Category Archives: Stories

Obsession & Other Stories by Chris Longmuir

Chris Longmuir has recently published two books of short stories to Amazon for the Kindle.

The product description for Obsession & Other Stories says it is a collection of short stories meant to entertain and intrigue. The collection includes dark and gritty crime stories as well as a couple of gentler ones.

These six short stories are a mixed batch which I hope you will enjoy. They include:-

Obsession – which is a dark story about a stalker, and not recommended for those of a nervous disposition. This was the story which gave birth to the Night Watcher and is the precursor of my novel of the same name.

In Zofia’s Footsteps – is the story of migrant fruit pickers working on a fruit farm in Scotland. Make up your own mind whether or not there is a hint of the paranormal in this one.

Not a Bad Person – is a gritty story which introduces Baz, a heroin addict and what he feels compelled to do to acquire money to feed his habit.

Ghost of Christmas Past – is a gentle ghost story which is not in the least scary, although I’m better known for my scary stories.

Sin – is a tale of the Magdalene Laundries, the institutions for unmarried mothers which were infamous in Ireland in the not too distant past.

Santa’s Little Helper – a little bit of nonsense to finish off with.

Obession & Other Stories can be downloaded from here.

Shaz’s Stars Feature on

LAHE logo

Today I’m being interviewed by Sharon Goodwin,’s resident astrologer. Hope you enjoy it…

Shaz’s Stars Interviews Melanie Robertson-King

Shaz’s Stars – Welcome to the regular feature on ‘The Buzz’ of Shaz’s Stars!

Using sun sign astrology I will be interviewing Associate Readers to see how the traits of their sun sign affect their reading habits.

I hope you enjoy getting to know our Associate Readers as much as I’ve enjoyed interviewing them.


Twitter @shazjera:


In the hot seat today I would like to welcome: MELANIE ROBERTSON-KING

Hello Melanie, thank you for letting us have a peek behind the scenes.  Your sun sign is  SCORPIO.

Q.  Scorpions are said to have an excellent memory.  Are you able to stop reading at any point …………..  and then when you pick the book up again remember exactly what has happened, who the characters are and where you are in the story?

When I’m reading, I prefer to stop at the end of a chapter but we all know that isn’t always an option. Quite often, I read during my lunch hours and when it’s time to go back to work, it’s mark the page if I’m reading a physical book or shut down the reader device. I have a Sony and the Kindle app on the iPad.

I don’t have to go back normally to refresh my memory of what’s happening. Usually, once I pick up the story and begin to read again, I fall into the familiarity of the people and places that I’m reading about.

Sometimes, my memory about books is a little too good. I read a book by an author a year ago. I read the second one by the same author this year. When I got to the ending of this second book, I felt a déjà-vu moment. I had read this before. I checked the first book, because after all, an author wouldn’t end two books the same way but in this case that’s what happened.

Q.  Associate Readers are avid readers.  Scorpions are very conservative about spending their money.  Does a novel have a set criteria for you to purchase it?  What attracts you to the books you choose to buy?  Do you use your library?

I haven’t used my local library much of late, I’m ashamed to say. I’ve used it for researching my articles of a historic nature that are set in the area. I have borrowed books and as a young girl, I practically lived there—taking books out and returning them on a regular basis.

When it comes to books if I want it, I go ahead and buy it. I’ve built up quite a collection of physical and e-books. I do like the fact that most e-books are a fraction of the price of physical books although I’m not so sure that’s my inner Scorpio or my Scottish roots and their thriftiness.

As far as a criteria for novels to purchase goes, if the cover is interesting enough to make me want to pick it up off the shelf (again we’re talking our local independent or chain bookstore), then I read the blurb on the back. If it sounds like something I’d be interested in, then I buy it. I’m particularly interested in novels set in England, Scotland or Wales.

The e-books I’ve purchased have been recommended by friends or authors I know.

Q.  A typical Scorpion never gives up, they are determined to reach their goal.  Does this affect your reading?  Do you read to the end of a book even if you’re not enjoying it?  Does this affect your choice of book?

I’m on a reader panel for a well-known publisher and some of the books they’ve sent me are a struggle to get through but I persevere. I’ve almost put a book down because of bad copy editing. The storyline was good so I kept reading and I’m very glad I did.

There’s only one book that I couldn’t read. Not that it was badly written but when you move a castle from within the heart of rural Aberdeenshire and plunk it on the North Sea coast south of Aberdeen… I draw the line. I’ve travelled to that area of Scotland many times and know the two castles… the real one and the mis-located one. I couldn’t get past that flagrant error.

Q.  Scorpions are known for being interested in the paranormal, the occult, conspiracy theories and mysteries.  Does this interest extend to your choice of genre?

Since I was young, I loved the idea of ghosts. My grandmother’s house was close to a cemetery so I played there a lot with my cousins. The stories we conjured up there, well we were kids, but at the time were fantastic. I spent many a happy hour having séances or with the Ouija board. Vampires and werewolves were favourite subjects. Some of the earliest books I read (borrowed from my local library) were Alfred Hitchcock mysteries.

