Yvonne Marjot – Life on Mull

Yvonne Marjot is the author of The Calgary Chessman, an archaeological mystery published by Crooked Cat. It tells the story of Cas Longmore and the discovery she makes at Calgary Bay, on the Isle of Mull in western Scotland. Its sequel, The Book of Lismore, will be published in 2015.

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These days I live in Tobermory, the largest town on the Isle of Mull, with around 800 souls, but when I first moved to Mull I lived in an isolated house near the village of Dervaig, in a situation not too different from that of Cas, the main character in The Calgary Chessman. So today I’m going to tell you about island life, as it was for me back then.

The island is very beautiful. It’s not as famous as Skye, holy as Iona, or striking as Jura, and we can’t compete with Islay because we only have one whisky distillery. But in many ways, Mull is a microcosm of the all the islands of the Inner Hebrides, with high mountains and broad upland moors, pretty beaches and rocky outlooks, tiny island outliers, and everywhere the untamed wildness of the sea. The place where I lived was very beautiful – a single-storey house on the edge of a babbling brook, with views towards the loch and forested hills behind. I was delighted, the first time that I did the RSPB Big Garden Bird Watch, to be able to list grey heron and buzzard as birds that came to my garden.

Being an island, Mull’s weather is pretty equable, although it can be wetter than the mainland. However, the day we arrived, on a grim November afternoon, the sky was spitting lumps of sleet and you could hardly see a hand in front of your face. Within a month of moving in, a massive Atlantic low coincided with the full moon and we found ourselves cut off from the village by flooding across the road. Our pretty stream had turned to a raging torrent (the classic Scottish ‘spate’ river) and within hours burst its banks. It came within two centimetres of flooding the house. The next day we woke to find the waters had receded, like a drunk’s nightmare, leaving only the hangover of debris and a ruined garden behind.

I made some good friends in and around Dervaig, but I didn’t see them every day. One woman warned me, ‘you have to like your own company if you want to survive the winters here.’ I soon found out what she meant. Each morning my husband would head off in the car, leaving me at home with a toddler and a baby. The road past our front gate wasn’t busy, by mainland standards, but there was no footpath and the verges were boggy and dangerous. There was a single bus service, into Tobermory in the morning and back late in the afternoon, too long a day to spend in town with very young children. I soon found myself becoming more and more isolated.

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On the rare occasions when I had transport, I would bundle the boys into their waterproofs, whatever the weather, and headed for my favourite place: the curve of white sand and turquoise water that is Calgary Bay. Calgary is a lovely place –green hummocks of machair edging a white shell-sand beach shelving gently into a broad, sheltered bay with views out to the west. In calm weather it looks like a tropical paradise – although dipping a toe into the water at any time of year will soon put you right. I’ve swum there, but you have to be hardy to take that first plunge! In the full force of a winter storm, it’s wild and crazy and wonderful. Best of all, two small boys who have been shut up at home for too long can run, and jump and shout to their hearts’ content.

I would huddle in the shelter of the machair, sipping coffee or soup from a flask, or rubbing my hands over a tiny campfire, while the boys raced the length of the beach and back again, yelling at me, the sky, each other, or rushing up to show me what they’d found. Machair is a unique product of the west coast of Scotland – a thin layer of grass, herbs and flowers holding together the surface of dunes and levels made up of wind-blown shell sand. It’s both lovely and fragile, and wonderful examples of it may be found on the outer islands, but Calgary Bay is a small and precious example. The wind and high spring tides undercut its edges, gradually nibbling away at it. I worried that I’d found this beautiful place only to watch it disappear before my eyes.

A few months after moving in, I watched a TV program about the British Museum’s greatest treasures. That night I had a nightmare that I was running along the sand at Calgary Bay, pursued by something faceless. I looked down and saw an object lying at my feet. It was one of the Lewis Chessman, featured on the program the night before. That dream gave me the germ of an idea, which eventually became The Calgary Chessman.

