Giveaway! A Signed Print Copy of The Lady in Yellow!

Win a Free Signed Copy of the Print Edition of The Lady in Yellow!

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Getting my first book inot print took a long time, mainly because of formatting issues and the painstaking task of catching and eradicating all those pesky typoes. After two more rounds of edits, and my own comb-through, the copy of this much beleaguered, yet steadily selling, book should be 100% clean!

Glad that’s over.

The Lady is a real doorstopper at around 600 pages. I had no idea it was so long! The cover, front and back looks great thanks to Joy Silesen at Indie Author Services.

For readers of The Lady in Yellow, the spin-off, backstory about Sovay is turning into a larger project than i anticipated. I ran into a bit of snag with the first draft as well, but it is in the pipleine. I will keep you all posted and, of course, will have it FREE for fans of The Lady in Yellow.



A note on the Wicked color Yellow:

“The color of The Yellow Book was an appropriate reflection of the ‘Yellow Nineties,” a decade in which Victorianism was giving way among the fashionable to Regency attitudes and French influences; For yellow was not only the decor of the notorious and dandified pre-Victorian Regency, but also of the allegedly wicked and decadent French novel” (Weintraub, 99).

The Lady in Yellow is a werewolf story inspired by the mural from Chateua Villaneuve in France  that depicts a lady with long golden hair and dressed in a Medeival gown, clutched in the jaws of an enormous wolf. The look on her face is not one of fear, but of coy sediuction. Legend has it that this lady of the chateau had been a flagrant libertine. In French lore, as we find in the fairy tales like Red Riding Hood, and even in the Lais of Marie de France, the wolf symbolizes a perpetually prowling, sexually seductive male. That this lady in the mural seems to enjoy the wolf’s poessession of her, suggests that this mural is about sexual excess. The murals on the walls around this image show devils and demons and what looks like a magician at his smoky altar. The entire series gives of the stench of sulfur, the yellow fumes of devil worship.

All of these themes have crept into The Lady in Yellow, giving this Gothic Romance, and there is a romance at the center, its creepy occult-laden underground stream.

The color yellow is not significant just because the murals were painted mostly in yellow pigments, but because, in certain contaxts, yellow has some untoward associations.

We have the yellow of sulfur, a mineral connected to the Devil, to fire and brimstone, and the sufulous fumes of Hell.

Yellow Journalism: News stories of a titiilating and scandalous nature.

Yellow is the color of gold, symbolizing wealth and corruption

In Victorian times: London’s infernal yellow fog….

The 1890s were tagged The Yellow Nineties by a London bookseller who filled his front window with French novels (scandalous!) that all had yellow covers. This isnpired the artist, Aubrey Beardsley and Ocasr Wilde to produce a magaizine called The Yellow Book.


“Holbrook Jackson, describing the impact of The Yellow Book, explained: “It was newness in excelsis: novelty naked and unashamed. People were puzzled and shocked and delighted, and yellow became the colour of the hour, the symbol of the time-spirit. It was associated with all that was bizarre and queer in art and life, with all that was outrageously modern.”

So, you see, its not all sunshine an tea roses, the color yellow. it’s actually not very nice. Diabolical. Wicked. Like the lady in my book, The Lady in Yellow.



Here we have the suggestion of Chinese influence which meant, in Vistorian England, the influence of opium. Many poets such as Baeudelaire and Coleridge were reputed to have written their works under its mind-altering spell.

If you can think of any more associations with the color yellow, feel free to comment!


Old Christmas was Darker Than you Think

Krampusz, Saturn, Father Christmas, Saint Lucy or the Christ Child:

An Eldritch Evolution of Christmas


Above: Santa Claus as a mask over the face of Krampusz!

Not to put a damper on your Christmas festivities, but this little diversion might be interesting to those who wonder about the  ancient rites associated, not with  a celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, but with the primal need of our ancestors to assist the sun’s rebirth from the darkness of winter and the coming of the light. As a writer of Gothic fiction, I find the lure of the darkness strong, along with the desire to throw back the curtain that hides a primordial mystery. In researching the history of Old Christmas, I found some unexpected things.

In my Dark Fantasy novel, Roses of the Moon, Christmas is celebrated in the old way of Central Europe, in this case 16-17th century Royal Hungary. Though my heroine, Lady Mara, is raised Catholic, her mother, Countess Orzsebet, still carries on the ancient pagan rite of Winter Solstice as Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, the Birthday of the Unconquered Sun. Though Roses of the Moon is a book of high fantasy, I still had to do a lot of research to capture the atmosphere of Hungary in a time parallel to Elizabethan England, and to learn about Hungarian folklore, seasonal celebrations, and fairy tales in order to back up the magic in the story.

I discovered Krampusz. For those of us brought up on Nativity scenes and eight tiny reindeer, this is a scary figure indeed. Not only does he have all the attributes of the Devil with his horns and his long tongue, but he steals children. In Roses of the Moon, Countess Orzsebet, a Bathoryesque evil queen who bathes in the blood of young girls, he was an apt sidekick and a wonderful disguise for the true driver of the tale, the Demon Prince, Lucifer.