I love a variety of genres—crime, romance, paranormal, mystery, occult. I have a couple of books from my younger years… Tales to Tremble By and Ghosts around the

House by Suzy Smith that I refuse to give up. Not to mention earlier works by Stephen King. The scarier books are the better I like them. I hope I haven’t deviated from your question too much.

(Ed.  No deviation from your question – we want to get to know you ?)

Q.  Scorpions always seem to accomplish their goals.  This is because they set tangible short-term goals that they know they can achieve.  Do you use this trait in scheduling your book reviews?  Do you plan which book you will read next?  How do you choose which book you will read next?

If I’m reading a number of books by one author then I tend to read them in order of publication. As far as book reviews go, I tend to write them after I’ve read the book while it’s still fresh in mind. Some folks say they keep notes while they read when they know they’re reviewing a work, not me.

When it comes to what book I’ll read next, I would have to say what mood I’m in at the time. If I’m feeling dark, then I’ll pick up a crime or mystery. Otherwise I’ll grab something at random off my overloaded bookcases.

Unfortunately, when it comes to my writing (revisions especially), I’m not so good at achieving my goals. I usually manage to write something every day but it might not be on my WIP. My goal for 2011 was to write every day. That fell by the wayside some time ago.

Q.  On the ‘outside’ a Scorpion sun person will present a cool, detached and unemotional air.  However, on an inner level, they are intensely passionate.  When you write your reviews, are you cool, detached and unemotional or does that passion come through?

I’ve not written many reviews so this is a hard question to answer. I would have to say so far I keep my reviews on the cool side and stick to the plot and characters. I suppose the more reviews I write, the more passion I’ll inflect into them. I do agree with the statement that Scorpios present a cool, detached and unemotional air but underneath lies a totally opposite person. I think that is a self-preservation measure that Scorpios have constructed to keep our passionate inner selves safe, lest we crumble.

(Ed.  Thank you for your honesty)

I consider myself a romance writer but write in other genres, too. Currently, ten of my non-fiction articles have been published, with one being a feature cover article.

I have two novel-length manuscripts completed. One is languishing with a publisher waiting for a yay or nay, the other (my first) is undergoing a major revision. When I need a break from it, I pick up a book and read or I write short stories.

My father was a Home Child who came to Canada through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland in 1930. My article Always a Home Boy is his and his siblings story. I also speak to local historical and genealogical societies on the subject of Home Children.

My father encouraged me to study Highland Dancing and take part in local competitions. I last competed in the summer 1969, a few short months after his death, at the 1000 Islands Highland Games and won the Silver Medal in the Sword Dance. In addition to Highland dancing, I took piping lessons and own a set of bagpipes which haven’t seen the light of day in a number of years – probably much to the relief of my neighbours.

I love to read but now that I’m writing, I have to be careful what I choose. I don’t want things from other people’s writings finding their way into my own work. So, to that end, I try to read from totally different genres. I don’t think I could write it effectively, but I love to read crime fiction – Ian Rankin, Stuart MacBride, Val McDermid, PD James, and of course, my good friend Chris Longmuir.

My other interests include genealogy, especially the study of Home Children, photography and travel – particularly Scotland because of my kinship with my father’s homeland. It was on a trip to Scotland, that I had the honour of meeting The Princess Royal.

To find out more about Melanie, please visit:-

Twitter Account @RobertsoKing:


Melanie’s Celtic Connexions Blog


Press Release – Thousand Islands Storefront Writing Contest

The Thousand Islands Writers Festival will hold their first annual Storefront Writing Contest, Saturday August 27th, 2011 in downtown Brockville. Patterned after a similar contest in Bruton, England the contest will pair individuals who write from downtown storefronts creating short stories of approximately 2,000 words in the genre of their choice.

Participants meet at the Brockville Library at 9:30 a.m., on contest morning to register. Store locations and prompts for the contest will be randomly drawn. Writers will proceed to their chosen sites to begin writing at 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Completed work will be turned in at the Grindstone Tapas Lounge with a post-contest social hour.

Entries can be produced by pen or laptop. Laptop users are asked to bring a memory device to download from. Participants are encouraged to dress in period costumes, but it is not necessary.

The entry fee is $5. The deadline for entries is Friday August 19th, 2011. Entries should include the participants name, address, phone number and e-mail address. Drop off is at Leeds County Books, 73 King St. W., Brockville or mail to Thousand Islands Writers Festival, 13 Duke St, Brockville, Ontario K6V 3J2.

Further details may be found at


Doreen Barnes
Chair, Thousand Islands Writers Festival
(613) 345-3365

Russ Disotell
Vice-Chair, Thousand Islands Writers Festival
(613) 342-0793

Thousand Islands Writers Festival Storefront Writing Contest – August 27, 2011

Melanie & Dorothy at Echo Clothing in Brockville

Here we are comfortably ensconced in the brightly painted Adirondack chairs at Echo Clothing in Brockville, one of the proud sponsors of the Thousand Islands Writers Festival Storefront Writing contest. Even folks without laptops are welcome to join in the fun on contest day, as demonstrated by Dorothy. Handwritten entries will be accepted.

