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Writing because words are the essence of my life.


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If you go down to the woods today: Cover reveal – CRONE

 

If you go down to the woods today you’re sure of a big surprise. The East Devon countryside is the setting for Jeannie Wycherley’s debut novel – think dense and ancient forest on the Jurassic coast and you’ve pretty much got the idea.

Jeannie was driving home one night from Sidmouth to Ottery St Mary underneath the dense overhanging canopy, when she wondered how she would react if she saw a strange woman in the undergrowth. This quickly became the inspiration for the malevolent Aefre, who is at the centre of the novel’s evil misdoings.

Heather Keynes’ teenage son died in a tragic car accident. Or so she thinks. However, deep in the wilds of the Devon countryside, an ancient evil has awoken … and is intent on hunting the residents of Abbotts Cromleigh.

No-one is safe.

When Heather takes a closer look at a series of coincidental deaths, she is drawn reluctantly into the company of an odd group of elderly Guardians. Who are they, and what is their connection to the Great Oak? Why do they believe only Heather can put an end to centuries of horror? Who is the mysterious old woman in the forest and what is it that feeds her anger?

When Heather determines the true cause of her son’s death, she is hell-bent on vengeance. Determined to halt the march of the Crone once and for all, hatred becomes Heather’s ultimate weapon. Furies collide in this twisted tale of murder, magic and salvation.

Edited by Amie McCracken, and with a fabulously unnerving cover design by Jennie Rawlings at Serifim.com, Crone will appeal to a cross section of readers who enjoy fantasy, horror and women’s literature. With a female protagonist and an eerie female protagonist, Crone is unlike anything you’ve read before.

I’m hugely excited that Crone will be available soon, with this amazing cover to creep you all out, so follow me on Twitter @thecushionlady, or on Facebook @Jeanniewycherley, or follow my blog. Watch this space!

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Three shorts

I’m busily gearing up to publish my debut novel Crone, which is wonderfully exciting (and a bit ohmigerd at the same time) but then remembered there are other fab things on the horizon – namely the release of three short stories this month.

The first one is The Fly Man, which I’ve self-published to Kindle using my pseudonym. You can find The Fly Man on Amazon.co.uk, or on Amazon.com. It’s a hot, erotic story, that is very loosely (VERY) based on a work placement experience I had in the last millennia. There was a gorgeous theatre technician, and Peter Gabriel was singing Sledgehammer on the TV when I needed to borrow a sticking-plaster, and alas that’s it. I wrote it for a submission call but unfortunately it was rejected. I happen to think it’s a great story, and the anthology I wrote it for never saw the light of day, so what the hell … please enjoy.

The second short story was also rejected for an anthology (this time regrettably and for length) and I happen to think it is one of the best things I’ve written. The Municipality of Lost Souls (the short story version) deserved a home, and thankfully The Society of Misfit Stories gave it one for which I am so grateful. After I’d finished writing this story, it just wouldn’t leave me alone, and so I am currently 70,000 words into the novel length version, with some new characters and a more in-depth plot. I am really enjoying the writing of this. The short version will be available from Amazon on 17th February 2017.

The Municipality of Lost Souls is the first story to be published under my married name. I decided that a surname like Wycherley, however it is acquired, was too good to keep under wraps and I want to publish Crone using my own name, so from now on, all my non-erotic stories will be under my name, and I’ll keep good old Betty Gabriel for the other stuff.

The final short story for the month is An Encounter with Old Duir, appearing in the Sirens Call Ezine, Women in Horror Month Special. This is my favourite market – they gave me my first break and have been so supportive over the past few years. The amazing thing is, the whole E-zine is free. All that reading and you don’t pay a penny.

An Encounter with Old Duir is a special story. After I lost Herbie last summer it took me months before I could find any inspiration to write. It seemed impossibly hard. I would sit at my desk and stare out of the window, lost in sadness, until one day I noticed the hill across the valley and the trees on top of it … and bang! A new horror story was born.

Other things on the horizon

March is going to be alternately stressful and mind-bogglingly awesome, as the publication date for Crone comes nearer. I haven’t settled on a date – everything has to come together, and as this is my first time, I’m not clear on how long it will take. April 1st seems fitting though – we’ll wait and see!

I should have a cover reveal for Crone soon though. Jenny Rawlings at Serifim is designing my cover, and I’m dancing with anticipation.

Crone is off to my editor, Amie McCracken, for some TLC. I’m at the stage where I could weep with the editing of it. I can’t see the wood for the trees, and there is a LOT of forest in Crone.

And I have a new website in the offing. I’ll still be copywriting, but I’m not actively looking for new clients, so I figure I need to big up my creative writing.

Keep your eyes peeled! More on Crone as I have news to share!


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Last Post from The Bunker

This is my last post from The Bunker. That sounds more dramatic than it actually is. The Bunker is the name I gave to our Bungalow when we moved in here 16 months ago. It was a nickname entirely lacking in affection, because I didn’t particularly like the house, or the area where we hurriedly found ourselves after being given notice unexpectedly by our previous landlord. The place seemed unappealing to me – atop a huge hill, and several degrees colder than the rest of Devon, with unadopted roads, and miserable squat grey houses. Bunkers.

