Memento Mori

Our short ghost story, Memento Mori, is on our Tweep, Elena Jacobs’ blog! Her blog’s called Ravenheart, which is perfect. asked if we’d be interested in writing a 1000 word ghost story, with a deadline of 6 days. We thought about it for all of one minute before saying yes. We had no idea what we were going to do & were already working on 4 other short stories, but we couldn’t turn down a ghost story challenge.

We started it on the Monday, the deadline was midnight on Friday & our chief beta reader (our mum) had an eye operation on Tuesday so couldn’t even read it for us until Friday morning. We had to print it out in size 16 for her & she wore her pirate eye patch we’d bought her, so she could read with one eye. What a trooper.

We were racking our brains for all the episodes we’ve done on Calamityville Horror, for inspiration then we remembered the legend of Tregaron, a small Welsh village. The village still exists, but the old village, apparently now sits below a lake, Llyn-y-Maes. If you want to know why, read our story. Oh & follow Elena on Twitter @ElenaJacob because she’s awesome.

My So-Called Christmas Carol

Christmas at Ravens Retreat is usually banned. We don our Bah-Humbug hats, avoid the family and generally make an effort to do the most un-Christmassy thing we can think of. But this year, we’ve got a wonderful Christmas treat for you – the fabulous Tamsyn Murray, the author of the Afterlife series for teens and the stunt bunny series for children. No, we haven’t wrapped her up and stashed her under your trees, but we have given her the keys to Ravens Retreat. We are very excited as we’ve been fans since we picked up My So-Called Afterlife in our local bookshop. She’s just released her latest book in the Afterlife series, My So-Called Christmas Carol. And it’s brilliant. Scrooge has been replaced by a purple-haired, pierced medium, Elvira, who is hilarious. So to celebrate, Tamsym has written her vision of a Christmas Yet to Come. She also has a story for the Christmas Present on her blog here – We’ll leave you enjoy it while we dig out our Bah-Humbug hats. They’re around here somewhere…

Tamsyn MurrayChristmas Yet To Come

I wonder what Christmas will be like in the future?  Will it be a constant flurry of short visits, as we beam to each other’s houses a la Star Trek? Or will we spend days sitting in slow-moving traffic to reach our destinations, because there are more vehicles than people out there? Or will everyone spend their time lurching from one empty, smouldering house to another, in a constant quest for the few remaining braaaiinsssss?

Personally, I intend to be as unreasonable as possible in my old age. I’m going to demand everyone always comes to me for Christmas, and throw a quavery, pity-inducing monster strop if any of my relatives dare to suggest that, actually, they quite fancied going skiing this year. None of the gifts I receive will be good enough and I’ll steal anything I like the look of. Someone else will do the cooking; I will, of course, complain bitterly that the turkey is dry, the sprouts are too wet and the gravy is too thick\thin\lumpy\meaty. After dinner, I will pretend to sleep and snore so loudly that no one can concentrate on the holographic film and then I’ll insist everyone plays poker, which I’ll win by cheating outrageously. I may or may not fart continuously throughout the day – I haven’t decided yet, although I realise it may not be up to me at that age. By the end of the day, I will be loudly drunken and pour withering scorn upon anyone within earshot, before kicking everyone out and going to bed.

Hang on, this sounds like fun. Maybe I should make this Christmas Present…where are those playing cards?

Here’s our review of My So-Called Christmas Carol – this is a modern version of A Christmas Carol but with an embittered purple-haired, pierced psychic, Elvira as Scrooge. We loved Elvira. She was a fantastic character and her narrative was hilarious. We particularly liked the bit where she wanted to strangle carollers with their ear muffs. Who hasn’t wanted to do that? We also loved the bit where she’s shown her Christmas past and her response is “breaking news, I was a child once.” A particularly nice touch was having Lucy from My So-Called Afterlife and Owen from My So-Called Phantom Love Life returning as the ghosts of Christmas present and Christmas yet to come. The ending was satisfying without being sentimental and we liked the way the ending was left open, rather than finishing with the typical ‘happily ever after’, which would’ve done a disservice to Elvira’s character.

