A Haunted Headstone?

haunted headstone

In keeping with the spooky atmosphere of the evening, I give you one of my short stories. The cemetery I based this story around is located just west of my hometown.

I chose the particular headstone because it’s set off by itself on a bit of a hill surrounded by trees.

I hope you enjoy this seasonal piece.

A Halloween Tale

Brian and Emily clambered off their bicycles in front of a large three-storey, red brick house in the western end of the city. A huge sign bearing a wildcat and the words B&B hung from a post in the yard. “Is this the place?” he asked.

“I think so.” She slid her heavy rucksack off, dug into its small outer pocket, and pulled out the confirmation e-mail. Scanning the document, she checked the house and guidepost. “Yes. We’re here.”

Emily slung her pack over one shoulder. They walked their bikes to the side of the house and leaned them against the wall before going to the door. She reached out to ring the bell. At the same instant, the inside door opened. Startled, she jumped back.

“You’re the Wolvertsons? I’ve been expecting you.” The grey-haired, bespectacled woman craned her neck to see past them. “Where is your car?”

“We rode,” he said.

“Come in, you must be exhausted. Your room is this way.”

Hands clasped, the young couple accompanied the proprietor to their room.

“Here you are. Breakfast runs from seven to nine o’clock. You’re on your own for lunches and suppers but the town has a number of places for a good meal.”

“Thank you, Mrs. …, ” he began.

“Griffin, but you can call me Miriam”

Meanwhile, Emily had walked to the window. The street below bustled. “We passed a couple of cemeteries west of here.” She turned to face Brian and their hostess. “What can you tell us about them?”

The woman’s face went pale. “Y-you don’t want to be going to the necropolis on the south side of the road. Rumor has it, it’s frequented by spirits.”

“We do. I think my ancestors are buried there and that’s why we came. We’re researching our family tree and want to take some rubbings of the ancestral slabs and photograph them for the book we’re writing.”

“If you think you must go, go early in the day so you’re out well before dark.”

She dropped to the bed and ran her hand over the white duvet. “Tell us more. This sounds intriguing.”

“Two hundred years ago this Halloween that Emily McPherson went away. My, but your name is Emily, too, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Please go on.”

Brian sat down put his arm around Emily’s shoulders.

“The story goes a young girl lost her fiancé – an infantryman – in a dreadful accident in the first part of the war of 1812. His ship was carrying a load of dynamite and it exploded. The blast killed everyone on board.”

“What does that have to do with the churchyard?”

“Well, they say she visited his entombment every day until her disappearance and was there as always when a terrible storm blew up and folks never saw her again. A blood curdling shriek was heard over the crashing – and then nothing. Silence. The disturbance cleared as quickly as it had formed. Alarmed by the horrendous noise that came from the direction of the graveyard, some men sprang into action. When they reached the location where the poor, bereft young woman spent most of her time, she was gone. No indication of a scuffle. No suggestion someone dragged her off – just the bluish phosphorescence surrounding the headstone. From that night on, no one had ever set foot in that corner. You understand why it is imperative you’re out of there before dark.”

“What a tragic, yet romantic tale. We must find that grave.” Her eyes sparkled.

“We will but in the morning. Today, we scope out the town.” Brian stood and helped her up from the bed. “Thanks for sharing that. Em, here, well she’s a pushover for a burial ground and a love story.”


Outside, Emily wrapped her arms around Brian’s waist. “I wish we didn’t have to wait.”

“Come on. If anything untoward is going to happen there, it will be tomorrow on the actual day. Not today.”

“I suppose you’re right,” she muttered.

Brian took her hand and they walked tothe town’s centre, stopping first at the local repository where the genealogical society housed its archives.

Emily scanned the floor to ceiling shelves lined with books, binders, maps and the society’s own publications. If the young woman’s exodus were such a big deal, then there had to be something written about it. She discovered a notebook of newspaper clippings dating back to the commencement of 1812, sat down at one of the tables and flipped through it. Emily ferreted out the piece about the detonation and couldn’t believe how much detail the press included on the crews’ injuries. Still, she removed a page and made a photocopy. A few pages later, she found the other including a photo of the alleged sinister chamber. haunted headstoneWhile she perused those, he busied himself with the old charts. Two older women came down the stairs as she photocopied the article. They spoke in hushed tones about the anniversary of the McPherson girl’s departure. Armed with the information she wanted, Emily and Brian left the museum and went to a nearby pub for lunch. Over a pint and burger, they shared their findings.

“According to the one, Emily’s engagement occurred on June 1st and her fiancé died the second,” she said, taking a sip of beer.

The longer they stayed, the more uncomfortable Emily became. The people pointed and stared at her, like they were comparing her to the long-since missing girl. “Let’s leave. These people are creeping me out.”

“If you want.” Brian picked up his glass and draining the last of it.

After exiting, they wandered in and out of some of the more eclectic stores on the main street. In a second-hand shop, Emily bought a cherry amber pendant. Another young couple entered, talking about the city of the dead as she fastened the clasp.

“They say that tomb is haunted.”

“Yeah, I know. Even in the daylight people don’t go near it.”

On their return to the B&B, she emptied the contents of her backpack on the bed ensuring she had everything she needed for their trek. Camera, extra batteries, blank newsprint, and charcoal sticks in a baggie. She added the photocopies to the essentials and repacked her bag.


The next morning, Miriam begged them to reconsider visiting the ossuary. “It’s just all the talk about how the unfortunate girl vanished and this being the bicentenary,” she moaned, wringing her hands.

“We’re leaving as soon as we’re finished eating so will be back long before it gets dark,” Brian reassured her. “If it makes you feel better, we’ll stop here before we go to supper.”

Emily slipped on her leather riding gloves and heaved her pack on her back. “Don’t worry. We’ll be back late this afternoon.” Hesitating by the front door, she turned back. “Bye. We’ll see you later,” she called cheerily as they exited.

It took about five minutes to reach the cemetery’s entrance. After dismounting, they walked their cycles down the winding road and parked them against a bench near the river. She took her Canon out and shot a few wide angle shots of the area for comparison later on.

Since they hadn’t gotten away as timely as they would have liked, Emily decided they should split up so they could cover twice as much territory. She gave Brian some of the sheets of printing paper and a couple of the anthracite crayons. He had a point and shoot Kodak so could take pictures as well as rubbings.

A row of white tombstones, beginning with two substantial memorials followed by some smaller, all of the same design, caught Emily’s eye and she walked to them. It appeared to be parents, and their ten children. She carefully photographed each one planning on looking into the family at a later date. Emily glanced over her shoulder. Brian had worked his way out to an earlier section adjacent to the highway.

Walking along the narrow road, she spotted a flight of stone steps leading to a spot sheltered by trees. As she climbed them, she noticed a small marker next to a bathtub-like sarcophagus. Up on the rock about four feet higher than the terrain where she stood, a solitary tribute occupied the plot. Emily pulled the copied articles out of her holdall. This matched the one in the copy. The thick canopy of poplar, pine, and maple trees kept the space in darkness even at his time of day. A gust of wind rustled through the treetops overhead and a leaf fluttered to the ground, landing on the covering of brightly colored autumn leaves. What was once a stately oak stood guard over the site; its trunk and remaining branch denuded of bark and pocked with woodpecker holes.

haunted headstoneUp close, the tombstone didn’t look menacing. Emily walked around it, feeling its roughness under her fingertips, and read the epitaph. It told the sad tale of a young man who expired away tragically in a ship’s explosion. She took a picture of the wording.

“Brian, come quick.” She turned and swung her arms to get his attention. “I think this is the monument.”

He lifted his head and waved back but made no attempt to approach.

