Welcome message

Welcome, friends old and new, to my blog. This is the place where I can share my scribblings and thoughts on loving life. I hope you enjoy them, make suggestions and come back to read more.

Friday, 31 October 2014

Friday Five: Cute Dog Costumes for Halloween

Happy Halloween!

I've got my candy, my costume, my scary-night-in TV schedule all planned... now, what else? Oh yes! Dressing up my dogs!

I'm not one of those people who dress their dogs all the time (my boys are tough terriers who leg it at the sight of namby-pamby dog-clothes) but even they enjoy the fuss and attention (and extra treats) they receive when they do allow me to wrap something ridiculous around them. Harvey has a SuperDog outfit, a Playboy Bunny outfit, and is quite fond of his Christmas jumper, whereas Alfie is big on scarves and doesn't mind antlers. My most ambitious dressing up attempt was when they wore matching homemade dragon costumes for Wadfest one year- which went down a storm!

Hats off to these brave dogs, though- their clever costumes made me laugh and must have taken their humans ages. Here are my five favourite cute dog costumes for Halloween:

The Headless Horse Dogman

Cute Cerberus

I'd totally give treaties to these sweeties!
Aww! I wouldn't mind if he invaded my dreams.

Not one for arachnophobes!

Does your pet join in the Halloween fun? What cool costumes have you seen this year?
Also, don't forget that Strange Ideas: Death, Destiny and Decisions is half-price this Halloween!

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Halloween Special: Discounted ebook offer


Happy almost-Halloween!

For the next 48 hours, I'm giving you the chance to download Strange Ideas: Death, Destiny and Decisions for only 99p. Just click the link and get stuck in! And tell your friends!
Enjoy my Strange Ideas...
Louise xxx

Monday, 27 October 2014

Ghosthunting at Borley Rectory

How was your weekend? Mine was an exciting one: not only did I get to meet up with one of my favourite indie authors and all-round top bird L.K. Jay, I also had the pleasure of meeting Cat and Lynx Raven, of Calamityville Horror fame, and going on a ghost hunt!

Our destination was the infamous Borley Rectory, or what remains of it, and our objective to see if we could locate the ruins and get anything spooky recorded. Borley Rectory, for those who don't know, was built in 1862 by Henry Dawson Ellis Bull and gained fame in the late 1920's as "the most haunted house in England". The root of this may be a monk from the Benedictine monastery built in the 1300's who was getting up to unholy things with a nun from a nearby convent. After their affair was discovered, the monk was executed and the nun bricked up alive in the convent walls. The nun reportedly still took a stroll every now and then past Borley Rectory, and was seen often enough to be considered a nuisance. Paranormal researcher Harry Price was called in to investigate and wrote two books supporting claims of paranormal activity. After an escalation of stone-throwing, raps and messages written on the walls through the 1930's, the rectory was badly damaged by fire in 1939 (which had been predicted by a spirit) and finally demolished in 1944.
Despite its fame, the tiny village of Borley wasn't prepared for a quartet of slightly hyper ghosthunters, if the locals' reaction to us was anything to go by. We ignored the blatant (and suspicious) stares as we pulled up by the church and got straight down to making friends with a cat. We asked him if he knew anything about the hauntings, but he wasn't very forthcoming. He did, however, helpfully lead us over to the graves of the Bull family. Apparently this was his favourite sunbathing spot, as he hopped up onto one of the headstones and watched us from there as we got all excited over Henry and his family's final resting places.

Now to hunt down the Rectory ruins! Using my dog-walking know-how, we found a legal route round the back of the houses opposite the church which, according to the old map, were built on top of the original rectory. We saw nothing, but did get a name- "Harry"- on Cat and Lynx's magic ghost gadget. A spooky coincidence? Harry was Henry Bull's son, who apparently swore to come back if he was disturbed in the afterlife.

Further up the lane, we came across the driveway for an abandoned building which, based on the old map, we thought may have been the ruins of the Rectory or the summerhouse that was next to it. We had a good old nosey over the barbed wire and the ghost gadget reported lots of blobs which could have been spirits. How exciting! I was having great fun on this ghosthunt, and I can see why Cat and Lynx do it so much.

