Minnie Quay – The Ghost of Forester, Michigan

Catherine Cavendish

 July 1st sees publication of yet another spooky book by my good friend Catherine Cavendish. I asked her to come over and tell us a bit about her inspiration. Take it away, Cat!


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In my new novel, Saving Grace Devine, a young girl is drowned, but her spirit returns to haunt the lakeside where she met her untimely end. She seeks help from the living, to help her cross over to the afterlife.

From my research, it would appear that my fictional Grace is not alone. Many people have reported seeing ghosts of drowned girls who are all apparently earthbound. Searching for something, or someone. In need of help from the living to help them join the world of spirit.

So it is with this account – the ghost of the lady they call Minnie Quay.

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Forester Township, Michigan is a small town of some 1100 people. It lies north of Port Sanilac, on the east Michigan coast of Lake Huron which bulges at the seams in summer when all the tourists come, gather around camp fires by the lake and share their stories. Some true – some not. But the tale of Minnie Quay is attested to by many who will swear to its veracity.

On a street in this little community is an abandoned tavern, with the date ‘1852’ above the door. It once belonged to James Quay and his wife, Mary Ann who lived there in the mid-nineteenth century, along with their children. Their eldest daughter – Minnie – died at the age of fourteen in April 1876 and it is her ghost that wanders restlessly along the shore nearby.

In those days, Forester was a busy, bustling lumbering town, used as a seaport for hauling timber to various locations on the Great Lakes. Four long warehouses and a pier (whose pilings can still be seen) saw a constant stream of traffic and sightseers, keen to see which ships had docked that day.

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There were plenty of visiting sailors and it was one of these who took Minnie’s eye. She fell in love with him, but her parents were horrified when they discovered the relationship. They didn’t want their daughter mixing with sailors! They forbade her from seeing him again.

Poor heartbroken Minnie didn’t even have chance to say goodbye to her beau. In the spring of 1876, the boat he had been working on sank in a storm. He was killed. Mad with grief, Minnie threw herself off the pier into the icy waters of Lake Huron and drowned, her only wish to be reunited with the spirit of her dead sailor. It was not to be.

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She’s buried in the local cemetery but, by all accounts, she still wanders. Weeping and searching for her lost love. But there is a more sinister side to this story. Some young women have reported that she has beckoned to them to join her in the freezing waters of the lake. One even drowned after saying she had seen Minnie’s ghost beckon to her that night. So, if you are young and female, do take care when strolling along the banks of Lake Huron alone. At night.

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A ballad was written about her tragic story. Here’s the first verse of one version (courtesy of Wikipedia):

‘Twas long ago besides Lake Huron
She walked the sandy shore.
but the voice of one sweet Minnie Quay
‘Twill echo ever more.

 

Here’s a flavour of Saving Grace Devine:

 

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Can the living help the dead…and at what cost? 

When Alex Fletcher finds a painting of a drowned girl, she’s unnerved. When the girl in the painting opens her eyes, she is terrified. And when the girl appears to her as an apparition and begs her for help, Alex can’t refuse.

But as she digs further into Grace’s past, she is embroiled in supernatural forces she cannot control, and a timeslip back to 1912 brings her face to face with the man who killed Grace and the demonic spirit of his long-dead mother. With such nightmarish forces stacked against her, Alex’s options are few. Somehow she must save Grace, but to do so, she must pay an unimaginable price.

You can find Saving Grace Devine in all usual ebook formats and paperback (where available) here:

 

Samhain Publishing

Amazon.com 

Amazon.co.uk 

Amazon.ca 

Amazon.com.au 

B&N 

Kobo

 

About the author

Catherine Cavendish is joint winner of the Samhain Gothic Horror Anthology competition 2013. Her winning novella – Linden Manor – is now available in all digital formats and the print anthology will be published in October. She is the author of a number of paranormal horror and Gothic horror novellas and short stories. Her novel, Saving Grace Devine, is published by Samhain Publishing on July 1st.

She lives with a longsuffering husband in North Wales. Her home is in a building dating back to the mid-18th century which is haunted by a friendly ghost, who announces her presence by footsteps, switching lights on and strange phenomena involving the washing machine and the TV.

When not slaving over a hot computer, Cat enjoys wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.

 

You can connect with Cat here:

www.catherinecavendish.com

https://www.facebook.com/CatherineCavendishWriter?ref=hl

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4961171.Catherine_Cavendish

http://twitter.com/#!/cat_cavendish

 

 

 

Catherine Cavendish: My Gothic Influences

Mary Shelley

 

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I have been reading horror for as long as I can remember. Can I recall the first time I read Mary Shelley’s most famous work, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus? No. It seems to have been in my life forever.

Mary Shelley wasn’t just a one book author. Following on from Frankenstein (published in 1818), came Valperga (1823), The Last Man (1826), Lodore (1835) and, finally, Mathilda, published after her death.

Yet she will always be identified with that one story which spawned dozens of Hollywood films and countless imitators. But, if Mary hadn’t visited Switzerland with her lover, the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, and his friends, the infamous Lord Byron and his physician, John Polidori, the story might never have been written.

 

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Mary Shelley was born Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin on 30th August 1797, daughter of the famous feminist and writer, Mary Wollstonecraft, who died ten days after her birth. Her mother had written and published the radical and (for its time) sensational, The Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) and her father was the philosopher and political writer, William Godwin, who was left to bring up not only his own daughter, but also his wife’s daughter, Fanny Imlay – the result of her liaison with a soldier.

The young Mary loved nothing more than to read, and made extensive use of her father’s library. She said that, “As a child, I scribbled; and my favourite pastime, during the hours given me for recreation, was to ‘write stories.’” Her first published work was at the tender age of ten – a poem called Mounseer Nongtongpaw.

The Godwin household saw a steady stream of illustrious visitors, including Wordsworth and Coleridge, but one particular visitor – a student of her father’s – captured not only her attention but also her heart. Mary and Percy Bysshe Shelley began an affair in 1814, while he was still married to his first wife. Facing extreme disapproval by her father, the couple fled England and travelled around Europe, accompanied by Mary’s half-sister, Claire, whose mother had become her father’s wife some years earlier.

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In 1815, Mary and Shelley had a baby girl who tragically died a few days later. In 1816, she, Percy and Claire met up with Lord Byron and John Polidori and stayed at the Villa Diodati in Geneva. It was there, on a rainy evening, that Byron entertained his guests by reading from a collection of ghost stories and then set each of them a challenge – to come up with a horror story. From those early beginnings, two notable works would eventually emerge. In addition to Mary’s Frankenstein, John Polidori produced his classic work (often wrongly attributed to Byron), The Vampyre.

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Poor Mary didn’t have the easiest of lives.  Later in 1816, her half-sister, Fanny, committed suicide and soon after, the same fate befell Shelley’s wife. The two lovers married in December 1816 but suffered the loss of two more children before Shelley drowned in The Gulf of Spezia, leaving Mary a widow at the age of just 24.