When he didn’t respond a second time to her calls, she scampered off the crag, pausing to take more photos then ran to him, stumbling over the uneven ground. Breathless when she reached Brian, Emily found it difficult to tell him she had identified the cenotaph of the young soldier.

“You’ll remember where it was? I’d like to get some rubbings of the ones in this precinct. Let me finish up here and we’ll head over.” He pulled her to him and kissed her forehead.

Another one with a worn but interesting inscription soon held their interest. They were engrossed with it – Emily with her digital SLR and Brian with the paper and carbon. They were so preoccupied they didn’t notice the skies darkening.

haunted headstoneNot wanting to leave without a final visit to the shrine, she ran off towards it, with him following. It was dusk when they reached it. They drew nearer and the hairs on the back of Emily’s neck stood on end.

Suddenly, the sky turned black. The intensity of the city’s streetlights no longer visible. Emily couldn’t see him, yet they were only arms’ length apart. A brilliant flash of lightning and a simultaneous, deafening clap of thunder frightened her and she screamed. The pungent smell of ozone filled the air. The tall masterpiece now bathed in that ominous cerulean glow, made her entire body tingle.


The next day, when the owner of the B&B raised the alarm after they had failed to come back the night before, a search party went to the funerary grounds to look for them. Just as it was when Emily McPherson disappeared all those years ago, there were no signs of a struggle, no trace of the couple at all. At the stone’s base, one of the rescuers found a necklace – the same one the young woman was last seen wearing when she and her partner left for the cemetery. On the back was a message which read, ‘to my Emily June 1st, 1812. All my love B.W.’. The searchers looked at each other incredulously, then at the gravestone. B.W. – Brian Wolfe. Were these two people the ghosts of Emily and Brian?


And here is the row of headstones belonging to the family near the haunted one on the hill.

haunted headstone

Strange phenomena? Coincidence? Or were Brian and Emily really the ghosts of the couple from long ago?

Cole’s Notes ~ a #short #story

Originally, Cole’s Notes were student guides to books in Canada. Their distinctive black and yellow striped covers stood out on the shelves and covered everyone from the works of William Shakespeare, to George Orwell, Harper Lee, JD Salinger on the literature side to guides to French, Spanish, using a slide rule, and Economics.

This version of Cole’s Notes is a bit different. Have a read…

Cole's Notes

Cole’s Notes

Cole pulled the heavy, oak door closed behind him. Gunmetal grey clouds gathered in the sky. A storm approached. An icy blast picked up the fallen, dried leaves and swirled them into the air. Not yet the middle of October, but the weather had been unseasonably cold this autumn. The hot, dry summer now a distant memory.

After he put up the hood of the fleece he wore beneath his worn, bomber jacket, Cole cupped his hands and blew to warm them. After, he zipped up his coat, shoved his fists into his front jeans pockets, and jogged down the steps.

At the intersection of Union Street and Bon Accord Terrace, the damp wind from the North Sea hit him like he walked into a granite wall. The tall buildings concentrated the gale and he pressed through the headwind. Would the storm hold off until he reached Starbucks? To beat the fast moving inclement weather, he quickened his pace.

A few steps short of his destination, the skies opened and the deluge began. Beneath the sheltered entrance, Cole yanked his wet hood down and shook his jacket, sending out a spray of droplets.

The queue formed in front of the counter and snaked through the shelving units. The narrow corridor between displays stocked with bags of coffee, ground and beans, mugs and travel cups, made him claustrophobic and he fidgeted while he waited his turn. Sweat gathered around his collar. At least the stools near the entrance remained vacant. The one at the end on the right he considered ‘his’. A cold trickle ran down his back as he counted the people ahead of him. No one could sit in his place.

“First, please,” the female clerk announced.

Not realizing she meant him, he twisted from one side to the other, and shuffled to the service desk.

“Your usual, Cole?”

Embarrassed, he cast his eyes towards his scruffy shoes and nodded. Jeannie was attractive and friendly. Sometimes if she had a moment when she wiped off the bar at the large, plate glass where he always sat, she spoke to him. His shyness prevented him from saying much in response, other than please, thank you and keep the change.

“Go get your place by the window and I’ll bring your drink over.”

Only one seat remained along the high counter-his favorite one. “Th-thank you.” He turned, mumbled and walked away.

A few minutes later, Jeannie placed his steaming hot, latte in front of him. “Enjoy, Cole.”

Her big, blue eyes sparkled like the sun on the North Sea. Her teeth were perfectly straight and white. Save for a single dark mole high on her cheekbone about an inch below her right eye, she had a flawless complexion. The beauty mark gave her an air of mystery and glamour. Still, she complained to co-workers and female customers about having surgery to remove the blemish. The discolouration made her unique.

If only he could work up the nerve to ask her out on a date so he could see the full length of her tresses. Unable to imagine her appearance with her hair falling around her face and possibly past her shoulders, he thanked her for the service.

After Jeannie left, Cole removed his grotty, black leather bound notebook from his inside breast pocket. The moleskin fell open to the page marked by a shabby, blue silk ribbon. People walked by the coffee shop, some carried umbrellas, others sheltered themselves from the rain under their briefcases or newspapers.

Next, Cole pulled out his Bic pens-red, black, and blue-and lined them up in precise military fashion on the worktop. After some deliberation, he chose the blue one, removed the cap, stuck it on the plug end, and chewed before putting pen to paper. Soon the ink flowed, and he worked furiously pausing briefly to sip his latte.

While she cleared away plates, mugs, and napkins from the vacancies left from the other customers along the counter, Jeannie asked, “What are you writing?”

Cole slammed his journal closed. The book belonged to him. For his eyes and no one else’s. Only he could read the words on those pages. “N-nothing.”

“You can tell me,” she said as she slid on the stool next to him. “I won’t tell anyone.”

“No.” He jammed the top back on his pen, and stuffed his belongings inside his jacket before he pushed his way past her and out the door.


A week passed since Cole’s last drop in and his absence made Jeannie worry. Never had he been gone this long between his regular visits. A family visit elsewhere? Worst case scenario home sick with a cold or the flu.

Each time the door opened, she hoped to see him in the entrance. Every time someone else came in disappointment washed over her.

After closing one night when they cleaned up, her co-worker, Rick, discovered something. “Jeannie, come here.”

“What did you find?”

“Doesn’t this belong to your ‘boyfriend’, Cole?” He held a leather-bound book up in his hands. Some of the pages were beginning to fall out.

“Give me that!”

He lifted the folio higher. “What a weirdo. More than the rest of us, you should know that,” he taunted, waving the object in front of her beyond her reach.

Yelling in protest, she lunged towards him, and dislodged the jotter. The book landed on the tiles and Jeannie scrambled for it . “Now back off. What’s written in here is none of anyone’s business. I’ll drop by Cole’s place on my way home,” she said as she shoved the loose pages back inside.

“How do you know where he lives?”

“I’ll find out.” She stuffed the notebook into her apron pocket.

Later in the afternoon while on break, Jeannie pulled the worn possession out and turned it over in her hands. Beyond repair. What remained of the leather cover was brittle and cracked, so she handled the fragile item with care.

The last time she saw Cole, he fled from the coffee shop panicked because of her question. Certain he returned the moleskin to his pocket, and surprised Rick found it near his stool disturbed her. The contents were personal, but she wanted to open the diary and see why the man had been so secretive.

Did he drop the cherished object on the floor? She would have chased after him if she noticed. Should she peek inside the front cover? The information she needed to take back the property might be written there. If she found his address, she would stop her search and return his diary after her shift ended. Otherwise, she would keep the prized possession in her gigantic handbag until Cole returned.


