Beginning Again with Jane Austen

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ELAINE JEREMIAH. Well funnily enough it was my husband who suggested I write Jane Austen fan fiction. TBH the sales of my romance books weren’t amazing. My husband pointed out that to be successful as an indie author, it can be a good idea to target a sub-genre to gain a bigger, more loyal readership. It can be easier to be more successful within a sub-genre. Romance is of course a huge genre, with loads of sub-genres to it. I’d read a bit of Jane Austen fan fiction, so thought I’d write a story about a girl who’s a huge Jane Austen fan (like me!) who accidentally time travels to Regency England. I then decided to turn it into a trilogy and having taken a break from writing it to write my ‘Pride and Prejudice’ variation, I’m now working on book 3.But being honest again, the first two books in my trilogy didn’t make waves. I hadn’t read that widely in Jane Austen fan fiction and as I read more and more JAFF,

I realised over time that what is most popular is ‘Pride and Prejudice’ variations, particularly those about Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy, set in the Regency era. Basically retellings of the Darcy/Elizabeth story which people love. The time travel story I’d written, while I’d enjoyed writing it very much, wasn’t quite what people wanted to read within the genre.So having written and published book 2 of my trilogy, I decided to turn my attention to writing a ‘Pride and Prejudice’ variation. I thoroughly enjoyed writing it, though it took me a lot longer in the end to write than I’d planned. I got bogged down with the plotting of the story and then the editing stage took a long time. I changed quite a lot, with the help of my beta readers and then my editor, which was absolutely right, but it did take quite a lot longer.

I’m very happy with the result though. The story is much stronger and better for all my hard work and I’m really pleased and proud to finally be able to share it with the world.

ELAINE JEREMIAH. Hahaha! I wish! But no, I don’t live in South Korea, I haven’t even been there yet, but it’s on my bucket list. I’m definitely going to go there one day, for sure. I kind of fell into a love of all things Korean by accident – a friend of mine recommended Korean dramas – or Kdramas as they’re known – and I started watching them and was hooked. They’re all on Netflix. I would highly recommend them!

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Most of them are romances and a lot of them follow the Darcy/Elizabeth trope of rich arrogant man falls in love with feisty, poorer girl. I just love them – I’ve watched more than 25 series now. The settings and the people are beautiful. It’s so interesting to learn about another culture this way. South Korea is a first world country, but of course it’s Eastern so they have a very different society to ours. There are good and bad sides to that and it’s fascinating to me to learn about their culture.

I was inspired by watching so many Kdramas to start learning the language and more about the country in general. I’ve got this Korean language audio course I’m listening to, mostly while I do housework! It’s so much fun. I also have an app on my phone I use. So I’m in love with all things Korean!

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ELAINE JEREMIAH . Of course (not) But you see I live in Bristol, South West England, which isn’t far from the Regency city of Bath, the setting for 2 of Jane Austen’s novels. Di you know has some beautiful Regency buildings and is also generally a great city to live in? There’s loads to see and do, like visiting the Clifton Suspension Bridge or the SS Great Britain, which was one of the first passenger steamships crossing the Atlantic in the mid-nineteenth century. It’s now a permanent museum in Bristol’s docks. Well worth a visit if you ever come to Bristol.

If you’re into street art, Bristol is also the home of Banksy and if you have a sharp eye and know where to look, you can spot some of his murals on certain buildings. Bristol also has loads of great shops, restaurants, museums, cinemas, art galleries – you name it, Bristol has pretty much got it.

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ELAINE JEREMIAH. RE Jane? Loads of reasons. Partly because the characters she creates feel so real, they’re so well developed. Characters like Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy stay with you in your mind long after you’ve finished reading her novels. And there’s always something new to spot in them, even if you’ve read them loads of times before.

For example, I’m realising the more I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ just why exactly Mrs Bennet is so keen to get her 5 daughters married off and how in some respects she’s actually quite wise. It was very difficult for women in Austen’s day who weren’t working class to get work and support themselves except as a governess. Which wasn’t a great job. If they weren’t married and couldn’t get work, they’d have to rely on their male relatives to support them. So a young woman in the Regency era, especially if her family weren’t rich, would need to marry well. Mrs Bennet is very aware of this, particularly because being girls her daughters can’t inherit the family home when their father dies and it will go to his distant cousin Mr Collins instead.

Jane Austen is also very funny – I laugh out loud at some of the scenes in her books when I’m reading them. She also doesn’t hold back at subtly criticising the social conventions of the era she lived in. Like how Elizabeth Bennet, a woman who’s not very well off, turns down not one but two marriage proposals, defiantly refusing to marry without love. That’s very subversive for the era it was written in. 

As for the writing just now? Actually I would say it’s been easier than usual. It’s really given me something to focus on and take my mind off the dire news that we’re bombarded with day after day.

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And because what with the internet and me self-publishing digitally via Amazon, it can all be done remotely anyway. So you don’t need to physically be in the same room with someone to share your work with them, to use beta readers or an editor. I can also promote my writing entirely online. What with this new release and how well it’s going, I feel more motivated than ever now to crack on with my writing!

