#Wednesday Writers: Serialisation of Nine Lives #Mystery Thriller

Despite the terrible pain in my back, I am trying to keep going. Doing what I love is really helping me cope and not get too depressed. Tests are on going, so might get some answers soon!

Hope you enjoy reading chapter eight of Nine Lives, and let me know what you think of it!

 

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Chapter Eight

The daylight was beginning to fade, although Jack hadn’t noticed. He wasn’t aware of anything, locked in his own private world of pain and anger. Not even the pain from his fingers as he chewed them unmercifully in his frustration.

Darkness was gathering in pools all around him as he sat at the kitchen table, Kate’s carton of cigarettes in front of him. He wasn’t seeing them anymore, her face occupied his mind again and no matter how he tried to distort her image with every ounce of hatred he possessed, he failed miserably as usual.

He had never understood the power she had over him, the way just looking at her made him feel unworthy. Kate was not beautiful in the classic sense, her nose was a little too big, her mouth lopsided, but a light seemed to glow inside her and the more you looked the more you were compelled to.

If he didn’t know any better, he would describe the aura that emanated from her as saint-like, for he could almost hear the soft chords of a church organ in her presence, he felt touched by something divine.

Anger sparked and flared again as he remembered the day she had vanished, throwing his love away and all he had given her. He reached out and grasped the box in front of him, gripping it so hard his fingers shook and began to bleed. She probably thought she had succeeded, even now.

He relaxed his grip and slowly stroked the packet, spreading a smear of blood and imagined her fingers touching the paper, fingers that should be touching him.

White-hot anger seared through his brain and he ripped the carton open, destroying the contents in a frenzied rage that seemed unending.

 

Sometime later, when the rage had abated, he stared at the rubbish in front of him. Of all the things to steal from her, he thought, why these? Because he knew she would miss them the most. She always seemed to need a cigarette much more than him and that had always infuriated him and driven him mad.

He ignored his own sarcasm, shaking his head as if to dislodge it, knowing as he did it was true. Had he been reduced to petty theft?

He had taken other things from her over the years; most went unnoticed to his constant annoyance. It would appear she went about in a dream most of the time, completely unaware of her surroundings.

The way she could remove herself from reality was what had attracted him in the beginning. He discovered quite early in their relationship she didn’t like the real world at all and wanted no part of it. Rejecting the pain and torment, the dirt and humiliation all living things had to endure and of which she had had her share. She had found a way to live, which reduced all the hostile friction to a minimum.

The fact he wasn’t included in her state of mind was what started to create his anger. Little by little, he resented her way of generating the calm she obviously needed more than him, until he found himself trying to destroy everything she held dear.

Most of his resentment was directed at Mr Perfect, his nickname for Michael Barratt, the so-called love of her life and father of her son David. She never mentioned it but he knew she still loved him and while that love existed, there was no room for him.

When Jack was trying desperately to find her all those years ago, he visited all the places he could think of, questioning anyone who might have a clue as to her whereabouts. He tried to talk to Mr Perfect’s father, John Barratt, something he didn’t enjoy for the man seemed hell-bent on keeping the fact he knew her a well-kept secret. It wasn’t until later when his temper had been satisfied he saw the old man’s stubbornness for what it was. He had loved her and was jealously guarding her memory from all comers.

Kate had run away from him too and the father seemed to blame his son with a barely concealed hatred that matched Jack’s own.

At least he wouldn’t have to worry about that anymore, he thought; remembering the way the old man’s eyes had gradually closed as he squeezed the life out of him. It was almost as though he welcomed death as the end of his suffering.

Did the suffering end when you died, he wondered? Or did you take it with you into the afterlife? He hoped it was the latter, for in a complicated way he enjoyed the pain. There were just so many ways you could enjoy it.

He would have killed Michael too if he knew where to find him, but the man proved to be more elusive than smoke and he had to content himself for the moment with the knowledge he was no longer in the picture. It wouldn’t remove him from her heart, and then, killing him probably wouldn’t either.

For some reason, all the hatred he felt for Michael Barratt transferred to the child, a pale and pathetically weak child. Constantly clinging to his mother and demanding her attention and the fact he seemed to cry at the slightest touch, drove Jack insane. Just looking at him monopolising Kate caused white-hot anger to flow through Jack’s body, an anger that had to be quenched.  Using the sedatives helped a lot but he still fantasied about smothering him with a pillow, but she always seemed to be in the way. He had to make do with vicious mental games and rough play, most of which frightened the child witless, forcing him to appear withdrawn and miserable. Eventually, the child stopped clinging to his mother, blaming her for not protecting him enough.

It was easy to plant cruel ideas in the child’s head and before too long he hated his mother; refusing to let her touch him, causing the kind of pain he found satisfying. He decided to postpone killing the child until his usefulness ran out.

