Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Red Phone Box Book Swap


Someone's turned our local phone box into a book swap! Reminds me of this little title by Ghostwoods Books. I'm going to have to get a copy to put in there. You can find the book swap by the bus stop in the Northamptonshire village of Guilsborough.

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Vamp it Up

Turns out I'm not the only one who's been into Vampires this week - and Carmilla. One of my favourite author/YouTubers,  Caitlin Doughty, just covered it above. I also found a couple of interesting TED animations. One covers How Dracula Became the World's Most Famous Vampire and the other looks at the folklore of vampires and other, less sexy, interpretations.

Friday, 19 November 2021


I love Gothic classics. How did I never know about this? 

One of the very first vampire thrillers, this audio adaptation follows 18-year-old Laura as she recounts the story of her mysterious, intriguing and beautiful house guest Carmilla, who is stranded in the forest after a carriage accident and taken in by Laura’s widowed father. The girls develop a friendship which turns into a passionate meeting of souls. A relationship of vampire and prey, the story is told through Laura’s eyes as she is drawn further into Carmilla’s terrifying world of pleasure and pain.

A masterpiece of erotic Gothic horror, Carmilla encompasses mystery, suspense, forbidden lust, violence...and lots of blood....

Dear gods, it was lesbi-licious. I'm just left a little dazed. I am such a huge Castlevania fan, and Carmilla was a central character in that, played by Jaime Murray, who was fabulous in Hustle. Then I was reading The Infernal Devices trilogy, and there was Carmilla, the vampire, again. Instead of thinking, 'oh, that's strange, perhaps she's a recurring literary figure from history,' I just thought 'oh, that's a weird coincidence.'

I'm not that bright.

But now my eyes are open. 

I'm fascinated by this. It predates Bram Stoker's Dracula by almost three decades! But the Grande Dames of Gothic, Mary Shelley and Ann Radcliffe, still got the guys beat by quite a way in terms of original spooky. I just wish the Wiki page said more about how this was received because it was racy. Carmilla is a sapphic icon, and I just wonder how it went down back in the day. I mean, I know there was a lot of intimacy between female characters back then, but this wasn't playing. It's absolutely delicious. 

And, although I would have loved to hear Jaime Murray in the role of Carmilla, kudos for casting David Tennant, who played Peter Vincent in the 2011 remake of Fright Night. I still don't forgive them for doing that, but he made it tolerable. 

Anyway, it was a really fun, short, sexy dose of Gothic goodness.

Love it.

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

I Wussed Out - YouTube Shenanigans


I panicked. I've closed the new author channel I started about six months ago and I've gone back to my old YouTube channel. I started the old one back in 2013 and did absolutely nothing with it. I uploaded a few unlisted videos for friends and family and the occasional random clip about Rwandan dancing or weird insects. 

I started a new channel to post more consistently and talk about writing. 

Turns out, that was totally the wrong thing to do. A brief survey of Twitter confirmed this. 

My old channel had about 230 subscribers - again, from posting nothing, ever - whereas my new YouTube channel had only 50 subscribers after about six months. Also, despite putting up a video telling everyone I'd moved, and changing all the endscreens and sub buttons to the new channel, people kept on subscribing to the old one! It was bizarre. The harder I worked on the new channel, the more people subscribed to the old one...

New Channel

Old Channel

+26 subscribers in the past month for doing... again, nothing. 

Go figure. 

So, you can see the incentive really isn't there to try to build up subscribers from scratch on a new channel. Fifty wasn't bad, and those who subscribed to the new channel seemed more engaged in liking and commenting, but I felt I really needed to call it before things went too far. Sadly, you can't merge channels. If you take down old videos and upload them to another channel, there's no way to backdate them so they appear in date order, new uploads will always display as top of your recent releases list. 