My So-called Christmas Carol

We strongly recommend you follow Tamsyn on Twitter – @TamsynTweetie she’s hilarious and it’s refreshing for us to find someone whose car breaks down more than ours, which is nice 😀

and follow her blog –

Short and Sweet

We’re pleased to announce the writer’s block we suffered from has lifted! We have NaNoWriMo and Bleeding Empire to thank for that. Since finishing Bleeding Empire, we’ve been working on our short stories again. We’re releasing Bad Romance, the follow-up to Gunning Down Romance, on Valentine’s, so we figured we’d better get cracking with the stories. We’d already written two – one about a troll who targets dating sites and one about a ghost bride, but they were written during our block and are quite frankly terrible. So bad, we had two choices – rewrite them or chain them up on in a box and bury them in rock salt. And we need to save our rock salt for when the demons come. So we’ve rewritten the ghost bride one and are shelving the troll one for Romance is Dead. Now to think of the third one…must contain horror and humour. Because we find gore amusing 😀 We’re twisted like that.

We’re also trying our hand at YA. Dark Moon Digest, who published The Ferryman in January 2012, emailed asking if we’d be interested in writing a YA story for a special YA issue of their horror magazine. We said yes and immediately had one in mind. Has anyone played the horror game Slender? It’s free to download and well worth a go. It’s scary. Basically you’re in the woods at night with a torch and you have to collect 8 pages whilst avoiding the Slender Man, a creepy faceless man in a suit who stands there looking terrifying. Oh and partway through, your torch dies. So far, our highest page count is 4. We tend to get lost in the woods. But if you’ve seen Calamityville Horror, that won’t surprise you. Our plan of action with the game is to panic when we see him, run in the opposite direction, get lost then accidentally run into him. Like. A. Boss.

Then we were challenged by Rebecca Fisk to write a story that had to include 3 words she gave us – blackjack, braid and cistern. Totally random. But we love a challenge and within a few hours, had a 1000 word story. We won’t spoil it by revealing what it’s about, you’ll have to wait for her blog. We had no idea what we were going to write, even up to the point where we’d opened the Word document. Staring at the blinking cursor kicked the muse awake and the story was born. Then on Sunday one of our Tweeps, Elena Jacob asked us and some other people to write a 1000 word ghost story for her blog. The deadline is Friday. Most of them said they didn’t have time. We said “we’ll do it!” And we did. In fact, within 2 hours, we’d written it. It’s a crossover of two very old Welsh ghost stories involving sunken villages. Usually we like to do several redrafts and give a story time off so we can come back to it objectively, but at least at 1K it doesn’t take long to redraft so we should have it whipped into shape by Friday. And if it sucks…we’ll just change our name 😀

Independent Authors International holiday book special

Sorry, there’s meant to be a picture to go with this, but for some reason, WordPress won’t let us upload it. *Shaking fists* anyhoo, read the promotion & get great books for 99c this weekend.

The Independent Authors International iAi holiday book special

You’re an awesome gifter — you got someone special a brand new e-reader. But what’s a great e-reader without great reads?

Just in time for the holidays — Independent Authors International brings four great books from four great, independent authors for just 99 cents each.


On Unfaithful Wings, by Bruce A. Blake —

Icarus Fell was alive, then he was dead, now he’s stuck somewhere in between. Icarus Fell is a harvester, brought back to Earth by the archangel Michael to collect souls and help them on their way to Heaven. If he gets enough of them before the bad guys do—if he does a good job—he can have his life back. But people he knew in life are dying, killed by a murderer’s knife, their bodies defiled, and the cops think he’s the killer. How does a man who no longer exists stop a psycho? Icarus Fell know he has to stop him before the killer gets to his son.
“Icarus Fell is officially my new favorite anti-hero.”