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Cusp of Night by Mae Clair is Released today! Our 5* Review.#ParanormalMystery @MaeClair1

The truth hides in dark places . . .

 

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Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house—a woman whose ghost may still linger. Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, triggers Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .

Visit us at www.kensingtonbooks.com

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Forli, Emilia Romagna, Italy: narrow dark alley in the old town – ancient Italian street at night with lampposts and cobbled pavement

Book Link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Cusp-Night-Hodes-Hill-Novel-ebook/dp/B078LJX83X/

Our Review of Cusp of Night

“Equal parts monster and fallen angel…”

I knew when I read the blurb for CUSP OF NIGHT that I had to read the first book in Mae Clair’s new series, and I wasn’t disappointed.

It is an unusual story, beautifully written, dripping with a chilling mystery that draws you into the dark world of spiritualism and myth. Mae Clair skilfully blends and intertwines the chapters, connecting the reader to the 1900’s and the present day and the mysteries of both.

I especially loved the way the mysteries from the past begin to resonate with the present circumstances, leading the hero, Maya Sinclair into the paranormal discovery of an evil that somehow can live forever.

Why would an evil entity visit the present, dragging tragedy and horror with it?

This is the mystery that Maya needs to solve, as disaster begins to strike the people around her. Would she be able to solve the mystery and discover the truth behind the legend?

The tension had me chewing my nails, and then the unexpected sadness had me reaching for a box of tissues, but I thoroughly enjoyed every word.

Already described as  “unique, addictive and creepy…” this new series promises to be a best seller and I can highly recommend Cusp of Night to anyone who loves a haunting and formidable story…


 

EXCERPT FROM CUSP OF NIGHT

She’d left her purse on the dresser, keys by her jewellery chest. A half dozen shoeboxes that had yet to find a place in the closet were stacked beside a white rocking chair. Made from distressed wood, the chair had come from Mrs.Bonnifer’s antique shop. Maya had bought it on the spot after hearing it dated from the 1880s. She’d placed it in the parlour initially, then moved it to the bedroom, where it fits perfectly in the corner by the fireplace. Almost as if it had been made for the spot.

The fireplace had long ago been converted to gas, but the charm of the elaborate Victorian mantel had been one of the deciding factors prompting her to sign the lease.

A soft creak broke the stillness, and the rocker pitched slowly back and forth. The runners bobbled up and down as if someone sat in the chair, controlling the movement. A finger of cold traced Maya’s spine. Secondcrept into second as the deliberate rocking continued, the floorboards creaking in unison with the lurch of the runners.

 Barely breathing, Maya stood. Ever since those few seconds in the Aether, she’d grown sensitive to ripples on the fringe of normal. She didn’t believe in ghosts or hauntings but couldn’t deny the existence of vibrations that breached barriers between life and death. She was living proof of a “between” world. Ivy was the only person she’d ever told what she’d experienced while EMTs fought to revive her.

Shock. Trauma, they’d said. You were lucky.

Be careful here. Mrs Bonnifer’s warning echoed in her head. This place has a history.

Maya stepped to the foot of the bed, her gaze glued to the rocker. Its movement stopped abruptly as if an unseen hand had clamped down on the back…

 

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Preview and Early Review of Cusp of Night by Mae Clair #Mystery/Suspense #Supernatural Thriller @MaeClair1

 

 

Cusp of Night, Mae Clair’s stunning new book is released tomorrow, and we will be posting our review in the morning!

In the meantime, here is An Early Review of  Cusp of Night by Mae Clair

Thank you for having me as your guest today to share my newest release, Cusp of Night. A mystery/suspense novel with elements of urban legend and the supernatural, Cusp of Night uses dual timelines to tell two mysteries—one set in the past and one in the present. Naturally, both have to converge at the end, creating a tidy package. As an author, it involves writing two stories at once—something I found challenging to do, but also intriguing.

I’d like to share a snippet from a pre-release review today. After downloading a copy of Cusp of Night from NetGalley, Dianne, of the Tome Tender Book Blog had this to say:

Mae Clair takes us on a twisted journey through time and back in her latest mesmerizing read, CUSP OF NIGHT. The feel of the 1890’s comes to life, with its dark secrets, heinous betrayals and the jarring inner pain of a woman used for the very differences that forced her to grow up labeled a freak and a monster. What drives Maya to unearth the past with such obsessive fervor? Has Maya’s own past created a connection beyond the veil of death? One man is determined to help her, and together they will learn the nightmare called the Fiend is very much alive…was it ever dead?

Absolutely one of Mae Clair’s best paranormal mysteries to date! I could feel the change in eras, the emotions, I found my own monsters in so many of these characters and had to ask myself, who were the real victims? Deviously dark, this tale unfolds like a coiled snake ready to strike at any time and through it all, the webs that are woven grow into a barbed tapestry of suspense.

Too many riveting, entangled events to dismiss, you may find yourself dreaming of waking at 2:22 am a little cold and no longer alone…Fabulous reading intrigue from an author who knows her craft!

