Book Review: The Ghost Beside Me (2019)

Thank you to fellow author and blogger Rebecca Crunden for this awesome review of The Ghost Beside Me

a writer's blog.

The Ghost Beside Me by Lee Hall

If I could just break away from the shackles of that internal torment I have created that imprisons my confidence. Just the idea and thought of tackling this enigma of feelings spirals my own self into a deep sadness, hence my lack of entries in the past days.

I’ve been meaning to try one of Lee Hall’s books for a while now, and I don’t have the attention span for a long book right now, so this novella was just the right size! And I do love a good ghost story. Further, I kind of love the kismet of picking this one up now, because the writing style actually really reminds me of the start ofFrankenstein, and I’ve been discussing Mary Shelley all week. ’Twas meant to be! Not that I would liken the story lines, that is, just the stylistic…

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Random Words-A Collection of Flash Fiction -an Excerpt

Hello everyone, Today I am sharing some flash fiction from Megan,
Those across the pond – Happy Thanksgiving!

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The following is a collection of flash fiction pieces that I have written from the suggestions of others. Created out of three things: An Item, A Place, and A Name/Occupation. Thank you to all that have participated over the last few years, it’s most appreciated. 

Coffee Black

Mr. Davis sat in the center of the downtown mall, playing Billy Joel’s Piano Man. Watching the people go about their day. As he played he took note of the pretty, cute redhead that works at the coffee shop. She would linger by the door watching him play. He caught her eye and motioned a come here finger towards her. She smiled, looked to see that no one was waiting for service, and hurried over. “Yes,” she said. Mr. Davis smiled at her. “Can you bring me a regular cup of coffee?” 

Decent 

Davis pulled himself away from the flaming wreckage of the…

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Giving the Gifts of BOOKS

Seeing as November is flying past its time to consider the ‘C’ word and some potential book shaped gift ideas brought to you by Megan….

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As usual we need some music to set the mood:

All I want for Christmas is…BOOKS. That works right? 

With the Holiday Season right around the corner here is a list of book recommendations for your gift giving. Books are universal and beloved by many so why not give them as gifts. Growing up I can recall many holidays and birthdays where books were given.

Giving the Gifts of BOOKS  

Dark White

By Neil Christiansen

A modern noir thriller. Gavin Gayle is a myth, a Chicago urban legend. The man that takes care of things when the justice system fails. The shocking truth is, he’s real. Sent to prison unjustly, he is secretly released in order to exact revenge on the unjust by a corrupt State’s Attorney. His life is a secret that she controls. When Gavin’s ex-girlfriend is accused of the murder of a Justice Department lawyer looking…

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A Bitter Drink Release!

Book Release Alert!

Fellow blogger and author Azalea Forrest has a new fantasy adventure book out called ‘A Bitter Drink’.

More information below….

A Forrest Writes

It’s finally here! A Bitter Drink is officially out in the world. 😊 If you’re a fan of fantasy with familiar themes but with unique twists, and the biggest focus on the characters themselves, you’re gonna wanna read this! I’ve been waiting a long time, and working extensively, to get A Bitter Drink into the hands of readers, and I am so thrilled to finally be at the dawn of its release. I am so humbled and awed by my fans, friends, and readers. Thank you for helping make this possible!

A Bitter Drink is now available in ebook and paperback formats, with hardcover to come soon!

So, what’s A Bitter Drink about?

A Bitter Drink is a high fantasy/adventure novel featuring Rowan Moss, a hedonistic lush as the acting ambassador for his people: the Dahlsia.

A relatively new race, these plantfolk reside to the southeast of the Liacris continent…

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Not What I Was Expecting- Prologue

Introducing fellow author and blogger Eleanor who presents some new descriptive fiction.

Eleanor DeSouza -The Life Of A Weirdo

As I look out of my window I see red. I shouldn’t see red. A deep, dark threatening red has replaced the sky, with spasms of light splayed across it. Fear has coiled its fingers around my insides and is tightening its grip. My lips are jittering, trying to form words. Sentences. I’m left with nothing. Out of the corner of my eye, I notice the glimmering bunting from my eleventh birthday party only a few weeks ago. Flashing memories of village halls, stomping feet and my first phone. The only movement my body exudes is from the rigid inhale and exhale of breath. This is complemented by my shaking my ribcage and frozen eyes. Wrenching me from my cryogenic-like state is a smash of glass and a guttural cry. I bolt out of my bedroom and down the stairs, trainers landing with a muted thud at the end. I…

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Question of the Hour Presents: Author Howard Hachey

Fellow blogger and author Megan shares an excellent interview with Howard Hachey.