ELAINE JEREMIAH. Uhmmmmmm. Well…uhm…as I mentioned, I’m writing book 3 in my Jane Austen-inspired time travel romance trilogy. And that would be hard to do in hamster cage. It’s called ‘Captivated in Time’. So maybe one day I might be very willing to…might even enjoy..living in hamster cage. What’s more, I’ve more or less plotted it out, so I pretty much know what’s going to happen. I know the ending! So this could be sooner rather than later. I’m trying to keep the momentum going – I tend to write quite slowly, so I want to try and make more time for writing and get this one finished as soon as I can. After that, I plan to write more Darcy/Elizabeth Regency era ‘Pride and Prejudice’ variations. That’s what’s most popular within JAFF and actually I feel that writing in Regency-esque language is what I’m most comfortable doing. I feel like I’ve finally found my niche. Just maybe not in a hamster cage. …. But look on the bright side of keeping all that voddie to yourselves.

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Little does Elizabeth Bennet think the journey across muddy fields from her home at Longbourn to Netherfield Park will change her life forever.

But an unexpected encounter with the proud and haughty Mr Darcy leaves her injured and vulnerable. Worse still, she is left alone with him for a significant amount of time. Her reputation at risk, she is forced to make a decision about her future. Now her life will never be the same again. Can Elizabeth ever be happy? Or will she always loathe Mr Darcy

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/3s7xr6dAmazon UK: https://amzn.to/2LiP3LH

Elaine lives in Bristol, South West England with her husband and their golden retriever, Dug. But she was privileged enough to grow up in Jane Austen country, in Hampshire.

She’s always loved writing, but it’s only been in recent years that she’s been able to devote more time to it. She decided to self-publish with the help of her wonderful husband who’s very tech-savvy! In 2013 she self-published her first novel, but it was only with her fourth, her novel ‘Love Without Time’, that she felt she finally found her niche: Jane Austen Fan Fiction!

She’s always loved Jane Austen’s writing and the Regency era, so this felt like a natural thing for her to do. ‘Elizabeth and Darcy: Beginning Again’ is the first ‘Pride and Prejudice’ variation she’s written.

If you want to connect with Elaine online, her Facebook page can be found here:

https://www.facebook.com/elainejeremiahauthor/

Her Twitter handle is: @ElaineJeremiah

Her website is here: https://elainejeremiah.co.uk/

More Than Seven Wonders ….

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John Quinn. To answer that question? In a nutshell? NO. The album came from two things. A chance meeting outside a supermarket with a very talented local musician I know, Paul Fitzpatrick, a few years back now, and the fact I am a sometimes poet.

‘I write music,’ Paul said, ‘But I can’t get past June, moon and spoon when it comes to words.’

Me now? Write music? Not for toffee. I sent him a few of my poems fully expecting him to do a runner. But instead he came back with the Ballad of Peter Black. For those who don’t know about Peter Black, he was a local lad from across the water in Newport-On-Tay…….

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There’s more about him here.

https://shehannemoore.wordpress.com/2014/11/11/down-some-cold-field-in-a-world-outspoken-peter-black-and-the-newport-war-memorial/

Anyway, maybe we weren’t Rogers and Hammerstein but that was the beginning. Paul brought a load of Dundee musicians onboard, singers, guitarists, string and accordion players, you name it, all of whom gave their time for free in the hope of putting together an album about the city and its people, past and present that would be sold for charity. It took a while, given the logistics of that AND the fact that yes, we paid for some recording studio time and were helped in this by a local Dundee businessman, but the rates were reduced, so folks came together when they could and when the studio could let us in.

John Quinn That must have been an oversight….. Of course if we had known of Donovan and his great talent…….

John Quinn –-okay guys don’t fight amongst yourselves. Of course I didn’t overlook it but the fact was, there were no Dundee hamsters that..that I knew of. The songs are all about different things. And people, people who were players in the city in some way, for example Jim Maclean, a Dundee footballer and Dundee United football manager, who put Dundee on the world stage, as you can see

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_McLean

Mary Shelley—-who hasn’t heard of Frankenstein, right? William McGonagall the world’s best writer of bad verse. Winston Churchill? Why is he here? Because the last man to take him down before Joe Biden, was Eddie Scrymgeour the phohibionist MP elected by the ‘drunkest city in the British Empire, just to get Churchill, who they also served maggots in kippers to, out. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edwin_Scrymgeour

Mary Slessor, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Slessor. Dundee mill lassie and missionary in Calabar. So far as I know no Dundee hamsters went there or of course, I’d have made the song about them.

Many of these people had been depicted in my play O Halflins an’ Hecklers an’ Weavers an’ Weemin. So much so that this album also includes two songs that Shey and myself wrote the words and music for. Mother of All the People and No Pasaran, Albert Square. But there’s also a song about Kenga Kuma, who designed the V & A Museum here, as you can see from the back cover, with your typical Dundee bairn, more interested in his mobile phone than any stunning vista!

But it’s not only people who were players that these songs are about.’ In Juteopolis’ was inspired by Annie Golden my Irish born great-grandmother. By the time she was ten she was having her boots packed with jute so she was big enough to stand at the loom in a jute mill!! No Passeran is the story of the Dundee men who went to fight in the Spanish Civil War, and never returned. Peter Black I’ve mentioned already. The title and title track are a slightly surreal take on the stunning view of the city and the river from the top of Dundee Law. The Giza Pyramid may be in Egypt but here ‘Gie’za’ means Give me a, so it’s Giza Pyramid, Gie’za V&A.

