Shadow People

Gonggong Ahoy

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Between scientists and conspiracy theorists I’m not sure which give scribblers more crazy wonderful character ideas. Although— I challenge any author of science-fiction, who is also diligent in their research of real-life science and theoretical physics, to swear that they have never ever had a tinfoil hat moment. Such as when Google starts popping up conspiracy theories after you innocently ask it something quantum. My television is connected via my internet provider through a little box thing that they supply, which puts me in the very happy situation of being able to watch Youtube videos on my TV from the comfort of my couch with a nice glass of vino. Probably not ideal for a writer of things, vino notwithstanding. Youtube, being just like its daddy Google, will then recommend similar things to your recent views and send you spinning down rabbit holes all over the place, while holding tightly on to your tinfoil protection against the deadly rays being directed at all times, by dark forces, at your noggin.

Sometimes I wonder though. What I’m currently wondering is whether NASA and Co get some sort of thrill out of deliberately taunting innocent conspiracy theorists. Several ancient legends tell of a rogue planet—either a single planet or a system of small planets circling a brown dwarf star—depending on the legend. It has been called all sorts of things—Niburu, Nemesis, Wormwood, the Destroyer, and so on. Nothing about its apparent destined arrival is in any way fabulous. Some have it appearing in the sky with gassy wings. Mostly they say that it is going to do some damage to our world, if not destroy it completely. All agree on its redness though. Modern doomsday planet experts predict pretty much every year that it is sure to appear imminently and either squish us all like bugs or send us into some kind of ice age shortly on the heels of planetwide floods, earthquakes, and other horrible stuff in general.

So when Planet 9 was actually discovered a few years ago there was a whole lot of conspiracy theorist “I Told You So-ing!” Much orbit plotting happened and soon our beloved conspiracy theorists shared their plottings to show a huge elliptical orbit taking thousands of years as Number 9 zoomed way out to the Kuiper Belt before zooming right back to an alarmingly close proximity to Earth. Time frames coincided nicely with everything from Noah’s flood to the destruction of Göbekli Tepe and other strangely amazing constructions of humans in the distant past that we cannot at all reproduce today with all of our cleverness. Explanations were offered of our similarity to Hugh Howey’s characters as post apocalyptic “rememberers”. Apparently this thing zooms by every so often thousand years and sends us down the snake to the bottom of the ladder. While good stuff for science-fiction—Planet 9 is a fabulous part of one of the books in my own series—I gave the idea of being squished no more thought after reading about it a couple of years ago. Then, in the past few days, up popped planet (225088) 2007 (OR) 10, which was found, with its own little moon, beyond Neptune in 2007. I assume that Planet 9 and 2007 (OR) 10 are one and the same potential death star. At least I hope so. Two Destroyers would be a bit much on the universal humour scale.

This planet has remained monikerless until now while its discoverers apparently needed to “research” it a little more. It was originally dubbed Snow White as it glowed white and was assumed to be small, and only something rather large would reflect white from that distance if it was a dark colour. As things turned out it was not small and white after all—it was large, and RED, and in possession of its very own methane. “Checks tinfoil hat” The scientists who discovered it are asking the public to help by choosing one of three available names for the not so newly discovered planet. ONLY these three names are available to choose from. They, and their meanings are:

Gonggong. Gonggong is a Chinese water god with red hair and a serpent-like tail. He is known for creating chaos, causing flooding, and tilting the Earth.

What’s that you say?!!!

Holle. Holle is a European winter goddess of fertility, rebirth and women.

Vili. Vili is a Nordic deity who defeated frost giant Ymir and used the body to create the universe.

As for Gonggong—all I can say is please let’s not pick that one. The other two, while seemingly rather boring and innocuous, have too much to do with winter and frost  (read ICE AGE after SQUISHING) for my tin hat liking—not to mention the rebirth bit–which would only be needed after a good squishing after all, so I would like to suggest a slightly sweeter name for that poor innocent planet. Seriously scientist people, couldn’t you just have gone with Rose Red seeing as Snow White turned out to not be white? Luckily Amazon is already aware of the danger and writers have a whole lot more to make real.

