Mid Year Update

Talk about curveball 2022! Another year of madness! There were plans. Big beautiful plans! And while those plans still exist, there has been movement because of those unexpected transitions life has her way of throwing. Personally, I’ve had some family upsets which I predominantly have to deal with and process alone (my partner, of course, has supported as much as one can). I’ve angered, been frustrated, hurt, grieved, run myself in circles, hurt some more, and accepted. Because sometimes that’s all we can do. Accept to find crumbs of peace and carry on. It just takes a little time. It’s a process many are familiar with. It’s been heavy.

Following the acceptances of a triple-pronged hit, I’ve another unexpected ‘bump’, who made himself known in a dream. My kids are excited about another sibling to teach and get up to extra mischief with. Since I have complicated pregnancies, and this one has already given us some wobbles, I’m (again) doing everything within my control to keep this little one inside until late 2022, ideally early 2023. My cervix needs a mantra, and this is the last! The instant physical hit means I’ve been heavily fatigued, and as of that wasn’t enough, I’ve been hammered with mine and the kids’ second bout of Covid of 2022. Because I wasn’t wiped enough by the heavy graft underway in my uterus, I am zapped because my lungs are in battle, and my body feels like it’s been used as a punchbag.

Moving in from all of that, onto the writing front update:

My novella, Asylum Daughter, released on 8th May 2022.

Redesigned the cover art for Murmur: Collected Horror.

Launched Clan Witch Etsy store for book related merchandise and signed copies.

My short story collection Incesticide: Collected Horror is available for preorder, releasing on 14th December 2022.

My sassy, immensely talented, and inspiring co-author, Ruthann Jagge and I launched our website, BrazenFolkHorror.com, for our upcoming 2022 release, Delevan House and future projects. Ruthann also released her fantastic solo debut novella in January 2022, The New Girls’ Patient; if you haven’t read her, this is an excellent example of her extraordinary work that should be on any horror fan’s reading list.

I’ve still been editing work for other writers and publishers via Word Refinery and also published poet Rafik Romdhani’s collection, The Crash of Verses.

I am working on my degree course too.

The latest developments has zapped my study schedule. I hope to recover enough to make up for that soon. Deadlines are looming! Anthology wise, unlike in the previous two years, I have not responded to any open calls. My dance card has been packed. I have gratefully received several invite opportunities but unfortunately had to decline several. One that I was able to submit a piece to was with KJK Publishing’s The Horror Collection: Nightmare Edition, which has just been released. It’s the biggest collection of the twelve-book series and worth picking up for a good flavour of many popular independent horror authors currently putting our new materiel.

More still to come for 2022, and 2023 is also beginning to fill up with a couple of accepted invites, continued work with my brazen co-author in crime and at least one (hopefully two) solo release(s). One of which will be a collection of poetry and drabbles, Clan Witch: Found Shadows.

Blood On Your Hands

Won’t keep your distance
Blood on your hands
Won’t wear a face covering
Blood on your hands
Won’t wash your hands again
Blood on your hands
Your exponential deviation from definition of essential
Blood on your hands
It’s just one hug, one kiss
Blood on your hands
Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble
Just one day you say
Blood on your hands
It could’ve been anything
Him, her, that other thing
The finger pointed can’t be proven
Asymptomatic, screaming lies of hoax
Blame the media
Pandemic naysayer
Systemic stupidity at the helm
Throwing around blame like it’s some game 
Voiding yourself of responsibility
Insane
BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS!
Even if you can’t see it
Know this is true
It’s not all about you
Except for, that’s right…
The blood on your hands
You think you're asserting your rights
Your right to kill
Dominating social discord
It’s just some cheap thrill 
Blood on your hands
Your right to your idea of freedom
Enslaved to conspiracy, half-truths – all lies
Ignorantly, defiant, belligerent, delusional
It’s staining 
That blood on your hands
These inconsiderate, selfish acts
Because it’s your right to protest
Catastrophic fires rage
The blood is still on your fucking hands.
Carry on, send your best wishes, your mother fucking prayers—
Until you take actions that count—
Your prayers are a joke
Hoaxer Hocus
You know what isn’t?
THE BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS!