Back at the church, we studied the map once more to see if we could pinpoint the Rectory more accurately, but we were interrupted by a knocking on the window of the house opposite. An irate old lady, probably terrified by the sight of strangers, came out to tell me that we were invading her privacy by filming her house- despite the fact we weren't actually filming her house, nor did we have the cameras pointing anywhere in her direction. I felt sorry for her though, despite her being so rude, because she was probably freaked out by people with unnatural hair colours and piercings, so I just smiled and assured her that we had no interest in filming her house and, just because we had cameras, it didn't mean we were filming her house. I honestly couldn't have stated it more clearly, but I don't think I convinced her. I don't know what she thought we were up to!

We were pretty much done by that point anyway, so we hopped back in the car and went for lunch in a conveniently local haunted pub, The Bull (which, despite the name, pre-dates Borley Rectory and the Bull family) before heading back to Lesley's for drinks, chilli, more drinks and a cracking game of Cards Against Humanity. A perfect end to a great day!

Find out more:
Borley Rectory
C.L. Raven: Recce at the Rectory

Friday, 24 October 2014

Friday Five: Five Books on my TBR pile

...or "To Be Read" pile, for those of you not in the Goodreads loop.

Due to a clearout of the former village library, where they were literally giving books away, my TBR pile is a lot more diverse than usual. My tastes are usually of the spooky and strange kind, but this randomly-selected bunch from the haul I gleefully carried home (or drove home- I honestly couldn't have carried the number of free books I snaffled) range from classic to chick-lit. An interesting change for me. My only dilemma is which one to read first! Browse through my stack and, if you have any recommendations, feel free to leave them in the comments!

In no particular order:

1. The Killing Hour by Lisa Gardner
For three summers, the residents of Atlanta have been gripped by terror when the temperature creeps up to a hundred. For with the relentless heat comes a vicious killer. Each time, he takes two girls. When the first body is discovered, it contains all the clues investigators need to find the second victim, who waits, prey to a slow but certain death. The police are never in time; the bodies always found months later in remote and dangerous places.

As a heatwave of epic proportions descends, the game begins again. Two girls disappear and the clock is ticking. Rookie agent Kimberly Quincy stumbles across the first body in the grounds of the FBI training facility at Quantico. She's been face-to-face with a serial killer before and knows only too well why the killer has chosen Quantico to start the chase. This time he's raising the stakes; he wants the FBI's finest to come out and play . .

2. The Humans by Matt Haig

After an 'incident' one wet Friday night where Professor Andrew Martin is found walking naked through the streets of Cambridge, he is not feeling quite himself. Food sickens him. Clothes confound him. Even his loving wife and teenage son are repulsive to him. He feels lost amongst a crazy alien species and hates everyone on the planet. Everyone, that is, except Newton, and he's a dog.

What could possibly make someone change their mind about the human race. . . ?

 3. Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
Set in the closing months of World War II, this is the story of a bombardier named Yossarian who is frantic and furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. His real problem is not the enemy - it is his own army which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. If Yossarian makes any attempts to excuse himself from the perilous missions then he is caught in Catch-22: if he flies he is crazy, and doesn't have to; but if he doesn't want to he must be sane and has to. That's some catch...

4. Wrathful Skies by Robert Lassen
Don't call them Vampires.     
1942. The Allied bomber offensive against the Nazis teeters on the brink of failure. Night after night, fanatical German fighter pilots cut a bloody swathe through the British airmen struggling to cripple Hitler's war machine. In desperation, the Government turns to an ultra-secretive organization known only as K Department. Their answer? A group of Eastern European refugees with a blood feud against the Nazis. Pale killers with a condition that allows them to hunt at night but forces them to flee the dawn. Myth has made them monsters. The truth is far more complicated. The world labels them Vampires. They call themselves Mullo.

5. The Girls by Lori Lansens
In twenty-nine years, Rose Darlen has never spent a moment apart from her twin sister, Ruby. She has never gone for a solitary walk or had a private conversation. Yet, in all that time, she has never once looked into Ruby's eyes. Joined at the head, 'The Girls' (as they are known in their small town) attempt to lead a normal life, but can't help being extraordinary. Now almost thirty, Rose and Ruby are on the verge of becoming the oldest living craniopagus twins in history, but they are remarkable for a lot more than their unusual sisterly bond.

