Category Archives: Books

Praise for The Secret of Hillcrest House

the secret of hillcrest house 3d

5 stars

A fresh start … a blossoming relationship … a haunted house. Melanie Robertson-King’s latest novel has all the earmarks of suspense and steamy romance. It starts with a bang and is filled with supernatural and scary events that create tension in the novel and lead to the final unraveling of the secret of Hillcrest House.

This novel will appeal to lovers of supernatural thrillers, mysteries, and romance! Lynn L. Clark, author of The Home Child, and Fire Whisperer & Circle of Souls: Two Novellas of the Supernatural, & The Accusers

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4 starsThe Secret of Hillcrest House is the first book from Melanie Robertson-King I have read. When I read the blurb for the book I was very excited as I love a good haunted house mystery! From the outset, the action starts when we are introduced to Jessica who has just bought Hillcrest House. The sale of the house is slightly unusual in that Jessica buys it from the internet without ever having viewed the house before. This is a decision she soon regrets and her planned move into the house is not going according to plan. There’s just too much to fix! Her first visit to the house sees her get the fright of her life when she sees a face at the window. However, hunky cop Alain is on hand to help a damsel in distress. Jessica, not long out of an unhappy and grief stricken marriage is instantly attracted to Alain who himself has suffered grief at the loss of his wife.

The story moves on at quite a rapid pace and I was able to read the book, which is only about 168 pages, in one sitting. It was perfect for a rainy and dismal Sunday. There was lots of mystery throughout and the ghosts of the past were ever present in Hillcrest House. Jessica is determined to find out what secrets Hillcrest holds and restore it to its former glory but she seems thwarted at every turn.

You can read the entire review at Brook Cottage Books.

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Jessica didn’t really know why she had decided to buy Hillcrest House in Eastern Canada, sight unseen, except for the fact it looked just like a house she had sketched many times over. However, on actually seeing inside her new purchase, the work that needed to be done was somewhat of a shock. The physical and financial shock would actually become less shocking in comparison with the number of ex-residents who still appeared to be still living in the house, years after their own deaths. There were secrets to be uncovered that would bring back some of her own most painful memories that preceded the ending of her last relationship. Even the garden wildlife was odd…one specific crow with a white feather really managed to get Jessica’s attention.

Jessica’s attention was also taken by a good looking, in fact very hot, police officer with his own complicated history. Their attraction was magnetic and together they worked to unravel the secrets that Hillcrest House was hiding.

The full review can be found at A Chance to Blog.

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While I’m not usually a reader of romantic suspense stories, I did find this a very easy read. Short and succint, I started and finished it within a few hours. The Secret of Hillcrest House had me thinking of Hallmark movies, I could quite easily see this story on screen.

The entire review can be found at Fiction Dreams.

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5 starsI’m always interested to see how an author handles the haunted house theme. Ghost stories can sometimes be a bit formulaic in my mind and I was looking for something a little bit different. I’m super-pleased to say there’s much more to Hillcrest House than a wailing woman throwing herself from the turret. I have to admit I was hooked at the first ‘blip of a siren’. Give me a hunk in uniform and I’m sold, particularly if he’s all authority, seemingly abrasive on the outside, but with a tantalising soft centre and essential heroic qualities, as demonstrated when our heroine, Jessica, first glimpses a child’s face at one of the windows. The house is uninhabited. A thorough search by our hero cop, Alain, soon establishes there is no one on the inside. Who is the child? Is his appearance when Jessica arrives some kind of warning? A plea for help from the past? Sheryl Browne, MA Creative Writing, Choc Lit Author

You can read Sheryl’s review in its entirety at Goodreads.

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4-5 starsI jumped at the chance to read this, as I love a good ghost story. And this is a Ghost story with a difference, a spice of romance I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough…..I loved it.

In this story we meet Jessica Maitland new owner of Hillcrest house with strange visions appearing in the window of the second floor stranger things happen inside the walls! Non of the owners stay long but will Jessica be able to unravel the dark secret that lies within the house?

You canread the rest of this 4.5 star review at Chelle’s Book Reviews.

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5 stars

Jessica Maitland, looking to reboot her life after the death of her baby, and the end of her marriage, bought the old Hillcrest House in Angel Falls via the internet, discovering when she arrived to take possession that it wasn’t quite what the real estate website indicated.

