#TuesdayBookBlog ~Cusp of Night by Mae Clair #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

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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Blown Tyre…

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Blown Tyre

I am leaving the small town of Hooton, my five-year-old daughter asleep on the back seat. Barely five yards from the last gas station for seven miles according to the sign, my right front tyre blew. Managing to keep the car on the road, I pulled over. Cathy remained asleep. Not the best way to end a great day visiting bookshops and a candle making museum.

After kicking the tyre in frustration, I looked up to see a young man walking towards me. Tipping his hat, he asked, ‘Can I help you, mam?

If you have a spare, I will gladly change it for you…’

Knowing I could not, I accepted his offer. He said his name was Dave and he worked in Floyds garage, the last one for seven miles.

Tyre changed, I was good to go and offered to pay for his time.

‘No thank you, Mam.’

I had never been called mam before and found it quite quaint. Before I could say more, he walked away towards the garage.

I sat thinking I couldn’t leave it like that.

Cathy still asleep, I decided to turn around and offer the young man lunch. I needed a coffee and Cathy must be getting hungry by now.

Pulling up to the first pump to fill my tank this time, I carried Cathy inside to pay, asking if I could speak to Dave.

The man looked at me as if I had sworn at him. ‘How do you know Dave?’

I explained about the young man who had called me mam.

‘That sounds like Dave all right, always dreaming of going to the rodeo one day, liked to think himself a bit of a cowboy.’

He pointed to photos of his employees on the wall behind him. ‘Is this the young man who changed your tyre?’

‘Yes, it is. I would like to take him to lunch to say thank you, as he wouldn’t accept any money.’

‘I’m afraid you can’t do that, mam. Dave died last year, right about the spot your tyre blew.’

Did a ghost really change my tyre?

©anitadawes 2020

#ThrowbackThursday ~ Simple by Anita Dawes #Suspense #FamilyDrama

Image by BookBrush

This is the story of one mans painful nightmare…
A man ill-equipped to survive the brutal cruelty of his family.
Together with his sister Leanne, they struggle to escape the daily torment, fleeing into the sanctuary of the forest.
But they are hunted down like animals, and almost burned alive…
Will they ever find the joy of freedom?

Amazon Review

“This is a story about some very tough and mean people somewhere in the backwoods and mountains of America. It is told from the perspective of a young girl whose mission in life is to protect her big, but simple-minded brother from harm. The story is compelling, frightening and sometimes brutal in the manner of the film Deliverance, but it is also a heartwarming story of loyalty, love and deep affection. It was not what I was expecting, but I’m glad I read it. It has an unforgettable quality about it and the characters are complex but convincing. It really is a great story and unputdownable.”

Simple is still .99p on Amazon, but not for much longer!

Jacquie Biggar-USA Today Best-selling author

SHADES OF DELIVERANCE MEETS THE WALTONS…
Simple’s life is a painful nightmare.
He is one 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.
Will they ever discover the joy of freedom?

Photo by Connor Danylenko on Pexels.com

My Review

Life in the backwoods of Eastern USA is not easy. The hardscrabble country folk live by their own set of tough rules and there is a price to pay for breaking them.

Leanne’s family are as much a part of the woods as the trees and carnivores of the forest. They are rough, cruel, and frightening except for Simple, a big brute of a man with a soft…

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Excerpt from Let it Go…

Excerpt from Let it Go…

We hadn’t seen dad for nearly a week, and that was a long time, even for him.

Mum was going spare, ranting on about what she’d do to him when he finally came home. Poor dad, it could mean another black eye, or a nose which wouldn’t stop bleeding for hours after mum landed one of her punches. Pretty normal behaviour for my parents and had been going on for years. Considering my mother’s temper, you would think he would stop rolling home drunk and penniless, but he never did.

It was late Friday night when he finally came home. We knew it was him, even though it sounded as if something had been thrown at the front door. We listened to him fumbling with the key for ages; mum with arms folded, waiting for him to fall through it. How she controlled her temper and didn’t rush at the door and tear it from its hinges, I will never know. I think I would have done; it would have been quicker.

