Mirror, mirror, on the wall…

I tend to start these posts with a quote from a famous song or words from a bestselling book. For a change, how about some words from a book I hope will soon become a bestseller?

“Not quite,” she said gently, “look closer. As each image gets repeated it loses strength, it passes closer to the realm of the supernatural. As it does so, some essence of its being becomes captured by the spirits that reside within that realm and are so lessened. The entities within the realm beyond the glass of the mirror absorb and feed on the lifeblood within the images and they become fainter and darker. There are no more than perhaps a hundred or so reflections, although it may not appear so to you.”

I peered intently into the depths of the glass and saw that she was correct. The images did diminish as they disappeared into the distance. Each smaller and fainter, more shrouded in shadows than the last.

“Do you also see how thin the divide is stretched between this world and the next?”

For a moment I was puzzled as to what she wanted me to see, but as I stared at our images, I began to realize there was something wrong. As I scoured the farthest images, so small that my eyes ached, I discerned a darkness behind a distant, tiny reflection of myself. I leaned in closer to see better. My reflection also leaned in and revealed a dark and shadowy shape that stood at my shoulder, dark and indistinct, but moving, its face close to my own, almost touching.

“What is it. What do I see?” I whispered, still staring at the dark shape that stood behind me.

What Joseph is looking into in the story, are two scrying mirrors, set facing each other to create a seeming ‘infinity’ of reflections.

You can read the whole story by clicking on the book cover below.

Scrying can be interchanged with terms like ‘seeing’ or ‘peeping’. The word itself comes from the English word ‘descry’ which means ‘to make out dimly’ or ‘to reveal’. It is the practice of looking into a suitable medium, usually reflective, to detect the presence of a paranormal entity or vision/message. The medium can be things like the crystal balls, stones or glass. One of the more infamous mediums is the scrying mirror. Scrying, regardless of medium can be traced back through the ages, as far back as 3000 B.C. in China.

Since the day when Narcissus fell in love with his own reflection, humankind has been enthralled by the facets of the worlds, and the possible insights into paranormal realms they reflect.

Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, for instance, made a magic mirror that showed the past, present and future.

Perseus used the mirror of his shield to defeat Medusa. Anybody who looked directly at the face of Medusa was turned to stone, Perseus defeated her by fighting her by looking only at her reflection.

In Europe, it has long been a tradition to cover the mirrors in the home of someone recently deceased. The belief is that the soul of the dead person could easily become entrapped within the hidden realm of the mirror, unable to depart and find peace in the afterlife.

And then there was John Dee. Born in 1527 he became Queen Mary’s astrologer, but he was also an astronomer, mathematician, and philosopher. The application of these sciences all held one common theme, Dee sought to use them to find a way to speak directly to God. Dee had a scrying mirror built from obsidian and for seven years he claimed to have used the device to communicate with angels who taught him the original language use by humankind before the fall.

John Dee’s Scrying Mirror

Dee created a massively convoluted mathematical system in which to achieve his communications and in later years it greatly influenced members of the magical society of the Golden Dawn and the esteemed Aleister Crowley. You can read more about The Golden Dawn and Crowley below.

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Mr. Crowley – did you talk to the dead?

In the iconic words of the legend who is Ozzy Osbourne:

“Mr. Crowley, what went on in your head?

Oh Mr. Crowley, did you talk to the dead?

Your lifestyle to me seemed so tragic

With the thrill of it all

You fooled all the people with magic

Yeah, you waited on Satan’s call”

Songwriters: John Osbourne / Randy Rhoads / Robert Daisley

If you don’t know, Mr. Crowley refers to Aliester Crowley, and Crowley would have spelled ‘magic’ here as ‘magick’.

He was a late 19th century occultist who founded the religion of Thelema based on a modern form of paganism. Crowley was often accused of being a satanist, although he refuted this and countered that he could not worship “satan’ as he didn’t believe in the Christian biblical version of the fallen angel. Not much of a denial really, when you stop and think about it…

Crowley was also a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, a sect founded in London in 1888. The Golden Dawn was a secret magical order devoted to the study and practice of the occult..

