The Devil’s Servants cover reveal

The Devil's Servants C L Raven

Here it is – the cover for our next release, The Devil’s Servants. Unfortunately, a lot of events conspired against Team Rose Raven and River Rose sadly couldn’t do this cover. But we’re very fortunate to have another talented friend – David V.G. Davies, better known as From The Shadows indie film maker, horror prop maker, our fellow con buddy and all-round awesome guy. So check out his website and buy some cool models. Here are links where you can stalk him: Facebook  Twitter Instagram.

pre-order The Devil’s Servants UK US. Release date will be 1st July at Swansea Horror Con.

  1. The year Edinburgh burned.

Scotland was cursed by witches and in 1649, the witch panic was at its peak. No-one was safe from the executioner’s flames.

Below the imposing behemoth of Edinburgh castle, nineteen year old Nessie Macleod is forced to watch her mother, Isabelle, burn to death for witchcraft. Her mother’s crime stains her more than the ashes that scatter across the Esplanade. Shunned by Edinburgh’s townsfolk, she’s also hounded by the witch pricker, John Brodie. Brodie killed her mother and now he’s coming for her.

The daughter of a witch is always a witch.

When old Annie Dickson is accused of cursing the flescher’s pigs through witchcraft, she suffers for days at Brodie’s hands before betraying three women and starting a witch hunt that sees one woman killed and another executed before the baying town.

Nessie is lured to Greyfriars Kirkyard, where she’s haunted by the ghosts of the women burned for witchcraft. They want revenge on Brodie and his men. Nessie learns her grandmother was executed during the North Berwick witch trials in 1597 for conspiring to kill King James VI. She left behind everything Nessie needs to stop Brodie and lay the witches’ ghosts to rest. But using objects to harm people is witchcraft and there’s only one penalty the courts will impose:

Death.

“Never wish for the flames.”

Whitby Goth Weekend

Leaking tent, fabulously dressed people and befriending as many dogs as possible without resorting to kidnap. It was our first ever Whitby Goth Weekend. And we forgot our sodding makeup.

General Pinkinton was packed full of books and other con gear as well as all our camping paraphernalia. Turns out, this does all fit in a Smartcar. Trust us, when you’ve had to squeeze 20 hexagonal tubs of ice cream into a freezer, you can pack a Smartcar. We were halfway to Whitby when we realised we’d left our toiletry bag back at home: shower gel, hair wax, moisturiser, eye gel, toothbrushes, toothpaste, deodorant, body spray, facial wipes. And makeup. We were going to the most important event in the Goth calendar. And we had no makeup. A cloud of silent rage descended upon General Pinkinton. The toiletries we could replace in Sainsbury’s but very few places sell vegan makeup. The places that did would be closed when we arrived and would only be open during the hours we would be trading. Our eyelids would have to remain distinctly un-black.

We got to our campsite, Broadings Farm, to find chickens, a dog, sheep and lambs! We pitched our tent then wandered the farm to meet our furry neighbours. The sheep seemed suspicious of us. Like they knew we wanted to pat their babies. The chickens had no trust issues and came over for a chat. The campsite had a lovely heated toilet and shower block, a pot wash area and a laundry room! No more peeing in bushes for us! (We mastered that art last week when camping with our mates, Bryn and Jo.) We went to Sainsbury’s to grudgingly replace our toiletries and buy a tub of vegan ice cream then spent the evening watching The Addams Family TV series on our portable DVD player. Turns out, camping in Whitby is cold. So very, very cold. We had thermals on under warm pyjamas, blankets, coats and sleeping bags. And we still froze. We even wore gloves. The only way we could keep our faces warm was to sleep with the blankets covering our heads. Like what they do to dead people in hospitals.

We got up early and arrived at the pavilion at 8:30. Our pitch was in the Spa Theatre. Near the doors. The outside doors and inside ones were open to allow for easy access. We’re cold blooded, hadn’t warmed up from the night in the tent and can’t seem to regulate our own body temperature, so we froze. Though it was warmer than the campsite. We regretted our fishnets though. And our lack of layers. We only had 4. Whitby AbbeyWe kept our hoodies and big coats on. Our carefully selected Burleska dresses were covered by coats, which ruined the look. And we had no makeup. Least glamorous goths ever. Nobody else seemed to notice the cold, but most traders seemed relatively local. We travelled up from Cardiff. It’s a lot warmer down south! We managed to get all our books, jewellery and merchandise on our three foot table. Hell, if we can get all our gear in General Pinkinton, we can get all our merchandise on a three foot table.