I heard the lock turn and dad swung in like a gust of storm wind, holding on to the key that was stuck in the lock. His dark, shaggy hair hadn’t seen a comb in days and his clothes appeared to have been slept in. He stood there swaying, grinning at mum like an idiot.

She slapped his hand from the key, sending him flying across the hall, skidding on the mat that never seemed to want to stay in one place. I had a ringside seat at the top of the stairs and watched as she calmly removed the key and slammed the door…

#Jaye’s Journal…

Monday was the day for tackling the new editor on WordPress.

First impressions were good, and I managed to create a standard paragraph post with an image. Said goodbye to all my misgivings and felt a little smug!

On Tuesday I tried to do it again, but it turned into a wrestling match. For some reason, it didn’t seem as easy today. I swear they have changed things overnight!

It always take me forever to muddle my way through anything new, so I know I will get there eventually but I would get on better if they stopped tweaking everything!

Today, everything seemed to fall into place as if by magic. I’m playing around with colour and found where to add the tags and categories!

Provided nothing changes too dramatically, I might hang on to my sanity after all!

Speaking of things changing, I logged into Buffer this morning to schedule a week’s promo posts, only to be met with this message…

WELCOME TO NEW BUFFER!!

The air in the office was blue for nearly an hour as I tried to discover exactly what they had changed. Turned out to be everything and I nearly threw in the towel!

First, my current password didn’t work, and I found out by the process of elimination, that they had reverted to a password from years ago. Not a good sign…

Feeling far more confident than I had a right to, I switched heads and made sense of it all, so that’s another notch on my belt this week.

If I could just figure out why Google have abandoned me, I would be well pleased!  I like to upload some of my photos there, to be accessed by my tablet but for some reason, I can’t do that anymore despite trying everything I can think of…

When did life get this complicated?

I’m signing off now to work on this month’s newsletter with Mailchimp.

Now that WAS one huge learning curve!


For those new to our website and blog, we would like to thank you for visiting. Between us, we write in several different genres, so there should be something for everyone to enjoy. Anita’s books tend to be varied, from horror to supernatural romance and coming of age, where mine (Jaye) are all mystery thrillers.

We try to keep our website interesting with guest posts, bloggers, poetry, and reviews for all the books we read.

Our books are shown in the right-hand sidebar and clicking on the images should take you straight to Amazon.

If you enjoyed your visit, we would love you to leave a comment…

Hoping to see you again!

#TuesdayBookBlog: CrossFire by Jaye Marie #CrimeThriller #Fiction

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DI David Snow has another killer to catch, a killer as mysterious as the crimes he commits. 

Betrayal and lies come to the surface as Snow struggles to find the truth, but is he looking in all the wrong places?

Can he outwit the killer, or will the truth cost him his life?

 

Excerpt from CrossFire

‘Do you know why we have brought you here today, Ann?’

Ruth thought she would ease her way in, rather than accuse her straight off, for triggering any hostility wouldn’t get them anywhere.

The woman stared at Ruth, her pale, colourless eyes searching for clues. ‘Nah… but I ‘spect you’ll get to it pretty quick…’

Ruth indicated a brown paper bag on the table beside her. ‘We found a pair of work boots at your house, Ann. According to your husband, they’re not his. Are they yours?’

Ann Taylor glared at Ruth. She seemed to be enjoying the interview, her arrogance showing through the previous nervousness. ‘Dunno, can’t see them can I?’

Ruth undid the bag and placed the dirty boots on the table. Most of the mud had dried and fallen off, but still didn’t seem like the kind of boot a woman would wear. ‘Are these your boots, Ann?’

Without looking at the boots, she shook her head. ‘Nah, I don’t think so.’

Ruth looked at Snow, but not for confirmation. She wondered why he was choosing to stay silent. What was the point of sitting in if he wasn’t going to contribute? Not that she cared, one way or the other. She had only looked at him to signify inclusion.

She looked back at the woman. ‘Are you quite sure, Ann?’

