Storytime Blog Hop: Quiet Neighbours

storytime bloghop

It’s time for another Storytime blog hop. This time it’s a Hallowe’en theme and it promises to be our most popular one yet!

So cosy up next to the fire, light that pumpkin, bolt the shutters and just make sure that hand you’re holding is attached to someone…

Martha and Martha, long dead sisters, have been looking forward to a new presence in the graveyard. But the other ghosts have been disappearing, and perhaps tonight they’ll find out why…

Quiet Neighbours.

grave3Young Martha was already there when Old Martha materialised on their grave.

“Twenty square feet sounds enormous until you have to share it for two centuries,” the old woman grumbled. “Let me know if you ever plan to take a night off.”

The younger girl ignored this as she peered through the moonlit shadows toward some newly turned earth a few plots over.

“Waiting for the new chap? He’ll be too modern to understand what you say.” Old Martha couldn’t resist a dig. “I’m sure I don’t at times.”

“Anybody would be a change of scenery from you,” retorted Young Martha.

“Careful with that viper tongue of yours, sister dear. Perhaps that’s what’s emptying the graveyard.”

“More likely it’s your— where has everybody gone?” Young Martha interrupted herself. “Is it something to do with Judgement Day?”

“I’m sure I would have noticed that. More likely it’s those ghosthunters.”

“Them,” snorted Young Martha. “They wouldn’t notice if we punched them on the nose.”

“Well something’s going on. The ghosts in this graveyard have been disappearing for weeks.”

“In some cases,” Young Martha gave her a sideways look. “That wouldn’t be such a bad thing.”

“In some cases,” Old Martha looked darkly at the younger. “You could be right.”

Young Martha chose to ignore that. “Look!” she pointed. “I knew he’d come tonight.”

“You say that every night,” the older woman said mildly. But this time Young Martha was right.

A breeze stirred the few amber leaves scattered on the ground. Then a mist arose and slowly coalesced into a figure. A man stood with his back to them, rubbing his head in a clearly puzzled manner.

The two women waited, but soon Young Martha began to fidget. “How long is he going to stand there?”

“Quietly now, it can be a shock the first time.”

But the younger girl was too impatient. “Excuse me? Hello!”

He swung round and cried out in terror at the sight of them. “What are you? Where am I?”

“Not all this again,” muttered the old woman. “I’d forgotten this bit.”

“You’ve passed on.” Young Martha took pity on him. “You’ll get used to it after a while. What’s your name?”


“Hello David, do you have any little girls who might visit?”

“Do excuse her manners,” inserted Old Martha. “She didn’t live long enough to learn them properly.”

“At least I didn’t outlive my usefulness.”

“Hush child, he doesn’t need to hear your prattle.”

David had sunk to his knees on the mound of earth. “What happened?”

“We were hoping you could tell us that.”

He shook his head. “I don’t remember anything.”

“It’s like that sometimes,” said Old Martha. “If it was sudden you wouldn’t know anything about it. When you get your gravestone, that might tell us.”

“How long will that be?”

She shrugged. “Even then, some people never find out.”

“What about you? Do you know?”

Young Martha straightened her shoulders and stood like a child about to recite. “My name is Martha Mary Redstone. I was born in 1722, the eldest beloved daughter of Jocelyn and Martin Redstone, sister to Barnabas. I died tragically in 1729 at the age of seven after a sudden illness.”

“I’m so sorry.” He looked over to Old Martha. “You must be her mother?”

“Heaven forbid!” She looked horrified. “I was born in 1730. Named Martha Jocelyn Redstone. Eldest surviving daughter of Jocelyn and Martin Redstone, sister to Barnabas and Flora.”

“I don’t understand.”

“It’s not difficult,” Young Martha said sourly. “Not only did my sister here steal my name, she couldn’t even manage to get married. So our skinflint brother, Barnabas, buried us in the same grave.”

The older Martha rolled her eyes, “If I’d known what I was setting myself up for I’d have married Jessamy Tucker after all.”

“Let me get this straight,” said David. “You’re sisters, but you have the same name?”

“Yes,” explained Old Martha. “I was born a year after she died. It was traditional to re-use family names.”

“And because you never married, you were buried in the same grave?”

“Correct,” she said. “I think it was tradition rather than parsimony, but you never could tell with our brother Barnabas.”