Mary herself died of brain cancer, on 1st February, 1851, aged 53. She is buried, with the cremated remains of her husband’s heart, in St Peter’s Church, Bournemouth, alongside her parents. Nearly a century passed before her novel, Mathilda, was published. This dealt with themes of incest and suicide – not topics we generally associate with the era of Jane Austen!

Mary Shelley was a woman ahead of her time. Frankenstein’s timeless quality remains a landmark of Gothic literature and one that has formed part of the foundation for countless horror writers down the years. I have no reason to assume that will ever change.

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Now, here’s a flavour of Linden Manor:

 

Have you ever been so scared your soul left your body? 

All her life, Lesley Carpenter has been haunted by a gruesome nursery rhyme—“The Scottish Bride”—sung to her by her great grandmother. To find out more about its origins, Lesley visits the mysterious Isobel Warrender, the current hereditary owner of Linden Manor, a grand house with centuries of murky history surrounding it.

But her visit transforms into a nightmare when Lesley sees the ghost of the Scottish bride herself, a sight that, according to the rhyme, means certain death. The secrets of the house slowly reveal themselves to Lesley, terrible secrets of murder, evil and a curse that soaks the very earth on which Linden Manor now stands. But Linden Manor has saved its most chilling secret for last.

Linden Manor is available from:
Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk
Amazon.ca
Amazon.com.au
Kobo
B&N

About the author

Catherine Cavendish

Catherine Cavendish

Catherine Cavendish lives with a long-suffering husband and mildly eccentric tortoiseshell cat in North Wales. Her home is in a building dating back to the mid 18th century which is haunted by a friendly ghost, who announces her presence by footsteps, switching lights on and strange phenomena involving the washing machine and the TV.

When not slaving over a hot computer, Catherine enjoys wandering around Neolithic stone circles and visiting old haunted houses.

www.catherinecavendish.com

https://www.facebook.com/CatherineCavendishWriter?ref=hl

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4961171.Catherine_Cavendish

http://twitter.com/#!/cat_cavendish

 

 

 

Brrrrrinda’s Back!

Brinda Berry_462x306_landscape (2)

I know she doesn’t write horror, but when I heard the lovely Brinda Berry had a new book out I just had to ask her over. Brinda is a real star who always supports others so please, if you know any young adults, pass on the info will ya!

 

Watcher of Worlds

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By Brinda Berry

Whispering Woods Book 3

Novel

$5.99

ISBN: 978-1-941133-00-2

Buy it HERE

 

Senior year should bring fun, friends and happiness. Not portals, treachery, and murder.

Seventeen-year-old Mia Taylor, gatekeeper to an interdimensional portal, wants nothing more than to heal from her romance gone wrong. Illegally falling for her co-worker Regulus had been a huge mistake. But when Regulus goes rogue to hunt down a murderer, Mia must forget her broken heart and use her unique abilities to save him. Traveling across dimensions, she enters a strange and hostile world where a rebel faction holds the key to their escape. Her gift of synesthesia is in high demand, and a secret organization of the otherworldly kind has her in their sights. But sabotage and murder may be the least of her worries. Her ex-boyfriend wants a relationship. Her dad wants her to act normal. Her friends want her to stop moping. Who knew faking happy would be the easiest part of senior year?

Excerpt

Jingle Bells

I detested planned surprises.

I could read the expectation in the air from the shimmery orange vibe that glowed like a Cheetos binge gone bad.

A few months ago, my friends had discovered my secret. The secret I’d hidden so teachers and doctors wouldn’t treat me like an amped up sensory perception freak. So friends wouldn’t ask.

Synesthesia. The condition sounded like the name of an electronic punk band. I’d made the full round of emotions about my sensory perception and being able to find portals. First, I’d hid it like you hide an ugly rash. Later, I’d learned to trust my friends with my secret. I’d even embraced it.

Now, I was back to wishing for normal.

Working with Regulus and Arizona was like playing Pop Goes the Weasel—a surprise around every corner. And did I mention I hate surprises?

Give me predictable any day. Then I could be ready. It’s why I made sure I knew the contents of every box under the Christmas tree.

About Brinda:

Brinda Berry is the author of The Waiting Booth (Whispering Woods #1),Whisper of Memory (Whispering Woods #2), and  Watcher of Worlds (Whispering Woods #3). She also contributed a short story to the anthology, Wild at Heart, Vol II. Currently working in higher education administration, she spends her days thinking of ways to improve education for college students. Brinda spends her nights devising exciting tales that involve teens who might be saving the world.

Connect with Brinda on the Web:

WEB     BLOG     FACEBOOK    TWITTER   GOODREADS    YOUTUBE

More Vamping with Ally Shields

Following on from yesterday’s expose of that vampire slaying kit, what better way to keep the weekend flowing than with a visit from fellow author Ally Shields and her latest book Burning Both Ends?

BurningBothEnds_ByAllyShields-453x680

Ally: Thanks so much, Steve, for allowing me to indulge in a little BSP (Blatant Self-Promotion)! I have a new release in my Guardian Witch urban fantasy series.

S: Be my guest.

A: Before I get further into that, I’d like to digress and talk for just a moment about writing an on-going series, especially the difficulty of handling series characters.

S: Oh, yes, do. I can’t imagine writing a series.

A: It’s both harder—and easier—than one might think. It’s easier, because you don’t have to create a whole new person, complete with color of hair, color of eyes, mannerisms, background. You already know these people and are ready to involve them in a new adventure. On the other hand, it’s almost impossible to remember every description, every mannerism, and everything your character has said and done. And scraps of note paper get lost, and files get buried on your hard drive.

S: I would lose them.

A: Most authors also have their characters grow and mature, not only in each book, but from book to book. That means you have to constantly reassess how your character now feels about beliefs they held in the past. It’s a challenge.

If you screw up, your readers will notice and remind you. Forcefully. Sometimes I wish I had an assistant to keep it all straight. I work hard at being consistent, and if you find errors, I’m going to blame it on the cyber gremlins! :)

S: They get everywhere!

A: Now, I’d love to share a peek at my latest book…

Burning Both Ends (Guardian Witch #3) Blurb:

Friend or lover. Life or death…

Supernatural cop Ari Calin arrives at the hostile Toronto vampire court with an ultimatum from the Riverdale vampires: Sebastian, Toronto’s vampire prince, must stop his unprovoked attacks—or else. Ari wasn’t expecting a fight—the “or else” was typical vampire grandstanding. But even with vampire Andreas De Luca by her side for a show of strength, things get ugly fast. Toronto’s vampire world is in crisis, and surrounded by enemies, Ari and Andreas find themselves under attack.