As she set about making her new home livable, strange, and sometimes frightening things happened.

When the house was livable and presentable, more unusual and alarming happenings interrupted a housewarming party.

She started piecing the history of the house together, hoping to find some answers. She learned the Hargrave family had lived in the house in the 1880s. Many locals believed the Hargraves never left the house, and it was they who chased away numerous new owners over the years.

Undeterred, Jessica, who had fallen in love with the house, including those who resided there with her – and a local constable – stayed. Then, one day, she discovered the true Secret of Hillcrest House.

This book is really a fun read. It keeps you guessing about the big secret, right up to the last minute. I would definitely read this book again, and I’d recommend it to friends, and anyone else who enjoys a nice mystery/romance story. I give this book 5-stars. (I was provided with a free copy in exchange for an honest review.) A fun read that keeps you guessing right up to the surprise ending, Dayna Leigh Cheser, Author of Janelle’s Time, Moria’s Time, Adelle’s Time, & Logan’s Time.

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5 stars

I really enjoyed this book – part romance and part creepy chiller. The descriptions of the house are so real that I felt as if I was there – perhaps not ideal at 1a.m. when you can’t put the book down but know you won’t sleep! The main characters are lovely, so well depicted and the minor characters are also very real. This will keep you turning the pages and the ending was also unexpected yet finished the book perfectly. I think I went through the whole gamut of emotions as the book is poignant in parts, scary in others and simply romantic as well. A great read! Julie Ryan, Author of Jenna’s Journey, Sophia’s Secret, and Pandora’s Prophecy

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4 stars

Although I have to confess to being a romance girl I’m always keen to step out of my comfort zone on occasions and this was one of them. I was drawn into this book from the first page. Jessica Maitland has sunk her savings into Hillcrest House in the small town of Angel Falls. It was too much coincidence that she’d been doodling the exact same house on pads and paper for some time; she had to have it. Having made the purchase without actually looking over the place, she’s shocked to find it in a very dilapidated state. As soon as she steps through the doors things begin to happen. Fuses blow, doors that appear locked are suddenly open, there are apparitions and children’s laughter. And then there are the crows.

You can read the full review at Goodreads.

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5 starsI was offered this book to review and I nearly passed on it because I have so many already on my TBR (to be read) pile but the picture on the cover crawled under my skin and I have to say from the first paragraph I was lured in and totally captivated.

Jessica spots an ancient Victorian mansion for sale online and buys it unseen, the house spoke to her and she was of the opinion that she could renovate the dilapidated building and return it to it’s former glory.

However once she begins it becomes apparent there is way more to do than she ever imagined, this house could descend into a money pit just to get it habitable. Unfortunately for Jessica that isn’t her only problem. Weird events begin to occur, she sees apparitions, the atmosphere chills, unexplainable odours stench the building out and the crows arrive. I have to say the crow was one of the eeriest parts of the story for me and so well orchestrated.

Read more of this review at Ali the Dragon Slayer.

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5 stars

I really enjoyed this book with its strong heroine, Jessica and gorgeous law enforcer hero, Andre Alain.

When Jessica buys the rundown Victorian House she doesn’t expect to be dealing with anything more than a bit of renovation. Has she got the guts and determination to see this project through to the end, or will she decide that dealing with the secrets encased in this once beautiful home is too much of a challenge for her?

The most ominous thing for me was the insidious crow and its determination that Jessica shouldn’t be moving into the house. I love a good ghost story and a romance and this book gave me both. I thoroughly enjoyed The Secret of Hillcrest House. Melanie Robertson-King keeps a good balance between the romance – loved Andre Alain, the eeriness and downright creepiness with a wonderfully constructed ending. I look forward to reading her next book! Georgina Troy, Author of A Jersey Kiss, A Jersey Affair, A Jersey Dreamboat and A Jersey Bombshell

BUY LINKS

amazon.ca

amazon.com

amazon.co.uk

Barnes and Noble

kobobooks

and

Books a Million

secret of hillcrest house 3d e-reader

 

New book, new clothes, new season…

The new show season has arrived!

new book

It’s been some time since I’ve done an event. A bit rusty getting the tartan throw centered on the table. That coupled with having 4 books to display added to the confusion.

The sign I had for A Shadow in the Past got damaged in transit last year so I have to create a new one. I’m looking at getting a banner made for it and getting the stand to put it in. I have an easel and that’s fine but it does take up a lot of space.