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What a trip. A little Orwellian, a little horrific, but a trip worth taking. Howard Hachey has a unique talent for making you thing while grossing you out. ‘Soupy’ is a word that will never have any other context except how it was used in this collection. Highly recommend to any one that enjoys The Outer Limits, The Twilight Zone or Alfred Hitchcock Presents…Oddities in deed.(In) Valid Circumstances

It’s time for another author interview, I will say that this is one of the most honest, open, refreshing and truthful interviews I have ever had the pleasure of doing. My appreciation to Howard Hachey for his candor.

With out further adieu here is Author Howard Hachey.

What do you write?

So far, I’ve written two horror novels (The Doll Man Duology), a scifi/horror/abstract anthology ((In)Valid Circumstances), and am currently working on a fictional memoir (

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‘The Rusted Hook’ by J.E Clarkson

The buzzer cut into my consciousness for the tenth time that day. I ignored it again as I had the previous nine times. 

“We’ll be back again later. We know you’re in there. You can’t keep us out forever,” a man’s voice yelled up towards the window.

“Oh yes, I can, you bastards,” I thought, and continued to sit on the floor and out of sight. I heard the letterbox clatter and the dull thud of something heavy hitting the hallway floor. I was curious but gave it five minutes before I sneaked downstairs to see what it was. 

I knelt onto the hallway carpet and looked at the thick booklet that had been posted through the letterbox.

“NOTICE OF INTENTION TO ENTER & SEARCH YOUR PREMISES – REMOVAL NOTICE.

Due to your failure to pay an outstanding Magistrates Court Fine a Bailiff, under the instructions of Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service has attended your premises today with the intention of levying distress and removing your goods.

The Magistrates Distress Warrant empowers the Bailiff from Lawson & Associates, by virtue of Schedule 4A of the Domestic Violence, Crime, and Victims Act 2004, to enter your premises by force should you wilfully refuse to pay the outstanding fine and costs.

To prevent the removal of your goods and the expensive additional removal costs you must make immediate payment to the Bailiff. Failure to do so will result in the Bailiff re-attending your premises with Locksmiths and the Police to remove your goods even in your absence.

No further notice will be issued.”

I slammed the booklet down onto the floor and held my head in my hands. What the hell was I going to do now? Ever since I’d settled into the centre of the city, I’d had nothing but trouble.  I’d thought that it was just because it was so bloody expensive to live there. But something about it was weird. I’d got into debt before and yet it had taken a very long time before any of the companies had taken any action. I’d only been here a few months and missed a couple of payments and nothing major as far as I’d seen but almost straight away these thugs had been sniffing around and trying to gain access to the flat. It was happening at all times of day and night too. 

Gingerly, I held open the letterbox flap to see if I could recognise my tormentors for the next time they came to visit. I could just about see across to the opposite side of the road and noticed a couple of men standing there. One of them was a tallish, wiry figure. He was wearing square-rimmed glasses that glinted slightly in the sunlight. He leaned nonchalantly against the lamppost next to him and looked straight towards the flat. He didn’t seem like he had much intention of moving. I crawled on my hands and knees towards the small chest of drawers where I kept a few odds and ends and pulled open the top drawer. I immediately found what I was looking for, a small pair of binoculars that my adoptive dad had given me. I put the binocular string around my neck and crawled back towards the letterbox. Just before I reached it, the brass flap flew open. Instinctively, I flattened to the ground and willed that the bailiff wouldn’t notice me there. My breath caught in my throat and I willed myself not to panic. I could see from my position a pair of bespectacled, beady eyes, looking right back into mine.

“So, there you are,” the man hissed through the letterbox, “if you’ll just let us in and pay what you owe, then all of this unpleasantness will just go away.”

I noticed that when he spoke, one of his teeth also gleamed in the light. I found it almost as disconcerting as what he had to say.

“I haven’t got it,” I spat, “and I can’t understand how I can owe so much? It doesn’t make any sense.”

“Well, maybe you aren’t quite as good with money as you think you are,” the man replied.

The letterbox flap clattered shut, I heard footsteps walking away from the door, and then everything went silent for a few moments and I thought that the bailiff had maybe given up for the day and disappeared. Gradually, I pulled myself up onto my haunches and opened the letterbox flap once more. That pair of beady eyes were staring back at me. I sprang backward away from the door as if I’d been burnt and crawled away as quickly as I could.