Then Ari gets the call from the Magic Council ordering her home. Steffan, a good friend and leader of Riverdale’s werewolves, has gone missing during top secret negotiations with the US government, and is believed to have been kidnapped—or killed.

Andreas can’t abandon the Toronto vampires, and Ari can’t leave him to face impossible odds alone. Neither can she disobey her orders from the Council, or leave her friend Steffan to be tortured and killed. Ari’s loyalties pull her in two directions—the closest thing to love she’s ever known on one side, and friendship and duty on the other. If she can stay alive long enough for the choice to matter…

Excerpt:

Fangs flashed where her cheek had been an instant before. Ari whirled, crouching to meet the vampire’s return charge, and her fingers sparked, witch blood clamoring for action. Refusing its urgent call, she threw the magic powder as he wheeled and sped toward her in a blur. Green particles sparkled. A loud thump. The vampire recoiled from the invisible barrier and took two staggering steps. A direct hit. Before a smile more than touched her lips, the dark figure recovered and leaped. Ari backpedaled, but his weight drove her to the hard ground.

He grinned down at her, a lock of dark hair falling across his forehead. Trapping her arms above her head, he leaned close, his dark eyes glittering. He brushed her lips with his and whispered, “Better—but not yet good enough.” Andreas shifted his six-foot, muscled body, sprang up, and offered her a hand.

Ignoring the courtesy, Ari scrambled to her feet. Getting pinned by your boyfriend wasn’t always a good thing. “Back off, bloodsucker,” she grumbled. She shook out the fallen leaves and pine needles that clung to her long, honey-colored hair.

Andreas chuckled. A rich, warm sound. “Touchy tonight. Did I put your nose out of joint, little witch? And here I was, trying to help with your training.” Andreas glided across the forest clearing with the smooth grace of a natural predator. He collected their cell phones from under a park bench where they’d stashed them earlier in the evening and handed her one.

“Thanks.” Ari avoided his eyes. Damn right she was annoyed. She was competitive, and second place wasn’t good enough—even against a master level vampire. Especially one who wasn’t really trying to kill her.

Andreas studied her face, his voice pragmatic. “I am glad you are taking this seriously. Other combatants will be less charitable than I, less mindful of breaking your pretty neck. I can almost guarantee Sebastian will continue his fight with Prince Daron, and next time he may lead the attack. You might have to face him again.”

“Oh, come on. You can’t really believe he’d come to Riverdale. He’s too comfortable lording it over everyone in Toronto.” Andreas shrugged. “It is unlikely, but a sobering thought. With Sebastian, anything is possible.” He frowned, obviously thinking about the brutal vampire leader. “He has grown more aggressive, erratic, perhaps less sane, as sometimes happens with the elder ones. Our defeat of his minions will only fuel his rage and make him more determined.”

“Minions? What kind of word is that?” Ari demanded. “You really should update your vocabulary. Being born in seventeen hundred and something is no excuse for using words no one understands.” She was just being bitchy. In truth, she wouldn’t change a thing about Andreas’s speech or sexy voice. The archaic words, the faint accent of Italian aristocracy, and the shivers of sensation it produced were all part of him. She never got used to the seductive effect…even when she wanted to be annoyed.

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Burning-Both-Guardian-Witch-ebook/dp/B00E0LCE0O/

B & N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/burning-both-ends-ally-shields/1116093682?ean=2940148741022

Kobo: http://store.kobobooks.com/books/burning-both-ends/luAT3r-Z3Eiy8ZLBvgppPg

ARe:  https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-burningbothends-1246180-139.html

Author Bio:

Ally Shields was born and raised in the US Midwest, along the Mississippi River, the setting for her urban fantasy series. After  a career in law and juvenile justice, she turned to full-time writing in 2009, and Awakening the Fire, the debut novel in her Guardian Witch series, was released in September 2012.  Ally still lives within driving distance of the Mississippi with her Miniature Pinscher, Ranger. When not writing, reading, or spending time with family and friends, she loves to travel in the US and abroad. Way too often she can be found on Twitter.

Author contact links:

Website: http://allyshields.com

Blog: http://allyshields.com/blog.html

Twitter: http://twitter.com/ShieldsAlly

Facebook: http://facebook.com/AllyShieldsAuthor

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6527209.Ally_Shields

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/allyshields

Other books in the series:

Awakening the Fire (Guardian Witch #1), published September 2012

Fire Within (Guardian Witch #2), published Marsh 2013

Blood and Fire (Guardian Witch #4), coming in the fall of 2013

BTW, I suggest you read the books in order to follow the on-going characters and story arc!

Safe Harbour Finds a Port

Julia Kavan made my day recently when she told me that her short story Safe Harbour had been chosen to appear in Sanitarium horror magazine. It’s a while since Julia graced this blog so I asked her to come over for a bit of a grilling.
Julia Kavan

Julia Kavan

Steve: Welcome, Julia. What do you think to the broomstick parking bay I had made for you?

JK: Well, you could have swept it… here, you can borrow my broom :-)  Thanks for the invitation, it’s been a while…

Steve: So, Safe Harbour is out in public. Congratulations! I think readers will love it, but it hasn’t been plain sailing (excuse the pun) has it?

JK: It’s had a few ‘almost, but not quite’ moments. I think I’m most disappointed with its ‘almost, but not quite a radio performance’.  I’d love to hear Safe Harbour being read, but it wasn’t to be. However, I’m thrilled that Barry Skelhorn, editor of Sanitarium, accepted the story.

sanitarium banner

Steve: I’ll read it for you if you can get me on a radio show ;-) Now, I know you have some quirks when it comes to forms of transport but how are you with boats? Since this story has a nautical flavour presumably you’re a hardened sea dog (I couldn’t say sea bitch, could I)?

JK: Quirks? What quirks…? Okay, so  I have been known to get travel sick in a lift… and as for going over all those hills to get here…  and actually I’d probably need sea sickness tablets to use the Thames Clipper. However, I do love the sea – particularly when it’s angry. I love the sound and the taste of it in the air. I’m not one to declare my love for the ocean from the comfort of a sun lounger at the edge of a calm blue sea. The rougher the sea (as long as I’m not on it) and the wilder the coastline, the better. And I’d rather be clambering over rocks than sitting on a beach, although I do go there to watch the sunset sometimes – there’s a certain eeriness being by the sea at night.  I also used to go for walks on the cliffs at Dover when I was a kid – scrabbling up the lesser-used cliff paths (which kind of makes me shudder now) to get to the top. One day I’ll write something set there, I think.

Ssh! Julia calls think this is rough :-)

Ssh! Julia calls this rough :-)

Steve: Well, then, you’d better tell us why you wrote this story and something about it. Tempt my readers with it.

JK: Safe Harbour is a very short but intense (I hope!) horror story –– originally written for a competition, I think the prompt was ‘shipwrecked’.  Along with my love of ghosts and demons and creatures of the night I also had a bit of a fascination with mermaids when I was very young – only not the Disney kind, I preferred the darker myths about the creatures.