The woman shrugged her shoulders and refused to speak.

‘For the benefit of the tape, Ann Taylor has refused to answer.’

Ruth decided to read out the coroner’s report, detailing every bruise and damage to the child’s body. When she read the part about the boot imprint on the child’s back, she slid the photograph across the table in front of the mother.

‘Did you do this, Ann?’

When the woman didn’t answer, Ruth decided it was time to play the ace card, and she looked forward to it. This cold-hearted bitch of a woman was about to be arrested, but not before Ruth had enjoyed herself. ‘Are you aware that the person who wore these boots would have left significant DNA inside them?’

Ruth paused, watching as the realisation sunk in.  ‘And are you also aware that we have tested your DNA and it has been proved that you are the owner of these boots?’

The fear and shame were beginning to show on the woman’s face, and Ruth watched, wondering what she would do now. She didn’t have to wait long to find out.

Ann Taylor’s face seemed to implode, as the terror of being found out took effect.  ‘I swear I don’t remember that part… I know I were angry, but when she fell over and banged her head, I thought she were dead…’

‘So what did you do then, Ann?’ Ruth knew what had happened next, but not which one of them had done it.  ‘Were you aware that Amy was still alive when you dropped her into the canal?’

The horror was all-encompassing, as the woman realised the enormity of what she had done. She looked around the room, just once, before she started screaming…

 

 

 

#Throwback Thursday ~ Out of the Shadows and Into my Book…

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This is how Silent PayBack began…

For more than a week now, I have had this new character in my head. He has been following me around, watching my every move. I have tried to talk to him, in my head, you understand, but he has this enigmatic smile, and that’s all I get from him.

I think he wants me to figure out what to do with him, guess what he wants to do but so far, my brain is siding with him and refusing to cooperate.

This morning, I decided I would try to interview him, something I have done before with several of my characters, but you guessed it, he wouldn’t even sit down!

All I know so far is that I do want to write about him, and if I must go through hoops to do it, so be it!

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him nod just then, so it would seem the game is on…

At first glance, he seems an unlikely hero, at least for one of my books. Not very tall, and slender with dark eyes and long hair tied back in a ponytail. Simply dressed in a dark shirt and jeans. But there is an aura about him, he could be a magician, magically producing doves from balls of tissue or flowers from thin air.

He has moved a little closer. I seem to have his full attention…

He is probably something in law enforcement, a police officer or detective, or why would he have turned up on my doorstep? I get killers too, but somehow I know he isn’t one of them. I hadn’t intended to write another crime thriller, I fancied a change, something haunting or spooky perhaps.

There is another character in my head, and although this one looks harmless, all blonde and attractive, the boy next door type. But I know instinctively that he means trouble. Are these two men destined to cross swords? I am beginning to think they are…

I have a lot of thinking imagining to do and to save confusion; I will call the dark haired one David and the blonde William. I already know they are two very different people, and discovering what they are about will be very interesting…

And the rest, as they say, is history…

©Jaye Marie 2020

#TuesdayBookBlog ~ Secrets… #DarkFamilyMystery

SOME SECRETS WILL KILL YOU…
and some are about someone who is already dead.
A mother must find the truth before the secrets destroy her family…

Secrets, a haunting family drama, about deeply buried guilt and all the secrets and suspicions that invade and control our lives.

Many children have an invisible friend, and sometimes they can be a necessary part of a child’s life for many reasons.
But when this ‘friend’ starts to cause more than just mischief, it is time for his mother to investigate further.

Maggie Swan loves her little boy Danny, but his new playmate was becoming something of a problem. It was almost as though something was wrong and he was trying to fix it.
Her husband Jack, was no help at all, dismissing her ideas as rubbish. But was he merely trying to hide a guilty secret? One that Danny’s new friend knew all about?