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If you like the sound of The Calgary Chessman, you can read a sample of the book here:


or here:


The Book of Lismore, published July 2015, will tell you more about the town of Tobermory, on the north-eastern tip of Mull – and about another beautiful Hebridean island, the Isle of Lismore.

You can follow the progress of these books, and my poetry writing, on facebook by joining The Calgary Chessman group (https://www.facebook.com/TheCalgaryChessman)or liking The Calgary Chessman page, on twitter @Alayanabeth; or follow my blog, The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet, at http://yvonnemarjot.wordpress.com .

Yvonne Marjot was born in England, grew up in New Zealand, and now lives on an island off the West Coast of Scotland. She has a Masters in Botany from Victoria University of Wellington, and a keen interest in the interface between the natural and human worlds. She has always made up stories and poems, and once won a case of port in a poetry competition (New Zealand Listener, May 1996). In 2012 she won the Britwriters Award for poetry, and her first volume of poetry, The Knitted Curiosity Cabinet, was published in 2014 by Indigo Dreams Publishing. Her archaeological romances The Calgary Chessman and The Book of Lismore are published by Crooked Cat Publishing.

She has worked in schools, libraries and university labs, has been a pre-school crèche worker and a farm labourer, cleaned penthouse apartments and worked as amanuensis to an eminent Botanist. She currently has a day job (in the local school) and teenage children, and would continue to write even if no-one read her work, because it’s the only thing that keeps her sane. In her spare time she climbs hills, looks for rare moths and promises herself to do more in the garden.

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Passion and Conviction


Do you write with passion and conviction?

Originally posted on Nuts and Crisps:

Like buses, no posts for months then two come along at once…

Jeff2014Jeff Gardiner is the UK author of three novels, a collection of short stories and a work of non-fiction. Many of his short stories have appeared in anthologies, magazines and websites. He’s also recently signed a three book contract with Accent Press for his ‘Gaia’ YA trilogy, which begins with Pica, a novel of transformation and ancient magic. Today he tells us about the need for passion and conviction in the search for that elusive goal of publication.

The first novel I wrote was ‘Treading On Dreams’, but it wasn’t the first one published. I had to go through the dreaded rejections and yet keep faith in my treasured work of art. My second novel ‘Myopia’ found a home sooner than ‘Treading On Dreams’, and I was even completing a third novel, ‘Igboland’ before my first was finally accepted…

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Nancy Jardine: A Twist in the Tale

Celtic fervourToday’s special guest is my good friend Nancy Jardine. She is author of a number of wonderful books: contemporary mystery, Topaz Eyes; the historical Celtic Fervour series that begins with Beltane Choice. And now her latest release from Crooked Cat is the delightfully titled Monogamy Twist. I’ll hand over now to Nancy who will tell you more about the novel, and she’s also kindly provided a free extract. Buy links are below – or you can click on the cover photo…


Hello Jeff,

I’m very pleased to be invited back to your blog to tell your readers about my latest re-release from Crooked Cat publishing—Monogamy Twist . A new version of my fun romantic mystery was published on the 27th March 2015 and at £2.99 for a full length novel, it’s a great buy.

Monogamy Twist, a light-hearted contemporary romantic mystery. The fabulous quirky new cover, designed by Laurence Patterson of Crooked Cat, reveals a grand house at the centre of the story which is a really excellent image since the plot is based around a Dickensian theme. Luke Salieri finds he’s been bequeathed a dilapidated mansion in Yorkshire…but he can only fully inherit after some weird and antiquated stipulations are fulfilled! He’s never met his benefactress; hasn’t even heard of her but Luke’s never one to back down from a challenge. He needs expert help, though, to find out why Amelia Greywood chose him and Rhia Ashton seems ideal. Rhia, a historian and family tree researcher, initially appears to be perfect but it turns out that she has her own ideas of what will make Luke’s strange request worthwhile. Compromise is the name of the game for Luke…and for Rhia as they unravel the mystery of the archaic bequest.