John Quinn. There’s every style, rock, pop, folk, Spanish, quite a bit of metal in McGonagalls’s Ghost. Paul’s son Michael, did an acoustic version of the title track, recently at home, just to keep things ticking over, given that like everything else right now, this has been delayed by Covid, and put it on Facebook. Bear in mind it’s not the official recording.

John Quinn. Well, believe it or not, it was quite hard to get a charity onboard and we didn’t want NOT to have them named on the cover.

Yeah, but finally we did and a very good charity it is at that.

In fact the Archie Foundation is the official charity of Tayside Children’s Hospital at Ninewells, who look forward to the pressing and to selling the CDs online.

I have set up a Just Giving page to which many of you have already very kindly donated, so we can go ahead and get the pressing done. But if anyone else feels like putting in any sum at all, believe you me, it’s hugely appreciated.

https://t.co/E0PYmY78Mi?amp=1

ABOUT JOHN QUINN

John Quinn’s  Twitter profile tells him he’s a persistent Dundonian, left footer, ex-teacher, global justice worrier and “wid be scriever.” His poetry has appeared in numerous publications including Poetry Scotland, Northwords Now, Mind the Time, and Lallans. He has performed his work including slam poetry in various places ranging from public parks to coffee shops and pubs. However, unlike his Dundonian predecessor, Oor Wullie McGonagall, he has found that to date, people have only thrown words at him. He is also the author of the play ‘O Halflins an Hecklers an Weavers an Weemin’ about the history of Jute and its impact on the City of Dundee. In 2017 and 2018 the play was performed in the High Mill at Verdant Works Museum accompanied by the music of Michael Marra. And again in 2019 at the Hamish Matters Festival (The Hamish Henderson Festival) in Blairgowrie, Perthshire. His book, The Eyes of Grace O’Malley is published by Black Wolf Books.

John Quinn lives above the River Tay with his wife.

Find John Quinn here.

https://t.co/ZZ5lUTQVII?amp=1

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100004436284172

Catherine Cavendish and the Eloise Complex.

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The Unquiet Spirits of the Eloise Complex

BY CATHERINE CAVENDISH.

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Image: Detroit Free Press

What can be scarier than an old abandoned asylum?

Not much in my book. And if you’re looking for a place with a freakish amount of scares, then the Eloise Complex would be right up your street. A few years ago, if you had the cash, you might even have wanted to make a purchase. That’s if you had a million or so dollars lying around in your attic. Of course, that money would have bought you a place that was once big enough have its own zip code.

The complex certainly has a history. It all started in 1839 when Wayne County, Michigan established a farm and poorhouse which expanded until it eventually covered 902 acres and encompassed some 70 buildings.

In 1913, there were three divisions – The Eloise Hospital (the mental hospital), Eloise Sanitorium (TB hospital), and the Eloise Infirmary (the Poorhouse). In 1945, it was renamed the Wayne County General Hospital and Infirmary at Eloise Michigan.

Back when it was at its height, during the Great Depression, around 10,000 patients and 2000 workers lived there in a self-contained city that included a bakery, slaughterhouse, fire department, post office, amusement hall, cannery, tobacco field, cemetery and police department. It was in these days that it earned its own zip code.

Image – Edward Pevos MLive

Eloise was at the forefront of pioneering psychiatric treatment. Now, today, we might laud this as a Good Thing. At the time we are talking, back in the first half of the 20th century, we are talking straitjackets and electroshock therapy, lobotomies that rendered the patient into a permanent vegetative state.

In Eloise’s case, there was also massive overcrowding. 10,000 patients there may well have been – maybe even more. But the facility was only built -even at its largest – to house 8.300. Patients slept on floors, were left unattended and neglected. Some inmates spent their entire adult lives there and, when they died, their burials were usually anonymous. The more disruptive patients could find themselves physically restrained – bound by hands and feet and, at one time, it has been reported, they could be chained to the roof of the asylum barn, above the pigs who dwelt beneath.

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Image – Bill Bresler https://eu.hometownlife.com/

By 1974 it had two divisions: the Wayne County General Hospital and the Wayne County Psychiatric Hospital (there being no further need for a TB hospital following the development of the life-saving streptomycin drug). The psychiatric division closed in 1982.

By 2019, just 5 of the buildings remained (firehouse, bakery, power plant, commissary and ‘D’ building) along with the cemetery. The complex was redeveloped into a strip mall, golf course and condominiums. ‘D’ building is now called the Kay Beard building and the old commissary is now a homeless shelter. The firehouse (which became the psychiatric facility laundry) and the power plant are still standing but the bakery was severely damaged by arson in 2016. The entire complex was sold in 2019 for the princely sum of $1, as it was at that time costing $375,000 per year simply to maintain it. Its purpose is to provide affordable housing for senior citizens in a minimum of 106 units.

But what of the ghosts?

In December 2019, members of the group Detroit Paranormal Expeditions visited the long closed-off basement of a building on the complex. It had been flooded for decades but had recently been drained.

They reported the eerie stillness, the total, unnatural quiet and the strong sense of someone else being down there with them. They heard the sound of dripping water (perhaps not so surprising) and shuffling footsteps (more disquieting). Their videos captured orange and white lights, and an orb.