 

It’s so rewarding to find a review that makes all those late nights and long weekends juggling plot lines worthwhile. Many thanks to Dianne for posting her thoughts.

If Cusp of Night sounds like something that might interest you, perhaps you’d like to take a closer look at the blurb:

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BLURB

Recently settled in Hode’s Hill, Pennsylvania, Maya Sinclair is enthralled by the town’s folklore, especially the legend about a centuries-old monster. A devil-like creature with uncanny abilities responsible for several horrific murders, the Fiend has evolved into the stuff of urban myth. But the past lives again when Maya witnesses an assault during the annual “Fiend Fest.” The victim is developer Leland Hode, patriarch of the town’s most powerful family, and he was attacked by someone dressed like the Fiend.

Compelled to discover who is behind the attack and why, Maya uncovers a shortlist of enemies of the Hode clan. The mystery deepens when she finds the journal of a late nineteenth-century spiritualist who once lived in Maya’s house–a woman whose ghost may still linger.

Known as the Blue Lady of Hode’s Hill due to a genetic condition, Lucinda Glass vanished without a trace and was believed to be one of the Fiend’s tragic victims. The disappearance of a young couple, combined with more sightings of the monster, trigger Maya to join forces with Leland’s son Collin. But the closer she gets to unearthing the truth, the closer she comes to a hidden world of twisted secrets, insanity, and evil that refuses to die . . .

PURCHASE HERE

You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:

Website | Blog | Twitter | Newsletter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon | Other Social Links

 

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#WednesdayWriters Chapter 7 of Nine Lives by Jaye Marie #MysteryThriller

Struggling to do even the basics, I am trying to keep my schedule going…

As always, any feedback, especially the good kind as I’m trying not to get emotional about everything, is very welcome!

 

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Amazon Universal Link:  http://myBook.to/NewNineLives

Chapter Seven

Dylan was sitting on the arm of the couch, and she could swear he had a disapproving look on his face. She sat down beside him and rubbed gently behind his ears. ‘Did you miss me, or are we still sulking?’

He shrugged her hand away and jumped gracefully down to the floor, heading for the kitchen. She knew exactly what he was doing, he would go and sit by his food bowl and glare at her.

Why did she care about him so much, she thought, deciding not to play his game. She had never been sorry she found him one rainy night not long after she moved in, but sometimes he could try the patience of a saint!

She switched the kettle on and checked the letters Janet had put on the hall table. A quick glance told her there was nothing important; she could safely bin the lot.

She didn’t know why, but she almost convinced herself that Danny might have sent a card or something. He wasn’t supposed to know where she lived, so how did he know what happened to her? There was no logical answer to that question and tried to put it out of her mind. But the mysterious voice had other ideas. The thought he might come there, to her own private place, filled her with dread.

Thinking back to her childhood with Danny, she remembered how mysterious he liked to be, revelling in pulling the wool over her eyes at every opportunity. Like hiding from her, sometimes for hours on end, only to reappear from the first place you looked.

The oddest occasion was when Matron swore she had seen him in the village, and Kate knew he had not left the house.

Danny loved to play tricks, sometimes quite cruel tricks carefully orchestrated to make her cry even though she was the older than him by several years.

There was that time he lured her to his favourite hiding place in the woods. He tied her up and terrified her; she thought he wanted to kill her, but she couldn’t recall exactly why.

Knowing all these things about him never helped her to remember exactly what it was that made her dislike him.

She knew all his faults, that he could lie and cheat, be selfish and cruel, not to mention deliberately getting her into trouble, but despite all that, she was sure there must be something else.

The kettle boiled and she made a cup of coffee, determined to stop thinking about Danny. With a bit of luck, she wouldn’t see him again.

She found herself thinking about the time she had that bad influenza when she was a child. It was a nasty virus, killing hundreds of people old and young, and surprisingly she seemed to be the only one in the village to get it. She didn’t remember much about it, but Matron constantly moaned about how she sat up with her for three nights, desperately trying to keep her temperature down or she might have died.

The voice in her head mumbled something about a fourth life, and Kate groaned. Not that again, and what did it mean; fourth life? Did it think she was some kind of cat?

Her mind travelled back to the boarding school. Why was she the only one to get the flu, what was so special or different about her? The one thing she did seem to remember clearly was Danny coming into her dormitory and whispering to her she should have died and seemed angry she had not.

She remembered feeling sad, frightened and alone that day, and swore as soon as she grew up her life would be different.

She started to think back, forcing herself to try to count all the times she had nearly died. Her memory wasn’t what it was and she soon gave up. What did any of it matter anyway?

Kate was putting her medication in the bathroom cabinet when she suddenly remembered her cigarettes. There was an unopened carton in her bedside cupboard she should throw away. The fact she had no desire for one was surprising and unexpected. She wouldn’t push it though, a promise was a promise.