It’s probably no surprise that the plot for the novel came about as a combination of my watching the current BBC TV Charles Dickens serial of late 2010  while I was also attempting my first forays at researching my own ancestral background. I found a decidedly black sheep in one of my great-grandfathers: Rhia finds a good few family surprises for Luke in Monogamy Twist! Rhia and Luke were lovely characters to invent but some readers have told me that they love Thor, the Irish wolfhound, even more!

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Blurb for Monogamy Twist:

When Luke Salieri inherits a dilapidated English estate from a woman he’s never heard of— with quirky conditions attached—it’s a mystery he wants to see resolved immediately. But there’s a catch: he needs a woman to meet his needs, though just how far will he have to go to persuade her?

The job of researching Greywood Hall and its fantastic contents is enticing, but can Rhia Ashton see herself living with gorgeous Luke Salieri for a whole year and then walk away? Rhia has her own ideas about what will make it worth her while.

But neither expect love to enter the game.


About Nancy:

ccnancyjardineNancy Jardine lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. She currently shares a home with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, 3 year old granddaughter and 1 year old grandson. It’ll continue to be a busy household till late summer of 2015 when the new build home will be completed for the young ‘uns on what was Nancy’s former back garden. The loss of that part of the garden won’t be missed since there should now be more writing time available this spring and summer! Childminding is intermittent over the day and any writing time is precious. (If interested in how a new house is built these days, follow my blog posts named ‘Gonna build a house’ )

All matters historical are a passion; Ancestry research a lovely time-suck. Nancy regularly blogs and loves to have guests visit her blog. Facebooking is a habit she’s trying to keep within reasonable bounds! Any time left in a day is for leisure reading and the occasional historical series on TV.

Author links:



Twitter @nansjar

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG


Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos:

US http://amzn.to/RJZzZz

UK  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nancy-Jardine/e/B005IDBIYG/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Novels also available from Barnes and Noble; W.H. Smith; Waterstones.com; Smashwords; TESCO Blinkboxbooks; and various other places.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my news with your readers!

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Extract from Monogamy Twist:

“Why hadn’t you phoned ahead?”

“Good question.” Luke laughed at himself. “Perhaps the fact that I left London at three in the morning had something to do with that?”

Rhia’s sudden gleeful grin slayed him because she was now finding his predicament funny. Strange woman. He ploughed on, even more determined to get her on board his ludicrous venture.

“Anyway, I’m not known to be idle. I came to Greywood Hall to take a look around. I thought that even if I couldn’t get into the house, I’d be able to see the grounds.” The rocking chair played a steady thump on the wooden floor.

“But the main gates were locked when I first passed with Thor.”

“Sure, the main gates were. I tried them first, though I didn’t have cutters in my car, or anything to force the padlock, or break the chain with. It was the police who cut them open when they came to arrest me, Miss Ashton.”

He waited though she ignored his little jibe. She eventually responded after a long tense silence.

“So how did you get in?”

Luke wondered how Rhia regularly got in as he answered. “I found a back entrance to the stable block on the far side of the property, also padlocked of course. I left my car on the verge and nipped over the wall. From there, as you know already, I entered the house via that pantry window. It had a faulty catch that I was able to manipulate.” His smile was tight. “And the rest is history – except not quite.”

“I don’t understand why you were checking all the windows if you’d already broken into one. Your movements were pretty sneaky.”

Her questioning was measured and purposeful. Needed the fine details tuned, did she? Well, he guessed she deserved to know since he needed her to help him one hundred per cent.

“It’s my job,” he answered, perusing the photographs hanging in a montage on her wall.

“What? But you said you weren’t…”

“A burglar? Of course, I’m not.” Encouraged by her naive responses sardonic laughter spilled forth. “I’m a Chartered Surveyor. My current focus in the UK is renovation of old properties.”