The Bones of the Earth, by Scott Bury — Eastern Europe, the Dark Age. The earth besets human civilization with earthquakes, floods, famines and new plagues that wipe out nearly half the population. Half of the mighty Roman Empire disappears. And the only man who can save humanity is one society rejected because he’s different.

“A marvelous read. I spent most of a day in The Bones of the Earth in spite of the things I had to do!”


Velvet Rain, by David C. Cassidy — Kain Richards is the last of his kind–and a man on the run. So when this mysterious drifter falls for a beautiful and sensible Iowa farmwoman, he knows full well the perils of getting too close. And yet, for the first time in his miserable existence, life feels normal … feels real. But as those around him soon realize, reality is not what it seems. For when a tragic accident forces Kain’s hand, his astonishing secret–and godlike power–changes their lives, and the world, forever.

“It took my breath away right from the first line.”


The Funny Adventures of Little Nani, by Cinta Garcia de la Rosa, illustrated by Almudena 
Romero Sánchez — Little Nani is a little girl who likes helping people, but when she does, the results are unexpected. Why? Because Little Nani is a witch! Or at least she wants to be a witch. She tries to cast spells to help her friends, but she didn’t finish the magic spell course. Little Nani’s extraordinary friends include funny ostriches, horses that love reading, super-fast turtles, grumpy zombies … Little Nani has lots of friends! You can also draw your own characters! Little Nani is willing to become a good witch. Will she manage to do it? Who knows? 
“Children will love this book of short stories and they will fall in love with the beautiful image.”

American Goddesses, by Gary Henry — When two small-town women find themselves with nearly unlimited powers of mind and body, their lives get complicated. Things turn nasty as a shadowy organization attempts to use Megan and Trish for their own evil ends, and destroy them, their town and the USA in the process. “A ton of girl power … Highly recommended!”

Cassidy Jones and the Secret Formula, by Elise Stokes — Fourteen-year-old Cassidy Jones wakes up the morning after a minor accident in the laboratory of a world-renowned geneticist to discover that her body has undergone some bizarre physical changes. Her senses, strength, and speed have been radically enhanced.

After exploring her newfound abilities, Cassidy learns that the geneticist is missing and that foul play is suspected. Terrified that her physical changes and Professor Phillips’ disappearance are somehow connected, Cassidy decides to keep her strange transformation a secret. That is, until she meets the professor’s brilliant and mysterious fifteen-year-old son, Emery. An unlikely duo, they set out to find Emery’s mother and are forced to confront a maniacal villain willing to do anything — including murder — to achieve his goals.

“Elise Stokes ranks up there with other YA masterminds! This is a definite must -read book!”

Looking for more great fantasy from independent authors? Check out the eBooks Make Great Gifts book blitz from the Guild of Dreams fantasy authors collective.

Another Big Thing

We’ve been tagged by the lovely Bronwyn Green to do this blog hop and answer question about our latest WIP, or work in progress to you non-writers. It’s actually a weird coinkidink because we’ve done 2 of these before and since writing our new novel, have been wanting someone to tag us in one of these so we can tell you more about Bleeding Empire. Bronwyn must’ve read our minds. Sorry about that! If you want to read Bronwyn’s answers, check out her blog here –

What is the working title of your next book?

Bleeding Empire. Fun Fact – we actually got the title from one of those Facebook games where you make a metal band name out of these words, depending on your initials. Cat’s was Black Zombies, Lynx’s was Forbidden Zombies and Ryan’s was Bleeding Empire. We loved it so much we wrote it down to use as a book title.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

We think it was after reading a Terry Pratchett book with the four horsemen in it and we thought it’d be cool to have novel based on the myth, but with entirely different characters. It wasn’t until we wrote the words ‘Chapter 1’ we figured out who Death would be.

What genre does your book fall under?

Horror, maybe urban fantasy.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Oooh tough one. Ian Somerhalder would be great as Aeron, one of the Deaths. (Death is twins). His sister, Morgan could be played by Rose McGowen. It wouldn’t matter who played Mac (Pestilence) as he’d be wearing prosthetics. Demi (Famine) would have to be played by an ultra skinny supermodel, and Marsden (War) by someone utterly gorgeous. Ooh we have a pic of a seriously hot male model. He’ll be perfect!