Whitby Goth WeekendOur aim when doing these events is to make back what we paid for our table each day, but now we had a new goal – pat 10 dogs a day. And we succeeded. To be honest, we made more of an effort to speak to the dogs and get their attention than we did with potential customers, but that’s true in our non-working lives too. Striking up conversations with dogs doesn’t seem creepy. Neither does offering them the dog treats you forgot to take out of your pocket.

Whitby Goth Weekend

badges of honour

Although we did make friends with two of the traders – Andrew who owns Cave Crafts and Stuart who was raising money for Tees Valley Guinea Pig Rescue. As we have rescue piggies, it was fitting to be beside his stall. We made our table money back for the day so we were happy. It was a good start! We loved seeing everyone dressed in their gothic finery. Though only 50% of the customers were goths or steampunk. We expected a much higher number. Even kids were dressed up, which was awesome. We inspected the lovely clothing stall that was there but being only 5’1 works against goths. The skirts’ waistband came up to our armpits! That would not be a fetching look.

Robin Hood's BayIt rained on Friday night, which showed us that our 20 year old tent leaked. And that we should have bought the Anne Stokes umbrellas we’d been eyeing up on a nearby stall. Considering how much it rained, the leak was fairly minimal and it was in the porch area, so we didn’t mind. Again, we watched the Addams Family and made a trip to Sainsbury’s to buy a tub of ice cream for our tea. Much cheaper than eating out and it meant we avoided the hassle of parking in the town. We also did our flexibility stretches in the tent – becoming flexible won’t happen by magic.

Robin Hood's Bay

Not your usual beachwear

Saturday’s trade we did about the same as Friday’s, except what sold really well on Friday, barely sold on Saturday. Though more books sold so we were happy with that. It’s not always easy making your table back when your most expensive item (Soul Asylum) is £7! And we bought those umbrellas. We noticed all the traders had changed their clothes. Our dresses didn’t allow for more clothing space in our bags. Whitby AbbeyThough under our coats, no one would have noticed. We didn’t smell so it was all good. We chatted to a lot of people who bought books. Everyone was so nice and seemed genuinely pleased when we complimented their outfits. Saturday night we decided to explore Robin Hood’s Bay. It’s beautiful and there happened to be a ghost walk in an hour. Naturally, we joined it. Even when we’re working we can’t keep away from the paranormal. We were the only goths in Robin Hood’s Bay. So the only goths in the village.

Whitby AbbeySunday morning we packed up our tent, got temporarily adopted by the farm dog and still got to the pavilion an hour before everyone else. Sundays in cons are normally slow and we take a third of what we take on a Saturday. Not this time. Sunday was our best day. We sold two books in the first 15 minutes! It was definitely a day for book buying. Whitby AbbeyOne man, Ash, who bought a book on Saturday, bought another one on Sunday. Weirdly, our book customers were all non goths and mostly older. Though we hopefully now have some younger fans too. Providing they don’t have nightmares. We’re gutted we can’t make the winter Goth weekend as we’re booked in for Birmingham Horror Con’s Halloween Special but we definitely want to return in April. We love Whitby and we had so much fun trading.

Whitby AbbeyIt finished at 4, which gave us enough time to pack up and head for the Abbey. General Pinkinton looked tiny among the hire vans in the pavilion car park! A bit like our tiny stall among everyone else’s massive towering pitches. But it meant we could do a three point turn to get out while everyone else would either have to reverse, or wait for other traders to leave. We reached the Abbey an hour before closing. The guy at the ticket office was fascinated with us. Considering how many goths he must have met over the weekend, we were surprised. Especially since we weren’t that dressed up on the Sunday. And we still had our big coats on. The Abbey is stunning. It was originally built in 1250, replaced in 1500 and inspired Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Going to the Goth Weekend and not visiting the Abbey would’ve been an insult to both the Abbey and to Stoker. When we were in Whitby in November for the comic con, it was closed by the time we packed up so we’d wandered the outside and got photos of it lit up. This time, we could actually be inside it. We didn’t want to leave. But we had a five and a half hours drive home and that bag of popcorn wasn’t going to eat itself.Whitby Abbey

Literary killed the horror genre

Can you smell that? That fetid odour of decay seeping into your nostrils, coating your tongue? That’s the death of horror. And our career. Seeing as they’re linked, it’s only fitting they die together.