“So you were checking all the windows as a professional?” That rosy little blush stained her cheeks, though he contrarily wished it hadn’t. “I’m sorry about that.”

Brushing off her apology with a terse wave of his hand, Luke enjoyed telling her more of his farcical story, though she had a cute little way of squirming up her nose when she was working something out, which distracted him from the main purpose.

“What did you mean ‘and that’s history, but not quite’?”

“My being willed the Hall isn’t as straightforward as it seems. That’s where you can help me.”

He had a gut feeling she was going to be perfect for his needs.


Her bewilderment was exhilarating. He soared up in front of her.

“We’ve established that I’m not a burglar, but you, Miss Rhia Ashton, are a multiple trespasser.” He let his index finger gently mock in front of her nose. “You’ve been trespassing on that property for some time.” His tongue clicked against his teeth. “Disregarding the law.”

“Gus told me it would be fine to walk Thor there.” Her voice faded to nothing.

Creasing his dark eyebrows in doubt, Luke determined Gus needed to be eliminated from her life.

“Neither you, nor Gus had permission to be there. So here’s the thing. Unless you want to go back to the police station and be charged with quite a few offences, I think you might need to listen to the proposal I’m about to put to you.”

“But they said nothing at the police station about my trespassing. They brought me home.”

Deliberately placing his hands on the chair back, one on each side of her shoulders, he effectively trapped her, finding she was easy to be near. He had to keep his mind out of his pants, though, because he needed Rhia Ashton to satisfy other needs.

She inched back from him, her head lolling on the cushion.

“Didn’t you wonder why they let you go without a mention of the fact that you’d been wandering at will all over that property for ages? Doing who knows what damage?” His gaze not wavering a single blink, his body leaned conspiratorially closer.

“Of course, I wondered!” she cried. “But I never ever damaged anything.”

“Well now, it’s like this. You have me to thank for the lack of charges,” he mocked, finding her lips were way too close for comfort. “I chose to tell them that they didn’t need to proceed with the trespassing charges…for the foreseeable future.”

“The foreseeable future?”

He persisted, knowing he was unnerving her. “Not for ever you understand, just for the coming months.”

“Are you blackmailing me?”

“Blackmail?” He pulled back, calling a halt to her siren song. “You and me both. This is where the old lady excels. She has the last laugh.”

Startled bewilderment battled with piqued interest as she leaned forward.

After a circuit of the room, he halted in front of her, one hand raking back his thick hair. She needed to be told all the facts. Well, perhaps not about the tight deadline: he could leave that little snippet till after she complied.

“Okay. I told you it’s a bloody Dickensian nightmare. Here’s the real deal, Rhia. I only become the completely legal owner of the property after I fulfil some very quirky terms which you can help me with.”


A rabbit snagged in a deadly snare couldn’t look more horrified. He was okay with that. He held up his hand in front of her.




Interview Special: Drinking Tea In The Canopies With Author Jeff Gardiner


An interview with me and an extract from ‘Igboland’ at the wonderful A Woman’s Wisdom website.

Originally posted on A Woman's Wisdom - The Book Blog For Lovers Of The Written Word:

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It is a pleasure to welcome author Jeff Gardiner to A Woman’s Wisdom this afternoon. Last week Cynthia Harrison reviewed Jeff Gardiner’s Igboland for A Woman’s Wisdom and her review is here.

Jeff Gardiner is a UK writer who was born in Jos, Nigeria. His first novel, Myopia explores bullying and prejudice among teenagers. Igboland is a novel of passion and conflict set in war-torn West Africa. Treading On Dreams is a tale of obsession and unrequited love. He has recently signed a three book deal with Accent Press for a trilogy of YA fantasy novels.

His acclaimed collection of short stories, A Glimpse of the Numinous, contains horror, romance and humour. Many of his short stories have appeared in anthologies and magazines. Jeff also has a work of non-fiction to his name: The Law of Chaos: the Multiverse of Michael Moorcock.