The flap opened one last time.

“We’ll be back,” the man yelled through the hole, “and next time we won’t take no for an answer.”

—————————————————————————————————————————

“Sorry that I couldn’t come round to yours,” I said, looking at Ellen sadly, “my shout as soon as I can sort all of this out.”

“Don’t you stress about it,” Ellen replied, “it’s the least I can do when you’re having to worry about the demon bailiffs from hell.” She reached over and poured some cheap wine into a plastic cup, “at least the gits don’t hang around at night.”

“They do, but just not tonight, for some reason. I just don’t get it,” I said and shook my head slightly. “There’s something weird about all of this. Firstly there was all of that stuff with the bank…”

“Yeah, but they’re going to sort that out for you though,” Ellen replied.

“Ellen, it’s been three months now and there’s no sign of that money,” I replied between mouthfuls of fried rice.

“You know how long these things take. It’s like waiting for Christmas,” she replied.

I looked at her and nodded but I wasn’t convinced. It wasn’t the first time that I’d ever had any fraudulent activity on my account but it was the first time that it had ever happened multiple times by different fraudsters. At first, I thought that maybe I’d accidentally clicked onto a phishing link in a junk email but that just didn’t ring true. In the background, I heard a distant ping. I set down my plate and grabbed my bag. Taking out my phone, I noticed that it was blinking with a new notification. It was yet another from the bank. There’d been a further unauthorised withdrawal and for fifty quid this time. As  I tried to log in, my fingers hardly worked at all. They didn’t feel part of my hands anymore and it took several attempts before I could successfully gain access to it again.
“Here we go again,” I said and ran my fingers through my hair in frustration.

“Who is it this time?” Ellen asked.

“It’s just a nonsense combination of letters and numbers, 5T3LL4. The cheeky sods have even added a transfer fee because the withdrawal wasn’t in pounds,” I replied. “I’m beginning to feel like someone’s got it in for me.”

Ellen looked me straight in the eye.

“Oh come on now, I know you’ve had a bit of a run of bad luck but now you’re starting to sound paranoid,” she said, taking a large gulp of wine from the cup.

“A run of bad luck?” I laughed bitterly, “can you honestly say you’ve ever known anyone else who’s had this happen to them? This level of fraud, I mean, so often and by so many different people?”

Ellen looked thoughtful for a moment and didn’t answer immediately.

“No, I can’t honestly say that I have,” she replied and looked uncomfortable. “But what you’re suggesting sounds like something out of a book. I mean, that sort of thing doesn’t happen in real life does it? And even if it does, why on earth would they pick you?”

I looked back at Ellen and then down at my bank statement again. 

“I don’t know, Ellen. I really don’t know.”

—————————————————————————————————————————

I hadn’t slept at all and when the sunlight broke through the curtains the next morning, I felt as if I’d been awake for a week. Ellen had already gone and left a hastily scrawled note on the drawers in the hallway,

“Stop stressing. See you later.”

I straightened up and looked at my pasty reflection in the mirror.

“Easy for you to say,” I replied and was about to turn away to leave when I noticed a leaflet on the doormat. I was sure that I hadn’t seen it the day before and was about to throw it away when I noticed that it was a flier for a recruitment agency. I picked it up and looked over it. It was certainly eye-catching as it featured a red background and black lettering.

“S.T. Ella Recruitment. Specialists in city recruiting. Wide range of employment opportunities available. Extremely competitive rates. Enroll @ www.st.ella.bs.com.” I thought that I had already signed up with all of the local employment agencies and so I was surprised to find out that there was another. I wondered if it was recently opened or I’d just missed it as a result of my recent difficulties? Either way, it sounded like it was worth a shot. I was willing to try anything to keep Lawson and associates from breaking down my door and it seemed like I was running out of time.

————————————————————————————————————————— 

The S.T. Ella Recruitment website wasn’t very subtle, it employed the self-same colour scheme as the flier had, a deep red background with black writing. There was only one small difference, the website featured a photo of a black swan in the centre of the page. I wondered what the significance of the picture was, but then batted my curiosity away as it was likely to be some kind of corporate branding and because of the situation I was in, I didn’t have time to question further. I merely registered with the website as quickly as I could, uploaded a CV, and hoped that I would at least have a couple of hours before the bailiffs started to ring the buzzer again. I had only just sat down when I heard my phone ping once again. Expecting it to be yet another fraud notification from the bank, I almost didn’t check it but when I did, I saw that it was an email forwarded by S.T. Ella Recruitment. Puzzled, I looked at the time on the phone display. It was only ten minutes since I’d uploaded my CV. It surely couldn’t have been an offer already? And yet, it was.