We used to blog regularly – once a week at least – but lately months will pass without a blog post. There are no excuses, we just have nothing to say. We’re finding it hard to keep motivated when we’re failing at the only job we love. Writing advice often tells you to enter competitions because they’re a great way to teach you to work to deadlines, they help get you noticed by agents and publishers, and they can be a great boost to your career and bank balance. But that’s if you win. We’ve been shortlisted and longlisted in various competitions and has it boosted our career at all? Has it fuck. Things is, many competitions are expensive – novel ones are easily £20 per entry. Short story ones range from £5 upwards. Poetry ones usually start at £3. Over a year, it mounts up. For this tax year, we’ve spent £285 on competition entries. One win would make that worthwhile, but when that win never comes, all you’ve done is spent money with nothing to show for it.

So we decided to change tactics and spend the next couple of months submitting to magazines instead. You don’t pay to submit and some even pay to publish your work. We’re now avoiding the ones that don’t pay. Publication is brilliant but we can’t pay vet bills with a PDF copy of a magazine. Can you imagine calling in a plumber and telling them you’re not going to pay them, but the work will be great publicity for them? You’d be left with a blocked toilet. Yet people think it’s ok to do this in the creative industry. But that’s a rant we’ll save for another post. In order to try to reduce our vast amount of rejections, we’ve been buying the latest issues of the magazines we want to submit to, to see if our style of work is suitable. And it’s left us feeling despondent and questioning why we’re bothering to write anymore. Because we’re reading these horror/dark fantasy magazines and asking:

Where is the horror?

Horror is about producing emotions – fear, unease, anticipation, an unsettling feeling that something is going to happen. Yet we’re reading these stories and the only thing we’re feeling is bored. And pissed off that we’ve spent money on this tripe. There is no horror. One story had a smidgen of horror in the final few pages, after making us wait 7000 words to get to it. By which point, we didn’t care. We’ve also noticed that some stories are told in a really detached way, so if there is any horror, this way of narrating lessens the impact of it, and makes us not care about the characters. Oh no, something may have possible happened to X, but it’s not explained and the story goes on and…nobody cares. There seems to be this new breed of ‘literary horror’ that just isn’t horror at all. (Don’t get us started on literary work. There is no good reason to leave out speech marks just to make your work ‘experimental’. Why not go really experimental and leave out the words?) It’s like arty films. All pretty cinematography and bugger all happening. This is what literary horror is. All purple prose, characters as two dimensional as a Justin Bieber cut out and about as scary as a blade of a grass in a leafy meadow.

Horror doesn’t have to be about blood and gore. That’s one sub genre of it, mostly in the slasher/spatter sub genres. There are other sub genres, such as: body horror, zombie, psychological, crypto/nature, paranormal, supernatural, gothic, etc. There are sub genres within sub genres and genre cross overs, such as sci-fi horror, (the best example being Aliens) action horror, horror comedy (Tucker and Dale vs Evil. Friggin’ genius). But their main aim is to scare or unsettle you. If they don’t, they have failed.

And yet we’re reading these magazines and wondering when did it become ok to leave horror out of horror fiction? We are rapidly running out of markets that we think would be a good fit for our work. Sadly, we’re spending money to find this out but at least our rejections will be reduced and the magazines are tax deductible. In one magazine’s guidelines it says ‘sci fi, fantasy and horror with a literary slant but if you write what is considered classic in these genres, it’s not for us.’ So do they want sci fi that has no science? Fantasy that is realistic? Horror that isn’t scary? It seems we don’t write what these magazines publish. Maybe we need to rename what we write as ‘the genre formally known as horror.’ We’re from the old school of horror – Stephen King, Clive Barker, Dean Koontz before he found God. The classic films – Nightmare on Elm Street, Fiday the 13th, Snowbeast, Candyman. But magazines don’t want this. They call themselves horror magazines but don’t actually publish any horror. It would be like us setting ourselves up as window cleaners and refusing to actually clean any windows. Remember that song by Buggles? Video killed the Radio Star? Well Literary killed the Horror Genre. Sing it. The words fit.

