My story “The Babushka Lady” will be published in time travel anthology “The Chronos Chronicles” later in 2017!

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I’m super-pleased to announce that my short story, The Babushka Lady, will be published later this year! It’s been selected to appear in a time travel-themed anthology called The Chronos Chronicles, due for print and electronic publication by Indie Authors Press in spring/summer 2017.

The Babushka Lady is the latest of the Million Eyes Short Stories to be accepted for publication, after Rachel Can See, Paul and The Charlie Chaplin Time Traveller were published in 2016, and Who is Rudolph Fentz? in 2015.

As conspiracy fans might’ve guessed, the story is inspired by the mystery of the unidentified woman who was present when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963.  She was seen in photos and film footage and appeared to be snapping her own photos during the fatal moments. Her nickname ‘Babushka Lady’ arose because of the Russian headscarf she was wearing. Neither she nor the photos she took have been found or positively identified. (You can read my blog about the Babushka Lady and several other unidentified JFK witnesses here.)

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Indie Authors Press was founded in 2011 by a family of authors and specialises in science fiction, fantasy and dark fantasy. It’s won awards for ‘Best Anthology’, ‘Best Publisher’ and ‘Best Book Editors’, among others. It also maintains an 11.6K following on Twitter, which is the highest number of followers I’ve seen for a small press publisher. So I’m very happy to have been welcomed into the fold! 🙂

More news when I have it. You can find Indie Authors Press on Twitter here.

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Happy Sunday!

3 of the creepiest photos ever taken — and the stories behind them

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Today I’m investigating a frightening home invasion, a phantom hand, and an astronaut displaced in time or space—in the form of three highly mysterious and unexplained photographs…

The boy with three arms?

See anything weird about this photo shown below? Take a closer look at the topless boy with his tongue out. He’s got his arms round the two boys on either side of him, and making the devil horns sign with both hands.

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Hang on. Do you see the fist with the thumbs-up just beside the head of the boy in the dark t-shirt? Whose hand is that? On first glance, it looks like it belongs—again—to the topless boy, because its position and alignment mean it can’t belong to any of the other three. But that would mean topless boy has three arms!

I’ve tried to investigate the origins of the photograph, which has been floating around for years, continually popping up in “Weird photos” articles (like this one you’re reading!). Every previous article I’ve found says that the person who took the photo has no explanation for the mysterious extra hand, because only four people were in the shot. But none of the articles identify the photo-taker or the four boys.

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Did dragons really exist?

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Have we got history all wrong? Is it possible that dragons were real animals that walked the Earth and ruled the sky? Could it be that dragons lived among us?

Everybody loves a dragon. They’re a fantasy staple, appearing in dozens of books, films and TV series, from Sleeping Beauty to The Lord of the Rings to Harry Potter to Game of Thrones. Sometimes they’re man-eating monsters. Sometimes they’re Toothless, the most adorable dragon ever, in How to Train Your Dragon. And they feature on numerous national flags, emblems and coats of arms, too. (I, of course, felt compelled to join in all this dragon fun when I wrote my fantasy novel, The Pendulum Swings, so I added a sassy dragon character with a deformed wing called Guibbette.)

Welsh flag

Welsh flag

Across Europe, dragons have a recognisable form. Take a look at the Welsh flag, which depicts the red Welsh dragon. These bodily features are what we imagine when we think of a dragon. The reptilian snout. The scaly hide. The bat-like wings. The four legs with eagle-like feet and talons. The long, sinuous tail with an arrow-shaped end. The reptilian tongue. And many dragons are also depicted with horns, neck frills and spines down their backs to add to their grandeur and might.

Depiction of a Chinese dragon

Depiction of a Chinese dragon

Mind you, this is just what the European dragon looks like. The other famous dragon is the Chinese dragon, which looks more like a multicoloured snake with four legs. Its reptilian snout and scaly hide are similar to its European cousin, but Chinese dragons do not have wings and are nearly always depicted with colourful flame-like frills and spines.