Thereby hangs a tail

Thereby hangs a tail

Steve: I thought I could smell fish. Now, you’ve a very inspiring graphic to go with the story. How did you come up with that?

JK: LOL, subtle, Steve… I think you should have put a winky emoticon there… ;-) aside from my putting the final image together, the composition was pretty much down to you!  We both enjoy a bit of photo-manipulation when we’re not writing, and I find it relaxing – usually. However, you kindly got the images together for me during a somewhat frazzled moment. Thank you.

Safe Harbour

Safe Harbour

Steve: Oi! I wasn’t looking for thanks. You knew what you wanted – as you always do. Listen, I know many people are waiting for your next book. What’s on the horizon?

JK: Well, of course you and I are still putting the finish touches to our joint project, ready to get feedback from some brave beta-readers. When we’ve finished working on the novel I’d like to write more horror/dark shorts. I also have a WIP – Sinner – which is growing in quick, violent bursts. I don’t know if it will turn into a novel just yet, though.

Steve: What’s your take on the state of horror publishing at the moment? Do you think readers have enough choice now?

JK: When it comes to horror novels – no, there doesn’t seem to be a huge choice from mainstream publishers…or any choice really. There was a glimmer of hope recently when a small publisher opened its door to horror submissions, only to shut it again very quickly. As you mentioned in a recent radio interview, everything seems to be crime based, about tracking down serial killers etc.

Steve: Yes, it’s a crime, when really it ought to be a sin :twisted: What do you think could improve things?

JK: Well, I understand that publishing is a business and publishers are out to make money at the end of the day… but… it would be nice for them to be more willing to take a chance with new writers.

Steve: Well, yes – new writers can sell, too, after all! Have you read any really good books in the last couple of months that you’d like to share with us?

JK: I’ve been so busy concentrating on our joint project I haven’t really had time to read anything substantial. I have several books I’ve started and put to one side. Instead I’ve found myself dipping into some horror anthologies, and I’m becoming more drawn towards novellas. I have Cousin K on my ‘to read’ list thanks to your recommendation.

Steve: Cousin K is a superb book! Here’s the link to my review at New York Journal of Books:

http://www.nyjournalofbooks.com/review/cousin-k

And any really bad ones?

JK: Define ‘bad’.

Steve: I don’t do definitions, that’s what dictionaries are for.

JK: Grrr! I’ve part-read plenty of stories that haven’t grabbed me by the throat – and I do like to be grabbed…or seduced, or intrigued… something… I may just be really hard to please, though.

Steve: You? Hard to please? Don’t make me larf, darlin! *gasps* Where do you see yourself twelve months from now?

JK: Still writing what I love, I hope.

Steve: I know you like Pinterest, so give us something to look at that sums up your work.

JK: I do like Pinterest – I remember when I used to have folders and display books of images, cuttings and notes when I first started writing. In fact I still have everything I collected for my first novel in a box somewhere.  Pinterest is much tidier J and I can access my images anywhere. I have boards for all WIPs – so if people wander around my page they’ll catch a glimpse of what may be to come.

http://pinterest.com/juliakavan/

Click To Read

Click To Buy

Safe Harbour is in Sanitarium Issue No 9 due out 20th May 2013. You can find out more about the magazine and where to buy a copy on their website:  http://sanitariummagazine.com/

Julia can be found here:

http://www.juliakavan.com

https://twitter.com/Seneca24

https://www.facebook.com/juliakavan.author

Starlight Author’s Aid – All In A Good Cause

When author Tania Elizabeth contacted me and asked if I’d give a post on my website over to her for the Starlight Children’s Charity, how could I refuse? As a humanist I am passionate about helping others when I can. Now, regular followers please note – Tania’s book isn’t horror. But this isn’t primarily about us authors. It’s about helping the children – and that is worth doing.

So, here is the information about the Starlight initiative – and I ask you to do whatever you can – followed by details on Tania and her book.

My thanks to Tania for approaching me. Best of luck!

 

Starlight Aid Pic

The Starlight Children’s Foundation transforms the experience of hospitalisation and treatment for seriously ill children and their families. Starlight is the only children’s charity delivering services into every children’s ward in hospitals and hospices nationwide and with the same taking place abroad.

Every minute of every day a child is admitted to hospital in Australia. For thousands of these children what happens next is the diagnosis of a serious or chronic illness that changes their life, and the lives of their families, forever.

This is where Starlight steps in – delivering a range of innovative programs, built on the World Health Organisation’s social model of health, to support the well-being and resilience of these seriously ill children and their families.

Starlight programs are integral to the total care of seriously ill children – while the health professionals focus on treating the illness, Starlight is there to lift the spirits of the child – giving them the opportunity to laugh and play and be a child again.

 

Tania Elizabeth

Tania Elizabeth

 

A message from Tania

STARLIGHT AUTHOR’S AID

 

I am asking for everyone’s assistance.

To give to others is to give to oneself, and 
I NEED YOUR HELP!!!

Help us to raise funds for the Starlight Children’s Foundation, which supports terminally ill children and their families.

There are two ways in which people can help. 
It is very easy.

By simply hosting, reviewing my book or interviewing me via a blog post, Amazon, newspaper, radio, TV within a 21 day window frame, between the dates of Friday 12th of April and Friday the 3rd of May. For every appearance, I will be donating $1 to the Starlight Children’s Foundation.

If any of you could help, I would be so grateful. If you could connect me with anyone else who would be happy to interview, do a short post or review I’d be doubly grateful.

I’m also asking for donations, even $1, which you may do direct via this link.
 http://starlightday2013.gofundraise.com.au/page/ElizabethT

You may also follow our progress on the Starlight Author’s Aid Facebook Page.
http://www.facebook.com/StarlightAuthorsAid

We are looking at making this an annual event. This year it is centred on me though every year after we will base it on another upcoming author. 
So, please share and pass this along to all. Let’s make this a huge affair and raise much needed funds for a very worthy cause.

My heartfelt thanks to all.

Tania

~

Tania Elizabeth is a mother first and foremost, and the author of The Tier of Eternal Grace. Book One The Moon Clearing was released earlier this year. Book Two The Mirrors Shadow will be released in September. Book Three will then follow in the early part of 2014.

 

Eternal Grace

The Tier of Eternal Grace is a captivating fantasy of magic and passion, wound into the truths of reality that will enchant readers with its depiction of the faerie realm, and the exploits of the faeries themselves. Book One of the series The Moon Clearing is an immersive tale of mysticism and adventure, of spiritual and sensual intent that shall enrapture your every sense.

SUMMARY

Beyond the boundary that separates the mundane and earthly planes from the divine lies Eterna Fadas, a place ruled by extraordinary beings, lithe and human-like in appearance, yet ethereal in their grace and beauty, and sensuous in nature.