Aleister Crowley in his Golden Dawn regalia in 1910

William Woodman, William Westcott and Samuel Mathers were the three freemasons who founded the society with a focus on spirituality and self improvement. Crowley joined in 1898 and soon rose to prominence, although he was largely disliked due to his bisexuality and libertine lifestyle. Most of our modern concepts of magic, wicca and the paranormal still stem from the philosophies of the Golden Dawn and the teachings of Crowley himself.

The Rose Cross of the Golden Dawn

It is also the same secret society that Doctor John Carter belongs to in my novel, “The Haunting of Edgar Allan Poe.” It is from the Golden Dawn that two errant members, not willing to be constrained by the ethics and limits on power that the society imposes, decide to leave and found their own order—The Dux de Obscurum or The Commanders of Darkness. A sect much more willing to embrace the inherent darkness of the underworld.

As Doctor Carter states as he explains to Joseph Snodgrass, Edgar’s would be savior, when they first meet in Baltimore:

“of course, knowledge of power is one thing, to become adept at its summoning and control is another thing entirely. My order is a peaceful one, we seek knowledge, its members are dedicated to the advancement of humanity by the perfection of the individual on every plane of existence. Like your venerable profession doctor, we seek to do no harm.”

An extended silence fell across the room, broken only by an ember from the log that spat and cracked, musket shot loud in the silent chamber. Carter looked up, his eyes wide and glassy.

“The spells however are from an ancient world, a realm where harm, torture, and immolation was more commonplace. To re-enact their full efficacy and master true dominion, sacrifice is required.”

Unlike the Golden Dawn, The Dux de Obscurum will stop at nothing to master true dominion. The scholar of esotericism Wouter Hanegraaff asserted that Crowley was also an extreme representation of “the dark side of the occult”. In my sequel to “The Haunting of Edgar Allan Poe“, The Order of the Golden Dawn once more pitches battle against the Dux de Obscurum. I am currently writing the book, and who knows, given much of the action takes place in London, perhaps Mister Aleister Crowley himself might make an appearance!

Once more in the words of the great Ozzy:

“Uncovering things that were sacred

Manifest on this Earth

Ah, conceived in the eye of a secret

And they scattered the afterbirth”

You can read book one by clicking on the link below. It’s available in ebook, paperback and hardback and always free on Kindle Select.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Check out the re-branded website for similar posts and random musings. I will post some more on other supernatural elements that are used in my books – Furies, Scrying and Goetic circles amongst them, so sign up and give me a like, a share and a follow 😉

Back to the Paranormal

I am currently querying literary editors for representation of my latest Sci-Fi book tentatively titled “River is Rising.” You can read a blog post that discusses the main themes of this book by clicking on the image below.

Māori warrior with facial Tā moko

It was a real challenge to write, although the research for all of the hard Sci-Fi elements was fun (between just you and I, I am starting to think that I really should be a researcher rather than a writer). The intent is that this book will be the first in a trilogy. The problem is that while I wait to hear back from agents, my passion for the themes of the book have gone off the boil. Not to say they couldn’t be instantly rekindled, they just need a positive push from the publishing world to get me back on track.

So, what to write in the meantime. Well, I really enjoyed writing the paranormal story surrounding the last days of Edgar Allan Poe. That story was self-published and the rights are entirely within my control. It also turns out that I left the ending open for a sequel, where the unlikely assemblage from book one (spoiler alert – most of them) get to fight another day. With at least 50% of the characters already written I just needed an idea.

I really liked writing within the atmosphere of “The Haunting of Edgar Allan Poe.” If you haven’t read it yet (shame on you, you must!), the tale carried an American gothic theme. Gas lit streets, steam ships, wet cobbles and large rooms full of ancient mirrors where beasts and secrets could lie concealed within.

You can read a sample and buy a copy here:

So, where to set book two. There was only one place – 19th century London. Where better? Massive overcrowding, crippling poverty for the masses, open sewers, narrow twisting unlit streets and Brasses a plenty to act as my unwitting victims for a new denizen of the dark to pick off in awful ways.

Brass in this context is Cockney Rhyming slang. The slang was claimed to have been invented to obscure the meaning of words to allow criminals to speak freely without being easily understood by the Ducks (see below). Only the first word of the rhyme is typically spoken, so the listener needs to already know the complete phrase to ascertain the meaning.