The Junk of Magic

*Warning, this is a rant*

I was out walking this week with my children. Armed with bags and litter-pickers because rather than ignoring the problem and walking by in anger, we each have a responsibility to do something about it. And I’m not just talking about littering; I am a strong advocate in speaking up against injustices – whether to each other, other living beings or the environment. Keeping quiet and keeping the head down isn’t good enough. It’s cowardice, it’s weak, it’s a problem. There’s way too many of us that do that; if you are not proactive in becoming part of a solution, you are part of the problem; of that, I am a firm believer.

___

I recall an incident in early high school whereby a particularly nasty individual took it upon himself to verbally abuse and threaten me across a classroom of about 20 other kids AND a teacher. I stood up for myself, I was terrified, but I couldn’t wilt and cower as this bully wanted me to, even with the fear and terror coursing through my blood. I welcomed his challenge to action. This little dweeb loudly threatened to come after my friends (who were not in this class) and me after school. He threatened to stab me. In front of a teacher and class full of pupils – loudly – he said he would STAB me. The rest of the class sat silent. Witnessing and entirely inactive. The teacher sat silent – with her head down, the fear I could see coursing through her meek body. As my eyes pleaded at her to help in some way – she didn’t. I was a child, and I was appalled. If that mouthy Ned came at me in that room and stabbed me, as he threatened, I do not doubt that no-one would have ‘helped’. It would’ve just been a story they’d mouth off about after the damage was done. That’s only one highly snipped account of many from the glory days of childhood and the wonderful ‘safe’ public schooling system. If I had been attacked that day – every single student in that class and that teacher would have had my blood (or his) on their hands. Just as every one of us who walks past carelessly discarded rubbish, or ignores other acts of cruelty and abuse (for a quiet life, self-preservation, or because it’s not our business) — we carry the responsibility for the damage caused — especially if you choose to do nothing. The bird that chokes, it’s chicks that die, the domestic abuse victim murdered, the bullied kid that turns to suicide for an end.

It’s sad to say, for the most part, what I’ve witnessed in my time on this poor, messed up and abused planet – it’s all just talk and not enough doing. 

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Anyway, when I was walking with my kids, picking up rubbish as we went, we passed through an abandoned fairy trail. Last summer (2020), in the midst of a pandemic, lockdown and folk rushing around to be seen to care, this fairy trail was one such endeavour. I have no connections to the creators. And I know my realist attitude to such things is ‘negative’ to superficial types. But, none the less, when I heard about this and saw it for myself last year — these little areas within some woodland were taken over with ‘cutsie’ painted signs and an absolute barrage of plastic toys. I did snort that this was someone’s ‘great’ idea of collecting and getting rid of unwanted toys, but dressing it up – you know for the ‘magic’, for the kids! I wandered through the wonderland of trash – I mean the delightfully lovely community fairy trail. I couldn’t help but think, I really hope they have a plan to collect and remove all the ‘decor’ which included glass items, tinsel, dummies hanging from trees, plastic blocks, plastic slides, dollies, lights etc…

Maybe I’m a pessimist, some would say, but I’ll stick to realist…

This was last summer, it’s coming up almost a year later; all of that junk is still there, and thanks to the elements, it’s strewn around the surrounding area – dumped, left, abandoned, trashed. My daughters and I collected and disposed of some little pieces that we could today, including a fair amount of broken glass, but couldn’t manage much given what we had with us – there is so much there – caught up in trees, polluting the nearby water. It’s utterly appalling.

It looked ‘good’ at the time, though, at least to the bright sparks who came up with this idea for ‘the children’. It’s a shame it wasn’t used as a follow-through learning opportunity about our responsibility to the environment and cleaning up after ourselves. Another half-baked idea. Broken glass, plenty of plastic to kill and injure the wildlife – it’s fucking magical alright. There’s obviously much more to this, but this really summed up the ‘community’ spirit littered through this pandemic year (for me) – all these fools rushing to appear to be ‘caring’ ‘do-gooders’ doing their bit to get a pat on the back but leaving a trail of mess behind for someone else to deal with. The neighbours banging on pots and pans, clapping for essential workers one night, then throwing get-togethers and making many non-essential trips between the applause. Hypocrisy at its finest. Creating magic and the pandemic buzz of positive ‘wellbeing’ in the community, for a quick-fix feel-good factor, then discarding it carelessly – the trauma and hazard left behind will far outlast the so-called magic. The fairies must be sleeping, indeed.