Amazon Review:

I’ve been thinking about this review for a few days. I finished Secrets a short while ago and I’ve been trying decide how to express what I felt about it, but now my heading really says it all. This is a strong and powerful story, very well told. The characters are well-drawn and empathic; you have to like and sympathise with them fully, and the main plot, being that of a child who has an invisible but somewhat malicious ‘friend’, is very compelling. If you enjoy and read a lot of paranormal suspense, then you will really love this book. It isn’t my usual choice but I still found myself ‘turning the pages’ on my Kindle till I reached the end. In fact, it is very good!

I won’t say too much about the story as I don’t want to spoil the suspense and excitement for the reader, so this review is quite short. However, I think Anita Dawes has tapped into subjects that are very topical today and it’s well worth reading this book to see what can happen when we bury secrets for too long.

Excerpt of Secrets…

Deep in thought, Maggie started to play with her breakfast and it was Jack’s turn to watch fondly as she doodled with the egg yolk, spreading strange and bizarre patterns across the plate. The early morning sunlight streamed through the kitchen window bathing the breakfast scene in a cosy glow. She looked like a child sitting there in a pretty cotton housecoat, pale honey-coloured hair falling around her shoulders like a halo. She had something on her mind, he was sure. Knowing he didn’t really have the time and hoping she’d say it was nothing, he said, ‘What’s up, love, did you have another bad night with Danny?’

She slowly looked up at him from the mess on her plate, and he could tell by the way her usually bright blue eyes had darkened to the colour of the sea that he wasn’t about to hear anything like what he wanted to hear.
Looking back down at her plate, she said, ‘I’m very worried about him, Jack. These terrible nightmares are getting him down; and now this thing about an imaginary friend, I don’t like it, something’s wrong.’
Jumping straight in, hoping to get it over with quickly so he could get out of the house, he said, ‘You know what the doctor told us, he’ll grow out of it soon enough. It will only make things worse if we try and make Danny let go before he’s ready.’

‘Yes, I know what he said,’ an edge creeping into her voice, ‘but he’s not God. You don’t have to take everything he says as gospel. I don’t happen to think this thing with Toby is the same as a comfy blanket or a favourite teddy a child drags around with him. Can’t you see how he’s changed?
‘… he’s destructive, rude and downright messy. Don’t you think dragging half the garden into the kitchen last week was going a bit too far? You saw his face when I tried to tell him off, he wasn’t the least bit sorry. Judging from the skid marks all over the place it was plain to see he’d had a whale of a time, and what did he say when I asked him why he’d done it? … because Toby wanted him to.

‘… Jack, can’t you see we have to make him understand this Toby is only in his mind and he’s too old to play these pretend games?’
He took a deep breath, painfully aware the time was getting on. ‘Maggie, he’s only seven. You’re making too much of it. The doctor said to give him time and not to bully him into giving up Toby. It might make his nightmares worse.’
She opened her mouth to say something, but before she could, he reminded her again that she had agreed the gentle approach was best.
‘Plus, you haven’t given that idea of yours idea a chance. Having Cathy take Danny to school with Michael may work. He’ll soon see that having a real friend is lots more fun. Have you asked him again about joining the cubs?’
She snorted. ‘I did, and his answer was the same as before. Toby doesn’t want him to.’
‘Give him time, Maggie, he’ll come around.’

Maggie seemed to have run out of wind for the time being, so he took his empty plate over to the sink and left it on the draining board. Straightening his tie as he turned to her again, he said, ‘I’m sorry I don’t have time to talk this morning. I have four books waiting a final decision and what with the deadline and our new budget, I think I’ll have to reject two of them, you know how I hate sending out rejection letters. It doesn’t make for a nice day, especially when a book is worth publishing. If you’re that worried about Danny, we’ll talk about it tonight.’
Maggie frowned and gave him the kind of look that said, sure we will. Jack had seen it many times and responded in a way she had grown used to over the years. He pulled her into his arms, squeezed her gently, saying, ‘I promise we’ll talk about it later.’
Then he kissed her goodbye, grabbed his briefcase and left.

 

 

 

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How I returned to work, and possibly ruined everything!

 

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How I returned to work, and possibly ruined everything!

 

I read an interesting post the other day, written by Staci Troilo, where she describes her struggle to get back on the old blogging workhouse after being out of circulation due to trying to finish five novels.