After some serious thought, she opened the book. Nothing to identify him written in either location, but there in pen and ink, a sketch he drew of her, hair down, stared back from the pages. Descriptive text about her surrounded the image. Jeannie – kind, beautiful, friendly were a few recorded. Now intrigued, she turned the page.

Some of the sketches she recognized as people who frequented the coffee shop and snickered at the words chosen to for them.

Cole immortalized Rick between the worn covers, too. Unable to suppress her laughter at what he thought of her co-worker, she giggled. Pompous and arsewipe were her favourite adjectives.

Another sheet turned and Jeannie regretted her action. The person portrayed was a stranger to her, but labelled ‘Mother’. The word choice shocked her… ‘bitch, dark places, locked up, men, hooker, slut, hate you.’

All she wanted was to locate the information needed to return it, but didn’t find a name, address or telephone number. Curiosity piqued by the drawings and descriptions before her, Jeannie continued.

“Thought you weren’t going to look inside?” Rick sneered.

Startled by his voice, she slammed the notebook shut and shoved it back into her apron pocket. “Only looking for his address. Hoped he would have written something down near the front.”

At the end of her shift, she placed it in her huge handbag and went home to her flat. Murphy, her ginger and white cat greeted her with a hiss and a swat to her leg.

When she tossed her purse on the small dinette table, a resounding thud echoed through the compact space. Once in the kitchen, she opened her fridge, and peered in. An open bottle of Riesling stood in the lower shelf in the door. Pulling the wine out by the neck, she pushed the door shut with her hip and turned to get a goblet from the rack affixed to her upper cabinets.

Seated at the table, she poured herself a glass, took a sip, and worried about Cole. A watch could be set by him and his predictability. Every day, the same time, the same latte, the same stool by the window. Yes, he was a bit odd but there had been customers come into Starbucks far stranger than he.

Jeannie pulled the notebook out and put it in front of her. With the palm of her hand, she rubbed the surface. In places the jacket was worn so thin, the paper backing on the inside showed through.

Opening it to the location marked by the ribbon, revealed another sketch of her but without her beauty mark. Out of habit, she reached up and touched her face. ‘must keep mole, glamorous, beautiful, not Jeannie without it’ surrounded the picture.

Until now, she didn’t realize he had such a strong opinion about her having the blemish removed and it scared her.

Was Cole some kind of control freak? Would he hurt her if she went ahead with the surgical procedure?

The words on the page made her feel dirty and cheap so Jeannie slapped the cover shut and pushed the book away. Bottle and her glass in hand, she checked the deadbolt and hooked the chain, headed for the bathroom, and secured the door behind her, too. Soon the tub was filling with hot, steamy water. A few drops of Green Apple bath and shower gel formed a sea of bubbles and floated on the rising water; the room fragrant with the fresh scent. Jeannie flipped the switch on her heated towel bar.

Whilst she waited for the water to reach the desired level, she moved her caddy towards the taps, topped up her wine glass, and placed the goblet in the specially designed holder.

Once stripped down, she climbed in, turned off the faucet, and dipped below the bubbles.

Immersed in the hot, soapy water Jeannie let her mind wander. Perhaps she worried too much about the mole on her face. It was tiny, smooth, dark and been there for as long as she remembered. No appointment was made for the procedure. Maybe she wouldn’t bother.

Her thoughts returned to the place in Cole’s diary where he had described his mother in such an unflattering way. She took a sip of wine and sank back under the surface wishing she turned up the heat in the room before getting into the bath.


Loud banging on her apartment door startled her. Jeannie leapt out of the water, almost knocking the caddy and glass flying. There was no time to grab one of her warmed towels so she yanked on her long, pink, fleece dressing gown.

When she reached the door, she still struggled with the tie belt.

Her cordless phone was in the base so she grabbed the handset. On the other side of the peephole, Rick stood in the corridor. What was he doing at her home at this time of night? “What’s going on?” she asked when she pulled the door open a crack with the chain still on the latch.

“Can we come in? It’s important.”


“Yes. Let’s not stand here all night debating this.”

Jeannie removed the shackle and opened the door the rest of the way to receive Rick and whoever was with him.

“This is Dr. Baird. She’s weirdo’s shrink.”

“Psychiatrist,” the well-groomed woman corrected.

“Wh-why are you here?”

“Can we sit down?” the doctor asked.

“Yes.” She escorted them to the table, picked up Cole’s notebook, and shoved it into her handbag. As she showed her guests a chair, she tossed the leather satchel on the peninsula counter.

“I came in to coffee shop looking for you.” The physician nodded towards her. “Cole missed his last two appointments which isn’t like him. One I could see due to illness but not both.”

“Wh-what does it have to do with me?”

“During our sessions, he always spoke of you. It was apparent, he thought you were an exceptional young woman.”

Jeannie blushed.

“You’re no doubt wondering why I insisted your friend bring me here.”

“The thought has crossed my mind.” She didn’t try to hide the sarcasm in her tone.

“There’s no easy way to tell you this. Cole is dead. His body was discovered in his flat earlier today. He’s been deceased for about a week. The police contacted me when they couldn’t find any next-of-kin information. My number was by his phone.”

Jeannie’s heart pounded so hard it hurt. The time span worked out right after she asked what he wrote in his book. Initial shock passed, she wailed, “This is all my fault. If I hadn’t sat down beside him and asked what he was doing…,”

“Cole was a disturbed young man. No one could have predicted he would do this, let alone when.”

The words were of little comfort. Now the sketch started to make sense.

“It’s only in the past year he has been living in his own lodgings. After he murdered his mother when he was twelve, he was sent to a borstal. From there, he moved to a rehabilitation unit. When I deemed he was no longer a danger to anyone, we procured an apartment for him.”

Overcome by nausea, Jeannie bolted for the bathroom, hand over her mouth. Dropping to her knees in front of the toilet and threw up again and again, retching until there was nothing left. Tears ran down her cheeks. Cole was a murderer.

Not close, but she considered him a friend. Was he? Had he been sizing her up to become his next victim?

When she picked herself up off the floor, she reached for the Listerine. The reflection in the mirror had dark mascara streaks down its face. Removing the cap from the bottle, she took in a mouthful and rinsed hoping to eliminate the bitter taste.

Devoid of emotion, she rejoined her guests and dropped on one of the hard dinette chairs.

Dr. Baird took an envelope out of her handbag and slid it across the table to Jeannie. “He wanted you to have this if anything ever happened to him.” The psychiatrist turned to him. “You’ll stay here with her. She’s too upset to be here alone. I’m sorry but I must go. I’ll be in touch with the funeral arrangements. Don’t bother getting up. I’ll let myself out.”

Jeannie followed the doctor’s exit with her eyes. Her hand touched the envelope and she recoiled.

After the doctor left, she drew her knees up to her chest and planted her heels on the

chair, wrapped her arms around her legs and cried.

Rick tried to comfort her but he couldn’t. “Let’s get you into bed,” he said and helped her up from her seat. A brotherly arm enveloped her shoulders. He walked her to her bedroom, and reached for the switch.

“Don’t leave me, please, I don’t want to be alone.”

“I’m not going anywhere. I’ll get a blanket and make myself comfortable on your sofa for the night.”

Jeannie pointed to the closet and waited while he opened the bi-fold doors and pulled down a comforter from the upper shelf. She turned down her duvet and was about to untie her dressing gown when she realized she was naked under it. Instead, she climbed in with it on.

Rick stopped by her bed. “I’ll switch the light out on my way to the lounge.”

“No. Leave it on.”

“Why don’t I turn on a couple of these small lamps? They’re not as harsh and you won’t be in total darkness.” He walked around the room switching on the other lights.

“Don’t close the door, please.”

