Thursday 14 November 2013

The Tentacle Tree

I have often said it. Plot ideas can come from absolutely anywhere. Here's another one, which has led to my latest story.

A most extraordinary looking willow tree grows alongside the river where I take my daily walk. Far from behaving like a traditional weeping willow, this example exudes character. Quite a sinister character if you happen to be blessed with a horror writer's mind.

It's as if, fed up with leaning over and draping fronds of trailing leaves all day, it suddenly woke up one morning, shook itself and said, "Sod this for a lark, I'm going to be different." And so this maverick was born. It is clearly ancient and has grown in a bizarre way, so that its thick branches curl and twist around each other - just like tentacles - reaching out to trap the unwary passerby. 
Tree fellers have been working nearby and I became alarmed that "my" tree ( yes, it's official. I'm claiming ownership) might be for the chop - or, at the least a serious and catastrophic pruning. I heard their chainsaws zizzing away a little further along the bank and wondered if, should the time come, I would be able to climb these intertwined branches and wield a banner proclaiming myself to be the Denbighshire One. "Save the Tentacle Tree!" would be my rallying cry, albeit only witnessed by a couple walking their dog.

But, squinting upwards, I decided against the climb. I'm really not built for that sort of activity and have no head for heights. Besides, I've never actually climbed a tree in my life.
Fortunately, the Men With Chainsaws do seem to have moved on now, so I can concentrate on the amazing undulations, configurations and general disregard for normal tree-like behaviour exhibited by this remarkable specimen.

Look at the picture at the top of this post. Can't you just imagine those branches writhing, twisting, bending and creaking as they stretch towards their terrified victim? They wind themselves around his body as his cries for help go unheeded. They squeeze. Tighter and tighter. Crushing the breath out of his body. Until the tree absorbs him into himself and he is never seen alive again. 

Works for me! Excuse me while I just go and write that scene...

Tuesday 5 November 2013

Dawn Colclasure's Dream People
For YA and Adult Fantasy author, Dawn Colclasure, dreams are far more than just meaningless nocturnal ramblings of an subconscious brain. For some people, they can hold realities of their own.

I am delighted to welcome her as my guest today. Read on to find out more, and all about her exciting new novel, Shadow of Samhain.

I See Dream People

 By Dawn Colclasure
For the most part, the dreams we experience once we are in a deep sleep each night are of little consequence. For some people, they can’t even remember what they have dreamed about – or if they dreamed at all.

For others, it’s a different story. Some people will see someone in their dreams and something tells them this person is important. For example, this person in the dream may have an important message to relay to the dreamer, or they end up being someone they will later meet in real life. This has actually happened to some people. Also, when it comes to getting a message, the dreamer may not be able to understand what is said or the person in the dream may speak but their voice is not heard by the dreamer.

Other types of “dream people” we see are ghosts or spirits. This, too, has actually happened for some people. Many reports are on the Internet and in books of ghostly visitations in our dreams. Shortly after my grandmother passed away many years ago, she appeared in my dreams a few times. In one dream, she was younger, vibrant and in perfect health. A bright light shown all around her and she was smiling.

In some way, she may not have been considered a “ghost,” since the term “ghost” is reserved for someone who has yet to cross over into the Light. Perhaps she was an angel visiting my dream. This, too, is another type of dream person we can see in our dreams. Just as an angel can visit us or communicate with us in our real lives, they can do the same in our dreams.

While some dream people may not appear in our dreams very frequently, sometimes someone may dream of a person for a long period of time. This type of dream experience has also happened to me. I had several dreams of a man named “Jonathan” over the course of many years. I tried everything to figure out why I was having these dreams and if Jonathan represented a real person. At some point in time, my mother even told me she used to dream about Jonathan, too, but she never shared any details.

Why would we see the same person in our dreams for a long period of time? How is it possible to dream of the same person for several years?

One answer may be that perhaps this person in the dream is not merely a figment of our imagination. This person could be a ghost, a spirit or a guardian angel. Perhaps this person in our dreams feels compelled to stay with the dreamer as a means of protecting them or watching over them.

Another possibility could be that this person was an important part of the dreamer’s past life, and the dreamer is tapping in to this important part of that life on a subconscious level. This could open doors to helping the dreamer understand this past life and perhaps resolve unfinished business, if any.

A third possibility is that, perhaps, the person in the dream is trying to relay a message and the dreamer is unable to perceive this message right away. Perhaps so many things must be revealed to the dreamer through their dreams before they understand what the message is.

My experiences with my dreams fit into the second theory. I truly believe that Jonathan was an important part of my past life and my dreams had merely touched on this. As to why my dreams of him lasted for so long, which was over twelve years, my only guess could be that perhaps this represented how long I had known him.

