Song of the Agnostic Innkeeper

Crooked Cat authors have been posting seasonal stories and poems linked with their Christmas With Crooked Cats Facebook page.  Today is my turn, so I thought I’d post a poem to challenge us in our thoughts about Christmas. I really do think that we all need to be honest about what we believe in.



Song of the Agnostic Innkeeper


These people knocking on my door!

“There is no room for any more.”

But to a tired and pregnant stranger

I gave my cowshed and the manger.


Next morning I beheld a sight:

My stable gleamed in starry light.

A mother nursed her little child

While her husband stood and smiled.


Then I heard something quite odd.

They claimed this was the son of God.

The mother let me hold the boy

And doing so filled me with joy.




Now I’m older, thinking back,

Is it just blind faith I lack?

I heard of miracles and more

And felt this great need to explore.


While others round me joined the church

I continued with my search.

I read commandments, religious laws;

Of punishments and holy wars.


There’s much I’m not convinced about;

My only certainty is doubt.

I cannot say with hand on heart

That I believe each separate part.


Is there a god? I’m just not sure.

That answer’s honest to my core.

Can anyone prove otherwise?

Is faith what’s seen with our own eyes?


Who was that child in my stable?

Were his powers just a fable?

And does it matter anyway

If we’re kind and selfless every day?


Is there a god out there above,

Or should we simply call it – ‘love’?



Read a free humorous story by Jeff Gardiner exploring similar themes, here:









Daithi Kavanagh: Guest Blog & Giveaway

Welcome to fellow Tirgearr author, Daithi Kavanagh, whose new thriller, ‘The Gun’, is out now. Not only does Daithi highlight some of the background to his own writing life, but also offers us an extract and a free giveaway at the end! Please follow the buy links to purchase a copy. Over to you, Daithi…



My wife Caroline and I have been married for eighteen years. She is the person who has inspired me to believe in myself. When I started to play music as a hobby  I wanted to try and make a living from it and Caroline was behind me all the way. I was working as a Builders Labourer at the time and as I was getting older was finding it more and more difficult physically to do the work. I had always played music and sang and I found the courage and belief in myself (with Caroline’s backing) to look for work playing music.

I eventually found work and gradually built up the business. It gives me great satisfaction to know that I was able to contribute to the support of my family by doing something that I loved.

In the same way when I decided to write ‘The Gun’ Caroline was there pushing me along. I would write in long hand in my kids old school copy books, dictate it to her and she would type it up. She sent my book off to every publisher she could find and eventually I was contacted by Tirgearr Publishing who have been a great support to me.

Now she is my secretary and is doing all of the behind the scenes work in promoting ‘The Gun’. I can honestly say that if she  hadn’t been behind me as much as she was that ‘The Gun’ might not have come to the fore so quickly. It would have taken me about 10 years to type it up for starters! I am now learning to type (albeit very slowly) while I am doing a degree in Irish Culture and Heritage Studies. I have just completed my second book in The Tadhg Sullivan Series called The Brotherhood and have started on the  third book. I am actually typing the third one myself which is a challenge for me and a relief to Caroline I’m sure!

My writing space is varied. Due to my hectic life style I tend to write wherever I can but as I said earlier my preferred space for writing is in bed. Here I get the best of all worlds. I get comfort, inspiration, imagination and the odd cup of tea from Caroline! There is nothing i like more than to wake up and have nothing to do but write. This alas is not always possible but when it is, it’s  great. I wake up, head downstairs for breakfast. While eating I usually get the news on the internet, then head back to bed.

Long may my writing career continue for me and my family. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to write and to Tirgearr Publishing for giving me that opportunity.

The Gun

Book Blurb

Garda Detective Tadhg Sullivan leads a special unit that investigates politically motivated crime. A man known only as The Deerstalker is a cancer who has infected the Irish political system.

Sullivan teams up with journalist Helen Carty, and together they try tracking down the mysterious killer. Carty adds to Sullivan’s problems, when he finds himself falling in love with her. And further complicating things, he starts losing trust in his partner, Detective Pat Carter, who appears to be on the side of the Garda Commissioner, who Sullivan is rapidly falling out with.