So if competitions pick literary stories as winners and genre magazines chose literary over genre, where does that leave genre writers? How are we supposed to get published? The main piece of writing advice given is ‘write what you love’ but if nothing is publishing what you love, what are you supposed to do? Self-publishing doesn’t guarantee you’ll find readers or success, but that may be the only option left. One way of getting readers would also be to graffiti your work on random walls and buildings, but the council frown upon this form of creative expression. So if you see any form of spray painting horror writing on the streets of Cardiff, it wasn’t us.

Horror does have to evolve to stay alive, (not with sparkly vampires please, you’ve ruined it enough) but not to the point where you take the main ingredient – the emotions of fear or unease – out of it. It would be like romance stories where no-one falls in love, crime where no crime is committed, or comedies where no-one dies. No, wait, that’s horror comedy. Horror films are sticking to the right ingredient, even if it is all just remakes for profit, but at least it’s still horror. (Are you listening, Hollywood? Fucking stop it. Start paying attention to Indie films – they have imagination). Horror is finding a resurgence in TV series based on classic horror films: The Exorcist, Wolf Creek, Ash Vs The Evil Dead, Scream. And other series – American Horror Story being the most well known. However in the writing world, it’s getting harder to find horror fiction that actually contains an element of horror.

Horror isn’t dead – especially in the indie film scene – it’s like Michael Myres or Jason Voorhees. It can’t be killed. But maybe it’s waiting at the bottom of the lake, biding its time for unsuspecting campers to revive it from its watery grave. *Does stretches* Fancy a swim?

Installing Updates

Sorry, it’s been two months since our last blog post. There just hasn’t been any news to report, apart from countless rejections and we save those for Twitter. Though we have had an acceptance – To Sleep, Perchance to Scream, a story we wrote back in 2008 and have recently reworked will be appearing in Thirteen Vol 3: The Neverending Nightmare. We tend to hibernate from ghost hunting/urbex in the winter ‘cos it’s bloody cold and we’d rather not freeze to death and become ghosts ourselves. Though that would mean we’d finally get some on the show. We’ve been busy working on a new project which we’re very excited about – our first comic! The fantastic guys at Hellbound Media asked us to write a short comic for them based on monsters from the silver screen and naturally, we said yes. We’ve been wanting to move into comics for a while but had no idea how to write one, as it’s a very different format to short stories and novels. But with their help, we’re learning and are now working on adapting another story into a comic.

Silent DawnIn December, we released Silent Dawn, our first YA book. We decided not to tone down the horror for a younger audience. We were reading adult horror at 12 and we turned out…anyhoo, it is available on Amazon in ebook and print. We’re currently editing The Devil’s Servants, set during in 1649 during Edinburgh’s witch trials. It’s sort of a sequel to The Malignant Dead. This will be our next release this year.

Birmingham Horror ConNow it’s February, con season is starting. On Saturday we were at Birmingham Horror Con and had a great time. People who met us at Horror Con UK in Sheffield came to see us again and some online friends showed up as well. We spent a long time cuddling snakes and faced our lifelong fear of spiders by holding a tarantula, Pandora. It’s something we’d never thought we’d do and we’re pleased we summoned the courage to hold her. We’ll probably still flee in terror the next time a garden spider scuttles towards us but for a few minutes, we were brave. And we have photos to prove it.

Birmingham Horror Con

Cat and Pandora

Birmingham Horror Con

Lynx and Texas

We’ve also been busy with our new obsession – polefit. We haven’t been this obsessive about an exercise since horse riding which we gave up when we were 16. Depression’s a bitch. Though we have an intense fear of being upside and falling, which doesn’t help when we have to do upside moves and let go with one hand. One day we hope to be able to do them without being scared, but that’s a long way off. Though it’s better to be scared and concentrate on doing the move right then throwing ourselves into it and fucking it up. It took us 11 years to get over our social phobia, so we’re hoping to conquer this fear much quicker.