And while Chinese dragons are well-known for summoning rain, the European dragon has an arguably more famous trait: breathing fire.

Most people think of dragons as mythical creatures in mythical stories. Just make-believe. However, a small body of dragon believers argue passionately that dragons were real animals. Could they be onto something?

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Abuse and conspiracy: the truth about the Catholic Church

Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, a central figure in the Boston scandal

Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, a central figure in the Boston scandal

The Roman Catholic Church calls itself “the universal sacrament of salvation for the human race” and “the one true religion”. It also says that its teachings on faith and morals are incapable of being wrong. It’s totally ridiculous that an institution making such claims would enable and cover up the sexual abuse of children. Ridiculous… and true.

The Catholic Church is the largest Christian church and one of the oldest religious institutions in the world. Funnily enough, for all its sanctimonious claims about its infallibility and having a direct line to God, it’s been in hot water before. In the 16th century, its extravagant wealth, corrupt popes, warmongering and sale of indulgences (i.e. church leaders extorting money from people, claiming it could reduce their punishment for sins) is what sparked the Reformation. The Reformation was basically huge swathes of people telling the Catholic Church to sod off and forming their own churches.

The Catholic Church would say it’s come a long way since then. The recent worldwide sexual abuse scandal proves that it flagrantly hasn’t.

Allegations came to light in the late 1980s involving priests who’d been abusing underage parishioners for decades. However, the revelation of a global horde of paedophile priests (estimated in 2002 to be around 6% of all priests) is one thing. The fact that church leaders were deliberately covering up this abuse and protecting these priests is something else entirely.

Instead of expelling them and handing them over to the authorities, bishops and archbishops were moving abusive priests from parish to parish and destroying evidence of their wrongdoing. In some cases, they were quietly settling cases with victims to avoid police involvement. And in many cases, moving the priests to different churches allowed them to continue abusing children for decades.

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Happy new year mystery and conspiracy fans!

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Good day readers! And a very happy new year to you all! I hope you all had exceptionally merry Christmasses.

So, the blog is back after a Christmas break, and I’d like to thank all my loyal readers and followers for sticking with me and enjoying the blog for, crikey, nearly two and a half years now!

Anyways, there is a lot more murder, mystery, conspiracy and cryptozoology on the horizon. In addition, I’m steaming ahead with my conspiracy thriller novel, Million Eyesand the accompanying Million Eyes Short Stories, which I’ll be continuing to publish this year.

I will also be continuing to write monthly blogs with Million Eyes updates and advice for fellow writers (and I hope my previous articles about writing have proven useful).

My new blog, coming tonight, is about a very real conspiracy, right in the heart of the Roman Catholic Church…

Talking time travel, Charlie Chaplin and Donald Trump with filmmaker George Clarke

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George Clarke is an award-winning film director, screenwriter, producer and founder of independent film company Yellow Fever Productions. Best known for his micro-budget zombie horror flicks, his sixth feature film, The Blood Harvest, won two awards at the 2015 Freak Show Horror Film Festival in Florida.

But back in 2010, George shot to worldwide attention for an entirely different reason. He found what he believed to be a time traveller in a Charlie Chaplin DVD extra and posted his discovery on YouTube, sparking a 21st-century urban legend.

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Today I’m interviewing George in order to get to the bottom of his thoughts on the time travel conspiracy happening all around us…

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Hi George. Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. How have you been and what are you working on right now?

Thanks for the interest and support! The past 6 months have been pretty crazy on a personal level, which in turn has scuppered the latter half of 2016 for me. We’ve had some major delays in the production of my 7th feature film, Mindy Has To Die, which is based on the novella by US horror comedy writer Jeff Strand. It began shooting in June but with so much having happened in between I’ve still got 3 days to schedule for completion. This meant that at the 7th Yellow Fever Independent Film Festival in November, it was the first time in all these years I didn’t have a premiere of my new film. But we’ll get there! I’ve had worse thrown at me over the years and I’m still going…

One of the things you’re known for is the ‘Chaplin’s Time Traveller’ YouTube video, which is approaching 7 million views. In it you talk about how you’d spotted a possible time traveller in an extra on the DVD of Charlie Chaplin film The Circus. Can you talk me through what was going through your head when you first saw this clip?