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your books?

The five horsemen descend on earth to start the Apocalypse and bring the world to its knees.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published more than likely. That way we can retain control. We’re control freaks. If a publisher wants it, they’ll have agree to give us free reign over the cover.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

35 days 😀 It was our NaNoWriMo novel.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The closest we can think of is one we’ve written called Legion of the Damned, but that doesn’t count. Um…not sure.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

NaNoWriMo. We wanted to take part, had a really vague idea of this one so just jumped in and wrote it. With NO plans.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s the four horsemen of the apocalypse but not as you know them. They’re actually the offspring of the original horsemen so they ride motorbikes instead of horses (health and safety won’t let them use horses) and they can’t stand each other. Morgan & Aeron are psychotic, Demi is a fame-hungry super model and a bitch, Mac is a nice guy but revolting and Marsden is funny, hot and has a very dark side. It’s got horror, comedy, blood and a sexy angel called Drew who wants to stop the apocalypse but is also in love with Marsden and knows that if he were to give into his desires, he’ll fall and take the world down with him.

Apocalypse Now

The end is nigh. Well, the end has arrived. No, not the end of the world, there’s still a few more days left, apparently. But we have reached the end of our new novel, Bleeding Empire and that is sadder than the world going up in flames, or being devoured by zombies, whichever comes true. Personally we’re trying to drum up fear for the Dinopocalypse. It’s not catching on.

We reached the grand total of 107, 869 words yesterday, making it our shortest first draft ever. It’s a relief not to have a 150-200K novel waiting to be hacked up more than a character in Saw. Being written in 35 days also makes it our fastest novel yet. Although at the beginning it was tough, and writing the first 10 chapters was like trying to get blood from a sunken vein, towards the end the words were flowing like they were being pumped from a severed artery. And we didn’t want it to end.

That’s the trouble with writing a novel so quickly. The book is ready to end before you are. It’s a bit like drinking Red Bull – you’re still enjoying its tasty amber nectar and before you know it, the can is empty and you find yourself shaking it for the last delicious drop. Or maybe that’s just us. We felt like we were only just beginning to know the characters, to get into their heads and explore different aspects of their personalities, and we were enjoying the journey even though we had no map. We were falling in love with the whole idea of the horsemen, planning our bookmarks, our graphic novel, perhaps even artwork. And it was over. The book was ready to be finished. It didn’t matter how much we weren’t ready to be parted from it, there was nowhere left for it to go. Nothing left to say.

Except The End.

Writing Bleeding Empire was different to any other novel. For start, we did some research. Usually we research afterwards then alter the book so we can get on with the fun part first. But because we didn’t really know much about ending the world (which is terrible considering we plan to take it over one day), we did our research whilst writing the book. Sometimes, we’d stop in the middle of a scene, do some quick research then carry on. We were then able to use it as part of the plot, to help us when we got stuck. If you read our post about doing NaNoWriMo, you’ll know we had no ideas, except it was about the four horsemen and that most of them didn’t have names or characters. So doing the research whilst writing helped with ideas. We also know a hell of a lot more about diseases than we ever wanted to.

We’re desperate to start redrafting it, to add in all the bits we feel are missing. We need to add darkness, more descriptions, strengthen their characters at the start when we were just getting to know them. Famine hasn’t quite reached her full bitchy potential. There’s still more nastiness for her to unleash. But not yet. We know we have to wait, get some distance so we can return to it objectively. So, once we saved the final chapter, did we take the evening off to relax, maybe play Golden Axe 3 on the PS3 and just forget about writing for the rest of the day? Nope. We immediately started on Bad Romance, the sequel to Gunning Down Romance. *cracking open Red Bull* It’s how we roll.