The group have paid a number of visits to the Eloise complex – with terrifying results. They describe being chased out of the place by ghostly phenomena, describing it as so haunted as to have almost daily supernatural occurrences – shadows, unexplained noises, objects moving of their own accord, disembodied voices, unexplained footsteps.

 Other visitors to the complex have described a so-called ‘flying ghost’.

With so much spirit activity, we can only wish the new residents well in their brand-new homes. Given the philanthropic nature of the current enterprise, maybe that will go some way towards placating those who, as yet, cannot leave.

A few years ago, a horror film – Eloisewas shot on location in the ruined buildings, making for a highly atmospheric setting.

You’re next…

Carol and Nessa are strangers but not for much longer.

In a luxury apartment and in the walls of a modern hospital, the evil that was done continues to thrive. They are in the hands of an entity that knows no boundaries and crosses dimensions – bending and twisting time itself – and where danger waits in every shadow. The battle is on for their bodies and souls and the line between reality and nightmare is hard to define.
Through it all, the words of Lydia Warren Carmody haunt them. But who was she? And why have Carol and Nessa been chosen?

The answer lies deep in the darkness…

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Flame Tree Press

About The Author

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. In addition to In Darkness, Shadows Breathe, Cat’s novels include The Garden of Bewitchment. The Haunting of Henderson Close, the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine.

Her novellas include: The Malan Witch, The Darkest Veil, Linden Manor, Cold Revenge, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Demons of Cambian Street, Dark Avenging Angel, The Devil Inside Her, and The Second Wife

Her short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies including Midnight in the Pentagram, Midnight in the Graveyard and Haunted Are These Houses.

She lives by the sea in Southport, England with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat called Serafina who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue.

You can connect with Cat here:

Catherine Cavendish

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

MeWe

Relevant links for this article:

Detroit Free Press: https://eu.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/wayne/2018/06/21/eloise-asylum-hospital-michigan/720896002/

https://eu.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/wayne/2019/03/19/ghost-eloise-psychiatric-hospital-westland-haunted-basement/3204379002/

The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/nov/11/eloise-hospital-haunted-michigan-mental-asylum

Detroit Paranormal Expeditions:

Dawn Ziegler:

Hometown Life

https://eu.hometownlife.com/story/news/local/westland/2019/10/16/scary-encounters-coming-eloise-asylum/4000027002/

Last Year…

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India, Slovenia, Bahamas, United States, United Kingdom, Monaco, Curacao, Timor-Leste. Brazil, Finland, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Canada, Germany. Thailand, Indonesia, France, Australia, Turkey, Nigeria, Bangladesh Roumania, Philippines, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Netherlands,South Africa, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, Nepal. Austria, Guatemala, Greece, Jamaica, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Poland, Sweden, Japan, Mexico, Serbia, Columbia, Norway, Croatia, Morocco, Malta, Czech Republic, European Union, Chile, Mauritius, Israel Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Switzerland, Dominican Republic, Malaysia, Venezuela, Russia, South Korea, Albania, Iraq. Reunion, Qatar, Tanzania, Bahrain, Ukraine, Singapore, Albania, Egypt, Yemen, Peru, China, Mali, Hong King and SAR China, Denmark, Trinidad and Tobago, El Salvador, Argentina, Armenia, Libya, Cyprus, Haiti, Benin, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Zambia, Kuwait, Guam, Azerbaijan, Ghana, Panama, SLovakia, Algeria, Burkina Faso, Jordan, Hungary, Vietnam, Malawi, Sengal, Somali, Cambodia, Congo Brazzaville, Myanmar-Burma, Georgia. Angola, Ethiopia Taiwan, Syria, Zimbabwe. Gabon,. American Samoa, Kyrgyzstan.

A little slice of raunch.

https://shehannemoore.wordpress.com/

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Men in Kilts. Why do we love them? https://shehannemoore.wordpress.com/2014/07/12/men-in-kilts-why-do-we-love-them/ via @shehannemoore

Films and Box Sets Not To Watch in a Pandemic

https://shehannemoore.wordpress.com/2020/04/04/films-and-box-sets-not-to-watch-in-a-pandemic/

One day in 1950s Korea

https://shehannemoore.wordpress.com/2020/06/05/one-day-in-1950s-korea/

Sometimes In life ….

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This is a gift tag I put on the Mr’s present the first year we were married. It always reminds me of how, in common with many just setting out couples, we were not exactly well heeled.

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The tag is of course in pride of place and these are

some of this year’s decs.

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I have two books set against the backdrop of Christmas. Loving Lady Lazuli where a chance encounter one Christmas Eve leads to ten years of hell for hero and heroine,

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And of course, given backstory does not a book make, having history, they meet again, in October no less, leading to a spectacular going down in flames on –yep you’ve guessed it–Christmas Eve, after the heroine decides to go for broke at the local town ball, largely cos she feels like it. Haven’t we all at times and leaving her to wonder in the carnage afterwards…

‘Christmas Eves? Did they get any better or worse?’

The other book is O’Roarke’s Destiny, where–again in October and again, talking pasts–the high functioning depressive, heroine holds obsessively onto the little things in life having lost everything else.

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You can tell my books are chock full of Christmas cheer.

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In fact these books are probably like the year it’s been. Such a fabby one NOT, I know there were folks who not didn’t feel or see the point of decking their halls. And yet in some of the streets here the lights have never been brighter.