It’s almost 7 million on my YouTube channel, yes, but I still can’t get over the fact that it was shown on most (if not all) major news channels, breakfast shows and media websites around the world. Crazy! I had noticed the video about a year before I made my discovery public. In fact, a few months earlier, I did a live reveal at our 2nd film festival to an audience and left most people speechless by what they saw. It led to some amazing debates of course!

When I first found it, I remember sitting on the couch just casually watching the premiere footage of The Circus. I’ve always loved old footage so I was watching intently at what was happening on screen. And as you become comfortable watching things in 1928, something as odd as someone talking on a handset really stands out. I jumped up off the couch and rewound the footage to double check, then started calling people to take a look.

Why did you conclude that this woman was a time traveller?

It was 1928 and the woman seemed to be having a fun chat on a mobile phone! What else could I think? Plus, I love the romance of it being a time traveller. Perhaps Chaplin himself went back in time to attend a personal event that made him very happy, but of course, had to be in disguise.

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All 5 books in Christmas series “The East Pudding Chronicles” are available to buy from Amazon

Find out where Christmas really came from... All 5 books in Roald Dahl and Tim Burton-inspired Christmas series "The East Pudding Chronicles" are now available!

Find out where Christmas really came from… All 5 books in Roald Dahl and Tim Burton-inspired Christmas series “The East Pudding Chronicles” are now available!

Warning: shameless book plug ahead. (Hey, it’s Christmas!)

Now that December’s here and sleigh bells are jingling, I wanted to tell my loyal readers (including my lovely new followers) about my Christmas-centric book seriesThe East Pudding Chronicles — in case you’re looking for some quirky Christmas reading for your kids!

These books, which are beautifully illustrated by Emily Harper, have two main influences: Tim Burton and Roald Dahl. Neither of these creative geniuses have ever shied away from darker elements in their children’s stories.

Specifically, it was Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas (a story once considered so dark and risky that Disney wouldn’t put their name on it; now it’s one of the Mouse House’s most popular films) that served as an influence for the mood, style and Christmas setting of The East Pudding Chronicles. The rest came from my own love of the season, and in particular, my curiosity about all the different traditions that are such a crucial part of it.

I therefore came up with my own slightly weird, occasionally wacky, often heartfelt origin stories for why Santa Claus visits us, why we kiss under the mistletoe, pull Christmas crackers and put up Christmas trees, and what Christmas ‘really’ means.

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Santa Claus’s body is leaking mystery bone juice

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Forget stockings and presents and candy canes this Christmas. What about a bottle of bone discharge from the body of the “right jolly old elf” himself?

The miracle of manna, it’s called. Manna is the name of the sweet-smelling liquid supposedly coming out of the bones of Saint Nicholas, the gift-giving, 4th-century Greek bishop on whom the legend of Christmas Eve’s busiest man is based. It’s a liquid that apparently has robust healing powers. Every May 9th, the “Santa Manna” is removed by priests from St Nick’s tomb at the Basilica of St Nicholas in Bari, put in glass bottles and sold to pilgrims. It is then consumed as a drink or poured over an injured body part.

Firstly, eww. Secondly, for real?

The original mince pie scoffer earned a reputation in the 4th century for secret gift-giving. Legend has it that he famously helped a poor man with three daughters, who couldn’t afford a dowry for them to get married. Nicholas delivered 3 bags of gold coins to the poor man by dropping them down the chimney (so that he couldn’t be seen). One of the daughters had just washed her stockings that evening and hung them over the embers to dry, so the bags of coins ended up falling in the stockings.

Mmmm. Sounds familiar.

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