She had wanted to quit for a while now, along with the diet she never quite managed to start. It was time to turn over a new leaf, better late than never, or so they say.


Kate opened the cupboard door next to her bed, expecting to see the familiar royal blue carton inside, but it wasn’t there.

She stared into the cupboard, fully expecting them to materialise at any minute. When they didn’t, she slowly sat down on the bed, trying to remember exactly when she put them there. She brought them on her way back from having lunch with Sam. That was on Thursday and she remembered it clearly because she almost ran out and wanted to be sure there were enough for the weekend. Today was Saturday, so where were they?

Kate systematically checked every hiding place and came to the obvious conclusion they had gone, and where?

She noticed other things too; things had been moved as if someone was looking for something. She became aware of a faint trace of tobacco smoke laced with a flowery scent that seemed to be lingering in every room. Gradually a horribly creepy sensation began to seep into her mind and body. She felt sick; trying desperately to deny the fact someone had been in her flat and taken her stash of cigarettes. She couldn’t deny the fact the cigarettes had gone and somebody had taken them. Someone had touched her things and ruined the perfect peace and tranquillity of her private place, her sanctuary. It will probably never feel the same, she thought, sadly.

Who could have done it?

Her brother’s smiling face floated into her mind, chilling her to the bone. As far as she knew, he didn’t smoke. Could it have been him?

How did he get in? The lock wasn’t broken, so did he have a key?

She wandered around the flat and looking around her perfect living room, she shivered, realising she had always felt safe there, but not anymore. Someone had spoiled everything she worked so hard to achieve, and her first impulse was to run…


 

My Favourite Villain…

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“Like a beautiful man who farts as he leaves the room, Dexter changed the world for the better, but left a noxious stink behind…”

 

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Dexter: The TV series. 2006-2013

I discovered this series as I was checking out the box sets on my TV. Eight series, each containing 12 episodes, enough to keep me happy throughout the long winter months.

Boy, was I in for a treat!

It turned out that what I had discovered was a lethal formula of black comedy and revenge-killing procedural. From its debut in 2006, Showtime’s adaptation of Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter novels expertly marshalled its own absurdities to deliver a confident, darkly funny show like nothing around at the time.

It was television’s first serial killer procedural: a monster of the week format where Dexter assessed, tracked and killed whichever rapist, spree killer or assassin was in his sights. Rooting for the villain was nothing new, of course, but this took fanboying the bad boy to the next level.

Working as a blood-spatter analyst for Miami-Dade police offered Dexter the Intel and expertise to carry out his campaign. He was the psychopath you could introduce to your parents.

With every episode pored over in forensic detail, it only took the first episode to make me a devoted fan. As a budding crime/thriller writer, this series was like my own personal podcast, viewed from the comfort of my armchair. Every week, there would be something interesting to learn, some nuance or idea that could be utilised in a story of my own.

Dexter Morgan, bless him, played by Michael C Hall taught me so much about the perfect villain. One you could actually like and almost approve of.

And I did!

 

A Magical Relationship?

 

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I spotted this POST the other day about the magical relationship between writers and their notebooks by one of my favourite bloggers and instantly knew she was talking about me. It had to be because I have a thing about notebooks. Notebooks are an essential part of being a writer, and they should be attractive to look at.

This is so important for the magical element of writing, as only good things can be written in such a notebook, and consequently, only brilliance can ever find its way out of one.

The difference between hastily scribbled, barely decipherable notes on scraps of paper and your notebook entries is nothing short of amazing. One important difference is the fact that your notebook entries will at least be readable. I mean, you will be using your very best handwriting in your notebook, won’t you?

I know I do. I simply cannot spoil it with any of my messy scrawl!

Because of the special nature of notebooks, you will write better content in them too. A strange magic occurs when you open an attractive notebook, as it is almost a challenge to produce something special. Something that almost never happens with scraps of paper or post-it notes.

Our book, Lazy Days, about our first family holiday on a boat on the Norfolk Broads, was born in a notebook. Originally called our Captains Log, we wrote down everything that happened and everywhere we went. It was fun but only intended to be a keepsake. Nearly forty years later, we turned it into a book. All of our family loved reading it and remembering our adventure…

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New Cover Release of Simple by Anita Dawes #FamilyHorror

Simple, the second book in Anita’s stable, has been re- edited and supplied with a brand new cover!  We would love to raise the profile of this book, finding new readers and hopefully new reviews.

To this end, free PDF copies are available! 

 

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SIMPLE’S LIFE is a painful nightmare.

A huge bear of a man, but with the heart and mind of an innocent child, he suffers terrible abuse from his vicious and uncaring backwoods family.

Together with his half-sister Leanne, they are hunted like wild animals and suffer the terror of nearly being burned alive as they try to escape.

 

SHADES OF THE WALTON’S MEET DELIVERANCE!