The attributes of Saturn are all over this figure. Astrologically, Saturn rules the sign of Capricorn, the goat, and is the traditional ruler of Aquarius, the Water Bearer. Krampusz is certainly goat-like with his horns and hoofs, he is black like the darkest night of Winter Solstice, as harsh as the cold, cutting wind and pretty hungry. Image after image of Krampusz shows him carrying off terrified children. The color of Saturn is black, and his appetite for children is legendary.


The image above combines Capricorn, the goat, with Aquarius, the Water Bearer, or perhaps, Bearer of the Punch Bowl. This Santa Clause, or Father Christmas, has a lean and hungry look. What will he fatten up on, if he is Saturn?

This is pretty creepy stuff, and its truth has long been buried. Krampusz has come out into the light for all of us to see and wonder at, especially in countries like America where these archetypal figures had been left behind and replaced by the safe but relatively empty glitz of mass merchandising.

There are lots of pictures of Krampusz online. They expose a dark side to Old Christmas that most civilized people would like to believe has been left in the Dark Ages.


Blatant child stealing in the image above. Does mere naughtiness deserve such cruelty? Or is something more going on?


Father Christmas and Krampusz in Salzburg, Germany. Could these be Santa’s elves? And why does Father Christmas look like a Bishop or a Pope, and why is he leading them out of Hell?


The Father Christmas, or Santa Clause, we all know and love. But what really is in that bag of his? And what is in his belly? The church is like a toy beside this powerful figure who comes out of the darkness bearing the promise of new, and everlasting life. The power of nature seems to dwarf the house of God.

Though their purposes may seem the same, I don’t think of Father Christmas as a Christ figure.  But the figure of Saint Lucy, or Santa Lucia, bearer of the light in the darkness, has also been called the Christ Child.


Above: The Christ Child by Hans Trapp

This image is worth an entire blog post. It suggests a meaning for Christmas in Old Europe that has nothing in common with the holiday we celebrate today—-unless your name is  Jon Benet Ramsey!

Clearly this Christ Child is female. She is Saint Lucy, Santa Lucia, whose festival is most famously celebrated in Sweden. She comes from the north, her head crowned with flames , bearing gifts for the good little children who seem uncertain whether to accept these baubles, while a brother and sister cower in the corner. The mother clearly wants to protect her naughty children from the creature who has just leapt in through the window: Krampusz, looking goatier and more sinister than ever. His body  is charged with sexuality, his willow switch is raised; he leers at the children. And what that is on his head, only the artist must know for sure. His entire aspect is predatory.

One must wonder what kind of Christmas celebration this is.

Lucy means Light and is often shorthand for Lucifer, the Angel of Light synonymous with the Devil. Krampusz is clearly the Devil. The word Christ means Anointed One, and can be applied to other beings besides Jesus. Folklore has it that Lucifer sits on the left hand of God, brother to Jesus Christ, and that he, too, claims to be a Christ.

Was Old Christmas a wicked old holiday? Or does the brightness of the light and the happiness of the Divine Birth simply cast a deeper shadow all around? Winter for our ancestors must have been a fearsome time when warmth and illumination came only by fire, wolves prowled the lanes looking for food, iron cold stole the breath from small children, and food stores ran low.

May the power of the Holy Birth bring peace and salvation to the world. May the devils of our fears cease to rule us.  Joy to the world, the Lord has come!


The Book of UnHoly Beasts

In The Lady in Yellow, Rafe gives Veronica an ancient, Medieval tome,

The Book of Unholy Beasts.


The book is a compendium of mythical creatures… including the one special to the de Grimstons…along with descriptions of them and their legends.  I was thinking of approaching an artist friend of mine to make this book and have it available to fans of The Lady in Yellow. It may happen someday, but in the meantime, I thought it would be fun to share some of these antique images from actual Medieval illuminated manuscripts.


Various UnGodly Creatures including a Wildman



Strange Unnatural Creatures, Dragon, Unicorn, Oliphant and Foreigners



Domestic Cats


Wolves and Wolfman


Manticore: Head of a Man, body of a Lion










Side Story: The Wolf of Chazes who was tried in a French court for murder. Thus are legends made.


Our ancestors really belived this stuff. Its possible that some of these weird creatures were real, created in the labratories of lost Atlantis. Who knows for sure?




13 Books that Made Me Want to Write

The urge to tell stories began in childhood for me. My father was a great reader of classic novels and he passed this interest on to me. I was thinking about the books I’ve read throughout my life and the ones that inspired me to say “I want to do that!” So I made a list.

Some books that inspired me are long out of print and long gone. As my reading skills developed, I discovered a taste for mysteries like Secret of the Haunted Pool and things like that. I made up a story based on that at one time.

These books are not necessarily my favorites, but they were the ones that excited the Muse in me. They sparked my imagination in a way that said not only: “I want to do that!” but “I have to.”