“Reading is a form of…

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#Read ‘Treading On Dreams’ by #Author Jeff Gardiner for #99c / #99p


Special offer for a fortnight only: TREADING ON DREAMS is only 99p/99c

Click on this link for more details.

Originally posted on Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog:


Contemporary Fiction

Donny is obsessed with his housemate, Selena – but his love is unrequited. He enthusiastically accepts her willing friendship, which only fuels his deepening fantasies.

Jaz is their crazy landlord who likes sleeping with women – lots of them. He takes pleasure in educating the once innocent Donny in the hedonistic pleasures of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. It blows Donny’s mind.

Selena is engaged to Melvin – the perfect man – but is also keen to befriend the ever-demanding Donny … until she falls pregnant and her wedding looms.

Donny expresses his true feelings at the wedding, causing mayhem and anger. But there remains a chink of hope: perhaps Selena’s marriage to Melvin is not quite as perfect as it seems.


UK   –   USA   –   Canada   –   Australia

Also available from:

Smashwords   –   iTunes   –   Kobo  …

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Author Interview: Alexander Zelenyj

I’m delighted to welcome author Alexander Zelenyj, whose short story collection ‘Songs For the Lost’ is published by Eibonvale Press, who published my own collection ‘A Glimpse of the Numinous’. Buy links are at the end.  I’ll hand over to Alex who will tell you more about his intriguing tales… 


About the Author

Alexander Zelenyj is the author of the books Songs For The Lost, Experiments At 3 Billion A.M. , Ballads To The Burning Twins: The Complete Song Lyrics Of The Deathray Bradburys, and Black Sunshine. His fiction has appeared in magazines and anthologies throughout the world.

He lives in Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and at alexanderzelenyj.com.

Songs For The Lost Book Trailer

  1. What are the main ideas or themes in your new collection of stories?

Thematically, the stories of Songs For The Lost are woven together by recurring themes of loss of innocence in a difficult and uncompromising world, and the characters’ subsequent need for escape from emotional trauma. These are the collection’s central and unifying themes, and also the tenacity of the human spirit to persevere despite tremendous hardship, a spiritual need for seeking solace and redemption at the end of a difficult life, often through the embracing of a higher power. This kind of desperate spirituality permeates the stories, and lies at the heart of the book, always from the perspective of people who have no organized religious background, who sort of give themselves up to an innate belief in some higher power as a desperate final means of salvation from their tragic lives, although often this salvation comes in a very dark and destructive form.

My poetry collection, Ballads To The Burning Twins, is a companion book to Songs For The Lost, and deals more specifically with the types of sometimes dangerous fringe spirituality that lure in people in great distress. It deals with troubled people seeking escape through the promises offered by cults and other deviant sources; it looks at some people’s spiritual connection to the rural and natural world, as opposed to the decadence of the city; and the perpetual struggle of human beings to find redemption for their past sins, and their seeking of a place where they can reclaim their fractured lives and sullied moral goodness.

  1. What is the setting or context of the narrative? Why is it important?

Well, being that Songs For The Lost is a fiction collection, it has a wide variety of settings, running the gamut from urban environments and rural locales of modern times (often in my home city, Windsor, Ontario, Canada), to stories set in far, far distant places and periods, including ancient Rome, colonial Africa, the Old West, 1960s war-time Vietnam, and to distant future settings. There’s even a story that takes place during prehistoric times.

The eclectic settings were important to me, because I wanted to emphasize the unchanging human element across all the myriad backdrops. That’s something that remains constant no matter where my stories take the reader.

  1. Tell us more about some of the characters and their dilemmas.

The vast majority of the characters of Songs For The Lost are deeply troubled and in search of some type of personal redemption and escape to a better place outside of their current lives. The stories examine these damaged people, and why they embark on these redemptive quests after living lives of woe, regret, and fury. They’re about the desperate lengths some people go to in order to escape the trauma of their experiences for a better place, a Paradise of some kind.

