This is the blog of Samie Sands, author of Lockdown. There will be many great books and projects reviewed here. For more, check out thelockdown.co.uk.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

C.O.D.E: Living Happy, Healthy, and Whole Submerged in Tragedy, Trauma, and Death by Anita Agers-Brooks and Darren Dake

Horrific accidents, savage beatings, murder, suicide, autoerotic deaths, overdoses, burned and mutilated bodies: these are nearly every day occurrences for the extraordinary women and men who work in emergency services fields. These selfless individuals are exposed to things the everyday person rarely, if ever, sees. Yet, the men and women who sacrifice family and self-are often taken for granted — or treated as if their work doesn’t matter. In worst cases, they are treated like the bad guys. Over time, an accumulation of these experiences allows the slippery tentacles of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and Secondary Traumatic Stress Disorder, a/k/a Compassion Fatigue, to grip the minds, bodies, and souls of those who serve. 911 Operators, police, fire, EMS, death investigators, coroners, and others need to know they are not alone. C.O.D.E. addresses this reality in a real, raw, and relevant way, telling stories inspired by true events and authentic cases. Powerful tips at the end of each chapter offer hope, encouragement, and healing methods — real help for the hurting people who give their all. Foreword Domestic violence, car accidents, suicide, murder. . . . You read about them in your local newspaper, online and through social media. For a time after you read the article or headline, you show emotion for those who have been hurt, but you soon move on. For you, it’s over. But what about those working in public safety? Those news stories begin with, “9-1-1, what is your emergency?” From dispatch to those on the road, and to the medical examiner, a call for help can come in different forms, but the result is the same for those who respond. Eventually, it takes a toll on the soul. In reading C.O.D.E., written by Anita Agers-Brooks and Darren Dake, I revisited my thirteen years in 9-1-1 as an on the line dispatcher and supervisor. This is a must-read for those in public safety who have experienced the worst the industry has to offer and who are looking to rise above the pitfalls such as depression, PTSD, Compassion Fatigue and more. The stories of Caleb and Josie were all too real. Like Josie, I took a few calls when I stopped to think, Is this someone I know? Working in the county I grew up in, the odds were high that it was a friend or relative. In 2007, I took a call from my cousin telling me our grandmother had just passed away. My job was tough, but I loved what I did. Like Caleb and Josie, I didn’t talk to anyone, and I buried my emotions. In C.O.D.E., Brooks and Dake walk you through cases based on true events. At the end of each story, they offer tips of hope, ways to stop and analyze your situation and better communicate your feelings with loved ones, so you can heal from the trauma. I found closure and healing through writing my 9-1-1 stories out on my blog, The Jabber Log, and creating, Within the Trenches, a podcast based on the experience of being a 9-1-1 dispatcher. Through this, I created #IAM911. A movement that gives a raw glimpse into the emotional stress that comes with each 9-1-1 call through the words of each dispatcher. C.O.D.E. is another crucial healing resource. Those who work in emergency services, care about someone who does or are curious about what those on the front line deal with, should read this book. —Ricardo Martinez II, host and creator of the Within the Trenches podcast. He is currently the Director of Communications at INdigital, a 9-1-1 solutions company in Indiana. In August 2016, Ricardo started the #IAM911, a movement that spread from the United States to Canada, the U.K., New Zealand and Australia. It’s popularity and success has brought the Thin Gold Line into the spotlight, and has opened the eyes of millions to what 9-1-1 dispatchers deal with daily.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

The Sheriff’s Catch by James Vella-Bardon

The Sheriff's Catch (The Sassana Stone Pentalogy Book 1) by [Vella-Bardon, James]
1588. Abel de Santiago has deserted the army and all but avenged his murdered wife, when he is captured and sold as a galley slave. As the Spanish Armada sails for England, there can be few souls on board more reluctant than him.

After a crushing defeat to the enemy fleet, the Spanish ships are battered by extraordinary storms and Santiago finds himself washed ashore in Ireland, a country terrorised by English troops that the natives call Sassenachs.

But Santiago’s faint hopes of survival appear dashed when he is captured by a brutal Sheriff, who has orders from Dublin to torture and kill all Spanish castaways.

An unlikely escape has Santiago flee with a jewelled ring worth a king’s ransom. His flight leads to a desperate chase across a strange and stunning land, where danger lurks at every turn.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Lottie Loves by Samie Sands

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000447_00006]
“Will you marry me?”