From Where I Stand

Today is a first here at Ravens Retreat – we’ve had a lot of guests visit this dark realm, but never a poet. Until now. Not only is he a poet, but he’s only our second male guest to visit. There is obviously something about Ravens Retreat that frightens off the menfolk 😀 Even more exciting is that Robert has come bearing gifts! He will be giving away 5 ebook copies (.mobi, .epub, or PDF) of From Where I Stand at the end of the tour. To enter, please leave a thoughtful comment on this post and be sure to leave an email to be contacted with if you’re a winner. One comment per person per post, feel free to comment on multiple posts for an extra entry for each. Winners will be gathered together from all the blog tour stops and then chosen randomly. The give away will end December 9th and winners will be announced soon after they are selected. So come and meet Rob Zimmerman, read some of his fabulous found poetry and applaud him for his bravery while we go fetch the cookies.

From Where I Stand Banner

Game Of Love, The Playlist

I’d like to start off by saying thank you to those who are here to follow along on my tour. We’ll all be having so much fun (I hope), in the days to come. I’d also like to thank the readers who have already read From Where I Stand. For those who have read the collection, this post will be a little behind the scenes glimpse into one of my poems. If you haven’t read it, don’t worry. It’s an opportunity to read one of the poems and get a bit of background for it.

The poem I’d like to discuss is “Game Of Love.” It’s placed later on in the collection and is a bit unique compared to the rest. What sets it apart is that it is a found poem (click for definition). I wrote it by using the titles of songs from a mixtape I made a while back. I’ve actually done this once before, as well. Something about “Game Of Love” seemed right to add to this collection though. I’d like to share the poem with you first, then how about I give you the playlist so you can see just what songs they are.


Game Of Love
Game of love? This is hell.

Everybody, do you feel
like making love?

Tangled up in you, just the way
you are. One more hour,
just to prove that this is love.





Love, we could be Indie.
Touch me then,
‘til summer comes around.

I’ll remember you,
girl from the North Country.

This poem is made of up the following songs:


Game of Love

This is Hell
Do you Feel Like making Love?

Tangled up in you
Just the way you are
One more Hour (Jason Levasseur…not online)
Just to prove that this is love


We could be Indie
Touch Me
‘Til Summer Comes Around

I remember you (text altered a bit to fit poem)
Girl from the north country

Most of these are youtube links, and one wasn’t available online. To make it easier on some people and to enjoy at a later day, I created a Spotify playlist where ALL of the songs can be found.


What I find interesting about found poetry is that even with a limited set of words, there are so many possible ways to create a poem. There are many ways to make one. Some might make the poem strictly word for word. Others might allow for some play to fit together better (that’s my preferred way). The beauty, to me, is that the poet can take someone else’s words (or many people’s words) and form their own creation from it. Sometimes, if the reader isn’t aware that it’s a found poem, it can be mistaken for the poet’s work alone.

At times I wonder what the original wordsmith would think if they found out their writing, whether it was from a book, an advertisement, or even the warning label on a pack of cigarettes, turned into a poem. Would they be honored, confused, angry? There’s only one way to find out and that’s to ask them. Lucky for me, I don’t think I’ll be able to contact most of the musicians from my poem (only 4 of them I can easily get direct contact with, and I’m confident they’d like the idea), so I won’t be able to find out if they’re angry, haha.

I’d like to end this with a little treat. I mentioned that this isn’t the first found poem I’ve written through the use of song titles. I’d like to share one I wrote back in high school from a mixtape I made for someone back then. Enjoy, and go try your hand at some found poems. They’re fun.
Songs Of A Heart Feeling
Here I go again,
rolling another joint.
I’m holding my own,
in this purple haze.

We went for a ride,
just to seize the day,
just to go away.

Don’t cry, say anything.
You know my heart is in New York,
but these letters are for you.
You’re not my flavor of the week,
but for a whole lot longer.

There she goes.
I’m in love with a genius,
a foxy lady in purple.
Dream on, another day

*Note, I think I took more liberty with this one. Some lines I think are lyrics from the songs and not just the titles. And I can’t remember all of the songs used so I didn’t make a playlist for it. If anyone wants me to attempt to make it, please let me know in the comments.


