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Happy Samhain (Halloween) – novel extract, book news & a new price

As a writer of Scottish romances, I thought I’d blog about a halloween party featured in my Girl in the Castle

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I hope you enjoy the extract. I’ve also added some photos taken at a recent Halloween party I attended to celebrate Halloween. Make a note – Girl in the Castle is 99p from today for a VERY limited time. You can download and read FREE if you subscribe to Kindle Unlimited. men in kilts laughing

Extract – When Henri entered the Great Hall, it had been completely transformed by the purple gloaming outside the windows, strategically placed candles and the roaring twin fires. A harpist was playing a selection of melodies on a clarsach, and in another corner, children were dookin’ for apples in a barrel of water, supervised by nannies or older siblings. The young guisers, dressed as ghouls, spirits or favourite superheroes, took great delight in frightening the grown-ups with turnip lanterns hanging from sticks and fake Dracula fangs. 

Henriette - shawlHenri had dressed so as not to draw attention to herself,  however, the other guests showed no such restraint. They were celebrating Samhain in style; the men in kilts, ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ jackets over matching waistcoats, dress shirts, black tie, and brogues. The women in long plaid skirts/kilts, silk blouses with lace jabots or, like herself, in simple black dresses worn with clan tartan in the form of a shawl or a sash. Clearly, this was an evening for showing off, because heirloom tiaras, necklaces and bracelets had been taken out of the bank vault. The jewels caught the candlelight and added extra glamour to the evening. One man stood apart from the rest, and it took several seconds before Henri realised that it was Keir. She’d never seen the Master of Mountgarrie other than in his work clothes. But this Keir, wearing full Highland dress with unconscious grace and style was every inch the laird she’d dreamed about in the library. In her dreams. Grasping her silver caman for good luck, she stepped out of the shadows and into the hall.Man in a doorway

If you’d like to read the opening chapters of Girl in the Castle on your kindle, click on this link. You can also buy a paperback for your bookshelf. 

Here are the hallowe’en photos – (thank you, hostess with the mostess, Adrienne Vaughan)- lots of spooks and demons, but not a kilt in sight. Unfortunately. You might also catch a glimpse of fellow New Romantics Press’s June Kearns hiding behind one of the masks (!) 

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If you like spooky stories then check out the best selling anthology Adrienne and I contributed to. 

#best seller

Alternatively, check out my blog post about a real life spooky event which happened to me and my siblings in the sixties.1-img072.jpg

Just to bring you up to date, Adrienne and I have published a new novel apiece since this blog post was written. Check out TAKE ME, I’M YOURS and That Summer at the Seahorse Hotel . As for June, she’s finally come out from behind that mask and hopes to publish her new novel summer 2020. 

My Real Life Ghostly Experience

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This is a true story, verified by my sisters –

Ellen Humber and Phyllis Fell. 

Me with my two sisters and brother William outside 14 College Avenue where the spooky event took place.

Me with my two sisters and brother William outside 14 College Avenue where the spooky event took place.

KNOCK, KNOCK, WHO’S THERE?

 – Leicester circa 1964

 

In 1962, my family –including Granny and the dog all moved from Scotland to live in Leicester in a rambling palisaded villa. Apart from my Granny, all the adults went out to work – Mother in one of the many shoe factories dotted around Leicester and Dad on a building site as a scaffolder. I was thirteen years old and my siblings ranged below me at eight, six and four years of age respectively. We were rarely alone in the house as Granny was there to welcome us home from school and to give us our evening meal before the adults arrived in from work.

               There was something spooky about that house in College Avenue, it had a long dark corridor which led from the front door to the breakfast room, scullery and kitchen at the rear. Other doors opened off the corridor giving onto a sitting room and a gloomy dining room in turn. Once, the house must have been splendid, in a Gothic sort of way; high ceilings, marble fireplaces, deep cornices and even bells to ring for the servants in each room. But to us kids it was a scary place and we didn’t like to be left on our own. In fact, there were certain rooms which the dog wouldn’t enter – without its hackles rising.

               One day Granny decided to visit her brother in London which meant leaving us alone for several hours until Mother returned from the factory. Granny was very unhappy with this arrangement, but eventually agreed to visit her brother – albeit with the proviso that all four children, plus dog locked ourselves in our parents’ bedroom and stayed there until Mother came home.