Four words I’ve waited my whole life to hear. Four words I was sure would change my life forever…and they did. Just not in the way I expected.

Finding out my extremely gorgeous rock star boyfriend was about to propose had the complete opposite effect I thought it would. Rather than catapult me into a future I’ve always wanted, it plunged me back to a past I tried to forget.

Now I can’t get him out of my head. I can’t help but wonder what could have been, how our lives would have ended up if he didn’t leave me behind, a shattered mess.

All these memories are dangerous. They’re bringing my past back to ruin my future. And worst of all, they’re taking me right back to him, my childhood sweetheart, my first love…my biggest regret.

Sample...


I tried to pretend to myself that I had some innocent reason for logging onto my social media accounts, even though I was acutely aware that wasn’t the case. I didn’t know why I was acting cool for no one to see, but I couldn’t seem to stop myself. I kept my expression smooth as my heart pounded furiously in my chest, my lips remained firmly clamped together, despite the fact that I was desperate to scream, I guess I just wasn’t ready to admit to myself how freaked out I was at the possibility that I might have had a response.
I mean, it had been twenty four hours...everyone checked their Facebook accounts on a daily basis, didn’t they? I felt like I needed to accept that if I didn’t get a reply now, then I never would. If I didn’t think like that, then this fierce dragon within me might never calm itself down.
Breathe...I had to remind myself as the page loaded agonisingly slowly. Breathe, no matter what happens I will be okay. I hoped I would anyway. With everything else that was going on, it was hard to feel like I would ever be alright again, but I had to try. I couldn’t crumble, not totally. Once that happened, I wasn’t sure if there would be any going back.
My heart flipped in my chest as I spotted the amount of communications that I’d had during the few hours that I was working—thirty six new posts on my public wall, and fifteen unread messages. My mind raced, trying to figure out what dramatic event had occurred to cause such a flurry of activity, before it became clear that it was all the do with Danny, and the story about him cheating.
‘Sending thoughts your way xxx’
‘Sorry to hear that happened to you...you’re too good for him anyway.’
‘What a dick!’
The words swam in front of my face, leaving me feeling sick to my stomach. These were all acquaintances, not people that I knew well, who the hell did they think they were, getting involved in my personal business? I would never do that to anyone else, whether their partner was in the public eye or not. It left me dizzy and shocked to even consider the audacity of some people.
I was so shocked and disgusted that I almost clicked off the page entirely, wanting to ignore it all until I felt ready. That was until I spotted a face in my inbox, a name that I’d been desperate to see. He still managed to shine through and crack my shock barrier, no matter what was going on. He was like a shining beacon of joy, a calming sensation when everything else was shit.
Just like that, everything else dulled. I became calmer, my head sorted itself out and I remembered my sole purpose for doing this. I wanted to see if he had messaged me back, and he had, so I clicked on it to read what he has to say.
Hi Lotts, It’s so good to hear from you! I’ve searched for you online before, but I wasn’t sure if you’d want to hear from me. What are you up to these days? Coincidently I’m back at mums this weekend for a couple of days. Would you like to meet up? Joe xx’
And there it was, the innocent questions, the possibility to pick things off where they left off before things went to shit. This was what I’d been wanting for many years, but now that it was here, it felt really strange. It didn’t feel quite as good as I expected it to. I felt like it was going to be a risk, that if I did chose to accept his offer, I would end up with my heart shattered into a million pieces once more.
Then again, why shouldn’t I? After all, Joe was an old friend, and Danny was off doing God knows what, with anyone and everyone. Why should I sit around and wait for him to not come home, when I could go and hang out with someone that I used to know. It would just be a chance to catch up, to go over old times...