He nodded, switched the overhead light off and went into the other room.

For hours, Jeannie lay and stared at the ceiling. The information passed on by the psychiatrist about Cole unfathomable.

Dr. Baird didn’t say he killed himself but it sounded like he had.

What had she done that day in Starbucks to drive him to it? Wanting to see inside his notebook wasn’t extreme, was it?

Eventually, she fell into a restless sleep.


The next morning, Jeannie was up before the sun rose. Rick stayed on the sofa, snoring in ignorant bliss of her torment. While she waited for the kettle to boil, she got a mug and the instant coffee from the cupboards and the milk from the fridge.

When he groaned from the lounge, she called out to him, “Coffee’s up if you’re interested.”

When he threw the comforter off, he was clad only in his boxers and socks. His pants and shirt draped over the arm chair went unnoticed. To allow him a moment of privacy to get dressed, she turned away.

Jeannie sat down at the table. The letter remained where she left it the the previous night. The handwriting matched the style in Cole’s journal and she picked it up and examined it.

The words ‘To Jeannie at Starbucks… to be opened after my death’ spooked her and she dropped it like it scalded her.

What was so important he couldn’t tell her when he was alive?

“You not got into that yet?”

“N-no. I’m not sure I want to see what’s in it.”

“It’s got to be something vital I would think. Why else would he have left you a letter?”

“Don’t know.” She laid it down.

“Don’t be such a wuss. Open the damn thing.”

Jeannie picked up the envelope, walked the kitchen and tossed it into the wastebasket. “Can’t do it. Don’t want to do it.”

“You’re making a mistake. If that missive goes out in the rubbish, you’ll be kicking yourself in the bum from here to Sunday and back again.”

Unable to stop herself, she started to giggle. The words pompous and arse wipe from Cole’s notebook came to mind. She couldn’t look at Rick and not laugh.

It was a relief when he left for Starbucks. Alone in the flat, she could go through her normal morning routine. Cold coffee poured down the sink, she opened the cupboard door. The bin was still there but the letter was missing. Panic set in. Where did it go? Wheeling around, she found it on the peninsula work top.

This message would haunt her until she read it. Jeannie turned it over, stuck her thumb under a loose corner of the flap tore it open. She pulled the paper out of the wrapping and let the latter flutter to the floor. Carefully, she unfolded the sheet and began to read.

My dearest friend,


If you’re reading this, then Dr. Baird has passed my letter on to you and you’ll know I’m dead. There are many things about me you will never comprehend. I don’t understand some of them either.

Did the doctor tell you I murdered my mother?That is true, I don’t deny it, but you deserve to know why. From the time I was a little lad, she was a prostitute. Quite often, she left me alone overnight while she went out and shagged blokes for money. Not to support me but her drug habit. Social services were always around. Every time they threatened to put me into care, she pleaded with them saying she would mend her ways and promise to be a good mum.

Her idea of that was bring her tricks back to our dingy flat. She locked me in the closet or the chest at the foot of her bed. I knew what she was doing. The men coming into the bedroom, grabbing at her and her clothes. I heard them shagging. Sometimes, those blokes would beat the crap out of her and steal what earnings and drugs she had.

What I did was wrong. In the beginning, I don’t think I meant to kill her. After I stuck the knife in her the first time, I couldn’t stop. They say I stabbed her over thirty times. Even after she died, I kept sticking the blade into her.

I think I killed her out of some misguided loyalty. If she was dead, she was off the drugs. The blokes couldn’t beat her almost to death. She got aids either from the dirty needles or from letting the johns do her bareback. Do you know what that means?

You were always kind to me, Jeannie. You never mocked me. Never tried to use my weaknesses against me. I couldn’t show you the notebook because I had drawn so many pictures of you. I didn’t want you to think I was some sort of freak or stalker. I know some of the people you worked with did. I would have been proud to step out with you on my arm. You’re a beautiful, young woman. You must have many decent blokes queuing up to take you out. I would never have stood a chance.

Don’t grieve for me. I’ve been dead inside, except when in your presence, for a long time. My topping myself was the final act. Remember, though, I appreciated the kindness and friendliness you always showed me. No matter if I’m in heaven or hell (and I don’t particularly believe in either), I love you and always will. I wished I could have told you to your face.

Cole xo

After reading the letter he left for her, she leafed through his notebook from the first to the last page used. The sketches were amazing. His talent for capturing the essence of people, as well as their features, shone through each drawing.


The funeral came too soon for her liking. Jeannie didn’t want to go but knew she had to. She persuaded Rick to go with her. Since the night she found out about Cole’s death, he had been there for her.

Jeannie’s hair fell loose on her shoulders. The way Cole sketched her many times.

Glad to have a friend with her, she stood bravely by the graveside with the psychiatrist and the few mourners who attended.

When it was over and the casket lowered, she leaned over the chamber and released his grotty, leather notebook into the grave.

A resounding smack on the wooden surface of the coffin echoed through the air. “Goodbye, Cole. Your notes will always be private now,” she murmured, more emotional than she expected.

Her tribute to his life and what might have been was a long-stemmed red rose. She dropped it beside the journal. It landed silently beside the man’s prized possession. She whispered, “I love you, too. I wish we could have told each other our feelings.”

She turned away and sobbing, buried her face in Rick’s chest.





Ghost #BookHugs ~ DARK LOVE RISING by Danita Minnis #paranormal


Dark Love Rising


Danita Minnis


Danita Minnis


Former MI6 agent Xavier Quinn would say that you’re daft if you think he will stop killing for a living. But that is exactly what is about to happen. Very soon now, Quinn will start killing to stay alive. On the run after taking out the wrong man, Quinn would die a happy man if he could just live long enough to ruin the Parliament member who set him up.

Layla, a 2,000 year old vampire with a moral code, has other plans for the contract killer. When she awakens to the sound of a dark rising, she enlists Quinn to join her on a mission to save humanity from her twin sister Tamara.

But Quinn is just the kind of man that a cold-blooded killer like Tamara needs in her world. A man like Quinn, who never believed in humanity, has only one belief; self-preservation. Being a vampire sounds much better than staying human in the game of kill or be killed. Will he stay alive long enough to find out how Layla’s love can change the equation?



Padding into the living room, she watched as the door across the suite opened and two men walked in. The first man was big and round enough to block her view of his thinner companion. Though she chose to remain visible facing them across the large living area, they had not yet seen her standing in front of the bedroom door. The second man closed and locked the door behind him.

They didn’t belong here in this pure, white living room which gave the impression of being up in the clouds. They wore stiff, dark clothes like Aurelius, but they were not like him at all. She could smell hatred. There was no other feeling in them. They had killed many, and they were here for Aurelius.

Ah, praises to Anubis. They are ripe.

She sighed and closed the bedroom door behind her.

The murderers turned.

“Where is Quinn?” The heavy man smiled, while his silent companion went around the room closing the drapes on the panoramic view of Luxor.

Quinn; the name suited Aurelius in this life, nimble and smart, as her Roman commander had been.

“He is bathing.” She smiled as if the two jackals had just come for a visit.

“And what is your name, love?” The heavy man strolled across the expanse of white carpet to walk around the u-shaped sectional sofa. His bulbous red-veined nose bore the colors and marks of a trade route freshly drawn on papyrus. His blood would not be sweet, he drank spirits too often, but there would be enough to satisfy her craving.

“I am Lay-laah.” She met the man half-way, near the sofa, keeping her hands to her sides. She must not alarm them. But she could not stop the bloodlust, she needed so much more blood, and her fingers flexed in excitement, aching to tear him open.