I guess an awful lot of us are holding onto the little things in order to hold onto something far bigger, and seldom has that been more important. Because neither lives, nor Christmases are perfect.

Wherever you are, in the world and in life, I wish you the best. Merry Christmas. And yeah, now I will clear off and let the little dudes open the voddie and get the cossack boots on.

When Leslie Met the Dudes

Here’s the blurb from the back cover:

“How well can a wife ever know her husband?

Paula Arnett would swear she knows everything about hers, that is, until she gets the call that the love of her life was involved in a freak accident. She doesn’t think things could possibly get any worse. But, after his funeral, she’s blindsided when their lawyer informs her that, several months before, her husband liquidated their assets and purchased a run-down fishing resort in East Texas!

Worse yet, while searching for answers, Paula discovers a note from a mysterious woman whose name gives her reason to believe that her husband may have actually been married to this woman at the same time he was married to Paula! Determined to learn the truth, Paula enlists the help of her best friend, Cassie, and together they go undercover on the road trip of a lifetime.”

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I grew up in a small Texas farming community very much like the one my main character, Paula Jean Purdy Arnett, resides in. Floydada, Texas, is one of those places where everybody knows your business, and where people pull together in times of need. I’m very lucky to have been raised there by two loving parents.

A second grade teacher in Floydada put the idea in my head that I should become a writer, and while it took me most of my life, I’ve finally accomplished that goal. In the meantime, I’ve been a secretary, a dental assistant, a teacher, and a research assistant. I married my high school sweetheart, who I affectionately call Studly Doright, many, many years ago, and we have two beautiful, brilliant, grown children, and five equally beautiful and brilliant grandchildren. My cup truly runneth over.

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https://nananoyz5forme.com/

Now for a little snippet:

From Chapter Eight:

    Paula turned off the radio mid-song.  “Tell me the story of why Cal called me Goldilocks.”

    Cassie’s eyes twinkled. “You know darned good and well why.”

    “I know.  I just need to hear it today.”

    Cassie shifted in her seat.  “The fishing guys came up with it. Cal, Delbert, Mel, and someone else, I can’t remember who, went fishing right after you two got married.  Cal couldn’t stop talking about you. Everything you did was just right.  Finally, Delbert or Mel, one of the two, said, “Sounds like you found yourself a Goldilocks.  Everything is always just right.” Cal thought that was hilarious and started calling you that. The name stuck.”

    Paula shook her head.  “I still can’t imagine what it was he thought I was doing right.”

    Cassie rolled her eyes.  “C’mon now, Goldilocks, even you can’t be that innocent.”

    A rosy blush covered Paula’s cheeks.  “Oh my gosh!  Surely Cal didn’t talk to the guys about—you know—sex!”

    “Probably not, but then again, men will be men.  I’m sure they ribbed him about it.  And he really thought you could do no wrong.  That never changed as far as I could tell.”

    Paula hung her head.  “I always thought that about him, too.  Until yesterday.  Yesterday kind of changed everything, even if I’m willing it to be otherwise.”

    “It’s all going to be okay.  It really is.  Hey, could you pull over at the next rest stop? I need a potty break.”

    A few minutes later, they came to the town of Gallo and Paula pointed to a Dairy Queen sign. “How about there?  It’s a little early for an ice cream, but we could get a little snack.”

    “Suits me, but who says it’s too early for ice cream?”

    Paula parked and raised an eyebrow.  “First burritos, now ice cream, and all before noon.  None of my pants are going to fit.”

    Cassie opened the door.  “It wouldn’t hurt you to put on a few pounds, Goldilocks.  I’ll bet you’ve lost five just since…Well, since Cal’s—Um, speaking of that, have you heard from the highway patrol?”

    Paula pulled the Dairy Queen door open.  “They’re still investigating, but the preliminary report is that he just went to sleep and drove off the road.  Apparently, the way his car landed in that ditch, his airbag didn’t deploy.

    They remained silent as they took their place in line.  Paula gestured to a narrow corridor down the side of the dining area.  “You go on to the ladies’ room.  I’ll order your usual:  Hot fudge sundae, extra fudge, a smidge of whipped cream and a cherry on top.  No nuts. Right?”

    Cassie smiled.  “You know it.”

    As Cassie headed to the restroom, Paula watched a table of coffee drinking men turn their heads in admiration.  There was no doubt her friend was eye-catching.  She was a couple of inches taller than Paula and curvier.  Her gorgeous raven hair hung to her shoulders in soft waves, and the headband she wore added a touch of innocent sexiness. 

    Paula always joked that if she was Goldilocks, Cassie must be Snow White.  She always thought it was a shame that Cassie had never married.  She’d never even had a long-term boyfriend after high school, as far as Paula knew, and she knew Cassie better than anyone. 

    As the line moved along, she became caught up in her daydream….”There probably is a right man out there for her, but he’d have to be one perfect Prince Charming to match Cassie’s Snow White.”

    Paula was seated with their food by the time Cassie returned.  She nodded at the ogling men at the back and said, “Don’t look now, but those men are checking you out.”

    Cassie rolled her eyes.  “Yeah, I noticed, too.  Tried not to.  Obnoxious asshats.”

    Paula stifled a grin as she pushed Cassie’s sundae across the table, and they ate in silence until George Strait started singing about all of his exes living Texas as the juke box lit up in neon colors.