  1. Why did you write this book? Any other issues or ‘big ideas’ behind it.

The book was written in the years following the publication of my previous book, Experiments At 3 Billion A.M. They were somewhat difficult years for a number of reasons, and a lot of the recurring themes reflect those experiences. I wrote a huge amount of material during that time and from that compiled the stories that worked best together, and that best expressed the themes I wanted to talk about. It happened very naturally, and at some point I realized that the stories all worked together and that the book was finished, and that it said exactly what I wanted it to say.

Songs For The Lost - Cover Image For HWA

  1. How do you go about writing a collection and a novel? Is it a simple or complex process?

I find writing short fiction and compiling stories into greater collections somewhat more enjoyable than writing novels, I suppose because it’s an easy way to express a lot of the different ideas I have. Weaving it all together into a thematically concise collection is also really fun. I liken it in my mind to making a record that flows really nicely from the first song to the last.

That said, writing a novel is a very different kind of project altogether, and I really enjoy it once I’m immersed in it. At some point I find that the characters become so familiar to me that they seem to write themselves. In fact, I suppose I feel that way about my stuff generally – when I flip through one of my books I’m amazed that the stories exist, because they feel as if they wrote themselves. I have very little recollection of writing most of my stuff. It’s almost like the stories materialized out of the ether.

  1. What advice do you have for less experienced writers?

Write what you love, and read and write every day.

  1. What are you working on currently?

I recently finished work on two manuscripts – the first is a novel heavily informed by magical realism. It took quite a few years to finish, and went through a lot of changes over that time. The second manuscript is a collection much in the same vein, stories that combine the gritty and realistic with subtly surreal motifs.

Also, I’m putting together another collection that’s much more similar to the type of material of Songs For The Lost, much more slipstream in style that pulls in influences from a lot of different genres. I’m having a lot of fun with this one.

I’m also finishing up edits on a book by the late great Joel Lane – it’s an amazing collection entitled Scar City, due from Eibonvale Press later this year. I’m contributing an introduction to the book as well, along with author Nina Allan, who will be writing another introductory piece. It’s a huge huge honour to be involved with this project.

  1. What would your perfect day be?

A morning of writing; an afternoon spent walking in the woods with my other half, Elizabeth, followed by browsing in our favourite bookshop; dinner at home and a movie; good dreams until the following morning; and repeat.

  1. Name a book or a film that means a lot to you.

Film-wise, River’s Edge, Wild At Heart, and The Isle have always meant a lot to me, because their characters find themselves in situations so much out of their control that they’re forced to look for escape in deviant places. And for some reason that speaks to me, ha ha.

Book-wise, I’d say the dark fantasy stories of Robert E. Howard, because there’s no better and richer world into which I can escape whenever I need to. I’ve been doing it since I was a little kid, and the trips there only get better.

The television series Millennium by Chris Carter means a lot to me – its portrayal of protagonist Frank Black’s struggles to protect his family from the pervasive evil in the world really struck a chord with me. There’s never been a show like it, and there never will be again.
  1. If you could leave a message to the world, what would it be?

There is more than we know.

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What reviewers are saying about Songs For The Lost:

“Every once in a while – if you’re lucky – you’ll come across a short story collection that is so unique and stunning that it’ll make you marvel at its contents.  Alexander Zelenyj’s Songs For The Lost is such a collection.  It’s an exceptionally good and original collection of speculative fiction stories that are marked by intelligent storytelling, supernatural elements and beautiful literary prose.”

Rising Shadow

Songs For The Lost is that perfect, excellent blend of literary and dark that I am always looking for and in my opinion, it is an absolute must-read for anyone who loves dark fiction.  Highly recommended but not just for anyone.  Prepare to be gut punched, and do not read this book while you’re depressed.  Once again, it’s a small press that proves that literary and dark can indeed go hand in hand.”

Oddly Weird Fiction

“Complex and visionary writing…the book touched me with its beauty, its insanity, its soul, its melancholy…Songs For The Lost was one of the best books I have read recently.”