“Well, Lay-laah.” The man chuckled, trying to mimic her accent. “Quinn’s got good taste,” He glanced over his shoulder to his companion, who now held something in his hand. The thin man pointed the metal spear at her.

“Well, this is unfortunate,” the heavy man said. “We came for Quinn, but we’ve got two for the price of one.” He took a similar metal spear out of his jacket and pointed it at her. “It must be fate.”

“Fate. Yes-sss.” Layla grabbed him by the neck. The motion was so swift the man still smiled at her while she sank her teeth into his leathery flesh.

She experienced a moment of discomfort as the heavy man’s metal spear struck her in the chest several times. She rose above him and he toppled backward with a shout and fell over the low glass table in front of the sofa.

The thin man rumbled in disbelief at what must be to him an unexpected turn of events.

It was ever this way; humans could not fathom a being like her, they did not believe in monsters. Neither had she, long ago. But there were many things in the world – seen and unseen – that this killer would fear if he knew of them.

#BookHugs #DarkLoveRising


Danita Minnis Bio:

Born and raised in the heart of New York City, Danita is a singer, writer and lover of romance. Her fourth novel, Dark Love Rising is her first vampire romance. She is the author of the ghostly love story Adderley’s Bride and the Cardiff novels, Falcon’s Angel and Love Entwined.

Mystery, mayhem, the fantastic and the fey are as intriguing as Siberian Huskies – shout out to the Khan Man. One more hour with her laptop and Danita is living the dream.

Connect with Danita:


Website: http://danitaminnis.com/Home_Page.php

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Danita_Minnis

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pg/Danita-Minnis-Romance-Author-433534206657385/about/?ref=page_internal

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6154485.Danita_Minnis


Book Links:


Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MZFICFR/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1485912379&sr=1-1

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dark-love-rising-danita-minnis/1125606509?ean=9781542798402

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/dark-love-rising-1

Liquid Silver Books: http://liquidsilverpublishing.com/?s=Danita+Minnis&post_type=product


HEART OF STONE by John Jackson #historic #fiction

stoneHeart of Stone


John Jackson


Genre: Historic Fiction

Release Date: 24th October 2017

Publisher: Crooked Cat Books

Dublin, 1730

When young and beautiful Mary Molesworth is forced to marry Robert Rochford, widowed heir to the earldom of Belfield, she finds that her idea of love is not returned. Jealous, cruel and manipulative, Robert ignores her after she has provided him with a male heir, preferring to spend his nights with his mistress. Power-hungry, Robert builds up a reputation that sees him reach for the highest positions in Ireland.

Caught in an unhappy marriage, Mary begins to grow closer to Robert’s younger brother, Arthur. Acknowledging their love for each other, they will risk everything to be together. But Robert’s revenge threatens their lives and tears them apart.

Will Mary and Arthur find a way to escape Robert’s clutches?

Based on real events, Heart of Stone is a tale of power, jealousy, imprisonment, and love, set in 1740s Ireland.






Following a lifetime at sea, John Jackson has now retired and lives in York and has now turned his hand to writing fiction.

An avid genealogist, he found a rich vein of ancestors. They included Irish peers, country parsons, and army and navy officers. They opened up Canada and Australia and fought at Waterloo.

John is a keen member of the Romantic Novelists Association and graduated through their New Writers Scheme. He is also a member of the Historic Novel Society and an enthusiastic conference-goer for both.
He describes himself as being “Brought up on Georgette Heyer from an early age, and, like many of my age devoured R L Stevenson, Jane Austen, Edgar Allen Poe and the like.”

His modern favorite authors include Bernard Cornwell, Simon Scarrow, Lindsey Davis, Liz Fenwick and Kate Mosse.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597036631

Twitter: @jjackson42

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17103004.John_Jackson?from_search=true

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/john5642/

Blog: https://johnjacksonauthor.com/

#excerpt from The Secret of Hillcrest House #ghosts #secrets #haunted

Since Halloween is only a week away, I thought I would treat you to another excerpt from The Secret of Hillcrest House.
hillcrest house


Sometimes there’s more to a house than bricks and mortar.

Hillcrest House is one such place. Perched on a cliff in the picturesque town of Angel Falls, there is more to this Victorian mansion than meets the eye. When referring to the house, the locals use the word haunted on a regular basis. Strange visions appear in the windows, especially the second-floor ones over the side porch. Even stranger events take place within its four walls.

Rumour has it, the original owners, Asher and Maggie Hargrave, never left their beloved home. They claim the couple and their family are responsible for driving people away. Over the years, Hillcrest House has changed hands numerous times. No one stays long. Renovations begin then stop and the house is once more abandoned. The latest in this long line of owners is Jessica Maitland.

Will Jessica be the next one to succumb or will she unravel The Secret of Hillcrest House?


Once she reached Hillcrest House, Jessica pulled out the list and started making phone calls. Luckily, the glazier and locksmith could come right away. The electrician wouldn’t be able to until the following day.

The front verandah creaked and groaned under her feet. She would have to replace the boards before long – before someone fell through them. Letting herself in the front door, she left it wide open to let in the available light.

She took her camera out of her handbag and took photos of the foyer, the corridor leading to the kitchen, and the stairs. Next, Jessica entered the large sitting room off to the right. Closed shutters covered many of the windows. She worked her way around opening them to let in what light could penetrate the filthy glass. More photos from every angle in the room. An enormous fireplace with a huge mantle mirror above it stood along the inside wall next to the doorway. Cobwebs covered it like every other ornate surface in the room. Window trim, the chandelier, and table lamps wore a coating of the gossamer fibers. Mounted on either side of the firebox were two demonic heads with rings in their mouths. Jessica had never seen anything like them before. Their evil appearance was further emphasized by the sticky webbing stretching down from the mirror. She took about a dozen photographs of just the heads. Across from the hearth, a section of the wainscoting at least ten feet wide reached all the way to the ceiling. In the rest of the room, it stopped about three feet lower.

Over the next few hours, Jessica visited every room in the house taking photos as she went. When she reached the room where she’d seen the person in the window the day before it was much colder than the others. An icy, clammy chill came over her. Sweat beaded and ran down the back of her neck, settling at the waistband of her jeans. She shivered but carried on.




Barnes and Noble




Books a Million

A VICARAGE CHRISTMAS by Kate Hewitt #women’sfiction #giveaway


A Vicarage Christmas


Kate Hewitt



Series: The Holley Sisters of Thornthwaite Bk 1

Genre: Women’s fiction/romance

Release Date: October 18, 2017

Publisher: Tule Publishing

Welcome to Thornthwaite, a quaint village tucked up in England’s beautiful but rainy Lake District… where homecomings happen and surprises are in store for the four Holley sisters…

Anna Holley, the third of four sisters, has always felt a little bit forgotten. A family tragedy when she was a child had her retreating deep into shyness, and social anxiety kept her on the fringes of the cozy, chaotic bustle of the busy vicarage.

When she finished school Anna left for Manchester and tried to avoid coming back home and the well-meaning nosiness being a Holley sister in a small village like Thornthwaite meant… but when her father says he has an important announcement to make, she’s drawn back home for the happy chaos of a vicarage Christmas.

Avoiding her sisters’ bossy questions, Anna heads out to the local pub one night, and meets a handsome stranger nursing a pint. Somehow, unburdened by expectations, Simon seems like the perfect person to spill all her secrets to—including a hopeless, long-held crush on her sister’s boyfriend. Confident she’ll never see him again, Anna returns home… only to discover the next day that Simon is actually her father’s new curate!

Anna is beyond mortified, but Simon won’t let her retreat into her usual shyness—and for once Anna is forced to confront the past, and all the fears and feelings she’d tried so long to hide. But with his own heartache that needs to heal, can Simon help Anna to make this the most magical Christmas either of them have known?