    Cassie pushed away her empty ice cream cup and wiped the corners of her mouth with a napkin.  “You want me to drive awhile?”

    “I’m good, but let’s plan on switching just before we get into too much Dallas traffic.  I sure don’t want to deal with that mess.”

    “No problem.  We’ll need to stop again anyway for gas pretty soon.  Maybe have a light lunch then you can nap while I navigate the jungle.”

    “We’re eating hot fudge sundaes at 11 a.m. and you’re already planning lunch?  I like the way you think.”

    They turned their heads when a man from the coffee drinkers’ table approached them.

    The man tipped his head and held his hat in his hand.  “Mornin’, ladies.  My name’s Derek Tuttle.  I’d like to welcome you to the fine town of Gallo, and invite you to attend services at the First Baptist Church on Sunday morning.  I’m the minister there.”

    Cassie pursed her lips.  “Thank you very much, Derek, but we’re just passing through.  And we’re heathens.”

    Paula’s hand covered her unexpected giggle.

    Derek’s jaw dropped open and he steadied himself on the back of the booth.  “Well, we welcome heathens.  Everyone is welcome.”

    Cassie collected her trash as she said, “Oh, we’re also communists.  Heathen commies.  And Wiccans, to boot.”

    Paula’s eyes grew large and she blushed.  “Uh, I think it’s time to go.  You know, before they bring out the pitchforks.”

    Cassie stood and batted her eyes at Derek then sashayed out the door.

    Paula, unable to make her feet move, or even find her voice, looked back and forth between Derek’s look of shock and Cassie’s confident strut out the door.  “Um, I’d better go chase after my heathen commie friend.”  She jingled her keys.  “It’s my car.”

I’m a terrible cook and baker, but this is one even I can’t mess up.

“Southern Pecan Balls”

1/2 cup margarine
3 T. Sugar
1 C. Flour, sifted
1 T. Vanilla
1 C. Chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. (148.889 C)

Cream the margarine and sugar together.  Add vanilla, flour, and then the nuts and mix well.  Roll into 35-40 small balls.

Noelle Clark and some Christmas Orphans….

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“G’day from Australia! Hello to Shey and the Dudes.

How grateful I am to visit once again my favourite hamsters!

I hope everyone reading this is staying well and safe. It’s been a terrible year. I watch the news from around the world, and I know many of you are suffering.

Here in Australia, we have been very fortunate and have mostly avoided the worst of the pandemic. We are a big country, big in square miles/kilometres. We are an island, and we share our borders with no other country. Our population is around 25 million, most of whom reside in seven major cities. We have seven States, (Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia), and two Territories – Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.

Outside of the cities, we have thousands of little country towns. Some are small hamlets or villages. Some, especially in the Outback, are just a pub. If you’re lucky they also sell fuel for your car.

I love the country towns. I love the people, the humour, and the culture of small towns.

During my brief lockdown period, I began writing some stories about life in small country towns. There’s no mention of Covid-19 –

I mean, why write about it when it’s more fun to escape inside a story and be uplifted by characters who manage to live their humble lives through thick and thin, in sickness and health, etc, etc.

After writing the first book, out popped a second. Yes, you guessed it, and a third.

My new series about life in a small Queensland town is called Thompson’s Ridge Series.

There are so far five novellas in the series – glimpses of life, happy times, sad times, tough times, and boom times. I think my characters are universal, in as much as even though they are fair dinkum Aussies, small towns in any country have similar big-hearted, quirky residents whose stories are similar.

So, the first book in the series starts a few weeks before Christmas. In Australia, Christmas is a big deal no matter what religious beliefs you have or don’t have. We don’t tend to celebrate Thanksgiving. Christmas occurs in high summer, and Chrissy, as we call it, is often a gathering of family and friends outdoors or at the beach with lots of happiness, love, and warm feelings.

But in every country, the Holiday Season can be tough for people who are alone, lonely, and just plain sad.

Book number 1 is called ‘The Christmas Orphans’ Club’.

No prize for guessing what it’s about.

It’s a slice of Aussie life, and introduces the reader to an eclectic mix of characters who will travel through subsequent books in the series. They are short novellas, not hard to read, but hopefully hard to put down.

Here’s the blurb for The Christmas Orphans’ Club.

The festive season is coming, and so is the social event of the year for a group of residents in the country town of Thompson’s Ridge – a Christmas Day lunch for those without family. But while some members of The Christmas Orphans’ Club regard it with excitement and joy, others feel trepidation and uncertainty.

For reluctant bachelor Bob Wilson, owner of the local school bus, the end of the academic year sees him reflect on the slow demise of the timber town he grew up in – now a shadow of its thriving past.

Former primary school principal Maggie Hardcastle, regarded highly by the locals, rues the contraction of her old domain to a single teacher, one classroom school, while current teacher-principal Jamie Zammit worries the school will close completely if enrolments continue to fall. Jamie is also concerned for his star student, Becky Carmody, whose mother has become disturbingly reclusive since her husband’s death.

Joely Davidson, who hosts the Orphans’ lunch at her cafe, invites Kirsty McJames and Ruby Weston, to the event. Christmas to divorced Kirsty means separation from her beloved twin boys as their father, unconcerned the rest of the year, claims holiday custody rights to take the boys away.