Stories build up in your subconscious, you see, over time, then start agitating to get out. These books were the seeds, many planted deep in my consciousness as soon as I could read. Images attract me, and all of these authors have the ability to create iconic images in their stories that resonate for a long time.

What books inspired you to write?

Childhood Reads:


Filled with drama and magic and mystery, I think these were the Harry Potter of our time. Disney helped, I suppose, but these stories were my constant companions as a child.

8. fairy tales cover,

There were never enough faiy tales. I still read them. The illustrations were inspiring as well and I did a lot of drawing most of my life. My first dream was to become an illustrator of fiary tale books.


I wanted to be Jo. How many women writers have felt the same?  Or is this just a New England thing? I used to sit in the big oak tree eating apples and writing in my notebook.  Somewhere deep inside, I still want to be Jo.


The dark moody atmosphere of Oliver Twist, and the strange characters worked their magic on me early. On my first visit to London in 1997, these were the streets I explored. The characters were so varied and so real. I wanted to write a story like this.




I was haunted by the 1960s movie The Haunting and wanted badly to read the book. My tiny local library didn’t have it, but, by hook or by crook, I found this book instead. For some reason it reminded me of Alice Through the Looking Glass, but was more inspiring because the voice of Merrycat as she tells this murky little tale is so human. Only in recent years did I finally read The Haunting of Hill House. But I feel We Have Always in the Castle in the better book.


Sometime during my adolescence I challenged myself to read very book in our tiny Leicester Library. That was where I found this little gem filled with stories by Algernon Blackwood. MR James, Wilkie Collins, Bram Stoker–all under one creepy cover. Short stories have been great Muse pokers for me. From fairy tales to scary tales, it was a straight line.


A little later in life, I found this book by Dickins to be a highly motivating. I loved the characters and wanted to create some of my own. Of curse, Miss Havisham is the Gothic Queen of cobwebby darkness. I love all the film versions of this book.


I knew I would never be able to write like the Bard, but I acted in many of his plays. I got to say those words, to be or not to be  some of those characters. They filled me with story. Shakespeare’s influence is huge in my work because, while acting in his plays, his stories entered my blood.


stephen king salem's lot signet 1976 pb

Speaking of blood–its gets grimmer from here on. When I was first in college in Massachusetts, I had a frustrated  poetry professor. He ran a lively class and encouraged me a lot. One day he complained to us that his best friend had just gotten a movie deal off one his books, Salem’s Lot, and he was jealous as hell. At the time I had no idea who that best friend was. Then I got the book. I loved the idea of a vampire moving into a small town. It reminded of the black house one of my friends had been to. Apparently the lady who lived there was a witch. They had tea. As my friend was sitting on the couch, she realized that the cat she was petting was dead. Taxidermied! Perhaps a mummy…

I wrote a book based on these elements, but it is long gone.




In a period when I was  doing plays and reading mostly non-fiction, Dracula stands out. I read it every winter for years. It was my winter by the fire book. The gloom is filled with golden light, the mysteries are deep, like fairy tales and Shakespeare rolled into one. The first time I read it, I was surpirised at how good it was. I will say that after this time, I went back to university to finish my English degree and none of the books I was assigned to read, much as I liked many of them, made me want to write.





The dormant desire to write fiction was ignited to a painful degree when I found this book on the shelves of the University Bookstore.  Carter’s use of language is equal to Shakespeare, but she uses it to tell fairy tales. Talk about things coming together for a perfect storm! I was writing a lot of poetry, quite successfully at the time, and it hurt me that I had no stories inside me. I thought I was doomed to a plotless existence. Taking a Creative Writing class didn’t help because the professor didn’t reach us anything. I carried this thing around like a talisman, as if I could absorb Angela Carter’s muses by will.




I was living in England when I discoverd Tanith Lee. The title story of this collection, Red as Blood, supercharged my desire to write. Tanith Lee was another Angela Carter, If she could do it. maybe I could. I’d been a prize-winning published poet after all, and these authors had such a remarkable fluidity with language. I also found, living in London, that my imagination was flooded with stories.  I realzed how important place was to me. I could write stories in Massachusetts and in London, but Seattle left me cold.


This book, a fusion of fairy tale, romance and thriller is highly inspirational to me. It is the benchmark of the type of book I would like to write, a book that is high quality Gothic, and that excites readers’ imaginations worldwide. I’ve read it many times.

There could be more, but these were the sparks that set my Kindle career alight. I’d love to know yours. Leave a comment and share your inspirations with us.

In case you’re interested:



Gothic Romance: The Dark Allure at Gothic Romance Reviews

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Miss Stacy at Gothic Romance Reviews invited me to write

a blog post on the Gothic Romance genre.

Find it here:


I will have an interview with Stacy on her blog at the end of July about my writing with a focus on The Lady in Yellow. 

I’ll post the link here when its up there.

Meanwhile go to Stacy’s great blog and read my post: Gothic Romance: The Dark Allure.

the apparition