The thought of seeing him once more, back in our home town, was too tempting for words. Of course things couldn’t be exactly as they once were because our parent’s were no longer next door neighbours, but it would be the closest that I could get. Maybe going back there, and feeling more like the old me, I could put things to rest much quicker.
With my heart thundering in my ears, blocking out any possibility for rational thought, I typed an agreeable reply, before I could talk myself out of it once more. I knew what my heart wanted me to do, but I was also acutely aware of what my head thought I should do, and I desperately wanted to listen to one of them over the other.
‘That sounds good, I need to pick up some bits from mum’s anyway, so I can combine them both! Here is my number, give me a text x’
I felt like sounding breezy and calm was the best way to tackle this. Joe certainly hadn’t mentioned anything from the past—or his present either for that matter—so I had no idea how we were going to tackle that. It seemed much easier to simply wait and find out than to just push it. A lot of time had passed now, maybe we would simply blow past it as if it was nothing...
Whatever we did, it had to help me. I didn’t feel like it could make me feel any worse at any rate.
While the thought that this was a good idea span through my mind, I picked up the phone to call my mum. If I was going to go back there, I would need to stay at hers. She didn’t live too far away from me, I hadn’t managed to move as far as I would have liked, but it’s too far to travel back to if I’ve had a couple of drinks.
Plus, I didn’t think that I would be able to come back to the home I shared with Danny after spending time with Joe. It would just feel like the ultimate betrayal. It really was the only solution, but that didn’t stop the tight knot of fear from coiling around in my stomach as I waited for mum to pick up.
“Hello?” she answered, in the too-serious voice that she’d adopted these days. “Lottie? Are you okay?”
“Erm...” I stammered, suddenly realising that I should have planned this conversation before I started it. Now I wasn’t really sure what to say. “Do you think it might be okay if I come and stay this weekend?” As those words left my mouth, I thought about my old home, and my old life, and a weird buzz of excitement grew in my stomach.
“Sure...” she drawled out, slowly and cautiously. She was clearly shocked, and I could understand why. I hadn’t been back there to stay since I ran away to university, I’d not intended to ever go back, yet here I was, desperate to do so. “I just... with everything that’s happening at the moment, I need a time out.”
“I did hear something about that.” Her lips were pursed, I could hear it in her voice. I got the impression that she was keeping a million opinions inside, which was where I needed them to stay. She’d never been bothered to tell me about what she thought of Danny before, so I didn’t feel like she had the right now. Not when things were so bad, and not when I was effectively lying, using my situation as an excuse to get what I wanted. Luckily for me, she seemed to get the hint. “You can come and stay, when will you be arriving?”
There was a warmth to her tone, one that made my chest swell with love. For a split second, it was almost had me opening up and telling her everything, but then the picture of how she might react if I told her that I was in touch with Joe again filled my mind, and it shot that idea down too quickly.
Either she would freak out, and tell me what I didn’t want to hear, or she would be far too excited for me, constantly reminding me of what a good idea it was. I didn’t want either of those things, I preferred to operate in secrecy where I could deal with this all by myself.
“I’m teaching tomorrow evening, but I’ll be down Saturday morning if that’s okay?”
“Sure, we’ll see you then.” Just before my mum said the word ‘goodbye’, I got the sense that there was something on the tip of her tongue, something that she wanted to say, but that she didn’t quite feel ready for. I wanted to push her, to ask her what it was, but I knew from past experience that would only cause her to shut down even more.
By the time I hung up the phone, all of my negative emotions surrounding what Danny had done were simply gone from my mind. All of a sudden, I didn’t care about that anymore, I had more important things to worry about. I had to decide what I was going to wear when I saw Joe again, how I was going to act. What questions should I ask him, and what subjects should I definitely avoid? This was going to be a minefield to navigate, and as much as that terrified me, it excited the hell out of me too.
Joe Davies, back in my life. Who would have thought it? 