So, the new book – The Secret of Hillcrest House – is on the end at the right in the picture. It was quite bright in the hall, but the picture mounted on foam board behind the books has the windows in the attic cut out and battery-operated LED lights behind them.

The new clothes. I bought the long ‘suede’ vest (as well as a short fringed one) and the white sweater from simons.ca. Ever since being in their store on a trip to Quebec City, I fell in love with their clothing.

new book

new book

new book

The only drawback with the long vest is static cling. And when a body walked, the fringes wrapped around the legs. That’s just a minor detail. The tartan boots were brought out of retirement from last year.

While sales at the Friendly Circle Showcase on Saturday were slow, it was fun to see everyone again and make plans for other events later on in the year.

So a recap of the day. I only sold 2 copies of The Secret of Hillcrest House. When I went through my spiel, I described it as supernatural with ‘spicy’ romance. One of the women said my comment made her giggle.

Before Saturday’s show, I had sold 14 paperbacks of The Secret of Hillcrest House and 10 kindle copies.

If you want to find out more about any of my books, you can find them on my website’s books page.

 

THE DREAM CATCHER by Marie Laval ~ DANCING FOR THE DEVIL TRILOGY – Book 1 #Excerpt #Guestpost

Dream Catcher

The Dream Catcher

by

Marie Laval

DANCING FOR THE DEVIL TRILOGY – Book 1

Dream Catcher

Genre: Historical Romance (mid nineteenth century)

Release Date: 28th Dec 2015

Publisher:  Áccent Press

Can her love heal his haunted heart? – Cape Wrath, Scotland, November 1847.

Bruce McGunn is a man as brutal and unforgiving as his land. Discharged from the army, he is haunted by the spectres of his fallen comrades and convinced he is going mad. And he is running out of time to save his estate from the machinations of Cameron McRae, heir to the McGunn’s ancestral enemies. When the clipper carrying McRae’s new bride is caught in a violent storm and docks at Wrath harbour, Bruce decides to revert to the old ways and hold the clipper and the woman to ransom. However, far from the spoilt heiress he expected, Rose is genuine, funny and vulnerable – a ray of sunshine in the long, harsh winter that has become his life.

Rose is determined to escape Wrath and its proud master – the man she calls McGlum.

Will she be reunited with Cameron McRae, the dazzlingly handsome aristocrat she married after a whirlwind romance in Algiers, or will she risk her heart and her honour to help Bruce discover the truth about his past and solve the brutal murders committed on his land?

 

THE DREAM CATCHER (BOOK 1) Excerpt

A giant stepped in front of her. Dressed in black riding boots, black breeches and riding coat, he was so tall and his shoulders so broad the already dark horizon darkened further.

‘Silence.’

His voice was deep and calm, the voice of a man used to be obeyed. The crowd hushed at once.

He bent down in front of her.

‘Well, well, who do we have here?’

Even though she could hardly see his face, she felt his eyes bore into hers, and it was enough to make her mind go blank.

‘Rose…Rose Saintclair.’

‘Where are the others, your servants, your maids?’

‘I… I don’t have any.’

‘Really? That’s a surprise. All right then, come up.’ He held both his hands out.

She hesitated a moment before placing her hands in his. He pulled her up and she flew straight into his arms, landing with a bump against his broad, hard chest. He was so tall she had to tilt her face all the way back to look at him. Her heart skipped a beat, then started bumping fast and loud.

His eyes were grey and framed by dark eyelashes, his nose straight and strong, his cheekbones high and sharp. Thick black stubble covered his cheeks and chin, and his hair flew around his face, the colour of a raven’s wing. There was something dangerous about him, something reminiscent of a brutal warrior from days long gone by.

She wriggled to free herself but he didn’t let go and his mouth curved into a mocking smile.

‘Well, Fàilte, my sweetheart. ‘I’ll say this for McRae. If there’s one thing the rascal can do, it’s pick his fancy women.’

His hand slid from her waist and he patted her bottom.

Her reaction was instinctive. She swung her arm and lifted her hand to slap him. She didn’t have the chance. Without batting an eyelid he caught her wrist.

‘Steady on, sweetheart. You have a nasty little temper.’

‘And you have no right to insult me in this way, you vile brute,’ she hissed. ‘I am not Lord McRae’s fancy woman, as you so elegantly put it, I’m his wife!’