I too am struggling, but not because I have been as productive as Staci. I am fighting to regain the strength I’m sure I had before being cruelly struck down by illness.

I have been wondering where my muse was while I was AWOL and if there was a snowball’s chance in hell of working with him again.

My muse, like Staci’s, is also male but not as attractive. You must read her post, just to see if you turn green with envy like I did!

 

When I first started writing detective novels, I didn’t get to choose my muse but despite appearances, I am more than happy with the one who turned up. I call him Granddad (but not to his face!) He looks remarkably like Mark Twain with his snow-white hair and enormous moustache and he has guided me very well with his old-style wisdom. I could do with him now, for I have another story in my head for my favourite detective David Snow.

I haven’t run it past him yet, but the plot is almost complete. I need to get him on board, as he usually has strong feelings about my ideas and doesn’t always agree with me.

 

So I was completely floored to find the wrong man waiting for me in my office the following morning. It was my detective, David Snow, the tall, attractive man who always reminded me of Tom Selleck in his prime.

As I entered the room, he stood up and approached me.

‘I have been worried about you, Jaye. Are you properly recovered or just putting in a brave face?’

‘I’m fine, David, only tired. How did you know I was ill?’

‘I had the feeling you needed to speak to me, but you weren’t in your office all week, so I knew something was wrong.’

My legs felt weak, either because I still wasn’t running on full strength yet or the effect of having David in my office again. I have never quite relaxed in his company as the man is formidable and quite sexy.

He sat back down, and I almost fell into mine, cursing his scrutiny.

‘You’re not strong enough yet, maybe I should come back another time…’

‘No, I’m fine… And I have an important question for you. How would you feel about being in another of my stories, David?’

His face relaxed and the hint of a smile appeared.

The idea of starring in another novel appealed to his ego but I hadn’t mentioned the awkward part yet. I wondered how he would react when I did.

‘I’m always ready to star in another of your masterpieces, Jaye. You know that…’

Oh well, I thought. Here goes nothing.

‘Not as straightforward as all that this time, David. I am placing this one after book two, Out of Time. And before the current book three, CrossFire and all that happened in that one.’

I paused to see the effect of my words. He raised an eyebrow but said nothing.

‘I have wanted to address your problem with Kate for a while now and this new story will cover that, among other things. What do you think about it?’

The eyebrow was still raised, and I couldn’t tell if it was a good sign or not. ‘I’m not planning on it being a romantic story though…’

He stood up and walked to the door. ‘I will have to get back to you about that, Jaye…’

 

Had I just blown the chance to write the story that had been driving me nuts for weeks?

 

©Jaye Marie 2020

 

Two new Tallis Steelyard stories… @JimWebster6

Today, it is our turn to tell you all about Jim Webster’s two new books!

We have always been a fan of his stories and we have been blessed with a new one, The Bait Digger, just for this post!

If any of you haven’t had the pleasure of Jim’s wonderful stories, now would be the time to start. You won’t be disappointed…

 

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The Bait Digger

It often surprises me how people manage to make a living in this city. Take, for example, Esmielle Parthong. She sells bait, both bait-balls and worms. The bait balls she makes herself. She uses a little old bread that she gets from a bakery for the cost of taking it away. This she moistens with a little water, and mixes in some old cheese rind that the grocer is left with. This is all chopped up with some fish guts if she has them, mixed well, then squeezed into small pellets and allowed to almost dry. Apparently, she has customers who swear by them. But mostly she sells worms. Thus we will see her down on the Old Esplanade most days, sometimes twice a day, depending upon the tide. The shore-combers accept her. Whilst she digs more deeply in pursuit of her worms than they do in their searches, she works methodically across the shore. Thus anybody can search ahead of her if they want. Thus it is generally felt that if she did find anything, nobody could claim that she had taken it out of their area by stealth.