The Willies

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Firstly I have to say that I’m not in any way religious. Not in the normal way at any rate. I do believe in a greater power, and I also believe that each of us has a purpose – something or things that we have to learn, do, or share along the way. So. I research a lot of old myths and legends for my Shadow People books, as well as ancient building sites and so on. I’ve been doing a lot of digging around about free will, death, the afterlife, reincarnation, angels and demons again too, and now I’ve given myself the proper willies. When I was writing Echoes of Narcissus I kept on thinking that some malignant narcissists are actually demonic entities inside. Having known my own, and seeing a couple of videos online they very often look and sound the part. Even if they’re physically gorgeous, it’s always in the eyes and the voice that you’ll see or hear those glimmers of darkness.

Some people believe that after you die you become pure spirit again, but I don’t reckon that sounds very logical. If you’ve been an evil sod during your life on Earth, why should you stop being an evil sod after popping your cork? No. You’ll enter your next incarnation with that evil remaining within you somewhere. I think that souls can be blackened by your choices, and once blackened you have to choose to unblacken them or they’ll just keep getting darker. I know that a lot of people don’t believe in any sort of life after death or spirits and that sort of thing, and that’s fine, and probably a lot less creepy, but I do believe in these things, and the more I research, the more I wonder about payback.

There is good and there is evil. It’s pretty obvious if you look around the world these days. Seeing good in any form gives you a good vibe, and seeing evil makes you feel bad – or angry or guilty. I like to think of myself as mostly as good as I can be these days, but I still do things that I know are wrong. Like those things we use in our daily lives that are produced to the detriment, pain, or deaths of others. I do try not to contribute to harm too much as I zoom along, but sometimes I’ve chosen to take the easy way and look away instead.

None of us know with any certainty whether there will be payback or not, but if there is some of us are in for a rather nasty surprise. Throughout history there have been people who have risen to greatness who shared pretty much the same messages of striving to be and do good. To do no harm and so on. While we as a species have raised them up and often worshipped them, as a whole we are all either doing, or allowing to be done, the opposite of all those things they said that we so strongly agree with.

We all appear to be watching helplessly as our world and all who sail on it are destroyed, but unless you are physically at the mercy of a stronger physical force I think that our helplessness is a choice. Free will. We are all able to be as good or as bad as we choose to be. Fair enough, heading off to have a stern talking to with those who somehow we’ve crazily allowed to rule the planet along the way isn’t going to happen (although really cool plot for a book!), but every single day we have choices that will either add or remove a black spot from our soul. Every little thing that we do is important I think, and life shouldn’t only be about self-gratification.

All of this research has me thinking now that all the bad you do, maybe you get to take that with you, and you get to stay that way until you exercise your right to free will. So those evil killers and torturers that have come and gone over the years. If they weren’t tossed into the deepest pits of hell, and if reincarnation is true, well then, they’re back with us today in some form or another, and they’ll either choose good or bad. Or maybe they’re just so bad that it’s too late for good. Or is it ever too late? Either way, there really are some evil buggers out there these days. Some pretty creepy photos of spooks too, never mind dancing with the devil in the pale moonlight.

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Image Credit: Paul Rubens

Shadow People – Cover Reveals

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I must say a VERY big thank you to my wonderful sci-fi cover designer. Even though he has read the first book in the series, Chris has only had a few bits revealed to him as to the content of the upcoming books – scribblers are notoriously reticent when it comes to spoilers. And yet he has come up with the perfect covers for the next three books in the series. So – hail to Chris Graham and all those artists who can see into our dreams and interpret them in the real world. Kudos! I can’t wait to see what he does with the final eleven.

I don’t think that a series is something that you write one book at a time, and just guess at what comes next. I have the entire plot for Shadow People planned right till the end, and most of the books already have quite a lot going on. Books two to four will all be published between now and early 2015. So without further waffle, let me share my gorgeous new covers, and a hearty recommendation should you need cover art, to pop over and have a word with their creator – Chris Graham.