Kate Hewitt is the author of over 60 novels of women’s fiction and romance. Whatever the genre, she enjoys telling an emotionally compelling story. An American ex-pat, she now lives in a small market town in Wales with her husband and five children.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KateHewittAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/katehewitt1

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1269244.Kate_Hewitt

Blog: https://www.katehewitt.blogspot.co.uk


First Prize: Amazon gift card

Second Prize: Copy of A Cotswold Christmas (ecopy)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

New: Tova’s Dragon Ghost #Bookhugs by @LyndiLamont #paranormal


Tova’s Dragon


Lyndi Lamont



Tova’s Dragon
Steamy Paranormal Romance
By Lyndi Lamont


Seek help of the Lord of Drakkenberg. Only he can aid you. You must fly with the dragon.

Tova Svensdottir, an earth mage, is on a mission to save her homeland, the Kingdom of Velosia from the evil wizard Bruno of Grimmdorn. Her grandmother tells her to seek help of the Lord of Drakkenberg, but the old lord is dead. In his castle, high on a mountaintop, she instead encounters his son, the Outlaw Kane.

Kane fled Velosia after a futile attempt to rescue his father and his mate from Bruno’s cruel prison, killing the head guard in the process. Now that Bruno has been banished, Kane has returned to clear his name, but his purpose changes when he meets Tova. Tova’s warmth stirs his passions and her courage touches his heart, but he dreads telling her of his true nature, certain she will recoil. But Tova is made of sterner stuff.

Together, Kane and Tova have the power to save Velosia. If they survive the coming battle. But can an earth mage find happiness with a dragonshifter?

Available at Amazon for pre-order:

US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07635W1SR

AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07635W1SR/

CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07635W1SR/

UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07635W1SR/




Seek help of the Lord of Drakkenberg. Only he can aid you. You must fly with the dragon.

Her grandmother’s words rang in Tova’s head as she climbed the path into the mountains. Why had Mutti Zee sent her out of her way on a fool’s errand? Everyone knew the dragonfolk had fled Velosia years ago, driven away by Bruno of Grimmdorn’s crusade against them. Until he’d been driven from power. Now Bruno had returned at the head of a mercenary army, if Mutti Zee’s vision could be believed. And Tova had no doubts. She’d felt the vibrations in the earth.

And somehow she was supposed to save the kingdom?

She raised her gaze to the sky and asked, “Why me? I’m no hero.” The heavens gave no answer, though she saw clouds form to her left. She shook her head. Now she was talking to herself, like mad Magnus, the village idiot.

She stopped to catch her breath and rest her tired legs in a level area. The path ahead grew steeper and narrower the higher it wound into the mountains. She groaned. After walking all day, her legs ached. She was glad she’d worn men’s breeches and a tunic with her sturdy boots. A gown and petticoats would be but a hindrance.

After a deep breath, she started to climb again. Dusk came early in autumn, and she needed to find shelter before dark. Castle Drakkenberg, abandoned and forlorn, perched high above on a cliff, its turrets silhouetted against the leaden sky. Almost as if mocking her with its remoteness. Too much was at stake and her chances of reaching the capital in time to warn the king were slim at best. Even without this detour, she estimated the journey to Castle Novita would take three days or more.

For centuries, the dragon lords had resided in the castle, ruling the isolated mountain communities. People in this area were known as dragonfolk, though Tova knew not why. A great puzzle, but one she had no time to ponder. With luck, she had but to find the dragonlord, and he would take charge of the quest.

A shadow blocked the sun, and she looked up at an enormous bird silhouetted against the sky. Goddess, she’d never seen such a large raptor. It turned and the sun’s rays glinted on its shiny red-gold wings and barbed tail. She stopped and stared after it, shaken to the core of her being.

No, impossible. Dragons didn’t exist. They couldn’t.

About the Author:


Lyndi Lamont is the racy alter ego of romance author Linda McLaughlin. Writing sexy stories gives her a license to be naughty, at least between the pages of her books! She has written several full-length novels plus numerous short stories and novellas, ranging from historical to futuristic. She believes that love is unending and universal, and enjoys transporting her readers into a different world where her characters learn that, in the journey of life, love is the sweetest reward.

Connect online:

Website: https://lindalyndi.com

Reading Room blog: http://lindalyndi.com/reading-room-blog/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/LyndiLamont

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/LyndiLamont

Twitter: @LyndiLamont

Lyndi Lamont’s inspirational message: I believe love is a powerful force in this world. It brings lovers together, creates families and lives on after death in the hearts of those left behind. It may not make the world go ’round, but love makes the world a better place.


Ghost #BookHugs #Tirgearrpublishing #RomanticSuspense Deadly Alliance and message about friendship @RowlandKathleen

#BookHugsKathleen believes a friend is kind to another’s dreams. Everyone struggles, and a friend who tries to understand is priceless. When things go well, a friend shares the joy.

Kathleen Rowland

Blurb for Deadly Alliance, romantic suspense

Finbar Donahue, former Army Ranger, walked on the wild side in Iraq, but now he lives in the shadows. After his evasive partner, Les, was shot in a random drive-by, Finn discovers cash is siphoned monthly. He fights to keep his investment company afloat. When the late partner’s girlfriend, Amy Kintyre, applies for his bookkeeping job, Finn suspects she knows about his company drain and hires her.

Amy needs a nine-to-five with free evenings and weekends to get her fashion design business back on track. She unearths Les’ s secret bank account and alerts Finn. Freezing of the money laundering account sets off havoc within an Irish gang. Amy witnesses a gang fight between a brutal ISIS fundraising organization and the Irish. Desperate to escape a stalker’s crosshairs, she seeks refuge with Finn. As danger heats up, sparks fly hotter.

Interview—Finn and Amy

Let’s interview the hero of Deadly Alliance, Finbar Donahue.

  1. Nickname: Finn. My full name is Finbar Michael Donahue.
  2. Job: I own my own investment company, but who’s the chickenshit stealing money from me? My goal is to find the thief.
  3. Level of schooling: B.A. in finance, former Army Ranger. That was when I targeted a known enemy. Believe me, it’s harder now.

I’ve got a few questions for the heroine, Amy Kintyre.

  1. What’s your dream job? I want to get my sportswear design business back on track. A few days ago a buyer phoned me and gave me an opportunity to present my line. I need a nine-to-five with evenings and weekends off to sew mockups.
  2. Is that why you applied for Finbar Donahue’s bookkeeping job? Yes, but I have a huge problem. Last night I found a sketchy bank account belonging to my late boyfriend, Les. He and Finn were partners.
  3. Would you enjoy working for Finn? No, but there aren’t many job openings in Lake Arrowhead.

Short excerpt– Amy’s first day working for Finn

Hours later, Finn straightened his spine as he listened to his new bookkeeper order Rosenberg around with the authority of an Army lieutenant. She spoke with confidence from her chair and waited for answers with intensity. Somehow she came across larger than her delicate self.

“Brad,” his pretty war buddy said, “I’ll need your password to access activity-to-date.” Her attitude wasn’t for show. Her curiosity propelled her to the depths of the drain. Heaven help those who lurked there.

“Sure thing.” Brad blew out a breath and scribbled his password on a sticky note. Handing it to her, he bent to her level.

She said, “I apologize for causing chaos.”

“No apology necessary.” Brad asked, “What are you working on?”

Jumping in, Finn said, “Comparisons, Rosenberg, that’s what she’s working on.” Unholy as she’d undoubtedly turn out to be, at the moment they were forged in combat. “Give her your full support.”

“Absolutely. Consider me your scaffold,” Rosenberg said, accepting his fate. “Excuse me, won’t you? I’m running payroll.”