               Granny left, and I locked us in our temporary prison with food, drink, comics, toys, radio, the dog and a chamber pot in case of emergencies! We watched Granny walk to the end of the street and then settled down for a boring couple of hours until Mother arrived home. Time passed slowly and we tried to guess where Granny was on her journey – Luton, Bedford, St Pancras, the underground . . .

               Then, the strangest thing happened.

               We heard Granny’s footsteps climbing the stairs and coming along the landing towards the bedroom. The door knob turned once and then sprang back to its original position. Being kids we thought nothing of it. Ours was an old house and things were always sticking and jamming. Then, stranger still, we heard Granny calling out my name: ‘Betty. Betty,’ in her unmistakable Scottish accent. I looked at my sister Ellen for confirmation of what I’d heard and then walked over to the bedroom door and tried the handle. The door was still locked and the key was on our side, just as I’d left it. I went to unlock the door, but remembering the promise I’d made to Granny to stay put until Mother came home, I changed my mind.

               My sister and I sat down on the bed and looked at each other, more puzzled than frightened.  When Mother came home, we were simply glad to be allowed to run outside and play and didn’t tell her about Granny’s voice, the footsteps or the door knob turning.

               Years later I brought up the subject with my sister.

               ‘We did hear Granny’s footsteps and her voice, didn’t we?’ I asked.

               ‘We did,’ my sister Ellen replied, emphatically. ‘She called out your name, twice and the door handle turned.’

               We exchanged a look and shuddered, knowing that, as adults, we were only just beginning to comprehend we’d seen and heard that day. Had Granny been so worried about us being in the house alone, that she’d projecting her anxiety across the miles from London to Leicester? Or was it something ‘else’; something which wanted us to leave the safety of the bedroom and venture out on to the landing where it was waiting?

               The same nameless terror which made us run down the long dark corridor to the safety of the kitchen every time – and the dog refuse to enter the large cupboard under the stairs where we played? Or, was it the old lady my father (the least fanciful of men) purported to have seen on several occasions standing at the foot of his bed looking distracted and mournful?

               You decide.

               My sister considers herself a ‘wee bit psychic’, while I consider myself a complete pragmatist. My other sister, Phyllis, told me recently that she’d seen the door handle turn on a couple of other occasions and had been too scared to leave her bedroom.  I know there must be a logical explanation for what happened and I’d feel a whole lot better if someone experienced in this field could explain it to me.

               Then I could finally lay this story to rest – where it belongs.

This tale is included in this book of 13 supernatural short stories, which also features one written by fellow New Romantics Press author, Adrienne Vaughan – Seed of Doubt.

Adrienne and LIzzie - Belmont Hotel October 2014

This is Adrienne and me at the Belmont last year celebrating the launch of Hocus Pocus. The witches’ hats? I just happened to ‘have them’ about my person as you do, this time of year.

 Thank you for reading this story. Next year, maybe I’ll tell you another true story … the one where my great-grandfather (who was ‘laid out’ in his coffin on the dining room table) ‘woke up; and joined the mourners  toasting his memory with whisky in front of the fire in the next room . . .

Hallowe'en name

Just for fun – work out what your Hallowe’en name is and leave it in the comment box below. Mine is . . . ICY RUNER!!

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Hocus Pocus ’14 and Hallowe’en Fun

HOCUS POCUS ’14 OFFICAL LAUNCH DATE AND FREE DOWNLOAD

Hocus Pocus cover for press releases etc.Today is the official launch date of the Hallowe’en short story anthology – HOCUS POCUS ’14.

To celebrate the event, the short story anthology will be FREE to download from 31st October to 2nd November. So grab yours now. The contributors have organised a Facebook Event which will run through the whole day in hourly slots. There will be lots of giveaways to celebrate the launch of Hocus Pocus, so please come along, leave a comment/enter a competition and, hopefully, win a prize.

I will be ‘live’ from 7pm – 8pm. During that time I will be organising a fun competition to choose your ‘witchy name’ – with some copies of Hocus Pocus (paperback) up for grabs and/or a download of either Tall, Dark and Kilted or Boot Camp Bride. I was also be ‘manning’ the Facebook page and would love you to come and chat with me. Fellow writer and member of New Romantics Press, Adrienne Vaughan will be on earlier in the day. That’s us together in witches’ hats brandishing a copy of Hocus Pocus.  Pretty scary, huh?2014-10-18 12.24.23-1

The anthology is the brain child of Debbie Flint and the other authors/contributors are: Adrienne Vaughan  Lynda Renham  Alison May  Jane O’Reilly Jules Wake Mary Jane Hallowell Carolyn Mahony  Tina K. Burton

As part of the celebration, Debbie Flint asked us to write about a true life spooky event. I’ve called mine – Knock, Knock, Who’s There? I’ve included it in this blog post and I hope you enjoy reading it.