– Porta VIII

“Zelenyj is an absolute master of emotional horror, melancholy, passion, and the delicate art of drawing on classic pop-culture and genre forms to create something highly complex, challenging, and quite visionary.”

– Windsor Life Magazine

“Dipping into the bizarro universe woven by Zelenyj’s inebriating narratives is like peering beneath the cracked and peeling veneer of reality. Zelenyj is a mad yet marvellous seeker, an eccentric impresario, a conductor of dreams as charming and hypnotic as Rod Serling himself. Follow him and you will find yourself among lost souls touring abandoned hopes and forbidden dreams at the edge of an impossible paradise. Each story concludes with a wink signalling that he knows what you have always felt, deep down – that there is more to this life than meets the eye.

And therein lies the power of Alexander Zelenyj. We fill up our lives with the familiar, with mundane routines and ridiculous consumer products, laments and trifles and limitations. Through it all there is an ache deep inside of us. It is the ache of an unspoken truth, the key to surviving the destruction wrought by reality. Stories such as these share that truth, the promise that keeps us going. Life in this universe is more strange and dangerous and wonderful than you have ever been led to believe.”

– from the Foreword, by Brian A. Dixon, Editor, Fourth Horseman Press

“As you read these stories you will find them unexpectedly profound, challenging, harsh, painful, and thought-provoking. Indeed, more than once you might find yourself shaken to the core – summoned to think and feel, or deal with events on levels that are rare for this or any kind of writing. ”

– from “Three Billion And Six: An Introduction” by David Rix, Editor, Eibonvale Press, Author of Feather and  What The Giants Were Saying



Eibonvale Press

Fourth Horseman Press

Glimpse of the Numinous Prototype

Shani Struthers: Rise To Me

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Blurb for ‘Rise To Me’

“This isn’t a ghost we’re dealing with. If only it were that simple…”

Eighteen years ago, when psychic Ruby Davis was a child, her mother – also a psychic – suffered a nervous breakdown. Ruby was never told why. “It won’t help you to know,” the only answer ever given. Fast forward to the present and Ruby is earning a living from her gift, running a high street consultancy – Psychic Surveys – specialising in domestic spiritual clearance.

Boasting a strong track record, business is booming. Dealing with spirits has become routine but there is more to the paranormal than even Ruby can imagine. Someone – something – stalks her, terrifying but also strangely familiar. Hiding in the shadows, it is fast becoming bolder and the only way to fight it is for the past to be revealed – no matter what the danger.

When you can see the light, you can see the darkness too.

And sometimes the darkness can see you.

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I’m thrilled to be able to host fellow Crooked Cat author, Shani Struthers, on my blog today. She’s a best-selling author with a number of books to her name, including ‘Jessamine‘ and two books in the Psychic Surveys Series – paranormal mysteries that are capturing the imaginations of readers. These intriguing and exciting novels are set in our everyday world, populated characters we can all identify with, such as Ruby and Sarah; but Ruby has a gift which she wants to use to help others and this leads her into places she might regret exploring. I’ll hand over to Shani now, who has also kindly allowed me to publish below a free excerpt from ‘Rise To Me’.


In Psychic Surveys Book Two: Rise to Me, we return to the past. Ruby’s mother, Jessica, also a psychic, had a breakdown when Ruby was seven – ‘I’ve seen the face of evil,’ she said, ‘and it’s real.’ Brought up by her grandmother, Sarah, Ruby has been taught to walk in the light, to believe in the light, that the light will keep her safe. And that’s exactly what she’s done ever since she can remember. But a recent encounter changes all that. A memory from childhood, of what Ruby has seen also, starts to surface, that memory rekindled by a Psychic Surveys client and what it is he’s experiencing. Strange things start to happen, things she can’t explain. Her trust in everything and everyone around her is eroding. Even a day out at the beach turns into something deadly…

 ExcerptRise to Me 4

Swimming. Ruby was not a fan – never had been, never would be. She was a terra firma kind of girl but Cash had taken her by the hand and was pulling her forwards towards the less than blue sea. It was more of a green colour, murky, like a swamp she thought, not welcoming at all. On the contrary. It was distinctly unwelcoming.