SP2 Oct 14

Book Two: The Hunger

After the sudden and dramatic appearance of thousands of alien ships in Earth’s skies, and the attempted infiltration and destruction of the planet by the demonic Nefandus, the rulers of the world are reeling. Natalie returns to Lapillus, and together with the Voxavi and their allies meet up with a previously unknown race of ocean dwellers, with a seemingly dubious agenda. Over the millions of years that Lapillus has lain prey to the Nefandus much has changed and there is much to be learned. Gabe, Brian, Shelty and Naka head off on various expeditions that reveal stunning revelations on Earth, Mars, and the Moon, but what is revealed in the deserts of Libya changes everything. The Gluri reveal more to Natalie, and she begins to search for the truth in the ancient, but seemingly universal, legends of God, angels and the devil himself. The Vimana remain as secretive as ever, but one secret as to their origins is revealed. The Voxavi children grow as warriors, and a new race of genetically engineered dragons begins on Naka’s home planet that will resemble their ancestors very little.

SP 3 Oct 14 V2

Book Three: The Jewel

The importance of Earth in the final battle of good and evil is slowly revealed. More is learned about the souls of all and the simplicity of time and space. The golden orbs in the seas of Lapillus are finally broached, and strange and wonderful treasures are found within, as well as hints as to the origins and motives of the Gretch. The great megalithic jewels of the planet are found to hold strange powers, and the shifting green sands of Lapillus hold the key to finding the most terrifying entity in the universe. Gabe, Brian, Shelty and Naka undertake a dangerous journey to try and recover the one thing that allowed evil to take precedence over good in the universe.

SP 4 Oct 14

Book Four: The Keeper

It is discovered that the Gretch never gave up their zoo worlds – they merely hid them. Natalie comes face to face with the greatest evil of all time, and it wants more than anything to change her. Only Sablo can save her, but will she be in time? The home world of the Nefandus, thought to have been destroyed by Natalie and Sablo is found, and only the concerted efforts of all the remaining Vimana can prevent their desperate attempts to leave it. Success is unlikely, and if they fail the demons will infiltrate unmapped portions of the universe. The Atunlaki fall into a trap that could signal the death of all of them. Earth struggles to rise above all those who wish to see evil reign. The machinations of a small elite of the new order who worship the Gretch mean that the push of a button will mean the end of the entire battle.

The Dog Ate My Homework

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Life’s been getting in the way of my writing world lately. It doesn’t look like it’s going to let up either. Whenever I’m not able to go online for a day or three, opening my email on my return generally has me falling off my chair, having multiple simultaneous panic attacks, and rushing off to tremble in the wardrobe for a bit before I gather up the courage to force open an eyeball and get stuck back in to everything. I don’t know if I’m just a whole lot less on the ball than everyone else, or if there are thousands of other scribblers out there regularly falling off their chairs and cowering in terror at the thought of all that they missed. Anyway. I’m out from under the desk now, and attempting to move swiftly on. As well as life insisting on getting all up in my face right now, I’ve broken off a big bit of tooth (extra tough toffee) so I have a toothache, a looming visit to the dentist, and I’ve somehow taken some gluten aboard also. So. I’m a bit of a sour bunny with a bellyache. Never mind. Life would be really boring if it was all just smelling the roses. Blog catch up first.

I must say though, I’m always really impressed with bloggers who produce consistent, daily, professional posts. Especially writers. I know that as self published authors we’re expected to be businesslike and maintain a constant online presence, but sometimes that really isn’t possible. I don’t mind when the authors I stalk follow disappear for a bit, then resurface with a sorry tale of woe, or huge rant about whatever in the world it was that kept them away. Keeps things interesting. When I’m in the throes of writing a new story or editing, my brain is useless for pretty much all else apart from cheese pancake production or watching dodgy television programmes. I TRULY believe that dodgy TV is the best place to go for inspiration for future scribbles by the way, so I consider it RESEARCH, and not procrastination in any way.

For instance, a while ago I happened to eyeball a series called Extreme Cheapskates that’s definitely got a load of great characters in it. I’m all for living a non-wasteful life, but…. One lady always peed in a bottle and had her boyfriend take it out and toss it on the compost heap – so as to save all that money you waste when flushing the loo. Ha haaa! Ya sexy thing ya! Another one made good use of dumpster dive cake and road-kill to produce squished bunny stew and dessert for her delighted friends and family. Then there was the chap who zoomed from table to table in restaurants bumming peoples leftovers to take home with him. You can’t make that stuff up.