The official press release is coming soon followed within a couple of weeks by Doreen Barnes’s article in the St Lawrence EMC newspaper.

In A Flash by Chris Hanna is available at again

Chris contacted me yesterday to say his book is back up on after having to take it down temporarily to remove one of the short stories since an editor had decided to buy it.

Congrats on the additional sale, Chris.

You can download In A Flash for the Kindle here for $2.99 US.

Good luck Chris. We wish you many sales.

To find out more about Chris Hanna, you can visit his blog – Christopher D. Hanna – Speculative Fiction

Interview with Chris Hanna – author of In A Flash

I had the chance recently to sit down and speak with Chris Hanna, fellow Writer’s Ink member and author of In A Flash.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

In my early teens I really started to read a lot of books. I fell in love with science fiction and read every sci-fi novel I could get my hands on. Since my family did not have much money we usually picked up books second hand at flea markets or yard sales for a quarter each. Due to the age of the books I mainly read from the golden age of science fiction; Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert and Robert A. Heinlein.

Loving to read such fascinating and thought provoking speculative literature eventually led to the idea that I could do it myself. It was a decade later before I actually took the first step to do what it takes to be a writer, write.

What genres do you write in?

I thought I wanted to be a science fiction writer. In actuality I am a speculative fiction writer. The difference being that instead of creating a story around the science, you write about people and a ‘what if?’ scenario to advance the plot. For example; Robert A. Heinlein asked what if a human child was raised by martians? Would that person in fact be human since their thoughts would inherently be alien? The result was “Stranger In A Strange Land.” Probably the most recognized Heinlein novel. I’m afraid I am not educated enough to write hard science-fiction so I am more comfortable writing speculatively.

I realized long ago that my writing is innately morbid. Because I have a proclivity for the morose I have tried my hand at horror writing. It is fun because I do not have to try and hide the darkness. I can let it run free!

What is your favourite?

Speculative fiction, definitely. It is my first love.

What made you decide to self-publish your collection of flash-fiction and poetry?

To test the waters. The work was sitting in my folder gathering dust and was probably never going to be used in a regular market. Flash-fiction is a growing trend in Internet story telling and I wanted to try self-publishing. The hardest part was figuring out how to create the document. After much research and lots of trial-and-error “In A Flash” finally came to be.

You mentioned being approached by a publishing company for your short stories after seeing some of your posts on FB… how did that work out for you?

I find out today (July 20th, 2011) if McGraw-Hill Ryerson will be sending me a contract. I am just waiting to hear from the editor if the education committee is happy with my submissions.

I understand you belong to a writers’ group. What can you say about the helpfulness and support from being involved with other writers?

I think I would have given up if it were not for the group. They are there when I need that extra push to keep going when the journey seems futile. I am very self-critical and I find I can ease up on myself when I receive such positive feedback and support from my peers.

Do you have any advice for writers who might be contemplating the self-publishing route?

My only advice would be to work hard at self-promotion. No matter how brilliant your self-published book may be, it is not going to sell itself. This entails a learning curve for folks such as myself who may be too humble for their own good.

Return of the Missing Muse

It’s still a bit too early to tell but I think my muse (aka George) has come home. I was working on a short story last night and I felt like I was being watched. The hubby was the only other person in the house at the time and he was working on genealogy on the other computer. The dog was asleep on his bed. Well, I’m assuming the dog was sleeping because he was doing a fine job of snoring. Besides, the feeling I had was more like someone was peering over my shoulder more or less reading what I was writing.

I firmly believe my house is haunted. It’s well over one hundred years old so surely at least one person died there. I’ve had a few encounters in the middle of the night with apparitions, spirits if you will – and not the kind that come in a bottle – those kind are a totally different story.

So, back to the feeling of someone peering over my left shoulder. Where I felt it from, the only thing behind me there is my laser printer and a case of paper. So I think it was George just checking to make sure I was actually writing something and not just goofing off.

I have forewarned my hubby that if he hears me talking to myself and the name George is mentioned, it’s only me arguing with my muse and he’s not to worry unless we get extremely loud and start throwing things! I doubt it will come to that but you never know.


Has Anyone Seen My Muse?

My muse is missing in action. I thought at first it was off sulking because I wanted to go in one direction with my writing and it wanted to go the opposite way. We’ve hit impasses before but they’ve never lasted this long. Previously, one of us (mostly me) has come slinking back all apologetic.

However, this time it’s different. I’ve offended my poor muse – big time! I hoped my recent weekend away would give us some time apart and it would be waiting impatiently for my return, ready to smack me into writing submission. It wasn’t.

I’ve looked in the closets, under the beds, in the garage, the garden shed and it’s not in any of those places.

I’ll bring flowers, a nice bottle of wine and maybe even some chocolate to our reconciliation meeting if it means us getting back into a working relationship.

So if you should happen to see my muse wandering about aimlessly, looking lost, dejected and rejected and will you please send it home?

You can tell it, too, that if it comes home, I will love it and hug it and squeeze it and call it George.