Once she has dug her worms, she will take them to the fish market down off the far end of the Old Esplanade. She doesn’t have a stall there, she merely stands with two buckets, one with bait-balls, one containing worms. She will always appear to be in conversation with a stallholder so that the stewards might think she was a customer rather than a trader. How many of the stewards are fooled is a moot point. Still, I think most of them accepted she was trying to make a living on small margins and allowed themselves to be convinced by her act. Most of her customers are amateur fishermen, and she maintains a good name amongst them for the freshness of her bait. Indeed it was not unknown for a gentleman fisherman to send a maid or manservant down to the market to buy bait.  Later in the day, she will make her way round the city, dropping off orders she has from her regular clients.

If there is anything left over at the end of the day, she will drop it off what is left with a neighbour, Adlan Shack, who is a long-line fisherman. He always needs bait for his hooks. Most of the long-line folk use the guts of the fish they have just caught to bait the line, but Adlan always claims that a variety of bait produced a variety of fish. He never actually paid for the bait, but he always drops a couple of nice fish off for Esmielle and her two young daughters as payment. It has to be admitted that they eat a lot of fish. She managed to get her daughters into one of the cheaper dame schools. Again their fees were paid through barter. In the evenings, Esmielle does some carpentry. Her father was a carpenter. He taught her the basics of the trade and when he died, she inherited his tools. Thus to pay her daughter’s fees, she will go in and mend desks and chairs. She was married at one time. Her husband was a drunkard, and apparently, she threw him out when he wanted to sell her father’s tools to pay for drink. I met her because she knows my lady wife, Shena. But also if the tide is right, she will drop into the old dried grape and carpet warehouse which serves as a hall for the Society of Minor Poets and avail herself of our, ‘all day breakfast.’

Admittedly its normally just porridge made from whatever grain we can salvage but it is good ballast for time spent out on the estuary in all weathers. But perhaps more importantly she will come when we put on our entertainments, and will sit there, almost visibly absorbing poetry. It is obvious that she loves poetry, and indeed I have tried to get her to attend some of the small informal poetry societies I perform for. These are not wealthy people meeting in fine houses, instead they are normally just a handful of ladies gathered in one of their numbers’ kitchen. She would enjoy it, and they would like her, but she always claims she is too busy. Still I was chatting to her one day and was discussing her business. I confess that I am one of those people who just has to understand how these things work, (perhaps a legacy of my apprenticeship with Miser Mumster) and her business fascinated me. It seemed to work because she is a genuinely pleasant person, and this disarms people. I never met anybody who didn’t like her. Perhaps my interest got her to open up more than she usually did, because we got into a somewhat detailed discussion on various baits.

I asked why she didn’t offer a wider range. She thought for a while and then commented, “After my husband disappeared, I did offer maggots for a while, but frankly they are more trouble than they’re worth and the smell seems to linger everywhere.”

#####

And now a brief note from Jim Webster. It’s really just to inform you that
I’ve just published two more collections of stories.

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The first, available on kindle, is ‘Tallis Steelyard, preparing the ground,
and other stories.’
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0872GGLF9

More of the wit, wisdom and jumbled musings of Tallis Steelyard. Meet a vengeful Lady Bountiful, an artist who smokes only the finest hallucinogenic
lichens, and wonder at the audacity of the rogue who attempts to drown a poet!

Indeed after reading this book you may never look at young boys and
their dogs, onions, lumberjacks or usurers in quite the same way again.
A book that plumbs the depths of degradation, from murder to folk dancing, from the theft of pastry cooks to the playing of a bladder pipe in public.

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The second, available on Kindle or as a paperback, is ‘Maljie. Just one
thing after another.’
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Maljie-Just-thing-after-another/dp/B0875JSJVM/
Once more Tallis Steelyard chronicles the life of Maljie, a lady of his acquaintance. Discover the wonders of the Hermeneutic Catherine Wheel,
marvel at the use of eye-watering quantities of hot spices. We have bell ringers, pop-up book shops, exploding sedan chairs, jobbing builders, literary criticism, horse theft and a revolutionary mob. We also discover what happens when a maiden, riding a white palfrey led by a dwarf, appears on the scene.

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