Sullivan’s case is further thrown into confusion when a copycat killer, Tommy Walsh, is shot dead by the CIA. When the CIA discovers that they’ve killed the wrong person, the two agents involved–Simon, who has become disillusioned by his time stationed in the Middle East, and Joey, a psychopath who confuses zealotry with patriotism–are also in pursuit of The Deerstalker.

Sullivan finds himself in a race against time, if he is to arrest The Deerstalker before the CIA take him out, and use his death as a pawn in a political game of chess.

Who will win out in the end?

Buy links

The Gun


He stared at the gun lying on the bed.  It was in his possession for nearly half his life and he’d never known what to do with it.  The funny thing was, he’d always hated guns and yet, here he was.

He heard his wife moving around downstairs and knew that very soon she would call him for a cup of tea.  He had to get the gun back into its hiding place.

He thought back to the first time he’d seen it.  A late night knock at the door and a man from down the street had handed the gun and ammunition to him, wrapped in fertiliser bags.

“What the hell is this?” he’d blurted out.

“It’s a gun,” the man had said showing no expression.

“What are you giving it to me for?” he’d whispered, not wanting his family to hear them.”

“Because I trust you,” he’d replied.

“What the hell do you mean, you trust me? You hardly know me! And all I know about you is that you’re mixed up in the IRA.  I have a family and I don’t give a damn about the North.  Now please get away from my door and take that thing with you.”

The man had stared at him, but all calm had disappeared from his features.  Then he spoke through gritted teeth.

“Now listen to me.  The guards are going to be here shortly.  Something serious happened tonight and now you’re mixed up in it, whether you like it or not.  If you don’t take the gun from me now, when the guards arrive here and see us together, I’ll implicate you.  Even if they don’t believe me, it will mean that you’ll have to stand up in Court and give evidence against me. Do you want that for your family?   It would be much easier for you to stick the gun in the boot of your car drive off somewhere and hide it.  But you’d better make your mind up fast, before they drive up and arrest us both.”

He often wondered why he’d taken it.  Was it because he’d had sympathy for the man?  He didn’t think so.  Maybe it was the fear of being implicated, or like the man had said, being branded an informer.  He wasn’t sure, but whatever the reason, it seemed like providence.

BIOdaithi kavanagh

I am 56 years old and I live with my wife and two teenage children in Trinity, Wexford. Up to 2012 when the recession hit Ireland I was making my living as a musician. I then went back to adult education and completed my Leaving Certificate in 2014. I am now studying for a degree in Culture and Heritage Studies at Wexford Campus.

While I was studying for I began writing ‘The Gun’ which is the first book in The Tadhg Sullivan Series.  I have just completed the second book in the series.

I play guitar and sing in many of the pubs in my hometown of Wexford where I am often joined by my two children Ella and Rory who play fiddle and flute.

In my spare time (which I do not have a lot of) I like to walk my two dogs with my wife Caroline.




Please follow this link for the GIVEAWAY…






Jessamine: a sneak peek


Here is an exclusive and  tantalising extract from ‘Jessamine’ by Shani Struthers – a  gothic romance of the highest calibre: a ‘Wuthering Heights’ for the modern day. Click on a cover image to purchase this brilliant novel.


The mist seemed to be getting heavier. She felt as though she was in another land entirely, a kingdom of clouds. The loch – where was it? Should she turn left now, off the path and towards it? Surely she hadn’t overshot the mark? Whilst she was contemplating, she heard voices – people shouting, two or three of them, in the distance but not too far.

Jessamin stood absolutely still, barely breathed. Were they in trouble – tourists perhaps who had lost their way? What was the best thing to do? Try and reach them or double back, raise the alarm and get help? Maccaillin had warned her about the dangers of hill walking in the highlands, how quickly the weather could turn, how easy it was to become disorientated. Perhaps that’s what had happened to them.

The shouting stopped. Had she imagined it? Surely walkers wouldn’t be out at this hour? She lifted one hand up to her temple. Her head throbbed, felt clammy despite the cold. Thinking it wise to turn back after all, she was stopped in her tracks again. There was shouting! She hadn’t been mistaken. It was coming from just beyond, distressed sounds and most definitely human, not the sound of sheep distorted.

