Monday, 14 October 2019

The Curse of Peg O'Nell - or- The Demon of the Well

Rather delighted to reveal the cover of our first novel, a spectacular gothic horror in time for Hallowe'en by Daniel Nicholas Cobban! Based on the legend of Peg O'Nell, it tells the tale of the village of Ingerley where Peg unleashes her vengeance in the late 19th century. The amazing cover art is by the official Beul Aithris Art Dude, Mark Hetherington. It will be available in print and Kindle via Amazon, and other eBook platforms in time for Hallowe'en!





In a slight change to the Hallowe'en publishing schedule, Gregor Stewart's Witch Memorials of Scotland will now be coming out in the middle of November. 

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Cover Reveal - Witch Memorials of Scotland

This is a highly timely publication with the recent news that a memorial for all those sent to death as accused witches in Scotland between the 16th and 18th centuries is planned to be erected in Fife. And it's also fitting that the author is also one of Fife's finest authors, Gregor Stewart!

Witch Memorials of Scotland is a book that has been in the pipeline for quite some time for Gregor and it's an honour that Beul Aithris is the publisher.

The book recounts the horrific history of the witch persecutions, as well as noting how they are remembered and will be published at Halloween as part of the Scottish Paranormal book series. Gregor is a key member of the Scottish Paranormal team, alongside fellow Beul Aithris authors Alister Reid and Ryan O'Neil. It's perhaps safe to say that Gregor has a veritable historic brain! His previous book with Beul Aithris was 2017's Ghosts of Scotland

And without further ado:




Sunday, 15 September 2019

The "Haunted Scotland" Cookbook Cover Reveal!

Today is the day of what could be a paranormal first - the reveal of the long awaited paranormal cook book first announced over a year ago!

Brains have been racked and it seems that nothing like this has ever been done before, so Beul Aithris is pretty excited to be the first.

The "Haunted Scotland" Cookbook by Alister Reid is the second in the Scottish Paranormal series, the first being The Unseen World: Afterlife Research by Mr Reid's team mate, Ryan O'Neil.

The Cookbook features recipes that are themed around hauntings and is sure to be one to get the taste buds going to the extent the spirits may wish they were corporeal in order to enjoy the resulting food.

As well as being a paranormal investigator, Alister Reid is also a highly experienced chef, who owns the West Port cafe in Cupar, Fife. So you are very much in good hands here.

Without further ado:



The "Haunted Scotland" Cookbook will be out in time for Hallowe'en

Monday, 19 August 2019

Into The Dark Half



Things may appear to have been somewhat quiet over the last few months, but quite a lot has been afoot behind the scenes.

On a personal note, the heir apparent to this publishing enterprise started school. Future readers are now in the process of, er learning to read! And the best of luck to her.

In other news, some Beul Aithris titles are now available to order instore and online with Waterstones, and also with Foyles. So we are starting to expand distribution! We would also like to include independent bookshops in this, so please get in touch at info@beul-aithris-publishing.com if you own one of those fine establishments!

The last release, From Badgers To Nighthawks: Adventures Of A Wildlife Ranger by Malcolm J Ingham has been an amazing success. So many congratulations to him!

Elaine May Smith has busy on a signing tour with her books, including Wee Bunny Book. Read all about it here.

Rick Hale has started a regular Ask A Ghost Hunter live video on Facebook, more details of which, can be found at the Paranormal Past Times group here. He also continues to be a regular contributor at the Spooky Isles, and you can enjoy his articles here.

M J Steel Collins has expanded further into Glasgow lore, also on Spooky Isles, where she looks at the strange legend of the Gurning Man of Crosshill - read all about it here.

And finally, keeping in with the shared team of Spooky Isles and Beul Aithris authors, Ann Massey recently had a  music video made incorporating her book Dark Emerald Tales by the German band Complete! Enjoy.



Ann's work can also be read on Spooky Isles here.

To find out more about the books by the aforementioned authors, please check out the Beul Aithris book directory here.

There will be more titles in the forthcoming months, including what is believed to be the first Paranormal Cook Book by Ally Reid, a book of Scottish Witch Memorials by his Scottish Paranormal team mate Gregor Stewart, The Curse of Peg O'Nell or The Demon of The Well by Daniel Nicholas Cobban, a further title on Irish hauntings by Ann Massey and a folklore title by Eric L Fitch!