Universal Amazon Link:  http://myBook.to/mySimple

Simple is the follow-up book to Bad Moon, Anita’s first book and is another story about the backwoods people of West Virginia. At the time of writing, some 25 years ago, it seemed as though Anita was channelling actual people, the stories so disturbingly real. Neither Simple or Bad Moon are pleasant stories by any means, being full of raw, powerful emotions and unbelievable cruelty.

This was long before the world of Indie publishing, so we approached traditional publishers with the help of a well-known literary agent. They all said the same thing, that they were impressed with the strong powerful writing, and that it was well written. But it wouldn’t fit with all the other books on their list. I can appreciate this now, as finding the right category has been hard. If only those publishers had the courage of their convictions and made room for Simple!

Simple is a nickname his cruel family have given him, due to him being mentally challenged and cursed with a terrible stutter. His real name is Ethan, and although a giant of a man, he has the heart and mind of a child. He spends his time in the woods, tending to wounded wild birds and animals.

His grandmother and brothers beat him for everything he forgets to do, and many things he shouldn’t have done. When his half-sister Leanne cannot bear to watch any more cruelty, they make a plan to escape. But when they try to run, they bring the wrath of their vicious family down on their heads, and the results are terrifying…

Extract from Simple

I couldn’t be sure I was heading in the right direction, I had no choice but to follow where my feet led me, hoping my instincts were right.

I walked for hours, and just when I thought I would never find them, I smelled wood burning and there was a hint of voices carried on the wind.  Why had no one grabbed me?  Jack would never have let an outsider close enough to smell our fires burning.  Closer, I could hear a fiddle and someone singing a song, not something I heard too often at Gran’s.

They let me walk right into their camp.  It had been built among the trees and the land hadn’t been cleared much at all.  The cabins were much the same as ours, made with logs cut from the forest. The only thing different was the moss growing on the outsides where not much light could reach. The cabins looked green, almost as though they were still growing.  It felt a lot colder up here, even though I knew the sun was still up. It should be setting soon, and Simple would be lying where I had left him, in the dark.

The sound of the fiddle stopped and a woman about Gran’s age stood up.  My feet suddenly felt about three sizes too big.  I stumbled, and then came to a standstill, unable to move.  What was I thinking of, coming here?  Going to town would have been better, would have changed my life, Simple’s too, possibly for the better.

The woman spoke, her voice deep yet softer than Gran’s.

‘What ye be wanting’ so far from home, young’un?’

I must have looked half beaten.  My dress was torn and bloody, filthy arms and legs, scratched and bleeding.  I hoped they didn’t think I was one of the crazy stories come to life. My thoughts finally slipped into my mouth and my words sounded like the damp dirt I stood upon.  The woman picked up a cup of water from the table, stepped forward and offered it to me.  She said, ‘They call me Belle Spiers hereabouts.’

The cool water tasted good.  Then all my words came out in a rush. 

‘I need help. Simple’s hurt, please you have to help me.’

‘Slow down girl, your words are running’ together like my boy’s heads when I need to put them in their place.’

I took another mouthful of water. ‘It’s Simple, his leg’s broke.  Uncle Jimmy left him back there in the caves.’

She interrupted me and called out for someone called Jimmy.  I felt my heart freeze, turn to ice, expecting Uncle Jimmy to appear.  The frozen waste where my heart sat, slowly melted when the older Man who had been playing the fiddle limped to her side, along with another Man who looked nothing like Uncle Jimmy.

‘Go see what this young’un has got herself into.’

Suddenly I had the strangest feeling she knew right off who I was and where I came from.  Even the name Simple didn’t move her any.  A few other faces came to see what all the fuss was about.  One of them was a boy called Zach with yellow hair like the sun, older than me but not by much. The one called Jimmy told him to come with them.

‘Gonna need more than old pa here to bring a log like Simple back up from the caves.’

It took a while, but his words sunk deep like the roots of a tree sucking at my brain.  He knew Simple!

Then the woman was speaking to me again. ‘Come in girl, we’ll get you cleaned up while waiting’ for the menfolk.  Hungry too, I’ll be thinking’.’

Orders slipped from her lips much the same as Gran; save no one seemed to mind.  Least of all the young woman called Jolene with a baby on her hip, who had been told to fetch food while I waited for a tub to be filled with water, warmed over an open fire.

Belle carried the last of the hot water in a much-used pot to her cabin, where she poured it into an old tin bath and told me to get in. ‘I ain’t carrying’ this water for you to let it grow cold.’

There wasn’t anyone in the cabin but Belle and me, so turning my back I took off my dress.  The hot water felt like a blanket, one I knew Simple could be doing with right about now.  I asked Belle, ‘How come you know Simple?’

‘He’s a soft soul, wanders up here sometimes.  I reckon he needs time away from your Gran.’

