The Excise Man and the Ghost

Now available to download for just 99p










PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

Tom scanned the clifftop and cursed the excise man atop his horse. He heard the slap of the waves against the boat and caught its signal. The man saw it too, for he replied in Tom’s place to tempt it ashore. The fool would catch trouble.
Donning a phosphorus dipped cloak, Tom feigned to glide eerily along the tideline.
The officer shrieked, “A ghost!” but instead of fleeing, he charged at Tom and swooping down pulled him onto the horse, crowing, “Not the spirit I expected but you’ll do little ghost. We’re not as gullible as them at Hadleigh Castle.”

I feel a little explanation may be required.

Back in the day smuggling into Britain could be a  brutal business, those employed to prevent it were often outnumbered and came to grisly ends. The smugglers would prefer to go about their business undisturbed though and ghost stories were often used to hide their operations and scare off the superstitious. At Hadleigh Castle a pair of ‘phantoms’, – the White Lady and Black Man – made dramatic appearances just before a shipment of illicit liquor arrived, and duly disappeared when all the liquor had been moved away. There is no doubt that the famous 18th century legend of ‘the Ghostly Drummer of Hurstmonceaux Castle’ in Sussex started with some enterprising smugglers and a little phosphorus! – by Ellen Castelow




‘The Ghostly Drummer of Hurstmonceaux’

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by  Rochelle. Read the other entries here.

Message Received and Misunderstood

Available now via:

Today I’ve gone with Mad Monk, my first mad monk tale. Everyone should write at least one






PHOTO PROMPT © Roger Bultot

The tramp of the pious and possessed to worship had worn smooth the path through the cloister but now the edifice crumbled and weeds cracked the flags.
Recently, the monks had passed faster than replacements could be recruited. There remained but one decrepit, cadaverous man eking out his days on prayer and potage, too weak to tend the buildings or fight nature’s advance.
Sulking into his broth, he wished he’d spared at least one for company and chores. “Lord, I did as you bid,” he screamed to the vaulted ceiling. “Why didn’t you let me keep one for my old age?”

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle. Read the other entries here.

Natural Defences











PHOTO PROMPT © J Hardy Carroll

‘Some buildings are just built to burglar specifications. With those grab-points and toeholds, I’ll beat the lift to the third floor.’
Sheridan double-checked the target window and climbed, maintaining the golden rule, ‘three points of contact at all times.’
A strange sphere hung off the windowsill evidently humming. He grabbed it recklessly and the noise grew to a roar. He dropped it but his arm and now his face was on fire. Losing grip with his other hand, he fell writhing and screaming.
Sadly, the angry cloud of wasps that hung over him a spitefully long time prevented any rescue.

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle. Read the other entries here.

The Morning After at Wordsworth’s Glade

A quick note to say ‘From the Edge of an English Summer’ can be downloaded for just 99p/99cents until Sunday. Thanks again to everyone who has already purchased. A special shout out to America, you’re doing me proud. Your support really is flattering, encouraging and humbling all at the same time. The prompt picture has fallen well for me this week, I’ve selected a short episode from one of the several spent round Wordsworth’s camp fire in the book.






PHOTO PROMPT © Anshu Bhojnagarwala

Despite the tiredness and alcohol, Sunday morning came repeatedly, every hour it seemed. To say I had an interrupted night’s sleep would be uncaringly inaccurate. Sleep punctuated my moments awake. Wordsworth had helped me cobble together a makeshift mattress of bracken and lent me an old jumper but I was cold and uncomfortable.
He stoked the fire back to life, placed a pan of water in the embers and we were soon enjoying a reviving cuppa.
“It wasn’t cold last night and that’s a very comfortable bed. The problem is not with the world, it’s you,” he said, “you’ve grown soft.”

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle. Read the other entries here.







My Second Novel (The One that Made it.)