Nevertheless, this experience inspired me to write a novel based on those dreams. That novel was titled November’s Child (the title was inspired by a dream), and it will be re-released under the new title Shadow of Samhain. So my dream experiences not only provided me with spiritual insight but they also acted as a source of inspiration for a novel about a girl who dreams about a man named Jonathan for several years.

People who read this novel may think that such a thing is not possible. How could someone dream about the same person for several years? Thy may believe that it is just not possible! I respond to this opinion that, yes, it IS possible to dream about the same person for many years. I know it is possible, because it happened to me. And it can happen to you, too. It can happen to anyone. 

Now read on, to find out about Dawn's brilliant new novel:

Just a dream...or an ancient curse?

Imagine being too terrified to sleep because of what awaits you in the dream world: A centuries-old battle between two powerful Druidic spirits. Murdered by the man who he once called “brother,” Jonathan is on a quest for revenge against all Druid descendants born of Samhain. Malissa Ratham was not one such descendant, and yet Jonathan tormented her dreams for years. Grappling for some kind of balance between what is real and what is only a dream, Malissa struggles to move on in life and salvage her sanity. But the past has a way of catching up to people, and Malissa realizes she must put an end to this ancient curse on her family once and for all, before she loses everyone and everything she loves.

Shadow of Samhain is a brand new dark fantasy novel published by Gypsy Shadow Publishing. It is New Adult as well as Dark Fantasy. The book is available as an ebook and will soon come out in print. E-copies of this new novel are now available for review and purchase.


She called him the “dark man.”

Who is Jonathan, a man haunting Malissa Ratham’s dreams? What sort of secrets from his past does he try to keep buried? Everybody says the dreams are only dreams and nothing more. But soon Malissa starts acting strangely, knowing about ancient Druidic rituals and a history too mysterious to unearth. With the help of Jovin, an ancient Druidic spirit on a mission to stop Jonathan from his path of death and destruction, and Tessie Malkin, a psychic with an advantage over Jonathan’s power, Malissa must owe up to her past and walk between worlds to destroy an ancient curse…

…before it is too late



He awoke from a deep sleep. The white wall above should have been familiar to the person whose body he inhabited, but it wasn’t familiar to him. In fact, the daylight stretching across the white wall was unfamiliar to what he’d known for all these centuries. Such darkness.

He rose up in the bed, staring around the room. This was Malissa’s room. There was her desk by the window. Her dresser stood by the closed closet. And there, on her floor, sat her shoes.

They were all things that belonged to Malissa Ratham. So this was how she lived outside of the dream world.
He climbed out of the bed. The comforter and sheets felt so soft and warm, a far cry from the dirty blanket he’d slept with on the cold floor of a thatched hut. He examined the girl’s hands, smiling over how clean and perfect they looked. Even the nails on her fingers were perfect; she obviously didn’t bite them. He hoped she took likewise good care of the rest of herself; the last thing he wanted to worry about was tooth pain.

He walked to the closet and swung open both doors. The clothes inside consisted of blouses, skirts, sweaters and pants, all in feminine colors. All clothes that were typical of a 17-year-old female. He removed a denim, long-sleeved dress and held it in front of him. He’d have to get used to dressing like a girl. After all, that was the gender of the body he was in now.
But gender was unimportant. All that mattered was that he’d finally overpowered the girl whose dreams he’d inhabited. Now he was free to have his revenge.

He quietly removed the pajamas, grateful that they were at least a pants and top ensemble, then put the dress on. He added a wide brown belt around the waist, then located a pair of white stockings in the dresser drawer. He put these on then slid into the brown leather moccasins on the floor.

He walked out of the room and crept through the hallway, examining the faces in the framed photos. None of the children looked familiar, yet when he saw Jane’s face, he stopped. He stared at the wedding picture, looking at the man hugging Jane then back at Jane’s face. The face was that of an older Jane, but he still knew that face very well.

“What are you doing?”

He turned, then smiled. The girl with long blond hair looked exactly as Jane once had, when Jane had been fifteen years old.

“Where is Jane?” he asked.


He thought a minute then remembered. Jane had changed her name long ago. He looked at the girl again. “Janay.”

The girl scrunched her face. “Don’t you mean Mom?”

“Where is she?”

“At work.” She studied his face. “Malissa, are you okay?”

He walked up to the girl, smiling at her. She still wore her pajamas. “Fine.” He put a hand on the girl’s shoulder. “Everything is fine.” He leaned over to look the girl in her eyes. “Where does she work?”

The girl blinked in surprise. “At the fabric store. You’ve been there to buy stuff for clothes.”

He smiled, then turned to walk away. Finding the fabric store would not be a problem; the location was somewhere in Malissa’s memories.