I was going to say she wasn’t my Gran but decided to let it lay.  I needed them to help make Simple well and I wanted to see the boy with yellow hair bringing him back. Something about him had made my heart skip a little, even though it was frozen at the time.

Jolene brought a clean dress along with the food, and Belle held out a large cloth I knew to be bought from town.  Must have been the way I looked at it made her say, ‘I don’t mind using’ what feels good, makes life pleasing’.

Jolene said, ‘Belle don’t usually let anyone use them.  Old pa traded his best fiddle for two the same last Christmas.  Good to see them out of the paper they came in.’

Seems Jolene belonged to Jimmy, and the baby was his too. It seemed funny to be able to hear that name without shrinking inside.  What would they do now, if they could see me here in the Spiers camp, with Simple being carried here for fixing? 

 

#WednesdayWriters Serialisation of Nine Lives by Jaye Marie @jaydawes2

Today, we are posting Chapter Six of Kate’s story. She is to blame for my writing Nine Lives in the first place and I suspect she thinks she is my alter ego. Not sure about that, but she sure was bossy during the writing of her story. I am having a similar battle at the moment with two of the characters in my next book, PayBack.

No one ever told me that creating all these people would be so complicated. I always imagined it would be fun, but some of mine are managing to drive me to drink!

(I am secretly enjoying their antics, but for God’s sake, don’t tell them that!)

I hope you are all enjoying Nine Lives, and I would love to hear your thoughts!

Chapter Six

On her way home in the taxi, Kate racked her brains to come up with a reason for Danny’s appearance. She hadn’t seen or thought of him for years and hadn’t missed him one little bit.

Try as she might, she couldn’t think of a single way he could have known about what happened last night. The thought he might be up to something was making her uncomfortable and more than a little angry. She simply couldn’t have him sneaking into her life again.

She hadn’t thought to take anything with her when they carted her off last night, so she knocked on her neighbour’s door for her spare set of keys.

Janet was a small woman, wrinkled and ancient, almost embalmed, and most days she seemed to be a lot fitter than Kate. She always wore a lavender body spray Kate knew was her favourite and reminded Kate of the fairy godmother in Disney’s Cinderella, tiny, amusing and cuddly, the perfect grandmother. It was a shame she had no grandchildren.

Kate looked around the room; discreetly checking that the old woman was indeed managing. She usually declined all help, especially from the Welfare. She always said the day she needed help was the day they could slide her into a coffin.

Bright as a button, she seemed to sense good people from bad and instinctively knew in which category Danny belonged. One of the reasons Kate knew she wouldn’t have told Danny anything about her.

‘Hello Janet, how are you today?’

‘Oh, I’m fine. How are you would be more to the point? What did they say the problem was? You didn’t look too good when they took you off last night.’

Kate smiled at her. ‘Oh you know, a lot of fuss about nothing.’

The old woman looked up from the china ornaments she was dusting and frowned. She instantly looked about ten years older. ‘You didn’t check yourself out, did you? I know what you’re like.’

Kate laughed, knowing her reputation had gone before her. ‘No, I was a model patient, just wasted their time, is all.’

She could tell Janet didn’t believe her, she knew Kate too well. Changing the subject, she asked, ‘How has Dylan been? Did he miss me?’

Janet stopped frowning at the mention of the silver tabby. ‘I’m sure he didn’t know you’d gone, and you back so soon, no harm was done.’

Kate smiled. She was probably right. Dylan fussed her when she was around, and she knew where he went when she wasn’t. Sometimes she thought he was fonder of Janet than herself.

‘By the way, Janet, have you seen or heard from my brother at all?’

Janet turned her head sharply at the mention of his name. She looked intently at Kate, her shrewd blue eyes peering out of all the wrinkles. ‘No, I have not. Did someone say I had?’

‘He did, he said you called him and said I was in the hospital.’

Kate could see the indignation bristling from every fibre of the old woman’s demeanour.

‘I’d have a job, wouldn’t I? I don’t know where he’s at, or his number. And,’ she said pointedly, ‘I wouldn’t tell him if I did. You know that Kate.’

‘Yes, I know, just checking. He turned up last night at the hospital like the bad penny he always was’.

The voice commented on her lack of affection for her brother, and that she might miss him if anything happened to him. She pretended not to have heard. She wouldn’t miss Danny for a moment, and as common sense reared its ugly head she knew if anything did happen to her brother, the guilt would probably kill her.

Kate often wondered if she had a screw loose because of the voice in her head. When she was growing up the thought having something that talked to her was amusing, even a little exciting. She had a name for him back then and called him the Joker.  These days the novelty had worn off and most of the time she regarded him as a nuisance.

Kate remembered weird coincidences, like people seeming to vanish or dying when they annoyed her. In her childhood fantasies, she liked to think she had something to do with it; that she was psychic or something, but it was all rubbish, wasn’t it?

There must be something wrong with her. She never socialised, never seemed to get on with anybody. None of that was normal, was it?