She had expected at least a shocked response or a groveling apology but he merely smiled.

‘It’s all right, gràidheag, you don’t have to pretend.’

‘Pretend what?’

‘Pretend you’re married to the man. I don’t care if you’re McRae’s mistress or his laundry maid, if you scrub his back or his dirty shirts.’

‘I am telling the truth, you stubborn macaque,’ she shouted in frustration. ‘I married Lord McRae in Algiers four weeks ago.’

‘Please don’t scream quite so loud. I heard you the first time. I just don’t believe you.’

‘What?’

‘First you introduce yourself as Rose Saintclair, now you’re spinning me a tale about being married McRae. Make up your mind, sweetie.’

He glanced at her hand. ‘I don’t see any wedding band on your finger.’

‘That’s because Cameron wanted to keep the wedding a secret. Never mind, I don’t have to explain anything to you. Now let go of me.’

She wriggled to break free, but he was still holding her wrist, leaving her no choice but to kick him hard in the shin with the tip of her boot – the very pointy tip of the fashionable new boots she had made in Algiers.

‘Ouch. Steady on, sweetheart.’

‘Let go of me, you deranged baboon! And stop calling me sweetheart.’

She kicked him again, harder. He muttered something in a strange, guttural language she didn’t understand and let go of her so suddenly she staggered backward and fell on her bottom on the hard, wet cobbles.

Her breath caught in her throat, her heart beat hard, erratic. Tears blurred her vision as people sneered and clapped around her. She knew McRaes and McGunns were enemies, but she had nothing to do with their feud, so why did everybody here seem to hate her so much? And why was the big hairy brute intent on humiliating her and not believing a word she said?

He stepped closer and offered his hand.

‘Come on, now, sweetheart. Let’s start again. I think we got off on the wrong foot.’

He sounded contrite but she wasn’t ready to forgive to forgive him. Ignoring his hand, she scrambled to her feet, and straightened her back. Attack was the best defence, her brother often said, and Lucas knew what he was talking about. He was the best scout in the whole of the Barbary States – or Algeria as the French now called her country.

‘Take me to your master immediately,’ she started in a voice as cold and steady she could manage, ‘so I can ask him to have you whipped for your insolence.’

There was a collective gasp from the people around them. Not looking in the least impressed, the man crossed his arms on his broad chest and arched his eyebrows.

‘Really?’

She took another deep breath.

‘That’s what I do to disrespectful servants on my estate, and I can assure you they stop smirking after five lashes.’ That was an outrageous lie, of course, but no one here was to know.

‘If what you said earlier is true, then I see McRae chose his bride well.’ The man’s eyes were now hard as steel. ‘You and he are indeed a match made in heaven, or in hell. I’m sure you’ll be very happy together.’ He paused. ‘I’m sorry to disappoint you, sweetheart, but I don’t approve of whipping people, or beasts, for that matter.’

‘And I don’t care a fig if you approve or not. It is for your master to decide your punishment, and from what I’ve heard of Lord McGunn, he is neither a patient nor compassionate man.’

He arched his eyebrows. ‘I didn’t know I had such a bad reputation.’

Rose’s heart stopped. He wasn’t… he couldn’t be…

‘I realise I failed to introduce myself. I am Bruce McGunn.’ He bowed his head in a military salute.

‘You are?’ The words came out as a squeak.

His lips stretched into a tight smile that didn’t warm his eyes.

‘At your service, my lady. Now the introductions are over, shall we make our way to the Lodge?’

BUY LINKS

AMAZON UK

AMAZON US

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FINDING TIME TO WRITE

by Marie Laval

How I fit writing in around family life and work.

I am by no mean the only writer who has to fit their writing around family and work, and I really don’t pretend that I know how to achieve the perfect balance – far from it! With three children (OK, two and one at university), and a full-time teaching job, it can be tricky, frustrating and stressful to find time to write. Some things have to go, like watching television or relaxing on the sofa with a cup of tea chatting about nothing in particular, or again going out with friends at the weekend. I know that most of my friends actually find my life incredibly boring, since the only travelling I do these days is on the internet or in my head!