Finn liked his head accountant. He was solid. Dependable. Not creative, but his easy-going manner was soothing. “Payroll. You’re a masochist.”

Amy smiled, and her crystal-green gaze sought his. She found his comment amusing. Her professional attire included a gray satin blouse tucked into a herringbone skirt. When she moved, her layered, dark-blonde hair settled into a sleek flip over her shoulders.

Amy’s bending and reaching, as she took control of her four-by-four cubicle, was damn compelling. She found a rhythm with a handy notepad beside her computer. Using Brad’s password, she turned sideways to open files. Attractive summed up her symmetrical profile and creamy complexion.

For a long while, getting hot and heavy had not been on his mind. Her envelope gave him concrete evidence to bring to the sheriff and eased his tension. As she brushed tresses off her face, he wanted to nibble on her ear.

Amy packed her lithe frame with succulent curves. He enjoyed observing her ample bust which required high-performance support. He’d like to see those globes running free. He’d never considered her as dating material. Timing was off. When she started dating Les, he was hooking up with Miss California. Now it was too late. She worked for him. Hands off. Finn liked women—lots of women, all women, in all shapes and sizes and ethnicities as long as they met the enthusiasm requirement. He hadn’t tested this, but she was off-limits for another reason. He didn’t intend to put her through another relationship leading to nowhere.

Finn kept things loose. A woman in his bed but not in his life was what he often said. There hadn’t been that either. Why was she looking at him like that?

Purchase links for Deadly Alliance:


Amazon UK




Amazon US




Bio and Links—Kathleen Rowland

Kathleen RowlandBook Buyers Best finalist Kathleen Rowland is devoted to giving her readers fast-paced, high-stakes suspense with a sizzling love story sure to melt their hearts. Kathleen used to write computer programs but now writes novels. She grew up in Iowa where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and raced her sailboat on Lake Okoboji. Now she wears flip-flops and sails with her husband, Gerry, on Newport Harbor but wishes there were lightning bugs in California.

Kathleen exists happily with her witty CPA husband, Gerry, in their 70’s poolside retreat in Southern California where she adores time spent with visiting grandchildren, dogs, one bunny, and noisy neighbors. While proud of their five children who’ve flown the coop, she appreciates the luxury of time to write while listening to demanding character voices in her head.






MURDER BY THE BARREL by Lesley Cookman #MurderMystery #guestpost


Lesley Cookman



Series: Libby Sarjeant series number 18 (can be read as a standalone)

Genre: Cosy crime

Release Date: 5th October

Publisher: Accent Press

When the village of Steeple Martin announces its first beer festival, the locals are excited. Beer, sun and music, what could possibly go wrong?

But when an unexpected death shakes the village, it’s up to Libby Sarjeant and friends to solve the puzzle.

Was it just another rock star death or is there something more sinister afoot?





The importance of a Good Title

Titles. Yes. Well, I don’t exactly pick mine. When I started the first Libby Sarjeant book – not that I knew it was the first – I called it Past Imperfect. My publisher said would anybody Get It. Eh? Do people actually know about Tenses these days? Of course, I said. I mean, you get taught them in Latin and French, as well as English Grammar. She looked at me pityingly. So I went home and asked my adult children, one of who I had just seen graduating from Uni, what they thought. They didn’t look pitying, they looked scornful.

So, my publisher said, how about Murder In Steeple Martin? The story does what it says on the tin. Oh – and please could it be a series? And so there we were. Murder has been the non-negotiable part of the title ever since. The next was easy – Murder at The Laurels, about an  old lady being disposed of in a retirement home. The third, well, that was fairly easy, too, as it was set in panto season – so Murder In Midwinter it became. After that it got more difficult. Sometimes I, my editor or one of my children would come up with a blinding title which would then require me to fit a story around it. Other times an idea would be suggested – usually by my elder son – which would mean searching around for a title to fit. The one concerning a ukulele group, for instance, I wanted a quote I could misappropriate, and eventually settled on Murder Out Of Tune, a misquote from Othello. I finally managed to shoehorn “Imperfect” in as Murder Imperfect, the seventh in the series. One which I’ve always loved was when my elder daughter said, while we were watching the May Day parade here in our home town, “That would be great for a murder, Mum.” Our parade, like many others all over the country, is led by a Jack In The Green, a huge wire cage smothered in greenery with a hapless man inside, who is frequently fed beer to keep him going. I saw the possibilities in this immediately and the title was obvious: Murder In The Green.

A couple of years ago, we decided to start another series set in an Edwardian seaside concert party, an idea borne out of an original musical libretto I wrote for the British Music Hall Society, and further used as a back story in Murder In Midwinter. I had no idea where to start with this, so I asked the four children. (I say children – they are all adults. I think.) We had a hilarious Messenger conversation and ended up with Death Plays A Part. Should have realised. Now we’re stuck with Death. So the follow up, after another conversation with the kids, was Entertaining Death and very soon I shall have to think up another one.

Meanwhile, following elder son’s suggestion of a village beer festival setting, Murder By The Barrel is the latest title, out now. And the next one I only have myself to blame. Fired up by all the Shakespearean celebrations last year, a title burst into my head like a rocket: Murder And The Glovemaker’s Son. I emailed it to my publisher and editor, they both loved it and lo! It will be Libby 19. But I had to think of a plot to fit. It has taken me MONTHS! Thought it up – couldn’t make it work. Thought some more. Wrote another outline. And so it went on. I think I’ve got it now, so watch this space.

And, of course, we have to have another conversation about the third Edwardian book. It’s a time consuming business, you know.



Lesley Cookman writes the Libby Sarjeant Mysteries and the Edwardian mystery series, The Alexandrians. She has a varied background as a model, an air stewardess (when it was posh), a nightclub DJ (in a silver sparkly catsuit), editor of a Music Hall magazine, The Call Boy, a magazine called The Poulty Farmer, and pantomime writer and director. She lives on the Kent coast and has four grown up children who are variously musicians and writers, two grandchildren and two cats, not necessarily in that order.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LibbySarjeantMysteries/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LesleyCookman

Blog: http://lesleycookman.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/news

Website: www.lesleycookman.co.uk



An ecopy of Murder by The Barrel

a Rafflecopter giveaway

New from Ellie Gray ~ WARWICK’S MERMAID #interview #romance #giveaway


Warwick’s Mermaid


Ellie Gray



Genre:   Contemporary Romance

Release Date:   11 October 2017

Publisher: Tirgearr Publishing

Having escaped an abusive relationship, Chloe MacGregor is determined to put the past behind her. The little cottage high up on the cliffs overlooking the beautiful North Yorkshire town of Whitby is her safe haven, somewhere she is free to be herself.

When the arrival of her new neighbour and boss, Luke Warwick, threatens her peaceful, sheltered life, Chloe is forced to confront her past and to re-evaluate who she really is. Falling in love with Luke is not part of her plan but, to her surprise, Luke is falling for her too. The only thing preventing their happy ever after is Chloe herself. Will she ever truly learn to leave the past where it belongs?


Chloe stared at the bright blue front door, not quite sure if she was willing it to open or remain shut. Cerulean Bliss. She had been drawn to the name, conjuring up images of crystal clear Mediterranean Sea, sandy beaches, and cloudless skies. Chris had appeared amused by her decision to choose the paint based on the name rather than the colour.

‘‘Babe, if you want Cerulean Bliss for the front door, Cerulean Bliss is what we’ll go for.’’

But when he’d returned from a boys’ weekend away to find Chloe had painted the door, it had been a different story. He had flown into a rage, claiming she hadn’t consulted with him on the colour and had gone behind his back, waiting until he was away to make changes to his house. That was the first time she had been on the receiving end of his anger; the first time she had been frightened and confused by his apparent about-turn on something he had previously agreed to. It hadn’t been the last time.