It was a tough call to make. One video I made about the Nyarigongo volcanic eruption back in May got over 2,000 views and 49 likes, but the two most-viewed videos on the old channel include one about traditional Rwandan dance, at over 34,000 views and 178 likes, and one rather shaky video of a Congolese music group, 9,000+ views and 133 likes, so as uncomfortable as it feels, time is better spent on the old channel.

I've also just invested in an Insta360 One x2 camera and an Acer Nitro 5 laptop, which is the quickest thing I've ever seen. You press a button and it's instantly booted up and ready to rock. I've never had a nice laptop before and the difference is startling. It walks through DaVinci Resolve like a strole in the park. I can't wait to get back to Rwanda and start shooting some beautiful footage. Well, I can wait a little bit, I'm rather enjoying all the food and bubble baths in the UK at the moment...

But, yes. It's something to look forward to.

Wednesday, 3 November 2021

Resolutions Anthology

Woke up this morning to a lovely surprise - author copies!

I entered the Bridge House Publishing competitions earlier in the year and was selected for their anthology Resolutions.

This is a collection of challenging and thought-provoking stories. All stories need a resolution and these provide ones that will astound and delight you. We looked for: story, good writing, interpretation of theme and professionalism.  All of the stories submitted had those elements. Here  we offer a variation to cater to our readers’ eclectic tastes. Sit back and surrender to the Bridge House magic.

Grab Your Copy Here




Sunday, 31 October 2021

Comical Observations


What a lovely week! Thank you to my gorgeous friends Vikki & Dai for my hand-knitted hat to help me survive the British winter. It is much appreciated and very necessary! And to my lovely friend Audrey Haney for sending a copy of her recently published poetry collection. You can grab your copy by contacting her through Audrey's Poetry group on Facebook. If you run an indie bookshop, please do give her a boost and stock up. Thanks!

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

The English Monster

It is annoying when publishers don't release a high-quality large cover image for people to use on their blogs. Anyway, I liked the cover of this one, felt a bit Rivers of London:

In the east end of Regency London, two families lie butchered. Residents of the notorious Ratcliffe Highway, the victims bear the mark of unprecedented brutality.

Panic sweeps the country as its public cries for justice. But these murders stem from an older horror, its source a sea voyage two centuries old. In a ship owned by Queen Elizabeth herself, a young man embarks on England's first venture into a new trade: human souls.

As a nation's sins ripen and bloom, to be harvested in a bloody frenzy on the twisted streets of Regency Wapping, an English Monster is born. 

This one was very atmospheric, a lot of detailed description of places and people that helped bring it to life. A nice, mysterious start. Though my head just wasn't quite in the right place for this. I think it was because I was so busy packing for the UK and listening to it in between Clockwork Angel, which had all of my attention. I lost the thread a little. There was a sort of supernatural element to it, with a man who didn't age, but also very realistic elements as well. There was an interesting character called l'Olonnais, who was a French pirate. Someone who didn't make an appearance on Black Sails, but who sounds as though he probably should have done.

There was also mention of The Mysteries of Udolpho in there, Ann Radcliffe... when the book is about the Ratcliffe Highway murders... probably over-thinking that a little too much.

Like all nods between Englishmen, this one carries an enormity of meaning. "We are sailing in uncharted waters," it says.

I have to say, it is rare that I fail to follow the plot of a story. I think I just wasn't paying full attention. The introduction of the supernatural to what was otherwise a realistic murder, based on true events, threw me a little. It felt like two different genres that didn't sit entirely easy with one another. 

There was also mention of the Zong, a notorious slave ship where many of the people being transported were thrown overboard and drowned as part of an insurance scam. This felt a bit thrown in there without much explanation of why the ship was so infamous. I first learned about this through Laura Shepherd-Robinson's period crime novel Blood & Sugar. I feel that novel really brought the horror of it to the forefront and built a solid whodunnit around those events, whereas this threw in a lot of references without them being central to the story.

So, this was descriptive and atmospheric, but could have picked up the pace a little. But, again, that could also just have been me, listening whilst packing and doing other things.