Jessamin called out. “Hello! Who’s there? Can I help?”

As she drew nearer she could just make out the loch. It looked stagnant somehow, surreal, not welcoming at all.

“Hello,” she tried again. There had been no response the first time.

The shouting ceased. It seemed to be coming in such random bursts. But surely if she could hear them, they’d be able to hear her? If so, why weren’t they shouting back? Letting her know their exact whereabouts?

Continuing to move forwards, carefully so, the last thing she wanted to do was trip again, the silence continued. Perhaps she’d been mistaken. When she’d fallen, she had only grazed her hands, she hadn’t hit her head – she wasn’t confused although she did feel slightly dizzy. She’d call out once more, wait for a few minutes, then go back, report what she’d heard and leave it to those more skilled than her to deal with it.

Pleased with her plan, she put it into action. No reply. She waited. Even the sheep quietened down as if they were colluding with her, listening too.

She was about to turn away when a figure on the far shore caught her eye. Squinting, she realised there was not just one figure there were two and then a third. They were nothing more than shapes in the mist not looking at her but at each other.

“Hello!” She all but screamed at them this time. Her hands raised, she also started jumping up and down on the spot and waving furiously as she did so.

There was no way they wouldn’t be able to see her, they weren’t that far away. One of the figures appeared to be lying between the other two – had that person fallen and hurt him or herself? Certainly something was going on. Although they were no longer shouting, they were talking heatedly, a dark, accusatory tone to their exchange that sent shivers racing up her spine. All her screaming had made her throat sore, then the coughing started up again, a loud, retching sound; she was making a racket. But still they refused to acknowledge her. She couldn’t cross the loch and the mist was too dense to allow her to circumnavigate it. She’d get herself to Comraich. Face Maccaillin. He’d know what to do.

Backing away, Jessamin spied a fourth figure – looming over the three figures in front of him, staring at them, his hands wide as if in supplication.

“Hello!” she tried one last time.

To her astonishment, the fourth figure lowered his hands and turned towards her, albeit maddeningly slowly. Nonetheless, she was hopeful again and resumed waving.

“I’m going to go and get help. Stay where you are. I won’t be long.”

Instead of acknowledging her, the figure continued to stare. Strangely, she could make out nothing about him at all. He was more of an outline than anything else but she had the distinct feeling he was male – anger, shock and confusion rolling off him and towards her. Despite not being able to distinguish his features, she felt his eyes lock onto hers, bore into her. Searching deep within but searching for what, she didn’t know.

Instinctively, she began to back away from the loch, glad now that they were on the other side; that they too would have trouble reaching her. Wouldn’t they? Panic flared. What if they were local, if they knew the landscape well, if they rushed as one entity towards her? Suddenly she realised she didn’t want to see them, she didn’t!


Shani Struthers: we need to talk about ‘Jessamine’.

10250224_627368490715417_4618049168164641621_nI’m delighted to welcome Shani Struthers to my blog. Her brilliant new novel ‘Jessamine’ is now out. It’s a supernatural romance, full of intrigue and mystery. There’s an interview below, and please click on the cover images and links at the end for more details.

Born and bred in the sunny seaside town of Brighton, Shani (pronounced Shay-nee) enjoys reading, writing, eating and drinking – all four of these hobbies keep her pretty busy. After graduating from Sussex University with a degree in English and American Literature, Shani became a freelance copywriter. Twenty years later, the day job includes crafting novels too. She is the author of contemporary Cornish romance – The Runaway Year – published in 2013 by Omnific Publishing and paranormal mystery – Psychic Surveys Book One: The Haunting of Highdown Hall – published by Crooked Cat in April 2014. All events depicted in the latter are fictitious … almost.





What are the main ideas or themes in your book?

‘Jessamine’ is primarily the story of love, loss and acceptance, told from a subtly supernatural angle. Yep, it has ghosts in it, I just can’t help myself! But it’s not just actual ghosts we’re talking about, it’s metaphorical ghosts too, ghosts from the past, which haunt us, or perhaps we haunt them. Perhaps we cling to them, keep them alive somehow, when actually they’d prefer if we let them go. That may sound a bit airy-fairy, but ‘Jessamine’ is a very human tale about coming to terms with loss.