And then there’s the guilt – the horrible mother’s guilt – because I don’t spend enough time with my children. Because I don’t always listen when they’re telling me about what happened at school or what’s going on in ‘The Next Step’ or ‘Wolf Blood’ – my daughter’s favourite programmes – or  I don’t take them on enough adventures. As a teacher, however, I know that I am incredibly lucky to have the school holidays to catch up with friends and plan days out with children.

So what do I do, or not, to fit my writing in my life?

I write, or to work on my novel every single day, even if it’s just for half an hour at 10pm and I fall asleep at the keyboard.

I hardly watch any television, and rarely for pure enjoyment (that’s how sad I am!). Having said that I recently watched the wonderful series about Prunella Scales’ and her husband Timothy West’ canal boat trips, and that was lovely!

Dream CatcherI take a notebook with me everywhere. It’s incredible how productive a few minutes sitting in the car waiting for the children to get out of school, or their gym, dance, football, rugby etc. training, can be.

I get up very, very early, at weekends and during the holidays, before the children are up and demand to be fed. It’s usually a great time to edit what I wrote the night before.

I have adopted a very relaxed approach to housework, one which I know my mother would totally disapprove of. I used to be obsessive with cleaning and tidying the house. It’s taken me several years and three children to admit defeat. Ironing? If I must, I only iron the front of the clothes. I do most of my shopping online too.

Dream CatcherI try and find some quiet time to think and dream. Since I do not have my own writing shed at the bottom of the garden – one of my dreams, but for that I will need a bigger garden! – I find that going for a walk on my own early in the morning works well. There is also listening to music when I have the house to myself, which is so rare it’s a lovely treat.

Everybody’s family and work commitments are different, so what works for me may not work at all for anybody else. And to be honest, it doesn’t really work all that well anyway. There are days when I am very, very, stressed and grumpy. Ask the man in my life!

ABOUT MARIE LAVAL

Dream Catcher

Originally from Lyon in France, Marie has lived in the beautiful Rossendale Valley, Lancashire, England, for the past few years and likes nothing more than dreaming up romance stories and handsome, brooding heroes. She writes historical and contemporary romance. Her contemporary romance A SPELL IN PROVENCE, as well as her historical romances, ANGEL HEART, together with the award-winning THE LION’S EMBRACE, and the DANCING FOR THE DEVIL Trilogy (which includes THE DREAM CATCHER, BLUE BONNETS and SWORD DANCE) are all published by Áccent Press.

GIVEAWAY

Book 1 in the series

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And the #CONTEST winner is!!!

And the Winner is…

 

#contest

Before I announce the winning title, I want to thank everyone who entered. In the end, I received over 100 submissions! WOW!!! Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would get such a fantastic response.

Here are the suggestions I received from the 26 contest entrants…

The Mystery of Hillcrest House

The Angel Falls Mystery

The Haunting of Hillcrest House

The Haunting Hargraves

Hand of The Hargraves

Caveat Emptor

Visions at the Hillcrest House

Haunted Hillcrest House

Haunted House— Hillcrest

Haunted Angel Falls– Mystery of Hillcrest House

A Walk with the dead

Shadows in the Hillcrest House

Gates of Hell

Screaming Souls

Screaming Souls at Hillcrest House

Midnight Mist

Fallen Angels

Silent Screams

Hargraves on the Hill

Haunted Souls Angel Falls

Mystery of Angel Falls

Angel Falls Haunting

Hillcrest Haunting

Hillcreast haunting

Scotland’s Eerie Hillcreast mansion

Hillcreast, help my kilt!