“I have existed always! Where I began I do not know, for all I know is just as I am today!”

As Queen, Tatiana was thought to have lived a life of opulence, her faith and beliefs her endearing essence. Why then was it so, that beneath the picture of perfection laid torments and terrors even she dare not explain. Being She came with its prices paid. Being She came with a deal; a contract in which she was to relinquish herself to a rogue of unmerciful fury. Would this be the end of all she know? Would this be the end of her existence?

 

About the Author, Tania Elizabeth

Like each and every one of us, Tania’s own journey has been one of trials and tribulations, of love and of passions; and the dissolution of it. Heartache, sorrow, smiles and laughter always present. Through the writing of this book and the words of Tatiana, Tania has found a peace within and learnt the true meaning of “I LOVE ME!”

Aside from her writing and her three angels, Tania is also an advocate for the Starlight Children’s Foundation. Being a mother herself and having seen firsthand what some of these children are dealt with on a day to day basis, and yet seeing the strength and courage they each maintain, Tania felt the need to not only donate her time, but to also help raise much needed funds.

You can find Tania here:

FACEBOOK  http://www.facebook.com/TheTierOfEternalGrace?ref=hl

AMAZON  http://www.amazon.com/The-Tier-Of-Eternal-Grace/dp/1479761877/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363858392&sr=8-1&keywords=the+tier+of+eternal+grace

BARNES AND NOBLE  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-tier-of-eternal-grace-tania-elizabeth/1114561183?ean=9781479761876&itm=1

YouTube  http://youtu.be/TI7C6pTTPK4

 

 

The Kabrini Message

Today I’m handing my site over to Marie Carhart who will warm your cockles with her touching message. Here’s Marie…

Thank you so much for having me today, Steve.  I really appreciate this opportunity to share my story with your readers.

TheKabriniMessage_ByJREgles-453x680

As you know, The Kabrini Message is a sci-fi novel written by my late brother, Joe  (J.R. Egles), back in 1987.  I only recently discovered Joe’s manuscript (hand typed by our mother) in a box in my attic.  It was in a manila envelope that just said, “Joe’s Book” in my mother’s handwriting.  The whole “story-behind-the-story” can be read on the two-part blog post I did, so I won’t repeat the entire thing here.

http://kabrinimessage.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-story-behind-story.html

http://kabrinimessage.blogspot.com/2012/11/the-story-continues.html

But basically, after reading The Kabrini Message and becoming entranced by it, I decided it must be published.  This “message” just had to make it out of the attic and into the hands of the public.  I know everything happens for a reason, when and how it’s supposed to.  I believe my “message” in finding this forgotten jewel was to get it out there and right now, twenty-six years after it was written, just must be the right time.

Kabrini B

I also wanted to make sure The Kabrini Message was finally published as a gift to both my brother and our mother who always believed in him.  I have been “on a mission”…yes, a woman obsessed!  But the journey has been a fun, fascinating and educational labor of love and I am thrilled and so very grateful to say that as of January 18, 2013, more than a quarter of a century after it was written, The Kabrini Message is a published novel!

Here is a blurb for The Kabrini Message, followed by an excerpt.  I really hope your readers will enjoy it and thank you again!

Blurb:

An alien race. A shocking message. Let the evolution begin…

During an archaeological dig in Greece, Jeffrey Driscoll stumbles upon a miraculous find: ancient crystals with celestial coordinates that will connect humankind with the Kabrini, a highly advanced alien civilization. His discovery leads him on a quest from the jungles of Africa to the

Islands of Greece, from the streets of London to the tombs of Egypt, from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles, Jamaica, and Vienna, and finally to the deepest depths of space and Earth’s first global space effort, the Legacy mission.

When Driscoll Mining and the U.S. Army complete deep space construction of the Kabrini communications network, the Legacy mission is deemed a success. But a dangerous terrorist group hungers for revenge, and Driscoll will stop at nothing to save the project. As his obsession with the Legacy mission spirals out of control, he risks losing everything—his company, his grasp on reality, and the one thing he’s ever truly loved: his wife. And when humankind finally makes contact, they discover the Kabrini Message isn’t exactly what they expected to hear…

Kabrini C

EXCERPT:

 

The fire in Professor Gregory’s study burned low.  Outside, it was just getting dark and the first drops of a cold London rain splattered against the windows.

“Alrighty, then,” Gregory started as he sat down behind his desk. “As you may know, the Romans had umpteen gods. So did the Greeks. So what’s one more soothsayer? With a god for every occasion, they were only being religious by convenience anyway. That’s why I never took this damn thing so seriously in the first place.”

“Took what seriously?” asked Driscoll.  “The Romans…or the Greeks?”

“Neither,” said Gregory sounding exasperated already. “I’m talking about the Oracle, the Oracle, you numpty.”

Gregory was clearly annoyed.  He was used to dealing with his razor-sharp archeology students, and they were used to paying attention to details.  Driscoll was not…at least, not to the point required for Gregory’s complex explanation. Driscoll practiced what he liked to call a holistic approach to life situations.  In other words, he took in the big picture and then did whatever was necessary to keep from getting chucked out of it.

“The Oracle, right, at Delphi,” said Driscoll. “You mentioned that on the phone. But what’s the fuss? It’s not news. That’s where rich folks went for advice about the future, right? The place where people went for prophecies…from priests or something.”

“But the Oracle wasn’t just a place, like a fountain or a shrine,” corrected Gregory. “It was supposed to be a person, or a deity, who only spoke through priests. The priests in turn doled out the information to the faithful.”

“And by ‘faithful,’ you mean those who could afford to pay,” said Driscoll.

“Well, yes,” agreed Gregory. “But my point is, it couldn’t have been all rubbish or they wouldn’t have kept coming back for advice. And they did…important people, like Caesars and such. There must have been something to the Oracle’s prophecies.”

“Unless it was just fashionable,” said Driscoll.

“Ah…wait, what?” stammered Gregory. Driscoll had broken his train of thought, which stunned the professor into silence. “This is what’s so difficult about talking to Driscoll,” thought Gregory. He never knew when to expect an intelligent comment. This one had caught him by surprise.

Driscoll kept talking as Gregory struggled to regain his composure. “I mean, in those days, you couldn’t impress your wealthy friends by buying a flat screen TV or a Ferrari—so you blew a load on the Oracle to show off.”

Gregory was mildly shocked. “Has money made Driscoll wise?” he wondered. “No, no, surely not. It never works that way. But trust Driscoll to do everything ass-backwards, including getting smart,” he thought.

“Precisely!” Gregory finally answered. “And what do you suppose the priests did with all that wealth, mate?”

“I don’t know,” Driscoll responded as he thoughtfully scratched the stubble on his cheek.

“Neither did anyone else,” Gregory said with a slight leer in his eye. “Until now.”