Tuesday, 18 June 2019

It Doesn't Happen Overnight! Guest Blog by Elaine May Smith


When I wrote my “Hurricane Hilda” series in 2005 and read it to my daughter’s nursery class, I knew nothing of the world of children's publishing.  However, the idea of leaving a legacy of laughter and learning for the next generation became my raison d’ĂȘtre. 



I spent a decade looking for an illustrator before Stella Perrett, nationally renowned cartoonist at The Morning Star, stepped up to the plate and brought my nine short stories to life.  I self-published the paperback, Kindle and audio book, and we hosted a book launch at the Central Library in Dundee on Hallowe’en 2015.




By this time, I had a new “Wee Bunny Book” series underway, illustrated by award-winning Scottish artist, Alison Stell. This adventure with kilted super bunnies from the Highlands of Scotland teaches the ABCs of looking after pet rabbits. The book was published by Beul Aithris Publishing in July 2017 and is now listed at major booksellers including Waterstones and Barnes & Noble.  Excellent reviews have been published in BunnyZine and iScot magazine. 



My third story "The Magical Scottish Unicorn" illustrated by Scottish cartoonist, Patt, joined my children's titles on Amazon on St Andrew's Day 2018.  Albany the unicorn takes readers on a magical journey through time and space to meet the Scottish inventors who changed the world. Colouring pages are included to bring out the imagination of young readers.

Last month I rounded up a team of bunny voice artists to record the audio "Wee Bunny Book" which is due for release to coincide with my summer book tour 2019:

WHSmith, Murraygate, Dundee

WHSmith, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow

WHSmith, Gyle Shopping Centre, Edinburgh

I’ve even commissioned soft toy super bunnies based on the “Wee Bunny Book” characters, given that the blockbuster movie is but a whisker away!

Links to all of the above can be found on my website:

Life as an author is a new adventure every day! The best advice which I would pass on to other authors is: Think BIG and never give up!


Get the Wee Bunny Book now - click here

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Guest Blog: Primary Sources by Kevin Patrick McCann

Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

As a child I was fascinated by my parents and grandparents tales of what I called the Olden Days. I was given eyewitness accounts of amongst other things, the 1914 Christmas Truce, the General Strike and the Blitz. And what had made these stories lodge in my mind was their human perspective. 

At the age of eleven, for example, I only had the vaguest understanding of the causes of World War One but I did know that on Christmas Day, 1914, my Grandad and his mates climbed out of their trenches and walked into No-Man’s-Land.

His stories (and those of my Nan, my Mum and Dad) began as entertainments to while away wet afternoons in the days before daytime T.V. Their importance as my first encounters with Story didn't become obvious until years later when I took part in a writing project based in Lancashire Archives. I'd assumed (before the project began) that the archive itself would consist mainly of Birth, Marriage and Death Certificates and other official documents. I couldn't have been more wrong.

There were Last Wills dating back as far as the sixteenth century, postcards sent from France during World War One, records of the local assizes, music hall programmes, a thirteenth century almanac, Guest Books from Theatrical Boarding Houses (Very many thanks, sincerely Harry Houdini) and the one that grabbed my attention – the Patients Ledger, Lancaster Asylum, 1890.

I opened it at random. There was a full page report: a name, an age, a description of the patient’s condition on admission – Imbecile – a record of his stay and in the top left corner, his photograph. And because he was looking straight at the camera, he now seemed to be looking at me. I turned the page to find a brief account of his sudden deterioration and death the following year.

I turned over to the next page. Above the name and condition – Melancholia - were two photographs. One of a smiling girl wearing a straw bonnet decorated with flowers. The other of an almost fleshless face framed by lank hair. It was mentioned in passing that she'd been force-fed daily.

Before this I’d seen archive material as nothing more than a research tool. The thought that it could act as a primary stimulus had never occurred to me. I started writing. Six poems about the patients in Lancaster Asylum came in as many days. I hadn’t written so much in the last six months. And these were followed by another thirty on a wide variety of subjects. They weren’t all prompted by the stories I’d heard as a child. Just the overwhelming majority.

The archive material had not just given me a starting point, it had reminded me of why I started writing in the first place. It wasn’t for money or fame – though I wouldn’t turn my nose up at either – it was because I felt passionately and wanted to express that passion through words. It had reawakened in me a point of view that apparent cynicism had all but totally obscured. And of course, the apparent cynicism was just my cover story.

The simple truth was that I hadn't written anything for over six months. The result was that I became very depressed and convinced that the rest really was going to be silence. Now, suddenly, the words were flowing and the poems more or less writing themselves.