Friday, 13 April 2018

Lottie Loves by Samie Sands

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000447_00006]
“Will you marry me?”

Four words I’ve waited my whole life to hear. Four words I was sure would change my life forever…and they did. Just not in the way I expected.

Finding out my extremely gorgeous rock star boyfriend was about to propose had the complete opposite effect I thought it would. Rather than catapult me into a future I’ve always wanted, it plunged me back to a past I tried to forget.

Now I can’t get him out of my head. I can’t help but wonder what could have been, how our lives would have ended up if he didn’t leave me behind, a shattered mess.

All these memories are dangerous. They’re bringing my past back to ruin my future. And worst of all, they’re taking me right back to him, my childhood sweetheart, my first love…my biggest regret.

Sample...

26th May 2007

I just kissed Joe.
I don’t even know how to describe it, it was utterly the best moment of my life. All of my dreams couldn’t even begin to imagine how good it was going to be. I can’t even believe that I’m writing this...after all the heartache, all the wondering, it’s finally happened and now we can actually be together.
This is the best thing ever!

That account of the evening was so glaring false, I couldn’t actually believe that I’d written it. I felt like I must have been so desperate for things to be perfect that I even lied to myself about it. But then, as the night drifted on I mustn’t have been able to sleep, because I wrote more in scruffy, 2 AM style writing.

It was weird, really strange. It wasn’t quite what I thought it was going to be, and I’m scared about that. Did I just build it up too much in my mind, that it was never going to be as good as I expected...or does that mean something else? I don’t really want to admit it, but I’m scared. I’m afraid that it means we aren’t meant to beafter all, that’s the dream that has kept me going for so damn long nowand I’m also frightened that Joe racing off like that means something.
He has kissed lots of people, not like me, so maybe that means it was rubbish for him.
Oh God, I can’t even handle the thought that I might have screwed things up by sucking at kissing, what would that mean for me? I was so wrapped up in my fear and confusion of the moment that I didn’t really concentrate...that might have been my downfall.
Shit. Shit. Shit.
I feel like all of this has made my feelings worse. I feel like now that Joe has given me something back, that he has given me that glimmer of hope, my obsession with him is even worse. I can’t think so much that I really cannot sleep. What will I do if he turns me down? How will I even get through the rest of school? It’ll be humiliating, absolutely gutting. I might just die.
Maybe I can ask mum to let me move schools, maybe that will be the best thing for me. For us both. I mean, I’ll still have to see him at home and stuff, but it wouldn’t be the same...

#Free today!

#FREE today! Be consumed in Swallowed by the Beast. A #horror #anthology like no other.
Swallowed - High Resolution

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Carnival Of Fear (Creepiest Show On Earth Book 1)

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000447_00006]
Ladies and gentlemen! Boys and girls!

Step right up to the darkest carnival you’ve ever seen.

Do you like puppets? Well, we have a marvelous one. This poor little thing was left all alone to die, only to wake up with a taste for revenge.

If smiling, red-nosed clowns bore you, you’ve come to the right place. Just follow the bloody path of mutilated clowns, and it will lead you to a room filled with gruesome revelations.

But that’s not all.

Ready for a mind-bending experience? Wonderful! Our contortionist won’t just showcase her extreme flexibility, she’ll also shock you with her insatiable appetite. Want to know her secret?

She’s cursed—but shhhhhh, don’t tell.

So grab your friends and join us as we create the most bone-chilling atmosphere.

Because we’re coming to your town…

…and we’re bringing the Carnival of Fear.


Sample - Tulle's Freaks by Samie Sands...