Driscoll dropped his boots to the floor and leaned forward on the leather couch. This had definitely piqued his interest.

“Listen to this,” said Gregory, producing a notebook from his jacket pocket. “This is an exact translation from a scroll my colleague Jessup unearthed near Delphi.”

The professor flipped through the tattered pages of his composition book and read aloud:

“‘I am an apprentice to a scribe.  But, by the time this is read, I will not only have been a scribe, but will have been dead for some two thousand years.

However, due to my experience as apprentice to Piros—scribe, scholar and personal acquaintance of the Great Emperor Claudius—I have access to certain knowledge, which if I do not set down, may be lost forever; unless the High Priests forsake their vows, which is not likely.

But to share this knowledge in my own time would certainly be the cause of my death.  Therefore, I share it with yours.’”

 Gregory paused and glanced at Driscoll, who seemed to be mulling over the words.

“So this guy has something important to say, is that it?”  Driscoll said sarcastically.

Gregory rolled his eyes.  “Yes, yes…brilliant.  Now, listen to this part, mate,” he said.  He continued reading:

“‘In my time, I have no understanding of what I have seen.  Yet I hope the passage of many centuries may bring wisdom to my words so that you, in your distant world, though you are standing exactly where I am now, may read and understand.

 For I have seen the Oracle at Delphi.  And It is not Human.’”

 “Not human?!”  Driscoll repeated.  He was leaning so far forward now, Gregory thought he might tumble off the couch.

“That’s what the bloody man says,” said Gregory, “and he should know.  He claims to have been there several times and seen this Oracle thing twice.  Once while it was reclining and going about ‘business as usual’ with the High Priests, and once when it was being carried out.  During this second viewing, the scribe said the Oracle didn’t look at all well.  It might have been dying or perhaps already dead, and the priests were taking the body to some secret burial place.  Anyhow, It was never brought back.  Apparently, interest in Delphi seemed to wane after that, at least among the big shots.  For the Caesars and the like, the Delphi prophesies seemed to have lost most of its punch.  The priests continued to sell prophesies, but more so to the public—at a cut rate, I presume.”

“Discount prophecies,” Driscoll said with a pensive grin.  “Talk about bargain shopping.”  He paused briefly to take another sip of brandy.  “Did he write anything else about the Oracle, Itself?” he asked anxiously.  He was already getting involved. “I mean, did he say what it looked like?”

“Oh yes,” said Gregory with a smug smile.  He knew he had Driscoll now.  “In fact, he was quite descriptive.  The scroll was very long . I only copied the first part, but I read Jessup’s entire translated version.  He said the Oracle’s appearance was that of a boy with longish hair—except It had pale blue skin and dark blue hair.”

“Holy shit…sounds like some kind of freakish Smurf!”  Driscoll said.

Gregory restrained from rolling his eyes this time.  “Also, Its eyes were clear, or maybe white.  The translation is not precise on that point.”

“Pretty strange, either way,” Driscoll said, genuinely interested.

“Yes, and it gets even stranger,” continued Gregory.  “The scribe’s description was from that first occasion, when the Oracle was reclining on a couch and being attended by the priests.  He said it appeared to be nude except for a thin, light blue veil and—are you ready for this Driscoll?—It had the sexual organs of both male and female!”

Driscoll said nothing.  He just sat on the edge of the couch, his elbows resting on his knees, his empty glass dangling from one hand.

Gregory stood up, stretched and walked out from behind his desk.  He leaned against the front of the desk and said slowly, “Driscoll, I think that Oracle was an alien.  Those High Priests had found, and were keeping, a bloody alien!”

The rain tapped on the windows.  The darkness from outside seemed to crowd into the study, despite the blazing fire.

Driscoll slowly set his glass on the coffee table and stared into it for a few moments.  His mind raced back to his boyhood bedroom.  He recalled all those sleepless nights he’d gazed at the stars through his homemade telescope as his drunken father raged downstairs.  Fast-forwarding to college, he remembered the countless hours he spent in the Princeton observatory studying the infinite depths of space, examining each pinprick of light.  Every time he’d ever looked up at that endless vista, he’d always had a feeling there was something—or someone—looking back at him.

“Gregory…”  Driscoll began stiffly.  For once, he was truly at a loss for words. “Gregory, are you…that is, well…don’t you think you might be jumping to conclusions?  I mean, isn’t it more likely that that poor thing was the sad result of generations of inbreeding or something?  We know it went on all the time, back then.  Maybe that or some terrible disease or something…”

“Goddammit, I’m a scientist, Driscoll!”  Gregory interrupted.  “I don’t jump to bloody conclusions.  It’s true, I don’t have any real proof, but that’s where you come in.  And anyway, there’s more. About the crash site.”

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Your Furniture May Be Haunted!

TheSecondWife_ByCatherineCavendish_200x300

 

So comes the warning from writer of spooky stories, Catherine Cavendish. Her latest novella, The Second Wife,  is out today – so I asked her to come over and tell us about it. It’s not Cat’s second coming, she’s been a regular here as she’s been pretty successful in getting published over the last year. Welcome, Cat!

 

Catherine Cavendish

Catherine Cavendish

 

 

Buyer Beware! Your Furniture May Be Haunted!

 

In my latest paranormal novella, The Second Wife,  my main character, Chrissie Marchant, is haunted by the unquiet spirit of her husband’s first wife. A chair and a stunning photograph of the lady in question feature strongly. But is this all pure fiction? Or should you think twice before buying that antique chest or bedroom suite? Here’s a sample of artefacts that should probably never again see the light of day…

 

The Haunted ‘Conjure’ Chest

 

Conjure Chest

 

Over 150 years ago, an African American slave called Hosea was ordered by his master, Jacob Cooley, to build him a chest to be used by his first-born child.

Hosea created a fine carved chest but, for some reason, it did not please his exacting master who beat him mercilessly until he lay dead.

Hosea was mourned by Cooley’s other slaves who vowed revenge on their terrible master. Together with a ‘conjure man’, they sprinkled dried owl’s blood in the chest which they then cursed. They didn’t have to wait long for their first result, as Jacob Cooley’s beloved first-born son perished in infancy.

To date, a total of 17 deaths have been attributed to this piece of antique furniture and, even though legend states that the curse was eventually removed, the present owners have stored it in the Kentucky History Museum. The only thing the chest contains is an envelope. Stuffed with owl feathers.

 

 The Mysterious School Desk

 

haunted school desk

 

For this next artifact, I am indebted to http://www.johnzaffisparanormalmuseum.com/#!

John is an avid collector of allegedly haunted items. One of the items in his collection is this ordinary looking, old-fashioned school desk. Nothing remarkable about it, you would think. But you wouldn’t have thought it so ordinary if you had been there on the day it was transported to John’s museum.

