the most horrific event of her life and become the hero she was meant to be.

Luminous Spirits

Old habits die hard. Old enemies, even harder.

Iris must now perfect her newfound abilities in order to help her shadow-oppressed family and friends, but more importantly, she must prepare for an impending fight with her most hated adversary. After the arrival of a new mean girl who seems to have history with Iris’s boyfriend, Iris quickly figures out that she is anything but the typical mean girl. She not only creates havoc and conflict among Iris and her friends, but her presence also means that Iris’s inevitable confrontation with her enemy may, in fact, be closer than she thought.

If Iris can figure out why the new girl is there and what her enemy is planning, she’ll at least be one step ahead of their game. But will she be ready when the time comes to face her biggest challenge yet? Or will they succeed in tearing Iris apart before she even has the chance?

Author Bio

I love a good story, but I also love young people. These two loves are evident in all parts of my life. I
have been a high school English teacher since 2006 and a creative writing teacher since 2014. I’ve also been a youth sponsor at my local church for as long as I’ve been teaching. I feel very blessed with the amazing opportunities I have to develop meaningful relationships with teens on a daily basis. With my love of reading in the mix, becoming an author of young adult books was just a natural development of those two passions in my life. I live with my husband, Clayton, in Yukon, Oklahoma, where we often serve our community as foster parents. When I’m not chasing kids around the house or teaching, books and movies are my favorite diversion. Some of my favorite book series are The Hunger Games, Hush Hush, Divergent, and Percy Jackson. Some of my favorite movies are Inception, Avengers (and most Marvel movies), and Pride and Prejudice – an eclectic mix, I know.

Author Website
Amazon Author Page
Twitter @DustyCrabtree

Monday, March 20, 2017

Happy Spring Equinox! #amwriting

A quickie post and a happy spring to you! In North Carolina, spring feels right around the corner. 

I'm sharing baby bunnies with you today. It seems like a fitting thing to do on the Spring Equinox! In 2011, I had the pleasure of helping to rehabilitate these guys - they were released back into the wild when they got big enough. (Mama bunny had unfortunately met with an accident or become prey.) Every time I go for a run in the nature park my bunnies were released, I think of them. I hope they grew up and had baby bunnies of their own.

On the writing front, I've been spending a lot of time in my local forest to immerse myself in my character's world. You've heard of method actors? I'm what you'd call a method author. I like to experience what my characters would experience. Whispers in the Wood is coming along in fits and starts, largely due to the fact that I've been unable to get away for a writing retreat. Hopefully, that will happen soon. The book will be worth the wait, so please stay tuned! I'll leave you with the blurb, in case you missed it...

Whispers in the Wood
A paranormal dark fantasy

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.

Monday, January 16, 2017

POPPY by Clarissa Johal - 1st Place - 19th Annual Preditors & Editors Readers' Poll, Other Genre #paranormal #bestseller #KindleUnlimited

Poppy has won 1st Place in the 19th Annual Preditors & Editors Readers' Poll, Other Genre 

Thank you to those who voted! I'm thrilled to have the honor.

You can purchase your copy HERE

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 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?

*Poppy is a standalone novel

Thursday, January 5, 2017

2017 Nomination 19th Annual Preditors & Editors Readers' Poll

News for 2017!

Poppy and The Island have been nominated in the
19th Annual Preditors & Editors Readers' Poll!
Poppy has been nominated in the "Best of, Other Genre" category &
The Island has been nominated for "Best Cover Art."

It would be a huge honor to win one of these awards! 
If you've read Poppy and/or like the cover art for The Island,
I would love a vote!

Vote for Poppy 

Vote for The Island