“I’ve never heard of that.”

“We have our own headstones,” Young Martha pointed them out, her smaller stone set slightly in front of Old Martha’s larger one.

“Oh.” He looked around the silent graveyard. “What about all these other graves?”

“Sometimes they’re here and sometimes they’re not. Some of them never show, we don’t know why,” said Old Martha.

“Where are they now?”

“We don’t know. The ghosts have been disappearing over the last month. We hoped you might know something.”

Young Martha raised a hand. “What was that noise?”.

In the silence that followed, they all heard the crunch of footsteps on the gravel pathway.

“Who is it?” asked David.

“Shh.” Old Martha turned to him. “You need to fade.”

“What do you mean?”

“Ghosthunters. This rabble seem to think they’re something special, so it’s best to keep as low a profile as possible.”


“You look too bright,” explained Young Martha. “Think about silence.”

David closed his eyes and hunched his shoulders. But he was still as clear as day.

“No, no. Not like that,” said Old Martha. “Like this.”

He watched as she faded out and back. The strain showed on his face as he tried to imitate her.

“Try to relax,” advised Young Martha. He gave her an exasperated look.

The footsteps came closer.

“Hurry,” said Old Martha.

“I can’t.” He spread his hands helplessly.

Three men rounded the corner of the church and spotted David, highlighted by the full moon.

Confined to their own grave plot, the two women faded into near invisibility and watched.

David finally got the idea and started to grow hazier. But it was too late, the ghosthunters had spread out and were pointing bulky handheld devices at him.

The sisters clung together as, with a single shouted order, the three men simultaneously pressed buttons. A bolt of power surged from each device, through the air, to David who gave an agonised howl.

There was a crackle of discharge and then silence.grave2

After a lot of excited chatter the ghosthunters packed up their equipment and left.

“What happened? What was that… thing?” asked Young Martha in a tiny voice. She was still clutching Old Martha’s hands, but neither of them pulled away.

“I don’t know.”

“Is he… gone?”

“I think so.”

They were silent for some time. Finally Young Martha stirred. “I think perhaps sharing a grave is not so bad after all.”

The older woman smiled at her sister. “No, not so bad.”


Don’t forget to check out all these other stories, and please let people know if you’ve enjoyed them (it can really make someone’s day, so don’t be shy!)

Katharina Gerlach Australian Dream
Karen Lynn The Waves at Midnight
Sherri Conway Ants
Elizabeth McCleary Over James Henry Wilcox Dead Body
Canis Lupus The Picture
Peg Fisher All In the Fall, a Fractured Fairytale
Bill Bush Trapped
Benjamin Thomas Autumn Cascade
Crystal Collier Emily’s Ghost
Viola Fury 911
Juneta Key All Hallows Eve
C. Lee McKenzie Beautiful
Erica Damon Penance’
J. Q. Rose Sorry
Elise VanCise Lady In The Woods
Barbara Lund Spooky Space

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Nano Nano


Yep, I’ve done my usual thing of spending ages (months & years sometimes) investigating the small print, worrying about how I’ll manage the minutae of things and suddenly plunging in blindly.

The translation of the above babble is that I’ve taken the plunge and signed up to take part in NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth this year.

I have never done this before.

I always sweat the small stuff on things. How does it work? But I write longhand, that’s twice the job if I have to type it up too? How do you register? I’m too busy. I’m not in precisely the right place at the moment. What if it all goes horribly wrong?

Two catalysts made me take the plunge:

  • First, someone in the IWSG (Insecure Writers Support Group) mentioned in their October blog post that they were nano-ing and I replied that I’d never done it coz I was too scared. Thing is when I do something like that it’s almost a challenge to myself. It starts my subconscious mulling things over and saying, Why not?
  • Second, the amazing Holly Lisle said (on the Holly’s Writing School forum), Anyone Nano-ing this year? I’m thinking about sponsoring a team… As it turned out, she was too late to sponsor, but she still put the team together and they’re such a good bunch, how could I not join in?

Now back to those other obstacles:

How does it work? You try to write approx 1,667 words a day and post your count on the nano forum, at the end of the month you upload the scrambled text of your novel & if you’ve hit the target, you’re a winner.

But I write longhand, that’s twice the job if I have to type it up too? There are ways around this (in the forum FAQs) but I’m going to tough it out and actually try typing straight onto the keyboard for a change. (Hey, it’s good to experiment with things).