Its former home was a college campus, but its presence unnerved some of the students. Before it could be moved, and during John’s paranormal investigation of it, the desk suddenly slid across the floor – while someone was actually sitting in it!

 

The Ghostly Bedroom Suite

 

haunted bed

 

Not content with one piece of haunted furniture, Sarah Forbes had an entire bedroom suite that she put up for sale because it gave her the creeps. “It has been in my family for about 200 years. There are multiple spirits that come through it. They touch you, wake you and move your things. You can see faces in the wood…” As a child, she says she thought nothing of the strange figures who would mysteriously waft in and out of her bedroom at night.  You can read more about her strange story at

http://www.ghoststudy.com/new2/furniture.html

 

You’ll find many more mysterious stories like this on the internet. But now, I’ve got you in the mood for ghostly tales, here’s the blurb for The Second Wife:

 

TheSecondWife_ByCatherineCavendish_200x300

 

Emily Marchant died on Valentine’s Day. If only she’d stayed dead…

 

When Chrissie Marchant first sets eyes on Barton Grove, she feels as if the house doesn’t want her. But it’s her new husband’s home, so now it’s her home as well. Sumptuous and exquisitely appointed, the house is filled with treasures that had belonged to Joe’s first wife, the perfect Emily, whom the villagers still consider the real mistress of Barton Grove.

A stunning photograph of the first Mrs. Marchant hangs in the living room, an unblemished rose in her hand. There’s something unnerving and impossibly alive about that portrait, but it’s not the only piece of Emily still in the house. And as Chrissie’s marriage unravels around her, she learns that Emily never intended for Joe to take a second wife…

 

The Second Wife is available now from:

 

Amazon.com

Amazon.ca  

Amazon.co.uk

Barnes and Noble

Kobo 

You can find Cat here:

www.catherinecavendish.com

http://www.facebook.com/CatherineCavendish

www.goodreads.com as Catherine Cavendish

http://twitter.com/#!/cat_cavendish

 

2013 – We’re Coming To Get You

New Year’s Eve. Who can believe it? Where did 2012 go? Some might say it was such a stinker of a year that it’s good riddance – and I might be one of them. I decided to have a chat with my friendly witch – sorry, old friend – author Julia Kavan to see what we have in common for the coming year, if anything, and what thoughts we might share on the year now gone.

Make sure you go all the way down to the end of the post and leave a comment – you might win a book!

Pentacle-Gravestone2

S: So, Julia. 2012. Good or bad?

J: Good. And what do you mean old friend? I’m not old…

S: Well, not as old as me, no…

J: You said it! While I’ve mainly been quietly working away on long-term projects I’ve enjoyed seeing my writer friends go from strength to strength – some having more stories published (Catherine Cavendish), others being published in new genres (Susan Roebuck).  How about you? You’ve had a busy year. We even managed to meet three times in the space of a month without the world coming to an end. Surely this past year wasn’t really a stinker?

S: I mean globally rather than personally. I still get rather worked up about politics and things – don’t forget I used to be a politician in a former life. I keep thinking I might get involved again but living where I do there isn’t much point, it would be just more frustration. Round here you can put a pile of horse shit up as a Tory candidate and it’ll get elected. Personally it hasn’t been the worst year on record, but I do feel my penance is paid and that it’s time for an upsurge.

 

Horse Shit

 

So, if yours has been good, can you pick a highlight?

J: Can I only have one?

S: As many as you like, since I’m feeling generous.

J: In that case…opening the parcel containing my copies of the horror anthology Touched by Darkness, which includes my short story Dreaming, Not Sleeping. Attending BooQfest to keep you in line (you were very well behaved).

TouchedByDarkness_Antho-453x680

S: Oh, surely not? Wasn’t my intention I can assure you. Shame there weren’t any religious zealots in the audience, though. I’d been hoping for some decent hecklers to deal with.

Fending off Julia Kavan at Northampton BooQFest

Fending off Julia at Northampton BooQFest

J: Meeting some of my virtual friends in the flesh… And I imagine you have more than one highlight of the year, Steve… there was that lovely pub for a start…

S: You mean that place in York where we went after my book signing? Christ, I’m glad I don’t go to pubs much. I am astonished how tarty people can make themselves look in the name of a night out. That was horror!

Drunken Girls

J:  Hmph – I thought I looked quite smart… ;-)

S: As for highlights, being a born again Yorkshireman I’m not much given to cheerfulness if I can help it, so I will have to think really hard. *adopts the thinking position* Well, obviously I was pretty chuffed getting the paperbacks of Diavolino. Having print copies meant I was able to get decent coverage in magazines and newspapers, and I can say my writing career has been boosted as a result of all that. It was great to hear from Curtis Brown that I write really well, even if they ended up turning down my latest novel. They said they didn’t know how to sell it. I hope someone will! I would also say it cheered me up to get a message from Professor Mary Beard after I tried to drum up support for her when the appalling AA Gill had a go at her.

Mary Beard is professor of classics at Cambridge University

Mary Beard is professor of classics at Cambridge University

AA Gill is not a professor by any means

AA Gill is not a professor by any means

That’s enough of that stuff. Tell me, have you made any resolutions for the New Year? Do you generally do so and do you keep them?

J: I don’t make resolutions or set specific goals – I just try to keep moving in the direction I want to go, and see what happens along the way. If you remain too focused on achieving the specific outcome you think you want, resolutely following a set path you think is the right path, you may miss something better (bleuch – but you know what I mean).

S: I think so, but I have to say that staying focused is the thing that keeps me going. I agree you can’t be blinkered, but you have to have a steady aim.

Well, if you don’t make resolutions, what are you hoping for in 2013?

J: Perhaps like most authors yet to find a home for their first novel, I’m hoping that this is the year that everything clicks into place. I’m hoping the novel we are working on (I can say that, can’t I? Well, I have now…) will be as good as the first chapters suggest.

S: Yes, I’m really excited about our joint venture. Shall we tell the readers a bit about it?

J: I think we should – but I’m going to let you start.

S: Oh, bugger. You know I’m not good at this sort of thing.

J: Get on with it.

S: Jeesh. Well, is it fair to call it a psycho-sexual thriller?

J: Definitely – a bit of a departure from what we usually write, I know. The horror in this story is on a more personal level – dealing with the darker aspects of human nature.

S: We have two main characters, Michael the psychiatrist and Annie the loopy girl he rescues from the rain and puddles one evening. Annie brings out things in Michael he never knew were there and it all becomes rather a nasty big mess. Is that fair?

J: It certainly seems to be nasty big mess for one of the characters…

S: In the past we’ve done a lot of critiquing for each other, but actually writing a book together is different, is it not? Do you think we will finish it before one of us kills the other?