So? Brass? Well, its meaning has one of two derivatives. Brass Door (whore) or Brass Nail (Tail). A prostitute to you and I. And this in an era in London when the number of Victorian women working the trade was staggeringly high. Poverty and lack of opportunity for the working classes led to as many as 80,000 women and girls working the streets in 19th century London. A great backdrop for a re-inventing of the Ripper story perhaps? One where the killer slips through the shadows with ease, not because he has Royal connections, but rather because he (it) is bestowed with supernatural prowess.

19th century London

I am finding that the slang of the era lends an additional element of authenticity to the time and place, which was already a dark and dangerous time and place to live, even without a murderous creature living in your midst

Here are a few more examples of popular rhyming slang words. Note of caution, this was the language of the street and so can be a touch on the colorful side.

Boat Race (Face)

Brown Bread (Dead)

Ducks and Geese (Police)

Dustbin Lid (Kid)

Gypsy’s Kiss (Piss)

Some require some minor linguistic mental gymnastics

Titfer = Tit for Tat (Hat)

Porky = Pork Pie (Lie)

Whistle = Whistle and Flute (suit)

Richard = Richard the Third (I will let you figure that one out)

And some have come into popularity through more modern vernacular, which I love, although its use for the book is more than doubtful. How about:

Rockford Files (Piles)!

So, the book is about a third written. One element I have added is much more depth around the paranormal antagonists from the first book. In book one the motives and main actors of The Dux de Obscurum were only hinted at. In book two, they play a much more central role and I am busy fleshing out two of the central characters. There will be a few blind alleys and several surprises woven through the tale as well. The plan at the moment is to finish book two by Summer and drive straight on to the final book three in the series to publish them all together by the end of the year.

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Wiccan’s wearing tin foil hats

Writing is a hard and lonely business and personal motivation can be a real challenge. I often go for weeks without a single idea and then, when I finally begin to focus on a project and lever open the lid of my dusty trusty Mac to tap at the keys in an effort to make magic happen, five new competing ideas leap, distracting antelope like, into my mind. Instead of writing, I procrastinate and, instead, check Twitter to see what Boris Johnson and our other world leaders have decided to lie about today and what new conspiracy theory has leapt to to the forefront of the hive mind. While busy not writing, it got me thinking, how do conspiracy theories begin and how do they propagate through a society?

Beginnings

Conspiracy theories are nothing new, although when I was a kid they were confined to such fanciful but brilliantly chilling tales about folks randomly spontaneously combusting or staggering into deadly quicksand. And, of course, the hardcore staples of the Bermuda triangle and the fake moon landings.

As it almost always turns out with these types of theories, I spent way too much time as a ten year-old worrying about quicksand.

My 10 year old brain the horror!

But why do people believe and even propagate such bunkum? COVID-19 was a stellar case of such a phenomenon. Most people, around the world, believed that the virus began as a mutation in a wet market in Wuhan China, but in the United States as much as 28% of the population believe it was manufactured and distributed with malign intent or simply did not exist.

Wiccan

SALISBURY, UNITED KINGDOM – JUNE 21: Summer Solstice participants wait for the midsummer sun to rise over the megalithic monument of Stonehenge on June 21, 2007 on Salisbury Plain, England. Crowds gathered at the 5,000 year old stone circle to celebrate the Summer Solstice; the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

I was doing some research for a new book which is centered around the Wiccan religion. Wicca is the name given by its practitioners to the New Age religion of Witchcraft. The word ‘Wicca’ derives from the Anglo-Saxon word for witch and has been used since the religions founder, Gerald Gardner, coined it in the 1930’s. Turns out spirituality is one of the three groups of motives that can be seen as crucial in drawing individuals to conspiracy beliefs.

Motivations

Turns out, people cannot help themselves but to seek meaning in randomness and try to obtain definitive knowledge of any given situation. People also have a tendency to find patterns in random events, named Illusory Pattern Perception (IPP). Both of these were found to drive conspiracy beliefs. This can be viewed as an Epistemic behavior.

Existential Motives, are reflected in the desire for control and security (Douglas et al., 2017). Lacking individual control, people turn to external authorities, such as government, David Icke or religion…

David Icke 2020

Which leads me back to spirituality and the Wicca. Spirituality, like religion, has been consistently seen as a way to seek meaning in life, feel secure and connected with others. A solid reason why spirituality might have an important role in conspiratorial thinking comes from the combination of ethnology and sociology: as Ward and Voas (2011) noted, a new philosophy named “Conspirituality” has emerged, based on the core convictions of New Age spiritual beliefs and conspiracy theories, namely the idea that nothing happens accidentally, and that everything is connected.