As I type this, everything is packed with the exception of the dogs and the teabags. I have my laptop but no pens. A washing machine but no line. Most of our stuff has already been moved. We have a bed for example, but no bedside cabinets. The freezer is defrosting; the oven is sizzling away in some toxic chemical that will miraculously remove the grease inside allowing me to wipe it all clean with one single piece of kitchen roll. 

We have finally achieved what we have waited for, for over three years. When I was made redundant in 2012, I set in motion a chain of events that triggered my husband leaving his job, and us selling our lovely house in Derbyshire so we could finance buying a business in Devon, that would obviously pay us enough so that I could write full time and sell all my novels and live happily ever after. Fairy tales.

We thought that in no time at all we would be back on the mortgage ladder. But none of that happened. The gap between the cost of housing in Derbyshire and that in Devon is beyond ridiculous. It’s been a struggle. All of this time we dreamed about having our own place again, where we could paint the walls whatever colour we chose and put all our art back on the walls instead of storing it in bubble wrap in the loft. We wanted somewhere secure to live, where the landlord can’t chuck you out on a whim, or announce an inspection just because, or hike the rent up higher than a family would pay out in monthly mortgage payments.

And here we are! I should be ecstatic but I’m not. Almost but not quite.

The new house is lovely. It’s sunny, it’s airy; it has the most magnificent views of the rolling countryside around here, and if you sit at one spot in the garden you can actually see the sea. It’s beautiful. The garden is so magically overgrown that when you stand at the back door, because we’re on a hill, it’s a bit like being above the tree canopy. The hill falls away into the valley and then rises once more on the horizon. I’ve decided to nickname this house, ‘The Treehouse’.

But as I sit in The Bunker typing this final Bunker blog, my thoughts return again and again to a furry grey fellow who came into this house with me in good faith. This was never meant to be the last place that Herbie lived. He should have been seeing out his last years (always 5 or 6 more in my mind) in The Treehouse; steadily and gently declining, with grace and love, and my soft hands to guide him. We were robbed.

I am loathe to leave The Bunker, because the weather is still nice enough for me to sit on the back step and remember how he and I cuddled up when I knew his time was closing in. As the glorious days of summer grew bleaker, infused as they were with his horrible final illness, I sat on the step and watched him with love and a deathly fear of his loss. He meandered around the shrubs and trees, doing his deeds, sniffing and patrolling and setting the world to rights. And I’ll always remember how he came back to me for reassurance, looking up at me with such love and trust, always living in the present. I made it a ‘thing’, a ritual that had to be performed every evening while he was ill. Without fail. As soon as I arrived home from the shop. Until the night that I sat alone and wept when he’d been gone just 8 hours, and I couldn’t hold his soft furry head again or smell his warm scent, or bury my face in the fur on his neck.

I’ve been dreading this final day here and now it’s upon me. I know I’ll never be able to sit on that blasted step again and conjure him to me. I’ll never spend any more time in that garden. I’ll never know what he looked like next to that bush or that tree, as he lifted his head and sniffed the wind. From now on Herbie will always be a ghost in my mind, a memory replayed over and over, a name I still can’t say without a sudden hitch in my breathing. I can’t see him in the new garden because he has never visited it.

But I learned a lesson years ago, when I was in India with my then soon-to-be husband. A wise man told us, “The Gods will provide,” and that has become the mantra that my husband and I live by. When the time is right good things happen. We’ve have been waiting 6 long months to complete on our little house. In February when we applied for the house, Herbie had a bit of a cough. I wasn’t worried. But that nagging illness spiralled. If we had completed the house on a normal schedule, we would have been trying to move when he was at his most poorly in June. The ‘Gods’ held us up. They waited for Herbie to live his life, calmly and quietly, and cross the Bridge. They waited for me get through the worst of my grief (if I even have) so that I could organise the move and put the requisite amount of energy that was needed, into it. And they waited until I could fully appreciate the beauty of The Bunker, and the land of clouds and forest, before they let me move on.

I could never have written my novel, Crone, anywhere else but here, and while so far publication has been elusive, I believe this is a novel that will see the light of day, and people will come to know the countryside that spawned the story, and love its mystical qualities as much as I have. Just this week I had my #PitchCB rejection through from Sophie Lambert at Conville and Walsh. She said, “There’s a rather wonderful mystical and lyrical quality to the prose here and there’s a very intriguing core to the narrative”. Of course it was accompanied by a ‘but’, but I’ll take that feedback with sincere gratitude. I believe in Crone, because it is a story born of East Devon and it is rooted here, and it has a truth.

So, I’ll save Crone to yet another memory stick, and I’ll bubble wrap my memories of Herbie in the garden, and hold them to me just as tightly as any of my other possessions, and carry them with care. And I’ll count my blessings for all that The Bunker has gifted me. Tonight as the gloaming settles around me, I’ll pause to reflect on my precious boy, and I’ll cry, of course I will. But I’m allowed to, I loved him. I loved him here. It will be the Last Post for Herbie.

And onwards then … Let’s see what transpires in The Treehouse, with The Writer’s Apprentice, shall we?