J: Writing a book together is different, but through critiquing we have learned each other’s strengths and weaknesses…  bad habits, blind spots, foibles, and quirks… of course I have very few of those…

S: Other than writing longer sentences than Germans and dropping in the odd appalling speech tag you mean? I don’t have any at all. Well, except for my atrocious typing. And never knowing my past from my passed.

J: Huh! And some of your similes are too much!

We have very different voices, too – which is what makes this novel work so well, I think. If writing this story together was lovely and companionable (I do try, tho…) it would be a very dull book, in my opinion. We are very different as people, and our working methods differ –we collide sometimes, but that makes sparks, creatively speaking. As for killing each other before it’s finished…it’s a distinct possibility, but I promise I will make it painless. Almost.

S: I cannot believe you used the word ‘companionable’. I HATE that word. It appears in dull books, in my opinion.

J: I know you hate that word…. I’m aware my working methods mean you are in the dark for half of the time, waiting to see how things fit together. How do you feel about that?

S: Since I can now read your mind it isn’t an issue! No, actually I feel desolate. I do not know how you can be so airy fairy in your thinking. You drive me to drink.

Drunk

J: I am not airy fairy, I’m fluid.

S: I’m certainly consuming fluids! We have to be careful how much we say, but can you tease the readers with something about your character?

J: She’s the most difficult character I’ve ever written! Just when you think you’re getting to know her, you get a glimpse of something you don’t expect, and off she goes. She’s feisty and fragile at the same time. She’s scary, too.

S: Sounds like you!

J: Difficult, you mean? Tsk.

S: And how do you view my character?

J: I’m torn about him– sometimes I can’t stand him, and I find myself feeling protective of my character… although I’m (almost) sure she can take care of herself. Then I feel sorry for him.

S: Whenever I send you a scene I’ve written and you say you hate Michael as a result, I feel really good!

Well, it’s New Year’s Eve. What will you be doing tonight?

J: I’ll be having a quiet evening at home, contemplating 2013 with a glass of something sparkling (no, not Lambrini, before you say it!). I will find a compass (I’m sure there was one in a Christmas cracker), locate Oop North, and raise my glass in your direction.

S: I have some bottles of nice stuff in the fridge but, to be honest, I had a bit too much last night and may have an early night tonight. If I do, it will be the first time since I could walk that I won’t have seen in the New Year. We’ll see. I love New Year’s Day and hate feeling crap then, especially if I miss the NYD concert in Vienna. What’s the 1st January looking like for you?

J: Writing, of course! Start as you mean to go on!

S: Ditto. After the concert, though.

J: Happy New Year, Steve – I’m looking forward to 2013.

S: Me too, and you too.

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE

Leave us a New Year message and once all the celebrations are over I will choose the best* one and send its author a signed copy of Diavolino. If you nip over to Julia’s I think she has something for you, too.

http://www.juliakavan.com/

(*Best to my mind. And my decision is final!)

When The Butler’s Word Was Law

Today I’m stepping back and leaving you in the capable hands of my fellow author, Catherine Cavendish. Take it away, Cat…
Catherine Cavendish

Catherine Cavendish

My latest Paranormal Horror novella, Miss Abigail’s Room is set in 1896 in a large, grand (well it used to be anyway) country house in rural Wiltshire and much of the story concerns the servants who worked below stairs.

MsAbigailsRoom_ByCatherineCavenish_200x300

TV series such as Downton Abbey and the original Upstairs, Downstairs have painted a rather cosy picture of servant life in the late Victorian/Edwardian eras and beyond, but the truth is often much harsher. Many of us today have grandparents and great-grandparents who worked ‘in service’ and not all of them had the kindly Mrs Bridges or the, strict but fair, Mr Hudson to turn to.

Mrs Bridges and Mr Hudson, Upstairs Downstairs

Many will tell tales of drudgery and eighteen hour days, followed by rotten food or upstairs’ leftovers, a hard bed and a freezing cold room to sleep in. Privacy was not an option, with same-sex servants sharing not only a room, but quite often a bed. As for a private life – forget it. ‘No followers’ was a frequent condition of employment and male and female servants slept well apart from each other.

Urban squalor c.1899

But for many girls and boys from large families, a life in service provided a lucky escape from overcrowding, grinding poverty and a life of crime on the streets. My main character, Becky, is just such an example. Hailing from one filthy room in a cockroach-infested tenement in Hoxton, London, she would rather do anything – even go into that evil room – rather than face going back to her childhood home.

Servants 1890s

My late maternal grandmother was in service for the local squire and his family, from a tender age (probably thirteen or fourteen at the latest) until she married the coachman in 1909. She told of a strict hierarchy and firm discipline. Below stairs, the butler ruled as King, with the housekeeper as Queen. You did as you were told and never answered back. You knew your place and you kept to it. In return, you ate three good meals a day, had clothes (all right, a uniform) to wear, somewhere to sleep and you were paid for your services (albeit not very well). In the house where my grandmother worked, the squire’s wife was most particular about ensuring the servants were well fed and looked after. Most were grateful for it and worked hard, rewarding their employers with loyalty. Given the conditions, Grandma was luckier than many in service, I know.

Nowadays, our world is vastly different from the one my grandmother inhabited. We would balk at the deferential attitude she and her fellow servants adopted towards their employers. We would sneer at the thought of referring to anyone as our ‘betters’ and we would want to improve our lot in life, rather than be satisfied with our ‘station’.

Are we living in better times as a result? In many important ways, yes, I believe we are. But are we any happier or more fulfilled? In some ways, maybe not. My grandmother said she was perfectly happy with her station in life. She never aspired towards anything else. She never had any money, but she did have a happy marriage and three children she took a pride in raising to have good values and a strong moral compass. As far as she was concerned, she had a happy and fulfilled life.

Isn’t that what we all strive for?

Miss Abigail’s Room is out now. Here’s the blurb:

It wasn’t so much the blood on the floor that Becky minded. It was the way it kept coming back…

As the lowest ranking parlour maid at Stonefleet Hall, Becky gets all the dirtiest jobs. But the one she hates the most is cleaning Miss Abigail’s room. There’s a strange, empty smell to the place, and a feeling that nothing right or Christian resides there in the mistress’s absence. And then there’s the blood, the spot that comes back no matter often Becky scrubs it clean. Becky wishes she had somewhere else to go, but without means or a good recommendation from her household, there is nothing for her outside the only home she’s known for eighteen years. So when a sickening doll made of wax and feathers turns up, Becky’s dreams of freedom and green grass become even more distant. Until the staff members start to die.

A darning needle though the heart of the gruesome doll puts everyone at Stonefleet Hall at odds. The head parlour maid seems like someone else, the butler pretends nothing’s amiss, and everyone thinks Becky’s losing her mind. But when the shambling old lord of the manor looks at her, why does he scream as though he’s seen the hounds of hell?

Available as an ebook from:

Amazon.com 
Amazon.co.uk
Omnilit
Barnes and Noble

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