As Gardner himself put it “Witchcraft was, and is, not a cult for everybody. Unless you have an attraction to the occult, a sense of wonder, a feeling that you can slip for a few minutes out of the world into the world of faery, it is of no use to you.” (Gardner 1954, p.29).

Bit like reading a good book then! Join the blog and give me a follow below or click here to check out (and buy) a book on the website!

A writer’s winter’s tale

Good lord don’t you just hate the endless plethora of tedious self indulgent, self-gratifying, self-aggrandizing end of year summaries that plague our lives during the Holiday season? I certainly do, but I hope you are in the minority coz here comes mine!

I started my marathon of a journey as a writer and author on the 1st of January 2021, so we are fast approaching my first anniversary. We are two self-published books into that long haul trip. One more book is essentially complete and is in its final edits.

I have made a lot of mistakes and learnt an enormous amount about the business. Here are some stats from this last 12 months:

Stats (12 month period)

201 Total units sold

6074 KENP page reads

69 KENP full reads

43 Global Amazon ratings – average 4.7 out of 5

Stats (6 month period)

328 Total units sold

7298 KENP page reads

32 KENP full reads (much longer book)

12 Global Amazon ratings – average 4.5 out of 5 (this should be 4.8 but some wretch, you know who you are, gave me a single 3 star rating – no review mind, just a rating in the same week the book got released), not bitter, just saying…

So, you know what? Not amazeballs, I didn’t set the world alight if I’m honest. A solid B—, could do better, see me at the end of class.

For you few foolhardy souls who have read the books, you have generally really liked the writing and a lovely few have even taken the time to email me and let me know that, which is massively motivating. I started the journey wondering if anybody would bother to read them, and when strangers started to do so, I sat waiting for the 1 star reviews and criticisms to roll in. That definitely did not happen, quite the opposite. So I guess I proved I can actually write a bit, and possibly even craft a tale sufficiently well to engage with my readers. You know what, for year one, I’ll take that!

I started with something like 6 twitter followers and currently have 1,708 followers. To be honest I am not sure what to do with them, and 95% are fellow writers, they certainly are not buying my books! Maybe next year I will be struck with inspiration and find a way to leverage Twitter more meaningfully.

I played around with Instagram and TikTok but lets be brutally honest with each other, I’m a 56 year old bald white guy, I have no idea what I’m doing and its all just too embarrassing. Not for me.

I posted a total of 24 blog posts (this will be the 25th). I do enjoy writing the blog and it gets good traction and always drives traffic to the website. You can read them all, and sign up to follow the blog, here:

I finally got started on Goodreads and have a few reviews and a handful of followers. Give me a follow here:

I launched the website which has been a great success, not in sales you understand, but I think it’s pretty and represents well the brand I am trying to build.

The website received 1,390 views from 891 individual visitors originating from 26 different countries, that obviously included the USA, Canada and the UK but also from such unexpected outliers as China, Romania, Malaysia, Tanzania and Vietnam. My biggest referrer was Facebook which tells me (too late, because I just ran the report) that I should pay attention to my FB page. Sorry FB followers! I will do better next year i promise.

Follow me here:

I did start a newsletter and managed to get an email list started with 102 subscribers. but the percentage of “opens” was very low and I got disheartened and lost interest in this midway through the year. Genuine apologies to you, my sad and lonely friend, if you were my one subscriber waiting for the next release, I commit to a different and more innovative approach in 2022.

As far as narrow vs wide, I liked to keep this, as one might define, on a “loosey goosey” strategy, as in I just couldn’t decide what to do. As we move into 2022 I have decided to keep “Mistakes” on Amazon exclusively but move “Haunting” wide so that is now available on the following bookstores.

I am also going to have “Haunting” available, at a discount, on a niche boutique site that supports Indie Authors, called Godless. This is partly because the owners give a better margin than Amazon but they also support a cool charity called Children of the Night who provide intervention in the lives of children who are sexually exploited and vulnerable to or involved in prostitution and pornography.