I compared notes with other writers on the course and they all told the same story. Not only were they suddenly writing more, the quality of their work was, in many cases, better than it had ever been. Which got me thinking.
Usually, when I need information I google in a few key words and see what comes up. If I want to know about conditions in nineteenth century asylums, I can access, almost instantly, dozens of eyewitness accounts as well as extracts from official reports, annual death rates etc. Or I can do what I actually did. 

I can go to the main archives and look at the Record Book for the year 1890. I can feel the weight of it. If I press my face close enough to the pages I can catch a whiff, even if it’s only imaginary, of carbolic. The same smell that would have filled the wards. I can look into the eyes of the inmates and imagine their lives all the more vividly.

I think I'd fallen into the error of thinking because I was now a published writer, I needed to concentrate my attentions not on those things I wanted to write, but on the things I felt I ought to write. I'd been deliberately suppressing anything that wasn't worth my attention -which of course was everything in the end.

So, by all means, seek out gaps in the market, sit down and plan out a strategy – I do both – but write your passion, craft it, publish it, market it and hope it sells. No matter what else, write what you love to read.

And if, like me, you find yourself blocked, apart from the writing exercises to loosen you up, go to primary source material (old letters, diaries, news clippings etc.) and just start reading until something grabs your imagination. You'll know when it's happened because nothing else you try to read after that will go in
.
Try this now: In your search engine type ARCHON – this will then give you the location of every archive in the UK, plus related archives in other parts of the world including the two hundred and seventy five to be found in the United States. Find your nearest archive and visit it.

Quick Tip: Don't just go in and ask if you can have a browse. The material in archives is stored and can only be initially accessed by archivists so when you go, have a specific area you want to look into. Phone or e-mail in advance and find out what their system is. One very good way to start is to see if they have back copies of local newspapers. If so, pick a month and a year and start reading through. You'll find something. I guarantee it. 

Kevin's poetry collection is available now - click here for more information.


Wednesday, 22 May 2019

From Badgers to Bunnies and Waterstones!

Back in service after being a wee bit ill! A lot has happened over the last month and a bit here at Beul Aithris, that it's hard to know where to begin, but it's all brilliant.

First of all, From Badgers To Nighthawks: Adventures of a Wildlife Ranger by Malcolm J Ingham, has been a runaway success and getting very good responses. Readers have said it is very well written and that they feel transported to the locations Mal describes. The book has definitely not failed to capture people's emotions. All reviews on Amazon thus far are five stars! Congratulations Mal! Keep up with Mal and his wildlife cameras on Twitter by following @ingham_mal



For fans of all things bunnies and superheroes in Dundee, Wee Bunny Book author Elaine May Smith will be WH Smiths in Murraygate, Dundee from 11 am to 4 pm on Saturday 29 June doing a book signing. Well worth a visit if you have wee readers needing entertained at the start of the Scottish summer holiday. Keep up with Elaine at her website click here.

 On the retail side, the new online bookshop has been a success and is ideal for those who prefer to buy directly from a small press. To visit the shop click here. Another exciting development is that for some titles, Beul Aithris' reach has expanded. From Badgers to Nighthawks, Wee Bunny Book and also Dark Emerald Tales by Ann Massey O'Regan and This Isle is Full of Monsters: Shakespeare's Audiences and the Supernatural are now available at Waterstones in the UK, Barnes and Noble in the US and some other major book retailers. The next stage will be looking to bring titles to independent bookshops and other smaller, specialist retailers. If you are an independent bookshop or stock books amongst other items in your shop, and are interested in stocking some of our titles, feel free to get in touch at info@beul-aithris-publishing.com

And as always, great plans are ahead for autumn and  Beul Aithris' third Hallowe'en, with a folk horror novel, a guide to witch memorials and what is thought to be the first Paranormal Cook Book.

Readers can also order signed copies of books by emailing info@beul-aithris-publishing.com.



Sunday, 14 April 2019

New online shop!



News came through this week that Try Celery, the platform that serves the Beul Aithris Publishing Bookshop, will be closing down in the next few months. As such, there is now a new platform, which is much more user friendly.

All titles are now available to order from the new shop click here

It's all go, as they say in Scotland!

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Signed Copies!



Owing to interest in signed copies of Beul Aithris books, here's how to get them! Instead of ordering directly from the shop, readers can request signed copies by emailing
info@beul-aithris-publishing.com, where orders can be arranged. That way, copies can be sent to the authors for autographing, any personalisations added and then the copies will be sent on to you.


Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Looking After the Wild by Malcolm J Ingham

Guest blog by author Malcolm J Ingham on what motivated him to a career in conservation and looking after wild animals. 

Kippy in the garden pond - © Malcolm J Ingham
 I have been asked many times over the years why I wanted to pursue a career in conservation and become a wildlife ranger. The answer is, simply, that as far back as I can remember I have always had a fascination with nature and wildlife with one memory in particular being up there with the best of them. I couldn’t have been more than five or six years old. 

It was a summers evening and I was with my parents by a stream close to our home in Clitheroe and being spellbound by the beauty of a cluster of wild primroses on a grassy bank. One of the reasons for the vividness of the memory is not purely down to the primroses alone, but also to the strange fact that I seemed to instinctively know what they were despite the fact that I have no recollection of ever having seen primroses before. 

Other childhood memories were of being totally captivated at the sight of my first wild otter, of caring for an injured lapwing and of covertly reading about badgers in my well-thumbed copy of The Observers Book of Wild Animals of the British Isles during school lessons. Badgers fascinated me but I would have to wait many years before I actually saw one in the flesh. The conservation seed was sown at a very early age with me knowing the path I wanted to follow but not having a clue how to find it. 

The years passed but I never gave up hope of achieving what I felt to be my true destiny - to become a wildlife ranger. Not only did I eventually achieve my ambition of becoming a ranger, followed by Head Ranger & Wildlife Officer but I would, along with my wife Ann, form the Wirral Wildlife Rehabilitation Unit, caring for and rehabilitating many species of wildlife including badgers. The latter became a major part of my life for many years, which saw me caring for injured badgers, hand rearing & rehabilitating orphaned cubs to confronting badger diggers and baiters and of becoming expert witness for the prosecution for the police and RSPCA in badger related crime.



I have known badgers as individuals both in captivity and the wild, I have lectured on them, written about them and fought their corner in court. Other species have also played a major part in my life such as Nigel the nighthawk, Hamish the Scottish Wildcat, Muffles and Velvet, my two foxes to name but a few.

I often reflect on my days as a kid roaming the fields and woods around Clitheroe and the trials and tribulations of my quest to become a ranger. I could never have visualised in a million years just where my ambition would eventually lead me - not only did I find my path, I discovered a motorway!!!  

For more information on Mal's book click here
 



Monday, 18 March 2019

Rhyme and Reason – Guest blog by Kevin McCann



This was first published in UK Writer in 2009 and is about my first steps in children’s writing and all the mistakes I made. You might find it of some interest!

The two Poets referred to, Pete Morgan and Matt Simpson, are sadly no longer around and this piece is dedicated to their memory.

It all started more or less by chance. I’d been teaching English for seven years  and had just had my first pamphlet of poems published. I’d been booked for a  reading funded by the Poetry Society and was sent the then standard questionnaire to complete.. In the ‘Further comments’ section I said that I’d be interested in joining the Poets in Schools scheme. This was funded by WH Smith and a school got two poets for two days for free.

A year went by and one day I got a call asking me if I’d like to work with the Poet Pete Morgan in a comprehensive in Egremont up in Cumbria. I already knew Pete and respected him so no worries about getting on with my co-worker. All I had to do was get time off school to go. No problem there either. THAT woman had been Prime Minister for only three years, unions were still a force to be reckoned with and the only people who ‘delivered’ were the Post Office and the local milkman.

I offered to give up my next 16 free periods and run a bookstall at the Christmas Fair and the unpaid time off was granted. In those days schools were still being run by teachers, so sense and reason often prevailed.

I learned a lot. Pete was a joy to work with. The children were primed and the teachers all knew poetry mattered, were incredibly supportive and no one used the word ‘text’ to describe a poem. Our job was to go in and get the children writing poetry. And they did. Reams of it and it was good. .

The only disappointment, apparently, was me.  The children didn’t think I looked like a poet. It was my first booking so I’d actually had a haircut and was wearing my best jacket and a collar and tie. I didn’t make that mistake again.

I carried on with the Poets in School scheme until it was finally wound up. I can’t remember the official reason WH Smith gave, but I suspected that some accountant thought it wasn’t profitable and was therefore worthless. I was sorry to see it end, but it had helped me in a number of ways. I was now getting enough work from schools to be able to change from full-time to part-time teaching and I’d started writing for children myself.