Rob's Author PicRobert has been writing poetry since the eleventh grade. His writing started as impulsive rambling, but soon became a passion. A few years later he attended SUNY Potsdam where he received a B.A. in Creative Writing.

His main focus is poetry, but at times you can find him dabbling in short fiction. Robert has also created the blog A Life Among The Pages, where he posts his writing as well as book reviews.

When he’s not reading or writing, Robert enjoys spending time with his dog, Deuc. Deuc ran out of the woods in August 2011 and they have been inseparable ever since.

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Champion’s League

NaNoWriMoWe figured as NaNoWriMo has now finished, we’d better blog about it. And it’ll cover up the fact we haven’t thought of anything else to blog about. But ssh, that’s our secret 😉

We didn’t want to do NaNoWriMo this year. Well, we did, because we’re ultra competitive Type A personalities, but we had nothing planned. We’d been suffering from our first case of writers’ block, which terrified us. In 17 years of writing, we’d never experienced it. We’d published Soul Asylum at the beginning of October, we’d been too busy planning for Halloween to even think of a novel and out of desperation to work, we decided to redraft Scott the Zombie instead of writing stories for our next Valentine’s release, Bad Romance. We finished editing Scott 5 days before NaNo was due to start. Add this with no plans (we’re not joking. Our only plan was that they were the 4 horsemen of the Apocalypse) no defined characters except one – hell they didn’t even have names and the night before NaNo, we were still discussing whether Death should be a guy, a girl, or guy and girl twins.

So would anyone in their right minds write a novel under these conditions, let alone take part in NaNo? No.

But that’s what we did.

In fact, we were still deciding on Death after we’d written the words ‘ Chapter 1’. And Death was in the opening scene! We went for guy and girl twins in the end then had to research various death deities of the different mythologies to choose their names. So you can see how well prepared we were. But at least we knew what font we wanted for our chapter headings in. Priorities, people.

Is it possible to write an entire novel this way? Yes. It’s how we always do it. Each chapter is like a new story and even as we type the chapter heading, we have no idea what the hell we’re going to do. This may sound terrifying to those who plan every last detail, but we like the freedom it gives us. You only have to watch our Calamityville episodes to know we enjoy the thrill and adventure of getting lost. We never set out for the Deaths to be a bit psycho, or for Famine to be a bitch and Pestilence to be the nice one. War already had a personality – he starred in our unpublished short story, Six String Hearts. But the characters took on lives of their own and we’re grateful to them that they were happy being left to develop by themselves.

After all this set against the novel being born, are we enjoying it? Hell yeah! Ok, the first ten chapters were hard. We wanted it to be a gritty, dark, urban book and having written a couple of these, we know they’re the hardest to write. As much as we love writing description, it doesn’t come as easily as dialogue. We were trying to figure out the characters and battle our way through a maze with no map.

Then something happen which we didn’t foresee – it became funny. Famine, in all her bitchy glory is hilarious. Though it’s that uncomfortable laughter that says you shouldn’t laugh because she’s being nasty, but you can’t help it. Her put downs belong in a ‘Little book of Insults’ that is always ideal for a present. Her banter with War is so much fun to write. The gritty, dark, urban book merged into a horror comedy and suddenly writing it was easy. We’ve finally found our niche.

We’d aimed to hit 50K by day 17. Last year, our first NaNo, we hit the 50K on day 17, purely because we were going to North Wales for three days and wanted to reach the target before we went. We finished NaNo on 80,368. This year, we wanted to beat it. Not just beat it, thrash it. See above note on being Type A personalities.

We didn’t reach 50K by day 17. We did it on day 19. Immediately forgetting that target, we set our sights on the next one – beating 80,368. Ryan had this formula on Excel which told us we wouldn’t do it. Glaring at Excel and grabbing another Red Bull, we vowed to prove it wrong. Last night we uploaded our final word count. 95,427. Now to finish the book…

NaNoWriMo certificate