Lessons learned:

Series sell better than standalones. That’s why I am writing a Sci-Fi trilogy. It’s not really the book, it’s more to do with the ability to flex one or more books in marketing to drive sales of subsequent books. With a standalone, it…well…it stands alone.

Write to your audience – hint #1 – you need to figure out who that is. Hint #2 unless you are writing about your friends and family, it is not your friends and family.

Amazon ads drove better sales than Facebook ads for me, but many authors state the opposite.

Reviews drive sales and ratings. BUT. It’s really, really hard to get reviews. Please consider that when you read any book by any Indie writer. Stephen King and Dean R Koontz really don’t need them, Indie authors live or die by them.


If you are new to the blog – welcome. If you have followed along its been a great year because of you. Your feedback, reviews and the occasional personal email telling me to keep going has been truly inspirational. In 2022 I plan on completing the trilogy and will try and seek representation within the first 6 months. If that isn’t successful I will self-publish towards the end of the year. I am also considering adding a series of books to Haunting.

As always, ping me on the website, on Goodreads or email me at author@andycwareing.com

Have a great Xmas and see you all in 2022!

Children of the Night

This blog is going to drill into the differences the Indie Author faces when deciding to publish narrowly or widely.

The quote from Bram Stoker is a timeless classic right? But the title also refers to a great charity whose mission is to provide intervention in the lives of children who are sexually exploited and vulnerable to or involved in prostitution and pornography. More on how that directly relates to the indie publishing industry later on, so please read on kind and patient reader…

There are definite pros and cons to going large & wide for book channel distribution but lets first discuss the main differences between narrow and wide.

Narrow means Amazon only. The Amazon storefront is a given, a must, an essential. But then every author needs to decide if they want to distribute on Amazon Kindle Essentials, or KDP Select, as it is also called. This channel doesn’t provide book sales at all. Instead it rewards the author to share in a $38 million global pot of cash. The royalties are paid based on pages read by Kindle Select members who get to read your masterpiece for free. Each page read sends the writer a whopping $0.004297. This can add up for sure, and many people make a living in KDP Select, but for most writers out there the cost of being locked into this distribution model for 90 days is prohibitive. For example, to receive $100 I would have to generate 23,272 page reads. Hint: I am nowhere near that figure, my best day ever got 425 pages read. When you join Kindle Select you are contractually unable to sell ebooks on any other store.

The alternative is to go wide. My first book, the true life travel tale of our adventure to move from the USA to Spain, the one that sparked my career as a penniless wordsmith, “Mistakes Were Made” is still published narrow and gets decent page reads. It’s not quite “A Year in Provence” but whenever I advertise it, it does quite well and is always well reviewed. Well, apart from one lady in the UK that is, who took the time to leave me a review to let me know I was “just too full of himself.” Made my day by the way, because it is almost certainly true.

You can buy a copy here, or if you are a Kindle Select member read it for free!

My Paranormal Thriller “A Surcease of Sorrow” was just pulled from Kindle Select and I am trying a wide distribution model. This allows me to publish on all the other big name book sellers:

Wide book store distribution

I am using Draft2Digital to manage this for me. They allow a Universal Book Link to be generated which then allows the buyer to choose which store and format they prefer. On these sites I am keeping the US price $2.99 as the royalty share is the same as Amazon – 70%.

For “Surcease of Sorrow” I am really pushing the boat out and selling the ebook for only 99 cents on a brand new Indie publishing site called Godless. The link to the book is below but please go check them out regardless. They generously offer 90% of royalties to the authors who choose them for distribution. Most writers also opt in to give 5% back, which Godless uses to fund Children of the Night, who, since 1979 have rescued over 11,000 American children from sex trafficking and prostitution. You can find a donate link on the Godless website and also on this direct link URL https://www.childrenofthenight.org/

I really hope you enjoyed reading the blog today. I do try to couple shameless self promotion with some insights into the underground working of the self-publishing industry and hope you find that as interesting as I do. The journey continues so follow along on the blog, sign up for the monthly newsletter and get some cool updates on my latest Sci-Fi project. Just writing stories and telling tales – Andy C wareing

About to publish my latest book….

My second book (first novel) is about to be self-published. The book is a horror story set in 19th century America, based around the true but mysterious last days of the poet Edgar Allen Poe. Still working on final formatting and synopsis but thought it would be good to share the draft book cover and title. Thoughts please my friends?