Louise Smith is a newcomer to Thompson’s Ridge recovering from the shattering loss of her high-flying career in the city. Seen as standoffish by the locals, she is taken aback when Christmas Orphans’ Club founder Fran Hobart enlists her to take over running the event. It’s an opportunity for Louise to use her old skills, but can she take the baton and run with it?

Another resident seeking to revive old talents is retired stage actor Charles Davenport. His drunken behaviour at last years Orphans’ Club lunch appalled no one more than him. He’s cleaned up his act in the intervening year, but can he play the most difficult role of his career – his real self – and will Maggie Hardcastle forgive him for what he did?

Come Christmas Day, will the hopes and fears of The Christmas Orphans’ Club come to pass or fade away?

The Christmas Orphans’ Club

By Noelle Clark

Book 1 in the Thompson’s Ridge Series

Available now for Pre-Order    .99 cents US$     until December 1st, then $1.99 US$

Amazon.au      http://tiny.cc/yje1tz

Amazon.uk      http://tiny.cc/2ke1tz

Amazon.com   http://tiny.cc/jke1tz

Noelle Clark   www.noelleclark.net

Facebook        https://www.facebook.com/NoelleClark.Author/

Twitter            @noelle_clark

Instagram       clark.noelle

Noelle Clark is an Australian author of Australian fiction, contemporary romance novels, and historical fiction.
Her books feature characters who deal with love and loss; and who experience the often difficult facets of life, such as forgiveness and redemption.
Noelle lives in a secluded cottage in sunny Queensland, Australia, surrounded by lush rainforest.
She has two grown up children and four grandchildren.
When Noelle’s not writing and travelling, she enjoys growing her own organic vegetables and herbs, photography, bushwalking, playing guitar, reading and cooking.

Noelle is a proud member of Australian Rural Fiction; Queensland Writers Centre; Bathing Beauties Writing Group; YON Beyond Writing Group; Romance Writers of Australia; and Australian Romance Readers Association. She is currently published independently by Stop Press Publishing. 

Noelle is an author with the acclaimed Bindarra Creek Romance group.
Noelle’s books have been Finalists in several literary awards, including the Chatelaine Awards, and the ARRA Awards.

On joining the Whitby Ladies …..

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Shéy

“Lost boys almost always do need a good witch of a wife” – DS

BY DANIEL SWEARINGEN

https://danielswearingen.com/

Shéy does sing,

“Sing my name among the cosmos, the stars that drop to earth, and the ones who bear the wolf mark lost upon their birth. Dance, within the circle, make sure that life repeats, as it was from the first day desire makes breath complete. Count the many numbers as often as you can, oh great one you made the angels just a little lower than just I am.”

The Mr. finds her by the stones at dawn, her still radiant body warm to touch, wet with perspiration. He holds her close to him, feeling her breath against his grizzly cheek. “You are the most stubborn man Mr.”, she says to him, her voice carrying both wit and seriousness to it. “Could you not leave me to my tendencies for just one night”? The Mr. thinks about it for a moment and feels himself flush. “You give too much of yourself to this place”, he mutters, his brow growing stern. She thinks for a moment he looks like a wolf, not quite as lean and handsome as the ones who had surrounded her the night before. Still, The Mr. carries that glint still in his eyes, just as when she created it in him. When she brought him over. That was a long time ago she thinks. She wonders if she could do it again. Summon the craft, and give…

She writes on slates of Sandstone transported from some Moon, the images in her mind act out as if they are a rune. She sees the stars of Caledonia raining from the sky, painting her white naked body with the symbols, as old as Sodom and the tombs where stories lie. A pleasing aromatic of olden sage burns between her feet. An adoration of unseen tongues makes words she cannot repeat. An ancient revelator bends to what she seeks. She gives in to all temptation, as the dark angels sweep. The shadow of her book of sorrows burns and then it dies. The heavens open duly, and deep cries out against the sky. The sound of many spirits parade and march from ancient steeps. For there upon the Highlands, sums magic only secrets dare repeat.

She summons all her sisters, on the Southeast winds they ride, bringing rain and lightning, intermixed with starlit skies. The Bean Nighe and the Kelpies, and all the Wulver too, gather to the circle that spins in a darkened hue. For unto all that is madness in all that witches do, to bring forth life from that which is lost, and make it life anew. The earth is now opened. Between the times of man, as Whitby Ladies from all moments join the Clan at hand. And she who forms the circle, to bring forth someone new, screams her name into the chaos, as a new man walks on through.

The Mr. dances with her just beneath the circle beyond its still pulsating heat. “You gave again, didn’t you”, he whispers hoarsely in her ear. He is jealous, and to a certain extent, he feels his envy is righteous. “Just to the lost boys”, she whispers nuzzling the rough skin upon his neck. “You will always be my first”, “You will always be my first”.

Shéy does sing,

“Sing my name among the cosmos, the stars that drop to earth, and the ones who bear the wolf mark lost upon their birth. Dance, within the circle, make sure that life repeats, as it was from the first day desire makes breath complete. Count the many numbers as often as you can, oh great one you made the angels just a little lower than just I am.”