How do you register? You log on the the Nanowrimo site and follow the instructions. (They’re actually quite simple).

I’m too busy. And when is that ever going to change?

I’m not in precisely the right place at the moment. Will you ever be? Let’s just wing it and see what we accomplish!

What if it all goes horribly wrong? So-bloody-what? Any progress is still progress; you don’t know until you try; plus that old adage about the only failures being those you never attempt in the first place (or whatever it is).

So, November should be interesting. There’s bound to be a post or two (or a million, if you include everyone else’s). (And apparently this can add to your wordcount;))

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#IWSG October: Holy Pants, I’m a co-host!!

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again when

IWSG Badge
…founded by Alex J Cavanaugh, blog about their hopes, dreams and fears. If you want to join this merry band of writers Click here to add your name to the list…
The awesome co-hosts for the October 5 posting of the IWSG are Beverly Stowe McClure, Megan Morgan, Viola Fury, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Susan Gourley! and ME!!!

Yes, I threw caution to the winds last month and volunteered. As you can probably tell, I’m a co-hosting virgin, so please bear with😉

This month’s discussion prompt is When do you know your story is ready?

Now, this is where I have to confess to being a bit of a story-floozie. That next sparkly idea is always sooo attractive, so I try to rein back and consider these points:

  • Have I managed to cram in the correct word count?
  • Did I just press send too soon?

Oh – sorry – those are replies to When do you know your story is NOT ready?

Let’s start again:

  • Have I gotten rid of the first paragraph? (Yeah, that bit where she wakes up, or he walks up the garden path. You knew you didn’t really need that bit, didn’t you.)
  • Have I let someone else point out the spots that I’m blind to?
  • Have I hidden it in a drawer and pretended it isn’t there for anywhere between a couple of days to a couple of years?
  • Have I read it out loud? (In fact, I find that if you can read it out to a room full of people, it’s almost like sonar – the depth of their silence can ping back whole reams of info dump and misunderstanding).

Once you’re happy that you have finished, don’t forget that there’s still time for any authors of speculative fiction to join the Halloween Story Time Blog Hop
storytime bloghopPop on over to Juneta Key’s blog for further info and examples of previous hops if you’re interested.

If you’d rather just read all those scrummy stories then don’t forget to drop by on 27th October.

And last, but not least; if there’s any ink in your printer after all that and your muse is buzzing from all that excitement, there’s still time to enter the IWSG Anthology Contest. 5,000 – 6,000 words, deadline 1st November, with the fantasy theme of ‘Hero lost’.

Whoosh! Thank you for visiting, I’m looking forward to dropping by your blog at some point in the next day or so.

Happy Writing!

Posted in IWSG, Storytime Blog Hops, Writing | 58 Comments

Exeter Writers Short Story Competition 2017

The Exeter Writers Short Story Competition 2017 is


 First prize £500

Second prize £250

Third prize £100

Plus a prize for writers in Devon of £100

The competition is open to published and unpublished authors (except members of Exeter Writers) writing in any genre except children’s. Stories must not have been previously published, nor won a prize in any other competition. No story may win more than one prize.

Maximum word limit is 3,000.

Closing date 28th February 2017


Click here for further information.

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A-Z of Fictional Characters: F is for Fisher

img_2340Namely Isobel Fisher from Simon R. Green’s, Beyond the Blue Moon.


If you don’t like spoilers, best not to read beyond here. (Having said that, it’s not that much of a surprise and if you’re anything like me, it might be the hook that makes you want to read more.)
Continue reading

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#IWSG September: How do you find the time?

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again when

IWSG Badge
…founded by Alex J Cavanaugh, blog about their hopes, dreams and fears. If you want to join this merry band of writers Click here to add your name to the list…
The awesome co-hosts for this month are; C. Lee McKenzie, Rachel Pattison, Elizabeth Seckman, Stephanie Faris, Lori L MacLaughlin, and Elsie Amata

This month’s question comes at a very appropriate time for me. Continue reading

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Blowing my trumpet

No, that’s not some kind of weird euphemism, I’m a bit chuffed as I was shortlisted in Writing Magazine’s paranormal short story competition. Here, see;
WM paranormal comp
But the interesting thing – to me – is Continue reading

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