This is so weird. So, so weird.
My hands fall onto my hips and I stare around the dusty ass room with a sense of unpleasant anticipation. This house is creepy as hell, and I don’t like it one bit. There’s something super eerie about it that I can’t quite put my finger on. There’s a presence in the walls, hanging over my shoulders, peering at me, waiting to see what I’m going to do. I have the uncomfortable feeling it’s going to pounce on me as soon as I move, making my blood ice cold and my heart burning hot.
That isn’t the strangest thing about this, not at all. The oddest thing is the home belongs to my father and I haven’t ever seen it until today, which is weeks after he passed away from a long-term illness I didn’t even know he had. From what I’ve found out about it since his death, the life drained from him quite quickly without any physical disease to explain his demise. No one could really understand it. Even medical staff had been bewildered. He died, almost as if he simply gave up on living.
“Amber, we do not know what happened,” his attorney told me when I begged for some answers. “All I can tell you is what he left you in his will.”
In twenty-two years of life I didn’t ever know anything about him, and I guess that isn’t something that’s about to magically change now he’s gone. Perhaps it’s time to finally accept that I’ll never be able to fill that massive hole.
What I can’t work out is why I’m here right now, why he left me this house. He didn’t want me to be a part of his life, so why his death? I mean, who does that? As far as I can work out, he went out of his way not to see me when he was alive. If he wanted to, he could have found me online and contacted me that way. I have a social media presence just like everyone else. He never did, so I have to assume he didn’t want me.
“Right,” I mutter quietly in an attempt to break the thick silence. “Let’s do this.”
I wander from room to room, wondering what I’m supposed to be doing exactly. I know I need to be here, and while I’m sure I should be doing something with my inheritance, nothing feels right. I don’t particularly want to touch the belongings of a man I didn’t know. That task feels a little overwhelming. Still, I don’t know if I can give up the opportunity to at least learn a small part about the man who fathered me either. Since I definitely don’t plan to live in this weird ghostly home, someone will need to clear it out before it can be sold. I suppose I should at least try.
 I lift up one of the smaller boxes that fill his kitchen. He’d actually labeled the box “crap.” Was he a hoarder? That would be something to know about him. Even a tiny habit is better than no information at all. A box labeled “crap” had to be a good place to start. Not too personal.
I don’t get anything inside. It’s literally crap: screws and nails that mustn’t have fit anywhere, bits of plastic and metal, even some smashed glass. This is all stuff he should have thrown away a long time ago. Nothing to help me learn about him. If I want to do that, I must go deeper.
I perch on a stool by what I assume is a breakfast bar under all those old magazines and peer into a much deeper box on the floor. This one’s labeled “stuff” which admittedly doesn’t bode well either. I suppose the more stuff I can toss, the closer I’ll get to discovering something real.
I pull out old bank statements, photographs of people I don’t recognize at all, newspaper clippings that don’t appear to have anything to do with my father’s life...all which leaves me even more despondent than before. Maybe he left me all of this as a final screw you. Perhaps he hated me and he wants me to spend hours trawling through his rubbish. Who knows?
“What the...?”
My hands curl around something strange and metallic feeling. In among paperwork there’s something solid which intrigues me. I pull it free, letting it go the moment it comes into view because I clap my hands to my mouth in shock.
It falls to the floor with a loud clatter and stares up at me, boring painfully into my soul.
It’s disgusting, absolutely hideous. Of all the creepy things I’ve seen in this house—in my life—this is by far the worst. I can only identify it as a clown mask, though not the kind I ever expected to see. Not a funny, laughter-inducing friendly character who’s here to light up someone’s day. No, it’s the sort of clown who haunts your nightmares and leaves you a shuddering wreck.
The face of the mask is white, except where the paint is peeling away it’s coppery-colored underneath, giving it an antiqued appearance. There’s a creepy red smiling mouth sprayed across it, which weirdly hasn’t been chipped away at all. Truthfully, it’s more a sneer than a smile. It isn’t a pleasant look. My immediate impression is that the mask seems to know a secret, and combined with the thick black rims painted around the eyes, I don’t think it’s a good secret.
Bleep!
“Holy hell!”
I leap into the air as my phone blasts out the text message sound, reminding me of the real world that’s out there. I got so sucked into the image of the mask I forgot about everything else for just a moment. I grab the phone out my pocket and stare at the screen, blinking to bring the words into focus. They remain slightly blurry due to my shaking hands.
Jadis: Yo, Amber. Malcom is having a Halloween party tomorrow night. You in? It’s fancy dress, by the way. Love ya! Jadis xxx.
Fancy dress Halloween party. That’s such a normal sentence to read in this oddly stressful time. Do I want to go? Fancy dress isn’t my thing after all.
Then I look at the clown mask once more. Now that I’ve been dragged out of the horror of this house and I feel more like myself I can see it’s just weird-looking. It would be fun to dress up as something so awful. It would certainly be different!
Amber: Sure, why not? See you then! A x.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

The Carnival is here and you're all invited...

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The Carnival of Fear anthology is now out, and only 99c! But that's not all, there's a release party today in the What Are You Afraid Of? Facebook group here there will be all kinds of giveaways from all the authors involved.

Come and join in the fun!

Ladies and gentlemen! Boys and girls!

Step right up to the darkest carnival you’ve ever seen.

Do you like puppets? Well, we have a marvelous one. This poor little thing was left all alone to die, only to wake up with a taste for revenge.

If smiling, red-nosed clowns bore you, you’ve come to the right place. Just follow the bloody path of mutilated clowns, and it will lead you to a room filled with gruesome revelations.

But that’s not all.

Ready for a mind-bending experience? Wonderful! Our contortionist won’t just showcase her extreme flexibility, she’ll also shock you with her insatiable appetite. Want to know her secret?

She’s cursed—but shhhhhh, don’t tell.

So grab your friends and join us as we create the most bone-chilling atmosphere.

Because we’re coming to your town…

…and we’re bringing the Carnival of Fear.


US Link
UK Link