Have you read any of these? Which would you recommend? Drop me a comment below!

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Review: The Memory of a Salt Shaker

The Memory of a Salt Shaker
The Memory of a Salt Shaker by Bernard M. Cox

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A lovely short story where a widower experiences his wife's memories every time he tastes salt from the shaker she stole as a memento from their honeymoon. Through these memories, the author cleverly portrays their passionate love in very few, but effective, words. Beautiful, but sad.

View all my reviews

Review: The Game

The Game
The Game by Terry Schott

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a fantastic idea! Maybe I'm more sympathetic to this because of my own personal beliefs but, as well as finding The Game to be a great story, I found it a thought-provoking one too. Trew and Danni were a little too sickly-sweet for my tastes but that didn't stop me rooting for them to have a happy ending. The typos etc that other reviewers have referred to seem to have been dealt with, as I didn't notice anything glaring. A damn good read!

View all my reviews

Friday, 17 October 2014

Friday Five: reasons why I love NaNoWriMo

Yes, it's that time of year again! Only two weeks to go until NaNoWriMo kicks off and I frantically tap-tap 50,000 words in 30 days (or less, as I managed last year). It sounds like jolly hard work, especially on top of working full-time and having two dogs to attend to, but I enjoyed last year so much that I've signed up again. Why? Let me tell you...

1. License to abuse caffeine, chocolate and sweet things
During last year's NaNo, I was dieting, so I had to lay off the snacks or else undo all my hard work! Hours sitting typing + Haribo consumption = porky Lou! I did, however, go a little mental with tea, which left me wired and excitable but at least got me to goal- a week early and with a stinking cold, too! This year, I'm fully stocked with tea again but I fully intend to find some sort of sweet treat for an additional sugar hit. I'm thinking space pencils? Non-melty and can be rationed. But who am I kidding? I won't be rationing them at 11:30pm with 300 words left to go...

2. Motivation to sort out my work/life balance
One of the interesting things about NaNo last year was the realisation that I have way more free time than I think I have- so long as I use my time productively. Knowing that I needed to write a minimum of 1,667 words every day, I found that planning got finished quicker, books got marked faster, housework took a fraction of the time (although that's probably because I only did a fraction of what I normally would) and I managed to get everything done by simply not faffing about. What's that saying about "if you want something done, give it to a busy person"? Yeah, that.

3. Legitimate excuses for putting my PJs on as soon as I arrive home
Work done, dogs walked- it must be PJ time! Knowing that all I'll be doing between walking in the door and crawling into bed is type (and drink tea) it is socially acceptable to change straight from work clothes to bedclothes- even if it's 6pm. I love lounging around in my PJs, and NaNo is the best excuse.

4. Those magical 10K days!
These only ever happen on weekends (for obvious reasons) but they are such a buzz! My first published story, Late: a ghostly tale, weighed in at about 11.5K after months of drafting, scrapping, extending and beta-reading so, achieving almost that in one day feels amazing. Admittedly, they won't be my best ten thousand words but, that's what editing is for. NaNo is all about celebrating the quantity and worrying about the quality later.

5. Forcing in the Fun Time
With being so busy in November, it would be easy to focus solely on work and writing and burn out too soon. I do have tendency for tunnel-vision, so I plan a few deliberate nights off or other treats to make sure that I stay fresh for writing and don't lose all my friends completely. A few hours down the pub does wonders for creativity, and gives me chance to people-watch or test out a plot idea on a real person. My dogs probably get more walkies in November than any other winter month- partly from guilt, partly because my bottom is in danger of becoming sofa-shaped- although they do get them at random times, depending on when inspiration (or mental exhaustion) hits. Having to schedule time to just have fun makes me appreciate it more, because I know I'll be back to the laptop (or pile of marking) soon after.

Friday, 3 October 2014


Frost crept under her toes, the dying grass prickling her tanned, bare feet. The sky darkened and cast long shadows over the fields where she had played for so many cloudless, scorching days and balmy, blissful evenings. Picking up her skirts, she turned her back on the winter, leaving it far behind as she ran through the spring, laughing as she raced joyfully back into summer.