More to the point, none of it seemed to bother her much either, and that wasn’t normal.

This voice or whatever it was, filled her sleep with nightmare visions of every death it could imagine, and Kate would wake up with horrifying images in her head of being stabbed, burnt and dying in ways she didn’t want to think about.

Although these dreams distressed her, she stubbornly refused to believe they were a message of any kind, from the voice or anything else. If she thought anything coherent at all, she supposed they could just be images from a previous life and promptly put them out of her mind.

The telephone was ringing as Kate approached her front door and she wondered idly who it could be; probably Samantha or possibly a customer. It didn’t matter; she would let the machine pick up. She was in no mood to talk to anyone.

As she opened the front door, the telephone switched off and the place was quiet.

She closed the door behind her and leaned on it, drinking in the peace and tranquillity of her own private place. She loved living in Guildford, Surrey. It was just far enough away from London to be reasonably quiet. It was quite a small flat, just three rooms and a kitchen and shower, but it suited her and she felt safe within its walls, probably for the first time in her life, even though it was draughty and hard to heat in the winter.

It had the added advantage of the extra space for Kate to use as a studio, and she could simply close the door and walk away from all her untidy painting clutter, removing the necessity of always having to clear up whenever she was finished for the day.

The voice questioned her conviction that she was safe, curious as to what she based it on.

What was it talking about now, she wondered. Some of what it said never made any sense and she didn’t usually lose any sleep worrying about it. Anyway, she did feel safe there, no matter what it said.

The flat was a wreck when she moved in, and she enjoyed making it her own. There wasn’t much furniture, and to Kate, the colours she used were more important. The walls were white, the perfect colour to hang her canvases on, and the woodwork was a delicate shade of turquoise, which perfectly complimented the carpets, which were the glorious colour of a tropical sea.

For such a small flat, the windows were quite tall which seemed to increase the sense of space. Kate used sheer white curtains to let as much light in as possible and sanded the floorboards back to the bare pale wood.

She moved to the living room doorway and her eyes found the painting hanging over the fireplace. It was her favourite and she would never sell it. A large seascape, it dominated the room with its vision of wild, seething water. Instead of coming across as a hostile image, it was at once uplifting and beautiful. You could almost hear the sound of the wind whipping the waves and sometimes Kate could swear she heard seagulls.

To Kate, the painting epitomised the raw and powerful beauty of Nature, the only thing ever to make her soul sing.

It was probably an antidote against her feelings for human nature, which had never been kind to her. It was a sad admittance, and in all her life, only one person stood out for being truly kind to her, and she didn’t know his name.

She was quite young, about six or seven years old, and her mother had taken her to Brighton for the day. There was usually an ulterior motive for any trip, probably to do with a man. It had been snowing and the weather was freezing cold and not the day for a trip to the seaside. Kate didn’t remember much about it, just that she was cold. So cold, she was trying hard not to cry with the misery of it.

She wasn’t dressed for the weather at all, just a thin coat, sandals and nylon socks which were soaked through. Her mother had dragged her onto a tram and she was sitting there trying desperately not to cry, a punishable offence, when this older man nodded at her mother and proceeded to take off her socks and sandals. What was he doing, she thought, watching through her tears as he wrapped her frozen feet in his big warm hands, mumbling something about her being a poor bedraggled kitten.

It was such a kind thing to do; she was in danger of having a good cry and managed to smile her thanks. For the first time in her life, she felt truly cared for by someone who was a stranger, someone who knew nothing about her. It was a beautiful moment in time never to be repeated. Kate didn’t remember what happened next, but she never forgot his kindness.


 

I forgot to mention that if you would prefer a digital copy of Nine Lives, so you can read it in one go, free copies are available. Just mention this in the comments!

#The Yak Guy Project : Our review #OriginalFiction #Distopian @Virgilante

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Imagine waking up in the desert with no idea what happened to you. You have clear memories of situations and places, but a complete loss in personal matters… like your own name. This situation is bad, and you have no idea how to get home.

When you’re rescued by a talking yak, the situation gets exponentially worse. You have obviously lost your mind. The immediate needs of a ride off the salt pan and searing heat, along with a drink of water, outweigh the concerns about your mental state.

This is exactly what happened to the Yak Guy. In fact, he’s been placed in an alternate world and given a chance to start over in life.

Can this selfish, almost parasitic, young man learn to start over in a world where charity is hard to find? Life is brutal and short here, but he’s going to have to adapt or perish.

The Yak Guy project is loosely based around The Fool’s Journey from the Tarot. Those with experience in Tarot will spot people and situations from the Major Arcana.

Our Review:

Near to death, with no idea of where he is or why he is there, a hapless survivor meets a yak in the desert.

The opening chapter is a corker!

I loved the yak from the get-go, with his sensible advice, observations and his sense of humour. With the help (and patience) of this yak, the survivor will learn the difference between need and want, beginning a massive learning curve for him.