Tell us more about the main characters and their dilemmas.

There are four main characters – Jessamin Wade (note there’s no ‘e’ on the end, it is not a spelling mistake!), whose husband is dead, a death she feels wholly responsible for. There’s also Fionnlagh Maccaillin, who has returned to the village of Glenelk, in the Scottish Highlands – where the book is set – after fifteen years in the army, bearing scars that are obvious and not so obvious. Stan is his grandfather, who has also suffered a recent loss, the death of his beloved wife, Beth and last, but by no means least, there’s Maggie, who runs the village store, an enigmatic character with an ability to ‘catch’ thoughts.

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

Having spent time on the west coast of Scotland, a mysterious place if ever there was one, I knew I wanted to set a novel there. Glenelk is based on the village Glenelg, which overlooks the Isle of Skye. Spectacularly beautiful, it has a haunting quality to it but a healing one too, it’s possible to feel a lot closer to something more ‘spiritual’ when out in the wilds as opposed to being surrounded by neon. These four characters need to ‘heal’ because of recent events and events in the past but first they have to find a way to ‘let go’ before moving on.

How do you go about writing a novel? Is it a simple or complex process?

When I sit down to write a novel, I start off with a theme usually, a title and a rough idea of how the first three chapters should be. I don’t bother to outline a novel beforehand, I find that as I write they tend to take on a life of their own and the best thing to do is just go with it – connect to the flow and let it write itself! So, in a way it’s a simple process, although there’s nothing simple about being immersed in a fictional world whilst trying to live in the real one!

What advice do you have for less experienced writers?

Don’t think too hard, don’t worry about spelling mistakes, grammar, how rough or disjointed it is, just sit down, write the story in your head and try and write it as quickly as possible to keep the flow. After that, you can go back and ‘sculpt’ it to your hearts content. Once ‘sculpted’, give it to a few carefully selected test-readers, get their feedback, ‘sculpt’ it once more and then find an editor to knock it into the best shape possible.

What are you working on currently?

I’m finishing up the final book in the Runaway series, my contemporary romance trio and then, from 2015, it’s paranormal all the way! As well as writing Book 3 of the Psychic Surveys series (Book 2 has just been accepted by Crooked Cat Books), I plan to do a few dark spin-offs from the series, concentrating on single case studies and making them very dark indeed! I’ve also got a reincarnation thriller I’m working on, so very busy times.


What would your perfect day be?

I have two kinds of perfect day – one is sitting down and working on a novel, the other is a big family day out, perhaps in London or simply down at the beach, weather pending!

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

There are lots of books/films that mean a lot to me, I could write an entire blog post just about that. But one of the most touching books/films I’ve ever read/seen is ‘What Dreams May Come’. The book is by Richard Matheson, the film stars the late, great Robin Williams. Similar to ‘Jessamine’, love, loss and acceptance are themes but Chris Nielsen, the protagonist, goes one step further, he goes to the ‘other side’ to find his wife, who has committed suicide, to save her, to bring her back from an eternal nothingness. A story of life and the life-after. It’ll make you cry!

If you could leave a message to the world, what would it be?

Have fun and plenty of it! At the end it’ll be great to think ‘Wow, what a ride!’ before heading into the great wild yonder and the next adventure!




Shani’s Website

Shani’s blog

Crooked Cat Publishing

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Tegon Maus: Interview with an Author

I’d like to welcome author Tegon Maus to my blog. He’s here to talk about his latest release – ‘Bob’, and about other aspects of writing. See the end of the post for a Giveaway and the purchase links. Take it away, Tegon…

Author Bio:

I was raised pretty much the same as everyone else… devoted mother, strict father and all the imaginary friends I could conjure. Not that I wasn’t friendly, I just wasn’t “people orientated”. Maybe I lived in my head way more than I should have, maybe not. I liked machines more than people, at least I did until I met my wife.

The first thing I can remember writing was for her. For the life of me I can’t remember what it was about… something about dust bunnies under the bed and monsters in my closet. It must have been pretty good because she married me shortly after that. I spent a good number of years after inventing games and prototypes for a variety of ideas before I got back to writing.