Chloe glanced at her watch, frowning when it showed only a minute had passed since she had last looked. The frown deepened when she lifted a hand to rub her eyebrow and saw how much her fingers were trembling. A gentle hand touched her forearm and she looked up to meet her friend’s calm gaze.

‘Don’t worry. It’s going to be fine.’

Chloe shook her head, unable to prevent her gaze from returning to the front door only twenty or so metres from where they were sitting in her car. What if he glanced around and saw her? What if he didn’t?

‘What am I doing, Bekah?’ She dropped her head in her hands, squeezing her eyes shut and immediately wincing as that small movement resulted in more pain than it should.

‘The right thing, that’s what.’ Rebekah rubbed her friend’s forearm. ‘Come on, Chloe. We talked about this.’

‘I know, I know we did.’ Chloe lifted her chin, but didn’t remove her gaze from the door. ‘I just…I keep thinking about it, over and over. He’s not always that bad, not really, and I think…I think maybe it was my fault.’

Chloe didn’t have to see her friend’s face to know she was angry; she could feel it radiating from her in waves. Rebekah remained silent and reached across to pull down the sun visor in front of Chloe, lifting up the small flap covering the vanity mirror.

‘There is nothing you could have done that would ever justify what he did to you. Nothing.’

Chloe stared at her reflection, taking in the dark purple bruise circling her left eye—now bloodshot and half-closed—the ugly graze reaching across her cheekbone and further down to the swollen and split bottom lip. Without thinking, she licked her lip. The tip of her tongue slipped over the injury, and she drew in a sharp breath at the sting it produced.

She met her gaze in the mirror once more, noting the confusion and uncertainty dulling their green hue. ‘I know. But it’s not usually this bad. He pushes me around a bit sometimes, nothing major, and he says things…you know, usually when he’s had a drink.’

‘That doesn’t make it right. You know that.’ Rebekah blew out a long breath. ‘I can’t believe you never told me.’

Chloe avoided her friend’s accusing gaze. What could she have told her? That Chris was proving her mother right? That she wasn’t woman enough for any man?

‘It doesn’t matter now anyway. I—’ She drew in a strangled breath as the front door opened and, shrinking down a little in her seat, Chloe prayed he wouldn’t glance down the street and recognise her car among all the others parked along the kerb.

As she watched, Chris locked the door before turning and sauntering along the path, tossing his keys in the air and catching them, his lips pursed as he whistled. Chloe couldn’t hear from this distance, but she knew he would be whistling the tune to whichever song had been on the radio before he left the house. She glanced at her watch once more; 8.15am on the dot. Chris was a creature of habit.

‘Bastard.’ Rebekah thumped the dashboard in obvious frustration as he got into his car without glancing left or right before driving off. ‘Look at him, acting as if he hasn’t a care in the world. You should have let Sean come round last night and hammer ten bells out of him, see how he liked it.’

Chloe gave a weak smile. ‘I don’t suppose that would have solved anything.’

They sat in silence for a few minutes before Rebekah finally opened her door.

‘So, come on then. Let’s do it.’

Chloe bit her lip and immediately winced in pain, wishing she hadn’t. Gingerly exploring her lip with her fingers, she saw they were stained with blood, and stifling a sigh, searched in her bag for a tissue.

‘What if he comes back? What if he’s forgotten something?’

‘He’s not coming back. He’s gone to work,’ said Rebekah, nodding her encouragement. ‘Come on, the sooner we get in, the sooner we get out. We’ll only be a few minutes.’



Amazon UK – http://amzn.to/2w2k6Sk

Amazon US – http://amzn.to/2fM9114

Apple – http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/isbn9781370540884

Kobo – https://store.kobobooks.com/search?Query=9781370540884

Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/742773


I had a chance to visit with Ellie recently and I’m sharing our conversation with you…

Where did the idea for the book come from?

I originally started this book years ago, way before I was published. It’s one that went on the backburner once the first draft had been completed, because I knew it just wasn’t right but I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was wrong with it. Despite that, I always had a clear vision about Chloe’s little cottage high up on the cliff tops and that it was her sanctuary. I just had to work out why she needed a sanctuary. This manuscript went through the RNA New Writer’s Scheme and some of the feedback included making more use of the setting. That helped me to see where I was going wrong – it could have been set anywhere and, although I knew it was set in Whitby, I hadn’t really built on that or written it in such a way that the reader could connect with it. I also needed to take the time to get to know Chloe, and to explore her backstory, which was really important.

How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing since I was nineteen or twenty, although I’ve always made up stories, full blown novels, in my head. I began writing them down and, knowing nothing really about writing, having completed a first draft sent them out to agents and publishers. Although I received one or two very encouraging ‘thanks but no thanks’ letters with positive feedback, I received many more standard letters. Not surprising considering the state of those manuscripts in hindsight! When I got married and started a family, I stopped writing and it was only when the children were older that I began to read those old manuscripts and the writing bug gripped me once again. I also made a much more concerted effort to look into the mechanics of writing and take it seriously. Still, it’s taken me ten years of hard slog to get to the point where I secured a publishing contract. And I’m still learning!

How difficult is it to come up with a good title for a book? Did the title change at any point or has the book always been called Warwick’s Mermaid?

Oh gosh, I struggle with titles. The title has always been Warwick’s Mermaid but, when I re-visited the old manuscript and began making some serious changes, I did consider whether I ought to change the title. I thought about perhaps picking up on some of the current trends in titles, for example using the word ‘Girl’, so I thought about Girl by the Sea, or perhaps something like The Little Cottage by the Sea. In the end I kept the original as I really like it but, yes, I struggle with titles. (ed note… I struggle with titles, too. Writing the book is the easy part. Coming up with the proper title, not so much.)

How much time do you devote to your writing each day?

To be honest, I don’t. I work full time in a fairly stressful job and when I get home I find it difficult to find the motivation to write…. unless I have a deadline looming, of course. My writing tends to be done on a weekend – usually a Saturday afternoon and evening, and a Sunday morning, although this tends to fit around cleaning and general weekend outings etc. It depends on where I am in the writing process. I do sometimes edit on a weekday evening, when I can print out the manuscript and make notes on it, but generally writing is done on a weekend.

Tell me 3 interesting things about yourself.

• I’m obsessed with ancient Egypt, and have a sarcophagus in my conservatory, which is probably not a surprise to those of you who have read Love on the Nile….
• I’m getting married next year
• I once attended a Christmas Party hosted by the then Chancellor of the Exchequer in No. 11 Downing Street

What’s next for you? Do you have a new book in the pipeline or do you have other writing projects you’d like to go back to?

Yes, I’m working on a new contemporary romance novel although I’m also dabbling on a romantic suspense story that has been written in my head for years, and I’m looking at resurrecting a young adult novel that is in the first draft stage. Perhaps I need to re-think my ‘only writing at weekends’ rule…

About Ellie Gray


Ellie Gray is a contemporary romance author who loves to write heart-warming, sensual romances with characters her readers can really identify with. Her novels are set in places inspired by her own life and travels, including the beautiful UK Yorkshire countryside as well as far flung, exotic countries such as Egypt.

Currently working on her fourth novel, and still tinkering away at a young adult novel first started some years ago, Ellie loves to hear from her readers. You can contact her through any of the social media links below or through her website.

Facebook:   https://www.facebook.com/elliegrayauthor

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/elliegray58

Goodreads Author Page:   https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14900908.Ellie_Gray

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/elliegray58/

Website: https://elliegrayauthor.wordpress.com/



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