In many ways, this story reminded me of The Pilgrims Progress by John Bunyan, in which a traveller encounters many challenges on his journey through life. Another story about destiny and fulfilment leading to wisdom.

Elements of the Major Arcana from the Tarot appear in the people and situations our survivor finds, creating a thoroughly fascinating insight as we travel the road with him.

The Yak Guy Project is a highly unusual and entertaining story, just what we have come to expect from the author, Craig Boyack.

I loved every person the survivor meets and every lesson he learns, and I can highly recommend The Yak Guy Project to everyone.

If I haven’t managed to convince you to read this book, here is an excerpt…

I stepped up to the edge, and below us, in a natural cavity, was a pool of water. There was about ten feet of cliff to get to it.

 “This is a known water hole. Take the bag, tie it to the rope, and fill it. Then pour it into the trough so I can drink.” The yak nosed a rock that looked like it had been carved into a trough by cavemen.

I grabbed the waterskin. “Get your own damned water. I’m thirsty.”

“I’ve helped you. Now you need to help me.”

“Fine. I’ll do it, but I’m drinking first.”

The yak approached the ledge again. He swung a horn into the small of my back and flicked me off the ledge. I dropped the bag and yelled. Water smacked me like the concrete at a skate park. It wasn’t cold, but it was a shock.

When I clawed my way back to the surface, I gasped for air. Blood ran from my nostrils. “You fucker. When I get up there I’m going to kick your ass.” I reached for the edge, but couldn’t find a hand-hold. I circled the pool, but the cliff walls were nearly vertical all the way around. “I’m trapped, asshole.”

“So it appears. Do you have a plan? Perhaps you can get your drink while you’re down there.”

 “You’ve got to get me out of here. You climb like a goat. Come get me.”

“I will not. Some terrain is too steep even for me.”

“You can’t just leave me here.”

 “Actually, I can.”

“Please!” The yak backed away from the ledge. The sound of gravel crunching lasted long enough to tell me he hadn’t left. A rope unfurled toward the pool, and the yak peered over the edge. “Wrap it around your waist.”

 I floundered over to the rope, and wrapped it around my middle. “Okay, pull me up.”

 “You forgot my water.”

The yak won the argument.

Amazon Link:  https://amazon.com/Yak-Guy-Project-C-Boyack-ebook/dp/B07D1QY9Y7/

 

 

 

 

 

#ThrowbackThursday Our review for Hieroglyph by W J Scott… #SupernaturalMystery @WendyJayneScott

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“Did Ancient Egyptians visit Australia?”

13 year old TC has a secret. No one knows she possesses a supernatural power.
Can TC help her Uncle Max, an archaeologist; unearth enough evidence that Ancient Egyptians visited Australia, before he’s discredited in the media by those that want the past to stay buried?

“Some would say that I have a gift, but to me it’s always been a curse. Before I changed my mind, I tugged off my gloves and whipped my head left and right, checking to see that no one was watching. I sucked in breath and steadied my nerves then thrust my hands against the stones and touched one of the cartouches. Time and place ripped away.”

 

Gold Medal Winner in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards 2015 9-12 years.
Silver Medal Winner 2016 Readers’ Favorite Book Awards Children’s/Preteen.
Blue Treat Award Rave Reviews Book Club 2017.

An enthralling archaeological mystery, mixing the supernatural with humour and suspense.

The first of TC’s adventures – an archaeological mystery for junior readers and above.

Family friendly finalist in The Wishing Shelf Book Awards.

 

Our Review

TC is a rebellious, headstrong but likeable teenage girl with an extraordinary gift.

Somehow, she can tap into the past and literally witness history being made simply by touching things with her hands. A bit of a bind having to wear gloves all the time to avoid it happening all the time, especially for a teenage girl, but it did give a certain authenticity to her amazing talent.

While exploring Australia with her Uncle, she finds hieroglyphics carved on rocks. These send her searching for the lost and forgotten tomb of an Egyptian King. Someone whose life she learned about when she touched the stones. A unique twist of a story, and TC is a totally believable teenage Indiana Jones.

I loved this story and all the lovely illustrations. I was gripped from the very first page and couldn’t fault the writing, the plot or the formatting. A very special story, I could totally believe that the Egyptians explored Australia, and cannot wait to read the next book in the series.

About the Author

Wendy has a NZ Certificate in Science (Chemistry), which allows her to dabble with fuming potions and strange substances, satisfying her inner witch. Wendy writes adult fantasy as Wendy Scott and children’s stories as WJ Scott. In 2012 Hieroglyph was selected by NZSA for one of five mentorships (mentor author Anna McKenzie). Hieroglyph won the Gold Medal in the UK Wishing Shelf Book Awards 2015, 9-12 year category, and the Silver Medal in the International Readers’ Favorite Book Awards, Children’s/Preteen 2016.