Shehanne Moore is an amazing accomplished author and I say with all intentions of being a namedropper, a friend (Please do check out all of her wonderful books). You can find Shey’s blog at https://shehannemoore.wordpress.com/  Welcome to The Whitby Lady’s my friend. –דָּנִיֵּאל


ABOUT Daniel Swearingen


Boulder Colorado

Bio: I have wondered about too many things. Kept too many things inside. Distanced my dreams, until years have caught me. That time that catches us all eventually, where days go by so fast. The going to, becomes the meant to, the words of future, becoming like faded yearnings, hunger that no longer exist. So though the hour is late, I will write, though the minutes speed by casting quick shadows on my mind, I will maintain. I am a lonely writer, who has everything in this world. Everything, but the ownership of time, the deliberation of years. So of reflection and everything I shall write. Of dusk and resurrection, I will think, and when those items become beyond my containment I will be finished, and that will be enough. Thank you for reading. – Shalom – דָּנִיֵּאל

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Sin Eating with Cat Cavendish

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The Last Sin Eater—by Catherine Cavendish

 

 

 

My latest novella – The Malan Witch – features two of the most evil witches you could ever encounter. Their sins were innumerable and their possession of an ancient cottage on a remote and picturesque coastline spells danger not only for Robyn Crowe’s life but her soul as well.

In thee circumstances, she might have been well advised to call on the local sin eater – should she have been lucky enough to find one still around. You see, the last one died in 1906, and when you find our more, you’ll probably not be surprised that there was hardly a queue of people waiting to take up his discarded mantle.

You can still visit him -or rather, his grave – for he lies (we hope at peace) in the graveyard of the peaceful rural St. Margaret’s Church in the tiny village of Ratlinghope near Shrewsbury in Shropshire, England. He was evidently held in high esteem by local folk who restored his memorial stone and held a commemorative service for him on its completion on 2010.

 

His name was Richard Munslow and his occupation – if you could call it that – was to eat and drink over the body of a deceased person and, by doing so, take on the sins of the recently departed.

Their services were generally called on in cases of sudden death where the unfortunate person had been unable to perform their final confession and be shriven. The sin eater would ensure that the loved one would enjoy a smooth and untroubled passage to heaven.

Sin eaters were generally poor and would be paid to perform their services. Sadly, they were often shunned by respectable people as they also prevented the sin-ridden deceased from returning to the word of the living and were often associated with witches and all manner of evil spirits. No one wanted to know them – until they required their services. The wooden platter on which their food and drink was served was destroyed after the ‘ceremony’ of sin-eating was performed as it was believed it would be forever infested with evil. Even to look a sin-eater directly in the eye was considered exceptionally bad luck.

The practice of sin-eating is an ancient custom, its origins lost in the far-off mists of time. It was also fairly localized – being practiced mainly in Wales and the English border towns and countryside (known as the Marches). By the 19th century, it had largely died out.

Curiously, Richard Munslow was not of the poor and downtrodden classes. He was a well-off farmer of good social standing but it is believed that his four children all died of Scarlet Fever within one week of each other in May 1870 and this sent him into such a state of depression and mental anguish that he resurrected the already outdated ritual of sin-eating.

Naught remained of their bodies to be buried, for the crows took back what was theirs.’

 An idyllic coastal cottage near a sleepy village. What could be more perfect? For Robyn Crowe, borrowing her sister’s recently renovated holiday home for the summer seems just what she needs to deal with the grief of losing her beloved husband.

But behind those pretty walls lie many secrets, and legends of a malevolent sisterhood – two witches burned for their evil centuries earlier. Once, both their vile spirits were trapped there. Now, one has been released. One who is determined to find her sister. Only Robyn stands in her way.

And the crow has returned.

You can order The Malan Witch here:

Amazon

About The Author

Following a varied career in sales, advertising and career guidance, Catherine Cavendish is now the full-time author of a number of paranormal, ghostly and Gothic horror novels, novellas and short stories. Cat’s novels include The Garden of Bewitchment. The Haunting of Henderson Close, the Nemesis of the Gods trilogy – Wrath of the Ancients, Waking the Ancients and Damned by the Ancients, plus The Devil’s Serenade, The Pendle Curse and Saving Grace Devine.

 

In addition to The Malan Witch, her novellas include The Darkest Veil, Linden Manor, Cold Revenge, Miss Abigail’s Room, The Demons of Cambian Street, Dark Avenging Angel, The Devil Inside Her, and The Second Wife

 

Her short stories have appeared in a number of anthologies including Silver Shamrock’s Midnight in the Graveyard. Her story, The Oubliette of Élie Loyd, will appear in their forthcoming Midnight in the Pentagram, to be published later this year.

 

She lives by the sea in Southport, England with her long-suffering husband, and a black cat called Serafina who has never forgotten that her species used to be worshipped in ancient Egypt. She sees no reason why that practice should not continue.

 

You can connect with Cat here:

Catherine Cavendish

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MeWe

Tea, toast, trivia podcasts and some manga news.

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‘We are all the product of our experiences in life, of our upbringings, our hopes, dreams, failures, mistakes, needs, fears. Life shapes us and life is not always perfect.’ Shehanne Moore, Tea, Toast and Trivia podcast with Rebecca Budd.

Podcast.

Season 2 Episode 41: The Art of Romance with Shehanne Moore https://teatoasttrivia.com/2020/08/03/season-2-episode-41-the-art-of-romance-with-shehanne-moore/ via @chasingart

https://bit.ly/3arNB1H

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