It was an offer to work as a cleaner for a city-centre office, Nemo and Co. When I read through the email so much of it was strange. The CV that I had uploaded made no mention of having any cleaning experience. It was far more suited to working in an admin role, but when I saw how much money was being offered, I began to feel persuaded. A small part of me felt slightly wary of what was being offered as it seemed too good to be true, but a larger part of me didn’t give a shit. Hiding from the bailiffs was starting to get very old and I wanted to get things sorted out with them and the bank as quickly as I possibly could. The sort of money that Nemo and Co. were offering meant that even if the security issues with the bank weren’t immediately sorted, I would have enough to open another account and sort out what I owed the bailiffs. And all within a couple of weeks. I sent off a quick email of acceptance to the recruiters and hoped that I hadn’t just agreed to another kind of scam. I placed the phone back into my bag and went into the kitchen to make a coffee hoping that it would enable me to at least function at a basic level for the rest of the morning while I divided my time between tidying up and hiding from the bailiffs for the rest of the day.

When I reappeared in the lounge again, I noticed the phone’s blue light blinking. I picked it up and saw that there were three notifications, one from the recruiters, one from the bank, and one from Nemo and Co. Not wanting to open anything from the bank, I resolved to check that notification last. I began with the message from the recruiters.

“Congratulations, your application to work for Nemo and Co. has been accepted. The company will contact you in due course.” 

Once I had read this, I was fairly certain what the Nemo and Co. message would be about. I was right that it was the job offer, but the terms of employment were bizarre, as was the insistence on secrecy. How many secrets would I be a party to as a cleaner anyway? Yet the weirdness of the offer was far less of a problem than anything else that was happening in my life and so I decided to just forget about it and take the money. 

At that moment, the buzzer to the flat sounded and instinctively shot to the floor. There was silence for a few moments and then I heard the same voice who had shouted through the letterbox the day before.

“You don’t need to come to the door. Your account has been settled. We won’t be visiting you again.”

I wondered if I was hearing things or if it was even a kind of trick to encourage me to open the door, but when I looked out of the window, I could see the bespectacled man crossing over the road and opening the driver’s side door to a waiting people carrier. Before he got in, he turned to look up at the window and I thought I heard him shout,

“Check your bank,”  then he nodded and drove away.

Out of curiosity, I did just that and was astonished to find that not only had every fraudulent payment had been repaid, but they had also been erased from the accounts altogether. It was as if they’d never existed.


This is a prologue of the dystopian Nemo & Co series by J.E. Clarkson. You can find more information about the series here and you can find J.E. Clarkson on Twitter.

‘Fear and Fury’ by Jamie Jackson – Exclusive Excerpt

Called genre-subverting by that one guy on Twitter, FEAR AND FURY is a 4th wall-breaking, fast-paced, action-packed and snark-filled urban fantasy about a villain-leaning humanoid and the superheroes she despises.

I am the monster that lives inside your head.

Hold on, that was melodramatic. Let me start over.

I’m not the kind of person who should have been given superpowers. I’m hardly what you would call a hero. I’m not even sure I would qualify as an anti-hero. More like Peter Parker before he was Spiderman, when he committed that one selfish, petty act that led to his Uncle Ben dying. You know the scene in the first Spider-Man movie with Tobey McGuire? Where he lets the guy steal the cash from the dick who won’t give him his prize money for winning that cage match? That one. No, I haven’t read the comics. You’re dragging us off topic. Unlike Peter, I didn’t learn my lesson from it, and that’s my attitude all the time. But I guess when your power is literally fear it’s a little hard not to lean toward villainy.


Wait, we’re getting off on the wrong foot. Hi, I’m Megaera, Meg for short. Look, don’t ask me, my parents were HUGE on Greek history and mythology. I don’t know why they picked it. I mean, it could be because the people the tales were about were real. Not gods, Jesus, they think they were the first heroes and villains. All the heroes of legend had powers. Beowulf? Real person. Grendel and his mother? Real people. Hercules? Real person. Gilgamesh? Real person. Want me to go on? Because I can. For a while the heroes and villains disappeared from the world, and then sometime in the 1940s or so, they started coming back…

Fear and Fury is available now and you can find out more information via Jamie Jackson’s Twitter here.