Polefit

Lynx doing an Upside Galaxy

We’ve improved a lot since we started in September  – when we started, we couldn’t straighten our legs because of tight hamstrings. Due to doing flexibility stretches every day, we can now straighten them and thanks to a two hour flexibility/contortion class, we are now closer to doing the splits! We also have a pole in Casa Raven and spend a lot of time watching Polefit videos on Instagram and wishing we were those ladies! Now that our legs are finally on display, we need to tattoo them. At least we potentially have a new career when we run out of money. Twin Goth poledancers hasn’t been done before. As long as we can keep our clothes on. While we enjoy giving people nightmares, we prefer to do it through our writing, not through inflicting our nudity on people. Check out the video for our first three months of Polefit.

Cat doing a Reverse Layout

Cat doing a Reverse Layout

Next week, it’s our birthday and we shall be spending it in Venice! We’ll arrive on Valentine’s Day and while the Italians have only recently started celebrating it, Venice is meant to be one of the most romantic cities. So naturally, we’ve found all the haunted, gory locations and will be visiting them with Calamityville regular and fellow birthday girl, Lesley. Other Calamityville regulars Tom and Amy are also joining us but as it’s their anniversary, we shall leave them to their romantic slushyness and go off chasing ghosts and little girls in red coats. The carnivale will be on while we’re there. We also plan to visit Verona and recreate the famous Romeo & Juliet scene on the balcony. We’ve been practising important Italian we’ll need – chips, ice cream, vegan, bill please, hello, goodbye, thank you and please don’t arrest us.double-figurehead

So here’s a list of our upcoming cons for this year so far if you want to come and say hi.

February 25th & 26th Digicon – Doncaster.

March 4th and 5th Cardiff Film and Comic Con (we’ll be lowering the tone at Hellbound Media’s table)

March 11th Optimus: A touch of horror – Bristol

April 21st – 23rd Whitby Goth Weekend Bizarre Bazaar (we’ll be in the Pavillion theatre)

May 6th Oldham Comic Con we’ll be doing a reading, though haven’t decided which book we’re reading from.

July 1st & 2nd Swansea Horror Con (we’re guests! Well, we do have Swansea blood, so it’s only fair.)

July 15th Edgelit – Derby

October 14th Bristol Horror Con

October 28th & 29th Birmingham Horror Con Halloween Special.

12 Days

Eight Maids MilkingWe have exciting news – our short Christmas horror story, is out now! Eight Maids Milking is part of a charity Christmas horror anthology, edited by Matthew Bob, with all proceeds going to the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. Each of the 12 days stories are being released individually as ebooks (you can buy ours here for the UK and US) then they’ll be put together with Christmas carol inspired stories in the 12 Days anthology, which will be released in both ebook and paperback.

Blurb:

Everyone craves the perfect Christmas.
No-one’s prepared to make sacrifices for it.
Except eight sisters who work hard every year to give people the Christmas they see in TV adverts. The world doesn’t appreciate the blood, sweat and tears that go in to making Father Christmas’s suit and sleigh every year. Of course, it’s not the sisters’ blood, sweat and tears, but their victims. One kiss under the mistletoe and their chosen men become unwilling sacrifices to the ancient festive god, who looks nothing like children’s books depict. At least, not until he uses his magic to transform himself from a nightmare into the fat, drink-driving present-giver children love.
And the typical jolly little elves are false advertising compared to the miserable, hideous, Christmas-hating elves employed in the workshop. Their faces are enough to curdle the eggnog. But secrets are what make this time of year special. And no-one can ever guess the special ingredient in Mother Christmas’s Secret Santa Pies. But it’s definitely not turkey.
This December, be careful who you kiss under the mistletoe. Or this Christmas, you may jingle your bells for the last time.