She started to hesitate.

“Cash… I…”

“Come on,” he cajoled, clearly determined. “I’ll look after you.”

Again she had that sense she’d spoil everyone’s fun if she didn’t comply. She should just lighten up. Go with the flow.

The day might have been hot but the Atlantic Ocean was cold, bitterly so, causing her to catch her breath. Not that it deterred those around her. People were swimming, splashing and shouting at each other, so much so, the noise was deafening, immediately making her head ache. Someone splashed her, cold droplets like sharp needles against her skin and she felt a flash of rage, felt like shouting too, like cursing, screaming and lashing out.

Ruby! This is supposed to be fun!

But she couldn’t deny it; she’d had more fun at the dentist.

Cash had briefly left her at the shore’s edge and swum several strokes but now he’d returned.

“Come on,” he called. “The water’s lovely.”

“It’s not, it’s horrid. I’m going back.”

Rising out of the water, he grabbed hold of her wrists.

“Come on,” he repeated. “Come a bit further out.”

“Cash, don’t,” she said being pulled forwards.

The water, it wasn’t just cold, it had a slimy quality to it, as though it were filthy. It was filthy. Why hadn’t he noticed? Why hadn’t anyone noticed? Mothers, fathers, children, teenagers, how could they possibly want to splash about in this… this cesspit?

“Let me go,” she pleaded but he wasn’t listening to her – he was too caught up in the moment. Worse than that – he was laughing.

“Cash, I’m not joking.”

“Come on, babe, remember what I said earlier.”

Babe? His use of the word infuriated her more. She wasn’t anyone’s babe.


She yelled his name at him but as she did so, the ground beneath her shifted suddenly, gave way. She plunged downwards, into the sea, her whole body immersed, her head too. Salt water rushed into her mouth and the taste was acrid. She started coughing, gagging, a reflex action but it only made things worse. She took in even more water. It was filling her lungs, drowning her. Where was Cash? Where the bloody hell was he? And how could she be falling so deep? She’d only walked out a few feet, but she was definitely sinking – as though she were an anchor, able to penetrate the sands below.

Cash! Please!

Despite her eyes stinging so badly, she forced them open, saw what she thought was a patch of sunlight. Relief cutting through the horror, she started swimming towards it. She’d break the surface soon. She’d get away from here, far, far away. Just as she was making headway, hands grabbed at her ankles and started pulling her down again. Cash, what the fuck…? Surely he hadn’t meant this when he said what they could get up to underwater. He wanted to kill her? Hands reached up further. Large hands. Cold hands. Much colder than the water. And their grip. It was like being caught in a vice – impossible to shake off. It had to be Cash. Who else could it be? He was trying to drown her! But why? Why, why, why? With all the strength she could muster, she continued thrashing, with her arms at least; screaming, unable to stop; swallowing more and more water, choking on it. Her mind became dark around the edges… hazy. It seemed ludicrous you could die surrounded by so many people, that not one person amongst so many would notice, wouldn’t respond. But no one did. Above her, where the light seemed to hover, so near and yet so far, everyone continued having fun – oblivious to her plight, her confusion, her sheer desperation. She was going to be killed. Her boyfriend was going to kill her. And still laughter rang out. Incessant laughter. Mocking laughter, as though the crowd were glad she was suffering so much. As though Cash was playing to the gallery, delighting them with his vile antics. He had duped her: lured her in; whispered words of love he didn’t mean. Hatred… she was burning with it.

Rise to Me 4


Rise To Me

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US http://tinyurl.com/nzjz62x


The Haunting of Highdown Hall

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US http://tinyurl.com/l29wj78


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