I haven’t blogged about ‘My Novel,’ for a long while now and that’s mainly because there was nothing to say about the first one, as I waited for agents and publishers to take it on. They didn’t and in the meantime I started to write another.
I thought it would be the sequel to the first but I awoke one morning with a completely different, virtually perfectly formed novel in my mind which I sat down to write that very morning and had completed inside six months.
Those who read the first drafts said the same as they had about the first, everything was complimentary except this time, there seemed far more feeling in their words. As though they liked the first one but had reservations which they didn’t have about ‘From the Edge of an English Summer.’
This encouraged me to submit to agents and publishers again, only this time I had a time limit. If no one had taken the book by June, I would self-publish. There were two main reasons for this, the first that I didn’t want to sit indefinitely waiting again and the second and most important, my mother was getting older and I wanted to be able to put a finished book in her hands, for her to see it and hold it.
Whilst the agents and publishers replied with words of appreciation and encouragement, no one took up the option and on December 1st I launched the book on Kindle. Fortunately, the paperback copies were available to order before that as Mum passed away on the 1st, a copy of ‘From the Edge of an English Summer,’ on her bedside table.
So far, I have been flattered at the way the book has sold. The bulk of them to people here in the UK but copies have been bought as far afield as the US, Canada and Australia. There’s no other language version of it, so I can’t expect sales in other European countries but it would be good to crack the English speaking part of the Indian market.
I’m immensely grateful to those that have already bought it and the response from those who have read it has been tremendous.

I leave you with several examples of what they’re saying about From the Edge of an English Summer:

Amazon Customer

5.0 out of 5 stars Good story, well told.
1 February 2019
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a difficult book to define, so I’m not going to try. It’s charmingly set, well written and, after getting the main characters defined, moves along at a decent pace. The plot has integrity and addresses an important issue in our society. Well worth a read.

5.0 out of 5 stars
Funny, good plot and a real page turner.
13 January 2019
Format: Kindle Edition
Couldn’t put this down as the plot kept me intrigued but was also very funny. Great characters and looking forward to the next book to see what other adventures they have.

Clare H
5.0 out of 5 stars
What an incredibly well-written novel!
2 December 2018
Format: Paperback
The plot is fast-paced with some very amusing scenes, particularly with Lydia. It’s hard to decide who is my favourite character, but she is brilliant! Lydia is the typically lacking-in-understanding wife of Julian, the narrator. She is horrified at his leap from corporate banker to the depths of society and is appalled by his new acquaintances.
Set in and around Chelmsford, Essex (with a couple of fictional places thrown in) each character is perfectly built and you have empathy with those seeking justice but also with Lydia who is totally bemused by the change in her husband. Wordsworth is a complex character who has chosen a very unorthodox way of life. Julian is trying to establish himself as a writer and to find meaning to his life having worked for years making more money than he knows what to do with.
Julian blunders into a situation he could never have imagined himself in and bumbles his way through, determined to ‘do the right thing.’ The story takes him into some very sticky circumstances, some of which I am sure he will never let Lydia learn of.
Wordsworth is the local tramp, who has begrudgingly allowed Julian to befriend him. They realise there is something amiss with a group of young girls they see each morning and determine to put matters right. Their exploits put them in serious danger and the suspense had me on the edge of my seat, breath held.
For anyone wondering whether to buy ‘From the Edge of an English Summer’ I can highly recommend it!

First Car












Luke was aghast. He must have missed something, so he circled the car again.
Nope, it was still a wreck in a wood.
“It’s just a shell,” he complained.
“But the seats are there, a hole for the windscreen. You can practice your driving position, changing gears, indicating.”
“Changing gears in a non-existent gear box, indicating with no clickety-click?”
“Use your tongue to make your own clickety-click.”
“And there’s no engine!”
“Vibrate your lips and go brmm-brmm.”
Luke stomped off as mirth wobbled his father’s belly. “You’re twelve lad, you’re not getting one with an engine until you’re much older.”

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle. Read the other entries here.

My Life with Duct Tape Episode 9











PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

This house has never been warm. It’s that front door. I should replace it if I had some money. The letterbox flapped so I taped that up, which helped. Then another strip of tape at the bottom of the door cut out a load of draught and we were nearly there, almost cosy.
Until that is, the Incredible Hulk came visiting. Why can’t he knock for heaven’s sake? Or ring the perfectly good bell?
We’re going to need a bigger roll of duct tape…and more words.

Orange rhymes with sporange, a botanical term for a part of a fern. 🙂

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a 100 words story based on a photo prompt. Hosted by Rochelle. Read the other entries here.