It wasn’t a deliberate conscious thought, it was more of a stepping stone. My wife and I had joined a dream interpret group and we were encouraged to write down our dreams as they occurred. “Be as detailed as you can,” we were told.

I was thrilled. If there is one thing I enjoy it’s making people believe me and I like to exaggerate. Not a big exaggeration or an outright lie mine you, just a little step out of sync, just enough so you couldn’t be sure if it were true or not.  When I write, I always write with the effort of “it could happen” very much in mind and nothing, I guarantee you, nothing, makes me happier.






What are the main ideas or themes in your book?

I would have to say… fun !  I want my books to be viewed as fun, a coaster ride on one rail, swimming with sharks, falling off a cliff all to be saved at the last instant and you are filled with that nervous laughter of joy to be alive.  That’s what a book should be… if it doesn’t move you – it’s just a text book.

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

It’s different in each book but I like to take something very familiar and turn it just a little so the reader ‘thinks’ things are okay and then prove to them the world is not what they thought.

Tell us more about the main characters and their dilemmas.

Bob !! My latest book.  It’s about the lights in the night sky over Arizona.  It’s very funny… very action packed…. A little excerpt The first time I heard it, I thought nothing of it at all… nothing.  I’ve been in the newspaper game for more than twenty-seven years and that kind of experience gave a guy an edge but even that didn’t prepare me.I’d been beaten, shot at, even stabbed a couple of times over the years but I always got the story… always.  But this one… this one was big… too big perhaps…  Maybe we were ready, maybe not.  Either way, it wasn’t my call. None of which filled me with the fear, the trepidation… the anguish of five little words that still haunted me today…  “Is okay.  I have cousin.”

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

No… I don’t think so, no big ideas… not really. I’m a ‘what if kind of guy’  I like to make readers feel off balanced… to make them think “what the hell is going on?”  as much as possible.  I have a time travel book called Department 29 and the entire story revolves around a spoon and the trouble it causes… so No  no big ideas here !

How do you go about writing a novel? Is it a simple or complex process?

As a rule I know the beginning and the end before I start… It’s all the stuff in the middle that I have to work at.   It’s pretty simple… just repetitive.

What advice do you have for less experienced writers?

It doesn’t make any difference what you write as long as you write what interest you. You will be terribly bored if you don’t and that will show in your work. Read what you enjoy… read it all and then write and when you’re tired write some more.  Write what’s in your head, what’s a part of you… you’ll be happy and your work will flourish beyond your wildest dreams

What are you working on currently?  

At present I’m working on two books.  The first is the third book in my Series The Eve Project… The Cordovian Effect…  Time has passed and Ben Harris has as well.  He awakes to learn he is now one of Roger’s Dikika people… a machine and has been given a new identity…  Jon Ironwood.  Roger has made arrangements for his finical future and he is now ready to start a new life.  The problem is someone knows they are machines and is murdering the Dikika one at a time.

3 - The Eve Project - The Cordovian Effect by Tegon Maus - 200

The other is the second in my Littlefield Series…  Black Moon and Tucker Littlefield is in big trouble.  Every 28 years there is a solar eclipse in the same exact spot… the spot the Kindred hold sacred.  With the sun’s passing and renewal a new leader… the Sholic…  is chosen and rules over the Kindred until the next eclipse.   With this passing the old Sholic is murdered  and the next in line is accused… threatening to throw the Kindred into civil war. Tucker Littlefield and his Mrs. are in way over their head when he accidently becomes the Sholic.

What would your perfect day be?

Sunday !  All perfect days are Sunday.   I get to sleep in late, I make breakfast for Dearheart, catch up on my reading, catch up on my writing… watch a little tv… let the tv watch me a little… no phones, no visitors…   Oh yeah defiantly Sunday !

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

 Lots of both… from Robert Young’s The Canterville Ghost to ID4 !  Depends on the day or my mood.

If you could leave a message to the world, what would it be?

Knock it off ! Get along before I get my belt !   Who knows??   It worked with my kids.


Excerpt #1  ******************

I blinked in disbelief, too stunned to speak.