Echoes from the Past

Secrets of Hillcrest House

Beware of Hillcrest House

Devils at Angel Falls

Demons at Angel Falls

Secrets of Hillcrest House

Shadows at Hillcrest House

The Taming of Hillcrest House

Imprisoned at Hillcrest

The Souls of Hillcrest

The Lost Souls of Hillcrest

Lost Souls at Hillcrest

Unspoken Secrets of/at Hillcrest House

Unspoken Secrets

The Lingering’s

All that Remains or The Remains

The secret of Hillcrest House

Mystery in Angel Falls

Secrets of (from) the past

Whispers from the past

Lost in the future

Alone in the past

Victorian’s Secret

When Angels Fall

The Moon in Hillcrest House

The Deafening Silence of Angel Falls

Haunting Horrors of the House on the Hill

Hillcrest House of Horror

Portal to the Spirit World

Horror Halls

Look Over Your Shoulder

The Haunting Beauty of Hillcrest House

The House of Fear and Beauty

The Hillcrest House Haunting

The Haunting of Hillcrest House

The Haunted House of Angel Falls

Full Moon Gothic

A Rose for Jessica

What Lies Unknown

The Secret of Hillcrest House

The Mystery of Hillcrest House

The Haunting of Hillcrest House

Souls in Waiting

A Past Unearthed

A Past Reclaimed

Jessica’s Folly

The Hargrave Factor

The Haunting of Jessica Maitland

The Hargraves of Hillcrest House

Cliffside Manor

House of the Silver Moon

Jessica’s Dream/Nightmare House

Ghosts of Hillcrest Mansion

A Home Forever

Passage Way of Secrets

Unknown Messages

Hargrave Affair

Hargrave Encounter

Hillcrest Encounter

Fallen Angels Trapped on a Cliff

Fallen Angels in Hillcrest House

Maitland; The Reckoner

Cliff Dwelling Interlopers

Jessica’s Jaunt with Hillcrest

Unwilling Tenants of Hillcrest House

Unholy Occupation of Hillcrest

Unwilling Entrapment at Hillcrest

Hillcrest Manor

The Haunting of Hillcrest

Haunted Hillcrest

We Will Never Leave!

Beyond these Walls

The Ominous Fortress of Hillcrest House

The Ominous Fortress

An Ominous Dynasty

The Chronicles of Hillcrest Place

Unnerving Truth of Hillcrest House

The Unnerving Truth

Here Forever

Moonlight Seduction

Moonlight Desires

Haunted Desires of Hillcrest House

The Seduction of Hillcrest House

And now without any further delay … the grand prize winner (selected by titles received in chronological order) is Greta Krasteva with her title The Secret of Hillcrest House. Congratulations, Greta!

And the random winner among the remaining entrants is Jennifer Rogers!

I will contact you to find out your preferred e-book format (mobi for Kindle, epub for other ereaders, or .pdf).

 

There’s still time to enter! #CONTEST ~ Help me choose a title… you could win…

My Title #Contest

 

There’s still time to enter in the Help me choose a title #Contest. Don’t be disappointed. Enter between now and midnight March 31, 2016, Eastern Time.

Fancy your title on the cover of a book, your name mentioned in the acknowledgements? It could happen! For the month of March, I’m running a book title cover contest.

Not to worry, I am giving you some help starting with the image that will grace the cover. Are the creative juices starting to flow?

#contest

Here’s what the book is about…

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 mystery of the haunting of Hillcrest House?

How about now?

How does it all work, I hear you ask.

Contest details…

Contest opens March 1, 2016 and runs until March 31, 2016.

Come up with a title and leave your idea in the comments. And for those of you who would like to take your chances but aren’t comfortable leaving a comment on a blog, send an email to Title Contest.

At the end of the contest, one lucky entrant’s title will be chosen. He/she will receive an e-copy of the book (Mobi, epub or pdf – their choice) and their name included in the acknowledgements.

Another winner will be chosen at random from the non-winning titles.

Enter as many times as you like but be sure you do before the deadline for your chance to win.

Good luck!

#CONTEST ~ Help me choose a title for your chance to win…

Fancy your title on the cover of a book, your name mentioned in the acknowledgements? It could happen! For the month of March, I’m running a book title cover contest.

Not to worry, I am giving you some help starting with the image that will grace the cover. Are the creative juices starting to flow?

#contest

Here’s what the book is about…

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 mystery of the haunting of Hillcrest House?

How about now?

How does it all work, I hear you ask.

Contest details…

Contest opens March 1, 2016 and runs until March 31, 2016.

Come up with a title and leave your idea in the comments. And for those of you who would like to take your chances but aren’t comfortable leaving a comment on a blog, send an email to Title Contest.

At the end of the contest, one lucky entrant’s title will be chosen. He/she will receive an e-copy of the book (Mobi, epub or pdf – their choice) and their name included in the acknowledgements.

Another winner will be chosen at random from the non-winning titles.

Enter as many times as you like but be sure you do before the deadline for your chance to win.

Good luck!