Have a great Hallowe’en and don’t get up to any Hocus Pocus!! 

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KNOCK, KNOCK, WHO’S THERE?

My Real Life Spooky Event – Leicester circa 1964

In 1962, my family –including Granny and the dog all moved from Scotland to live in Leicester in a rambling palisaded villa. Apart from my Granny, all the adults went out to work – Mother in one of the many shoe factories dotted around Leicester and Dad on a building site as a scaffolder. I was thirteen years old and my siblings ranged below me at eight, six and four years of age respectively. We were rarely alone in the house as Granny was there to welcome us home from school and to give us our evening meal before the adults arrived in from work.

There was something spooky about that house in College Avenue, it had a long dark corridor which led from the front door to the breakfast room, scullery and kitchen at the rear. Other doors opened off the corridor giving onto a sitting room and a gloomy dining room in turn. Once, the house must have been splendid, in a Gothic sort of way; high ceilings, marble fireplaces, deep cornices and even bells to ring for the servants in each room. But to us kids it was a scary place and we didn’t like to be left on our own. In fact, there were certain rooms which the dog wouldn’t enter – without its hackles rising.

One day Granny decided to visit her brother in London which meant leaving us alone for several hours until Mother returned from the factory. Granny was very unhappy with this arrangement, but eventually agreed to visit her brother – albeit with the proviso that all four children, plus dog locked ourselves in our parents’ bedroom and stayed there until Mother came home.

Granny left, and I locked us in our temporary prison with food, drink, comics, toys, radio, the dog and a chamber pot in case of emergencies! We watched Granny walk to the end of the street and then settled down for a boring couple of hours until Mother arrived home. Time passed slowly and we tried to guess where Granny was on her journey – Luton, Bedford, St Pancras, the underground . . .

Then, the strangest thing happened.

We heard Granny’s footsteps climbing the stairs and coming along the landing towards the bedroom. The door knob turned once and then sprang back to its original position. Being kids we thought nothing of it. Ours was an old house and things were always sticking and jamming. Then, stranger still, we heard Granny calling out my name: ‘Betty. Betty,’ in her unmistakable Scottish accent. I looked at my sister Ellen for confirmation of what I’d heard and then walked over to the bedroom door and tried the handle. The door was still locked and the key was on our side, just as I’d left it. I went to unlock the door, but remembering the promise I’d made to Granny to stay put until Mother came home, I changed my mind.

My sister and I sat down on the bed and looked at each other, more puzzled than frightened.  When Mother came home, we were simply glad to be allowed to run outside and play and didn’t tell her about Granny’s voice, the footsteps or the door knob turning.

Years later I brought up the subject with my sister.

‘We did hear Granny’s footsteps and her voice, didn’t we?’ I asked.

‘We did,’ my sister Ellen replied, emphatically. ‘She called out your name, twice and the door handle turned.’

1cfa569cda370dff36afed84de207545We exchanged a look and shuddered, knowing that, as adults, we were only just beginning to comprehend we’d seen and heard that day. Had Granny been so worried about us being in the house alone, that she’d projecting her anxiety across the miles from London to Leicester? Or was it something ‘else’; something which wanted us to leave the safety of the bedroom and venture out on to the landing where it was waiting?

The same nameless terror which made us run down the long dark corridor to the safety of the kitchen every time – and the dog refuse to enter the large cupboard under the stairs where we played? Or, was it the old lady my father (the least fanciful of men) purported to have seen on several occasions standing at the foot of his bed looking distracted and mournful?

You decide.

My sister considers herself a ‘wee bit psychic’, while I consider myself a complete pragmatist. I know there must be a logical explanation for what happened and I’d feel a whole lot better if someone experienced in this field could explain it to me.

Then I could finally lay this story to rest – where it belongs.

Remember: Tall, Dark and Kilted and Boot Camp Bride are both just 99p for one more day and then they revert back to £1.99 a download. Working hard on number three which will be published early 2015.

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