Standing in front of me, dressed in black jeans, a dark blue tee shirt with a picture of Bob Marley and a backward baseball cap was a small, no more than 5′ 2″, twenty something, black man.

“Hi.  I’m Pete,” I said, offering my hand.

“Ahh, is sad story.  Bob’s cousin not speak English,” Bob said pushing my hand away.

“Awhhh,” the little man breathed hoarsely, turning away, his arms swung loosely in response.

“Bob, he just said dude to me when he came in,” I said, pointing an insistent finger at the little man.

“He tries, broken English not so good.  Is Fred,” he answered, spinning his hand playfully in the air, pointing, draping a large, affectionate arm over the man’s shoulder.

“Fred… your Russian cousin?”

“Da,” he answered simply without blinking.

“Bob… he just spoke to me and it wasn’t Russian,” I protested.

“Ahh, Bob’s friend generous, not make Bob’s cousin self-conscious.  You good man, but Fred speaks no English,” he argued, folding his arms.

“Ahhh, damn it, Bob.  You promised me… you said I could talk this time.  Shit man,” Fred cursed in a raspy whisper, stomping his foot, turning away.

“Nyet, nyet,” Bob scolded, grabbing Fred.  He began to speak Russian, shaking his finger in the other man’s face.

Fred’s shoulders slumped.  His head swung loosely from side to side, avoiding Bob’s gaze.

“Da,” he said dully, turning in my direction once more.

“His English not so good,” Bob added, wiggling his hands dismissively.

“Sounded damn good to me,” I said honestly.

“Bob understands.  Bob’s friend speak Spanish?” he asked with a little annoyance in his voice, threading his fingers through his hair in frustration.

“Nope.  Can’t say as I do,” I answered, folding my arms.

“How you say… no speak Spanish?” he asked, folding his arms as well.

“No habla Hispano.”

“AAAHHH, to Bob, Bob’s friend sound like native.  Bob thought he smelled burritos, heard waves on beach.  Very impressed.  Bob’s friend has gift for language.  Sure not speak Spanish?”

“Fred,” I said flatly, stepping directly in front of the little man.  “Do you speak English?”

“Da. Fred speak no English,” he responded dully, tilting his head from side to side, his arms hung slack, swinging loosely as he spoke.

“Very sad, like Bob say.  Fred’s parents live too close to nuclear plant.  Sure, sure, rent very cheap but Fred… no brain for English,” Bob said, closing his eyes, shaking his head in a pretentious, melancholy way.

“Bob,” I started.

“Very late.  No time for Fred’s story.  Bob’s friend want to see house tonight or no?” he asked, pushing himself to stand between me and Fred.

“Alright, have it your way.  Let’s go,” I demanded now irritated, angrily grabbing my coat off the back of the chair.

“Nyet, nyet.  Bob’s friend almost forget,” he said, turning his back quickly, wriggling his fingers.

“Dear God.  Money?  Now?”  I said, throwing my coat across the back of the chair again.

“Business before pleasure… makes good fences.”

“The saying is, ‘good fences make good neighbors’ not…”

“Bob’s friend knows what Bob say.  Not want money to be sticky bug between us.”

“Yeah, yeah, I get it.  How much this time?” I asked aggravated, removing my wallet.

“Bob not know about such things.  Must speak with cousin,” he said, wrapping a huge arm around the tiny man, pulling him to the other side of the room.

“Bob, you gave me your word,” Fred whispered forcefully, sending a pointed finger into Bob’s chest.

“Fred say, must think about it.  Fred likes Bob’s friend Peter, wants give good price,” he said, smiling in my direction and then began to speak rapidly in Russian.

“Damn it, Bob.  You promised me,” Fred whispered disappointedly.

“Fred say, four hundred dollars,” Bob said, holding up four fingers of his right hand, all the while maintaining his grip on Fred’s shoulder.

“Three hundred,” I countered, folding my arms, returning my wallet to my hip pocket.

“Oooh, Bob’s friend breaks Bob’s feelings.  Bob’s friend would steal bread from Fred very mouth?”

“It’s not in Fred’s mouth just yet… three hundred,” I insisted.