Dougal’s Diary by Sarah Stephenson #dogtale #humour #guestpost #giveaway

dougal's diary

Dougal’s Diary

by

Sarah Stephenson

 

Dougal's diary

Genre: a dog tale/ humour

Release Date: 14th Jan 2016

Publisher: Crooked Cat Publishing

Has he chosen well and landed on his paws? Dougal the Labradoodle puppy, a complete hypochondriac and Boris Johnson’s No1 fan, arrives in Greenwich with great expectations.

He longs to travel the world on Virgin Atlantic, dine at royal banquets and become; either a superstar and party the night away or work as a doorman at the Savoy.

Behaviour classes were never on his wish list, neither were cliff-hanging experiences on the Thames, booze cruises to Calais or obsessions for eating socks.

Can he survive life with a chaotic owner and her eccentric friends? Can he deal with his jealousy when a foster puppy comes to stay? And as for his dreams, will they ever come true?

AMAZON UK

AMAZON US

WHY I WROTE THIS BOOK

A real 3D version of Dougal does exist. And when I first got him, he seemed so different from other dogs I’d had; running into people’s homes if they’d left their front door open, curling up on their sofa, ready to watch TV, even expecting to be offered a cup of tea. He was a lover of parties, people and life. Happy to travel on the tube, ride on escalators, or spend a day in a children’s playpark. I felt he was asking to be put in a book. But what type of book, I didn’t really know.

Initially, I thought of a picture book with captions. One particular event encouraged this idea. Dougal always refused to go into the garden alone. I was in the bath. It was pouring with rain when Dougal decided he had to go out. So there I was in the garden clutching an umbrella, draped only in a towel, hoping the puppy would hurry up and relieve himself fast. And, of course, praying my neighbours weren’t watching me through their windows.

It took a while for me to wake up to the fact I’d need art classes to achieve my aim. And would life drawing actually help me with dog cartoons? It also meant writing it as a book for children was out, unless I found an illustrator. Not an easy task. So I decided to stick with words and write it for adults. Though I still feel, a few pictures would be fun.

The book changed dramatically from the first to final draft. In the beginning, there were tedious pages about puppy training advice, separation anxiety and the fact he had lacked friends because he hung out with large dogs who hated puppies. Sounds like fun read doesn’t it? Actually, it wasn’t quite that bad. Then it started to change and turned into a story about a long-suffering dog, with issues. Here Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole was an inspiration. And Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones, too, I guess. Both the main characters in those novels have obsessions. Bridget Jones, her weight and men. Adrian Mole: acne and the whole teenage hormonal bit and of course Pandora. On top of that he’s the victim of divorcing parents!

Suddenly I saw the light. I was freed and away. Dougal, the complete hypochondriac and Boris Johnson’s No 1 fan, longs to travel the world on Virgin Atlantic.

The book follows his first 18 months of life, through the Olympics, Wimbledon, having the snip (hell) but not his fault, enjoying his first Christmas where he appears in a nativity play as the whole flock of Sheep, and the pain of watching Crufts on TV.

Behaviour classes were never on his wish-list, neither were cliff-hanging experiences on the Thames, booze cruises to Calais or obsessions for eating socks.

Can he survive life with a chaotic owner and her eccentric friends? Can he deal with his jealousy when a foster puppy comes to stay? And as for his dreams of travelling on Virgin, will they ever come true?

ABOUT SARAH STEPHENSON

Dougal's Diary

Sarah, who grew up in Bristol, now lives in South East London with two dogs, the occasional grandchild and a lot of mess. She’s had a chequered career as ballet dancer, cook, cleaning lady, salesgirl of outsize underwear in Littlewoods and actor. As an actor she worked mostly in the theatre: plays ranging from Shakespeare to improvised, both comedy and tragedy.

Cooking combines two of her passions; travel and people. She’s catered on barges in Burgundy, private houses in America, many stately homes in England, run a delicatessen, a stall in a farmer’s market and been a judge on the Great Taste Food Awards. Good opportunities for hearing about the lives of others.

Her need to write began with letters; sending home news of her adventures. At seventeen: travelling alone on the Trans-Siberian Railway and across the Sea of Japan. In Greece as a drama student, when the van blew up at the Springs of Daphne and they explored the mainland, riding on bread vans and tractors before selling their blood for a fiver and hitch-hiking home on a lorry. Or in Morocco on a solo trip, in pre-mobile phone days, when she was chucked off a bus in the desert and found herself surrounded by hundreds of camels and similar numbers of men, all in local dress.