Usborne Books had asked the Poetry Society for a list of poets who might want to contribute to a new anthology of poems for children. And it wanted new poems, not reprints of work
by people who’ve been dead long enough it isn’t necessary to pay anyone to reproduce their work.

“Writing poems for kids,’ I thought. ‘Easy.’ I rattled off half a dozen verses and tried them out on some eight-year-olds. It was a sobering, painful experience. They told me my poems were ‘boring’. They were right. They were preachy and had no emotional impact. I’d settled for the ‘It’s worthy...that’ll do’ school of writing. 

I phoned the Poet Matt Simpson and we talked for a good hour or more. He reminded me that all really good poems ‘should recreate an emotion or an experience for the reader’ He suggested I forget trying to write for children and just write what came to me instead. ‘And avoid contemporary references,’ he said. ‘They date your work.’  Sound advice.  

I was back in school the following day and while on break duty had to separate two 14-year-olds who were half-killing each other behind the bike sheds.

One kept saying: 'I didn’t mean to hit him Sir, I was just messing.'

'I was just...'

That phrase stayed in my head and when I got home, I sat down and wrote:

I was just
Teaching our cat to swim
And suddenly
The bathroom was flooded

Four more verses wrote themselves. It was about as far away from a worthy poem as you could get and, to my amazement, was accepted. Teachers have since told me that its very grimness has given them starting points for discussions on cruelty and how it often grows out of ignorance and emotional carelessness rather than an intrinsically evil nature. 


‘Avoid contemporary references...’

With that advice in mind, I stopped talking at children and began talking to them. I discovered that the trappings of our respective childhoods were different – when I was a kid TV was black and white, computers existed only in sci-fi films etc. – but there were constants:

·         We’d all been worried about the fluff monster that lurked under the bed.
·         The death of a family pet was devastating.
·         Being the new kid was no fun at all.
·         We didn’t like bullies.
·          
My poems began to change. I wrote about ghosts, a pet dog that ‘bites the heads off rats’ but at night pillows your head and guards you ‘from the Gloom’. I wrote about how lousy it felt to be bullied because you were overweight and how you were overweight because you were bullied. It was liberating to find that I could write poems for children that I could be proud of as poems.

I found that writing poetry isn’t just fun; it can be so much more than that. Over and over I’ve seen under-achievers begin to shine as they discover that problems with spelling etc. are no bar to the imagination.

In fact, I’d go further.

The notion that there are no wrong answer in poetry had a real and positive impact on children who usually gave up before they’d even started because they were convinced that they were bound to fail and, therefore, there was no point in even trying.

In one school where I worked for three consecutive terms running an after-school poetry club, a boy with learning difficulties improved his reading age by four years in two terms. And that wasn’t down to me. I was merely a vehicle. It was the profound effect of poetry itself.

Given a writing exercise, an adult will often ask, ‘What’s the point of this exercise?’ Children will write for the best reason there is: the joy of it.Adults want their work to ‘say something’. 

Children will just write. If their piece has an implied subtext, all the better, but they rarely set out to make a point. They just write what comes. I remember one girl writing a poem about Mars. She described the surface as  looking like ‘a crumpled duvet.’ Her last two lines read:

On Mars everything’s red.
Even the silence.

I’d sell my soul for an image like that!

When I asked her how she’d thought of it, she adopted a long-suffering air – she was eight – and said: “I didn’t think of it. It just came to me.” Then she paused and added: “It was inspiration.”

In 1991, I finally left teaching altogether to write full time. I thought I’d continue with schools for a few more years at most. I imagined that it would only be matter of time before I was headlining literary festivals and appearing on telly. The airs and graces we give ourselves! Eighteen years on, I still visit schools and still love it.

I’ve had some bad experiences, but they’ve always been with ‘project facilitators’ who’ve seen schools work as either a nice little earner or a springboard into some publicly-funded sinecure. I’ve met a few – a very few – bad teachers. The majority have been hard-working, dedicated men and women doing an excellent job despite outside interference.#

And what about my own writing?

I still write and publish poems, both for adults and children. One feeds the other. I’ve started storytelling (long saga – some other time), just finished my first novel and have several schools visits lined up – to prepare I’ll be reading pirate stories, Welsh folktales and researching ecology.

Of course, I could have stayed in teaching, been financially secure and now be looking forward to retiring – but then again, I write poetry so have no sense at all.