As he entered the kitchen, he heard the girl say, “Can you take me to school? Malissa?”

He walked outside and down the steps. The October wind beat against him, blowing the long black hair in either direction. He moved a strand of hair from her eyes and looked around. This was the backyard; he saw a door to the garage, a tire swing hung from a tree, and bikes were parked along the wooden fence.

He walked to one of the larger bikes, then led it out of the yard through a gate. He examined the seat, the frame and tires. He recalled memories of how Malissa rode the bike in the past, pedaling the rectangular metal things on a rotating bar in the lower center. He climbed onto the bike and started to peddle it down the driveway, shaking as he adjusted his balance.

He searched the street signs as she pedaled, watching for cars and buses that passed by. He soon entered a busy town and steered the bike through the crowds of people walking along the street and sidewalks, the girl’s hair blowing in the wind. Everyone he saw wore a coat, sweater or jacket. Even though the denim was sufficient for warmth, he hoped being without an extra garment didn’t make the girl stand out.

The fabric store finally came into view. He parked the bike against the wall next to it, then walked inside. Only two other people were in the store today: Jane and a customer. Jane stood next to a swinging tray of assorted cloths, discussing one such fabric with an elderly woman.
He slowly approached Jane, eyes fixed on the woman’s face. The face Jane had now was calm and relaxed, speaking with this elderly woman in a soft tone of voice. Yet as he walked toward Jane, all he saw was the face of the frightened ten-year-old girl the woman had once been.
Jane finally caught sight of him. “Malissa? What are you doing here?”

He stopped in mid-step. He stared hard at Jane, the anger rushing through his veins.

“I have come back for you, Jane,” was all he said. The body may have been female, but the voice definitely sounded like it should have been male. It was his voice, after all.

The elderly woman stared at her. She took one look at the girl’s face, then gasped. She backed away, slinking back with one cautious step after another.

“Malissa?” Jane asked, her voice curious and her eyes never leaving the person she saw as her daughter as she put the piece of cloth back onto the tray.

“You thought you could escape me,” he said, still using his voice. “You were wrong.” He chuckled. “I have your daughter. And now I have you.”

The elderly woman stopped moving away. Her eyes fluttered and she fainted.

Jane looked to the woman, then back at him. She studied him for a few moments then took a step forward.


He threw his arms out at her and used his power to throw her back. She screamed as she toppled over the tray, then fell to the floor. Fabric sheets drifted down to her back as she groaned. She turned and looked up at him standing over her.

“Please,” she sobbed, her wide eyes trying to understand what was happening. “Please, Malissa. What are you doing?”

He turned and tore a metal bar off of a display rack. She heard Jane gasp, then whisper, “Oh, my God,” as he slowly turned back to face her. He gripped the metal bar with both hands and held it above him.

“No!” he heard Jane scream.

His gaze fixed ahead, Jonathan mechanically brought the metal bar down. He heard Jane scream, “No!” again, then all sound suddenly disappeared as he froze, holding the bar in mid-air.

Jonathan! a woman’s voice commanded in his mind.The image of an African-American woman wearing rainbow-colored clothes and assorted jewelry came to him through some kind of link. The woman pointed directly at him as she spoke. Jonathan! Harm her no more.

He held the metal bar inches over the sobbing figure of Jane Ratham. His vision of the store in front of him—with the counter, cash register, assorted fabric displays and homemade clothing—all suddenly disappeared. A bright light shone in his eyes as something, some form, pushed him away and out of the body he had stolen.
Malissa felt herself returning to life within her body again, consciousness sweeping through her.

The air left her lungs for only a moment as she realized she’d been out of her body all this time, then she collapsed to the floor, releasing the metal bar as darkness overtook her.

Read more about this debut novel here:

Reader comments:

"This is a very good, suspenseful story. I couldn't stop reading once I got started. I have had some dreams that I swear aren't dreams, and this reminded me of those. Always so spooky! Thanks for the roller coaster ride."

"Anyone who wants a good read wouldn't go wrong starting with this one!"
About the Author:
Dawn Colclasure is a writer who lives in Oregon. Her articles, essays, poems and short stories have appeared in several newspapers, anthologies, magazines and E-zines. She is the author of fourteen books, among them BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL: How We Survive as Writing Parents; 365 TIPS FOR WRITERS: Inspiration, Writing Prompts and Beat The Block Tips to Turbo Charge Your Creativity; Love is Like a Rainbow: Poems of Love and Devotion and the children’s book The Yellow Rose. She is co-author of the book Totally Scared: The Complete Book on Haunted Houses. Her novel, Shadow of Samhain, was published by Gypsy Shadow Publishing in October.

Author’s Website