Since then Sarah hasn’t stopped scribbling and joining the Write Place, a writing class in Dartford, encouraged her to put the contents of numerous exercise books into something more concrete.

These days Sarah chooses less adventurous holidays but might well send one of her characters off on a trek she doesn’t feel brave enough to make.

Dougal’s Diary is Sarah’s first book.

Dougal's Diary

Facebook: Sarah www.facebook.com/Sarah Stephenson798

Dougal: www.facebook.com/dougal.stephenson

Twitter: Sarah: @SvsStephenson
Dougal : @DougalDiary

Blog: dougaldogsdiary.blogspot.co.uk

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Once Upon a Time… It’s Tell a Fairy Tale Day

Once upon a time

there was a day specifically dedicated to telling fairy tales. Today is that day…

Tell A Fairy Tale Day!

Never heard of it before? Well, you can read more about it here. The stories can cover everything from Grimm to urban legends.

Scottish legends, myths, and mystery are found in A Shadow in the Past, so what better time to celebrate it?

time

Even the cover exudes fairytale mystery. Once upon a time…

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself thrust back into the past. There she struggles to keep her real identity from a society that finds her comments and ideas strange and her speech and actions forward, unlike Victorian women. When Sarah verbally confronts confining social practices, including arranged marriages, powerful enemies commit her to a lunatic asylum. After falling in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, Robert Robertson, she must decide whether to find her way back to her own time or to remain in the past with him.

 

If you have a favourite fairy tale, leave a comment telling which one it is.

 

 

 

 

It’s Read in the Bathtub Day!

Do you like to read in the bathtub?

 

Visitor7 [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

A Shadow in the Past…

When a contemporary teen is catapulted back in time to the Victorian era, she becomes A Shadow in the Past…

Nineteen-year-old Sarah Shand finds herself in Victorian Era Aberdeenshire, Scotland and has no idea how she got there. Her last memory is of being at the stone circle on the family farm in the year 2010.

Despite having difficulty coming to terms with her situation, Sarah quickly learns she must keep her true identity a secret. Still, she feels stifled by the Victorians’ confining social practices, including arranged marriages between wealthy and influential families, and confronts them head-on then suffers the consequences.

When Sarah realizes she has fallen in love with the handsome Laird of Weetshill, she faces an agonizing decision. Does she try to find her way back to 2010 or remain in the past with the man she loves?

BUY LINKS

amazon

kobo

Books a Million

Barnes & Noble

Diesel

So why not buy yourself a book (preferably one of mine), run a bubble bath and pour yourself a glass of wine (or your tipple of choice) and escape for some self-indulgence.

bathtub
Bathtub caddy with reading rack from Oh the Things You Can Buy

Just don’t fall asleep in the tub. And if you’re going to read using your kindle, kobo, nook, iPad or another electronic e-reader, put it in a sealable plastic bag to protect it if you don’t have a caddy with a book rest. Water and electronic devices don’t mix.

MEMORIES OF CHRISTMASES PAST

memories

MEMORIES OF CHRISTMASES PAST

For Minnie (1892-1971) and my Dad (1913-1969)

As a child, spending time at my Grandmother Minnie’s farmhouse east of Athens was something I always looked forward to. Christmas Day was even more special because all the aunts, uncles and cousins were there, too. No matter how horrendous the weather or long the journey, everyone always made it. Without fail, the Petawawa faction was always last to arrive, leaving the rest of us chomping at the bit so that Christmas could begin!

You have to picture the scene – nine kids, six parents, Minnie and my Uncle Winston cheek and jowl in the two rooms downstairs and without benefit of indoor plumbing until 1970. Dishes were washed and rinsed in two large galvanized washtubs that were hauled up onto the table and filled with hot water from the kettle on the woodstove and cold from the buckets on the counter brought over from the well on the other side of the road. And if you had to go, it was either make the long trek to the outhouse or use the thunder-mug upstairs in Minnie’s room or the one on the stairs.

My love of reading began during those Christmases at Minnie’s. My cousin from Toronto gave me a book every year from the time I turned ten.

1970 was the last year for family Christmas at Minnie’s and the first with indoor plumbing. It doesn’t sound like a big deal but to us it was. With how commercial the holidays have become, I long for those simpler times.

I still have most of those books (I think I only ever parted with one – a book of fairy tales).

What are some of your favourite Christmas memories?