5 Great Author Tools Worth Trying At Least Once by Savannah Cordova

Great writers deserve worthy tools — and if you want to publish a book, you’re going to need a lot more than just pen and paper! Luckily, there’s an author tool out there for every step of the publishing process, from organizing your initial ideas to formatting your final product.

This list avoids the obvious word processors like Google Docs and Microsoft Word, instead focusing on author tools that fit into more specific niches. They’re all either free or offer free trials, so you can test each one and decide which tools work best for you!

1. Plottr

First on my list is a fantastic tool to help you jump-start your story. Plottr, as the name suggests, allows you to plot and organize your work in detail. You can chart character arcs and subplots scene-by-scene, with color-coded lines for easy visual comparison. Additionally, you can create separate notes for character traits, settings, and more. And if you’re not sure where to start, Plottr also offers over a dozen reliable story structure templates to help!

Pricing: Free trial for 30 days, yearly subscriptions ranging $25 to $65 (depending on the number of devices you use).

Lay out characters’ individual arcs with color-coded threads, referring to the upper-hand
chapter headings to keep track of when each plot point occurs. (via Plottr)

2. Evernote

Evernote is another excellent tool to help you stay organized. Gone are the days of messy drafts and random thoughts crowding up your phone’s notes app — with features like to-do lists, PDFs, and voice notes, Evernote will lend structure to your thoughts for optimal organization and productivity. You can even sync your notes across devices so you’ve got your best-selling ideas with you at all times! It’s not just for writers, either; whether you’re jotting down a grocery list or brainstorming for a book, Evernote will ensure you never lose the plot.

Pricing: Free basic plan, $7.99/month for the Personal plan, $9.99 for the Professional plan.

3. Reedsy Book Editor

The Reedsy Book Editor is a free online production tool which formats your book as you write, producing a ready-to-print PDF (or an EPUB if you’re writing an ebook). With built-in goal reminders and the ability to work collaboratively with an editor, the RBE will help you stay on top of your writing schedule and keep all your work in one place. It’s the perfect author tool to try out if you’re looking for a clean, distraction-free interface to solve all your formatting woes.

Pricing: Free with email signup.

Formatyour book with chapter headings, an auto-generated table of contents,
and even front and back matter for when you publish. (via Reedsy Book Editor)

4. Grammarly

Before you find an editor, you’ll want your manuscript to be as polished as possible — otherwise you’ll end up paying for edits you could have done yourself. Grammarly is just the tool you need to nip these errors in the bud. Not only will it check your spelling and grammar, but the Premium version also gives tips on style, tone, and clarity. All this should make your self-edit go much more smoothly — and like Evernote, you can use Grammarly across devices and purposes, for everything from your personal manuscript to work emails.

Pricing: Free basic plan, $12/month for Premium plan.

5. Cold Turkey

Finally, if you’re easily distracted and need a little external discipline to help you focus (don’t we all sometimes?), Cold Turkey is your new best friend. It lets you block different websites and apps when you want to stay focused; this could be just Twitter, or the entire internet. Compared to similar tools, Cold Turkey makes it much harder for you to stop the block once you turn it on, so you’ll be forced to stay on task — which is honestly a godsend on days when you have to write, but feel like you’d rather do anything else.

Pricing: Free basic plan, $39 for lifetime Blocker Pro.

Cold Turkey also provides stats on which websites and apps you use the most,
so you know which platforms are most important to block. (via Cold Turkey)

Remember, there’s nothing wrong with needing a little help with your creative process. With these varied new additions to your toolkit, you’ll be one step closer to finishing — and publishing! — your next amazing book.


Savannah Cordova is a writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects self-publishing authors with the world’s best resources and professionals. In her spare time, Savannah enjoys reading contemporary fiction and writing short stories.

Featured Image via: by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Modest Means

Hey followers, have some flash fiction from fellow blogger and author Megan…

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Brenda tapped Sara on the shoulder to take over her register. Brenda was starting the second part of her eight hour shift. Deep into the full swing of Black Friday. A day that Brenda never looked forward to working. So many obnoxious, rude customers all demanding to be catered to. She logged into the register and looked out over the sea of people lined up with their overflowing carts. The vast amount of greed made her stomach turn.

Here she was twenty-three working retail in order to support herself. Her modest means, and simple lifestyle, she rented a rundown studio apartment, was vigilant about turning out the lights, keeping the thermostat at a comfortable sixties-five degrees and only took fifteen minute lukewarm showers. She utilized the public library for her entertainment needs, and used the neighbors Wi-Fi for her laptop when she needed to be online, which wasn’t often. She…

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