Also, Silent Dawn’s ebook is now available for pre-order! You can pre-order it in the UK and US.Silent Dawn

Silent Dawn cover reveal

Behold our beautiful cover for our next release, Silent Dawn! We’re hoping to release it 13th December, but these things never go to plan so that might change. Once again, we teamed up with the incredibly talented River Rose who has created a better version of Silent Dawn that we could ever imagine. Watch the book trailer.

silent-dawn-print-cover-copy

She’s coming…

Dark Gathering

Wow, it’s been a while since our last post. We’ve been quite busy so haven’t had a lot of time to blog, as we’ve been catching up on other stuff. Since we last blogged, we’ve done two ghost hunts – at RAF Rivenhall in Essex and the Savoy Theatre in Monmouth – and we’ve been selling our books at different horror cons – Bristol in October and Wales Comic Con at the start of November.

Tom Wlaschiha

us and the gorgeous Tom Wlaschiha

We got to meet one of our childhood favourites, Mr Motivator, and attempted to flirt with Tom Wlaschiha, who played Jaqen H’Ghar in Game of Thrones. We say ‘attempted’ because we may have given him a backhanded compliment. He told us we were going on his list. Considering he plays an assassin, this may not be a great list to be on. But as we say to our best mate, Neen, the day we stop embarrassing ourselves, the Fates will grow bored of us and cut our mortal coils. Our next con is Whitby Comic Con on 19th November. We’re staying in a youth hostel on Whitby Abbey grounds, so naturally we’ll be spending our night ghost hunting and looking for Dracula. We’ve also been commissioned to write short stories for a few anthologies, so they’ve been keeping us out of mischief.

Dark GatheringBut we have some good news. Our poem, Banquet of the Damned, was published in Swansea and District Writers Circle’s horror anthology, Dark Gathering. We wrote the poem back in 2009 and it’s about the damned and demons celebrating the end of days with a lavish feast of human flesh. We don’t often submit poetry – mostly because our rebellious natures don’t respond well to all those rules and restrictions. Plus we can never remember what the rules are.

14732139_887577514676349_6067987868793053303_nAlso, our short story, Death’s Cold Kiss was shortlisted in To Hull and Back‘s humorous story competition and published in the anthology. We wrote this story in 2007 – it was one of the first short stories we wrote and has always been one of our favourites. It’s set in the waiting room of the afterlife. The main character believes she’s being stalked by the man of her dreams, but he’s actually a grim reaper. And definitely not Mr Right. This would probably happen to us.

But wait, there’s more. We know, usually, as our mate, Andrew said, if we didn’t have bad luck, we’d have no luck at all. And we didn’t even have to sacrifice someone to ancient god to make this happen. Bit gutted about that. We’d bought the robes and everything. But our story, The Eden Project, won third place in the British Fantasy Society Award. The judge loved it and said it takes the knife to celebrity culture and society’s obsession with beauty in a witty way. It’s set in a futuristic world where natural beauty has diminished so retreats were set up to breed beautiful people, who then earn their keep by being film stars and models. The story follows twins Leah and Shania, who tour the human safari park and learn that beauty has an ugly truth. It was written in 2009 but has had several rewrites since then, including a new ending. We actually gave up on it for a couple of years, but needed a story for a competition, so worked on it, improved it, and submitted it. After a couple more rejections, it’s finally found a home and will be published in the BFS journal. We cannot wait.

And our short story, Penitence Ball, was accepted in an anthology, Welcome to the Dance, but we don’t have a release date yet. Again, it was written in 2009 and was inspired by My Chemical Romance’s ‘To the End’ where they mention a penitence ball. We originally wrote a poem, based on what we thought a penitence ball would be like, then turned that poem into a story. Every Halloween, those who died with regret, rise from the dead to dance at the penitence ball. If they accept what brought them there, they can leave the dance. If they can’t, they must return every year until they do.

Clearly, 2009 was a good year for ideas, but our writing wasn’t up to standard for them to be published. Perhaps in 7 years, the stories we wrote this year will be published.

Polefit

Cat doing the geisha

And in completely unrelated news, two months ago, we started doing PoleFit at KT Wild’s Vertical Fitness and we absolutely love it. We thought we’d be shit at it but we’re not too bad. Except for yesterday’s lesson, when Lynx was upside on the pole, fell and landed on her shoulders and head. Considering how much we fall over on Calamityville, we’re surprised we haven’t fallen off before. So if this writing malarky fails, at we now have a Plan B…

Polefit

Lynx doing the gemini into a handstand. She fell off in this position