I’m working on the ending for the second Shadow People book – Return to Lapillus, as well as tweaking and getting already published books as polished as they can be before loading them up on Createspace and Lulu. That’s the thing with self-publishing, you learn as you go, so you often have to fix as you go too. These things always take much longer than I think they will though – hence my personal brand and sly marketing tactic of always being late for everything. I really do need to stop with all the self-inflicted deadlines. Anyway. Much more on the ball than I, Chris Graham, my cover designer – yip, got my own cover designer now – has produced the new cover for the first in the Shadow People series, and the book has been updated on Amazon, Smashwords and Goodreads with its new look. I love it, and can’t wait to see his vision for book two. For those of you guys who have the original version, open up your Manage Your Kindle function and update there if you haven’t set your reader to automatically update.

http://www.amazon.com/Shadow-People-The-Finding-ebook/dp/B00BCL91EC/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1382525278&sr=1-1&keywords=shadow+people+by+jo+robinson

Shadow People

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What not to do at one o‘clock in the morning if you don’t want to get the creeps …. Google Shadow People, and then read articles about them. I’ve got lots of things on the go right now. One of them being the second book in the Shadow People series. I woke up at midnight with all my projects, and currently hectic real life bits also, zooming around my frontal cortex. Trying to go back to sleep was futile, so obviously it was time to start my day. There I was, innocently sipping a nice hot cup of tea, about to check my emails, when it occurred to me to have a squiz online for inspiration to resolve a tricky bit of Return to Lapillus. So…

The first article I opened told me what I already know. Shadow People is the name of things that many people claim to have had experiences with. They are shadowy apparitions that sometimes appear once only, but often hang around and terrorise specific people. They’re completely black, some have blood-red eyes, some totally white, and some have no eyeballs or features at all. There are quite a few theories about them. One scientific theory is that they are visions caused by an anomaly in certain individuals brains. Others range from the ghosts of dead people trying to manifest as full-body apparitions, alien beings from another dimension, or demonic entities. My Nefandus in Shadow People are a bit of a combination of all of these things, so not new news that brought on any light-bulb moments for me.

When I originally researched these critters I never looked at any of the comments attached to the articles I read. This time I did, expecting the laughter and jeering that this sort of thing seems to bring out in the online universe. Not so much this time though. Most of them were from those sharing their own experiences. Judging by the couple of hundred of accounts that I read, from people (most of whom seem to be just normal folk, leading ordinary lives) who say that they’ve not only seen these shadow people, they’ve been rendered immobile, and sometimes touched or hurt, I started to wonder how close to reality some of our fictional tales are. Given the weirdness of reality in general, I don’t see any reason to doubt the existence of these things.

Each one of the billions of us that inhabit this particular space-rock lives in a totally different reality. Life is experienced differently by all, and seen differently by each different set of eyeballs. Not one of us has any kind of proof as to why we’re here, or even if we’re here, and not part of the fevered dream of some unimaginable being, or the denizens of some wild computer game being played by more unimaginable beings. Scientifically we’re only starting to find out where we are, and it’s highly unlikely that the known universe that we can actually see is all that there is. What we can see is still a mystery anyway. We know that there is more “dark matter” (the invisible mass that must exist because it has a gravitational effect, and therefore weight) than there is matter that is visible.

I also read about a study done years ago, where it was found that the human body lost a couple of grams of body weight when we spiritually depart this mortal coil. I don’t know how true that is, but then again, maybe those grams are what make up the mysterious dark matter that makes up most of the universe. And it’s all over the place, so who’s to say whether or not, apart from possibly the souls of our benign great, great, great, great grannies, there aren’t a couple of Shadow People, lurking about in there, waiting to scare the daylights out of us in the dark of the night. Now I think I’ll just be off to turn on a few more lights.

Till next time friends.

Text © Jo Robinson 2013
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Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh

A Walk on The Wild Side

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I’m all buckled and bent from painting all day. I’m not an artist by any stretch of the imagination – I think pre-school was the last time anyone tried to show me how to draw. I’m determined to give this cover art my best shot though, no matter how doubtful I’m feeling right now. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, as my dear old mother used to say. I’m doing a stand alone painting for African Me, but for Shadow People I had a bit of a brainwave. It could also be my unfortunate desire for instant gratification. Apparently people who desire instant gratification are actually lazy, and lack self-control. So…

Because it will be a series, it occurred to me that I could get more than one cover from one painting, linking one to the other, and creating a sense of continuity. Lovely idea you say? Well. Even though going from stick figures to the Sistine Chapel was obviously not what I was aiming for, it’s really not as easy as I thought it would be. Regardless, bent muscles notwithstanding, I’m still a bit hopeful that this might work in conjunction with the photo shopping thing.

So, right now I’ve got a humungous piece of hardboard with key scenes from the Shadow People series plopped around and about on a background that needs work – to put it mildly. I’m revamping the first book in the series for release at the same time as African Me. Being the secretive soul that I am, I’ll just share the very first really rough pencil doodle of my vision of what the Voxavi look like (just a tiny part of the total painting). Yes I know I haven’t even rubbed out lines that shouldn’t be there, and he does acquire some really cool spikes in the painting, but… As with the poem for African Me, I’m going to save the final for the actual book. My theory being that if you don’t find the doodle rotten and offensive, and curse me forever for offending your delicate eyeballs, you may not hate the final cover pictures. I’m praying here that ridicule and laughter aren’t lurking in my future.

Voxavi Rough
I will say though, that regardless of whether my attempts are toolish or not, I don’t think that I’ve ever had so much fun. Scribbling is my favourite thing to do, but letting loose, and immersing yourself in art and poetry for a while is really an amazing thing to do. I totally recommend leaping wildly from your comfort zone now and then, and doing something you never imagined that you could. What have you got to lose?

Till next time friends. xxx

Lizard Attack

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I’m very anti killing any sort of creature. Sometimes though, if they pose a mortal threat to humans around here or any of my feathered and furred horde, I do assist them off this mortal coil. Like the one and a half metre mamba in my office that I nearly stood on last year. Can’t have snakes that can have you dead in a couple of hours in or around the house.

A huge monitor lizard has been popping up around and about lately scaring the crap out of everyone. I was hoping that he’d just go away. No such luck though. I chased him out of the palm tree the other day, where he was ripping open weaver nests and eating the baby birds. Actually I threw a candle holder at him from the window I spotted him from, not being keen to go near the nasty looking bugger. They’re pretty vicious if you go near them and this one was the size of a medium dog. The candle holder worked though – he headed off and I forgot about him.

Yesterday in the middle of slaving over a hot computer I suddenly didn’t “feel right”. I know that sounds mad – it felt mad too, but something definitely just seemed wrong. Thinking that I’d lost my last marble again, I took myself off to make some tea. Looking out of the window, I saw five of my chickens standing still as statues with their necks stretched right out. This weird little scenario was more than enough to have me zooming out to see what was causing it. When I reached them they just eyeballed me, unfroze, and went about their business.

Unsuspecting me then headed into the henhouse to check for eggs, and turning the corner, nearly stood on bloody Godzilla as he prepared to chomp down on a terrified hen cowering in the corner. He immediately hissed, turned, and sprang at me. Obviously I let out a bloodcurdling yell and ran like hell, brave soul that I am. This brought Dzingy (who works in the garden) rushing over brandishing a large pole, and the dog brandishing some large teeth. Everyone leapt into the fray. I tried really hard to get Sprite away from the lizard, but for once he totally ignored me, and I had visions of his face clamped in those powerful hissing lizard jaws. Fortunately Dzingy quickly whacked it a mean shot on the head with his pole, taking it down and killing it instantly.

Sprite’s behaviour was an eye-opener though. A really Lassie kind of moment. His mother was a huge German Shepherd bred specifically to be a security dog, and quite scary, but his dad was my beloved old softy Labrador, Odin. I always thought that Sprite totally took after his father. He’s generally very sweet, plays and buggers about and wouldn’t harm a fly. The chickens swipe bits of meat right out from under his nose, and one of them always hangs around with him, pecking at spots on his coat. He just sighs and carries on. Yesterday he was total attack dog as far as that lizard was concerned. He was not having it in his henhouse. Good for him! So he got an extra big bone to share with his chicken buddy after that. Thank goodness I got my ominous feeling when I did though – mad or not – if I had arrived a few seconds later, I would have lost one of the horde. And we can’t have that.

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