The Danger Of Dirty Links


Useful Post

WordyNerdBird

With all the attention given among the Indie community to the removal of book reviews by Amazon, I’m amazed at the number of authors who still post dirty links to their books on social media. This is a rookie-level mistake that can actually do more harm than good. 

A dirty link helps the algorithm at Amazon to determine if there are connections between author and reader that might suggest collusion or partiality.. Even if a review is from a verified purchase, a simple connection via a shared link can be enough to make them suspect that it’s not unbiased or from an unrelated party.

If the link used by multiple customers can be traced directly back to the author, that’s one of the reasons they will start flagging and eventually removing reviews. 

The simple solution is to ensure your links are clean before you post them.

A dirty link occurs…

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The Day I Met My Mother


The Magic of Stories

by Karen J Mossman

This story has hung around in my head for twenty odd years. Now and again it pops up and it still makes me chuckle. The question I always asked myself was how did I not know my own mother!

It isn’t a big story, it will take but a few words, which is why I haven’t told it before. Then this morning I came across this article by author Carole Parkes. Apart from it making me chuckle, I identifided when she said that she didn’t understand why she didn’t recognise herself.

My story is simply that I was travelling in the car one day whilst on holiday. We’d just left my family and waved goodbye. I was idly staring out of window watching the other cars go by. This car over took us and a woman looked at me and smiled. I stared back wondering why…

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How Difficult is it to Trace Ancestors Whose Surname is SMITH?


RESEARCHING MY SMITH ANCESTORS

 

 

 

When I fist thought about doing some research on my family tree, I thought it would be an almost impossible task because my maiden surname was SMITH, a really common surname.

My brother’s marriage confirmed to me how difficult it could be. His father-in-law, now deceased, was named George William Smith, exactly the same name as our father, and they were both born in Liverpool around the same time, 1914. My brother’s marriage certificate does look odd with both him and his wife looking like they have the same father. It’s a good job they had different occupations to show they were two separate individuals.

In reality, the SMITH research task wasn’t as hard as it first appeared thanks to my father’s aunt and her daughters, his cousins. In my experience female members of the family seem to remember more about intricate family relationships than their male counterparts. This was certainly the case here. My dad, couldn’t remember much at all about his grandparents, but his cousins knew a lot. That was down to their mother, my dad’s Aunt Lily, telling them stories about her childhood. Aunt Lily and her family were the only relatives we had in Liverpool. We visited them every Tuesday and spent Christmas and New Year celebrations with them.

Aunt Lily provided the first picture above showing George Henry SMITH, her brother , my dad’s uncle, in the centre. He was born 2nd Mar 1885. I am still unsure who is with him. The chap on the right certainly looks a little like him while the other on the left doesn’t. George Henry SMITH didn’t have sons so maybe the other two are his brothers, William (my grandfather), and Thomas.

 

The child in the above picture is my dad’s Aunt Lily with her mother, Mary Jane SMITH (nee HOLT). Mary Jane’s family came over from Ireland to settle in Liverpool. Theirs could be an interesting story if I ever get to the truth of it. Other HOLT researchers on the www.joseph-holt.org site believe our HOLT family is connected to General Joseph HOLT of the 1798 Irish Rebellion, but that’s for another post. Today, I’m concentrating on the SMITH name.

Below is Aunt Lily with her husband Edward REDDINGTON. I never knew him because he died in 1948, when I was three. He was born in Scotland in 1893. It took me forever to find Aunt Lily’s birth record. This was because we always knew her as Lily when in fact she was baptised Rose Lily SMITH.

Beware when researching your family. I’ve had at least four instances like this where I’ve been searching for a particular name only to find it’s a middle name. It does make things more difficult.

 

 

Aunt Lily’s parents were another George Henry SMITH, born 26th Sep 1857 in Liverpool, and Mary Jane HOLT, born 1st June 1865, also in Liverpool. George Henry SMITH and a couple of his siblings were plumbers like their father, Henry SMITH, born about 1835, also in Liverpool.

I was surprised by the description of plumber for my second great grandfather, Henry SMITH, because I hadn’t realised proper sanitation was used at this time. I grew up in the 1960’s in an era of outside lavatories. My mum used to say as a child in the 1920’s, some relatives houses only had middens in the back yards of Wigan, a town also in Lancashire.

The parents of Henry SMITH (1835) were John SMITH (born 8th Apr 1811 and baptised 10th Apr 1811 in Liverpool) and Hannah, surname unknown. Going on Henry’s marriage certificate, John SMITH was a coachman who later became a coach proprietor according to the census details.

The father of John SMITH, born 1811, was another John SMITH according to the 1811 baptism record, and this John was also a coachman.

This is where I’m up to in the SMITH branch. I haven’t found anything remarkable about this family yet, but perhaps as I get further back, I might. Have they always lived in this area, or did they come from somewhere else? I’ll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, if you’re thinking of delving into your family tree, do remember to ask around the family for old photos; birth, baptism, marriage, or burial records; or old family stories passed down through the generations. Happy hunting!

 

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Welcome to Women in Horror 2019 – Introducing poet and author of horror fiction – Joanne Van Leerdam


Unusual Fiction

Welcome to the first of our WiHM 2019 Author Interviews on Unusual Fiction. It gives me great pleasure to introduce, once again, poet and writer of horror fiction – Joanne Van Leerdam.

Joanne Van Leerdam is a poet and author of short stories. Her body of work consists of six poetry collections, one general short story collection, a play, four collections of horror short stories, and a contribution to several anthologies.

When she’s not writing, Joanne is a teacher of English, History and Drama/Production. She is an active member and performer in her local theatre company.
Her hobbies include reading, photography, and music.

She is proud to be both an Australian and an honorary Canadian.

She does like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain.

Question 1.

Which horror genre do you written in ?

I tend toward both the macabre and creepy psychological horror, with a bit…

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The Day I Met The Other Me.


Happily browsing in a particularly long, narrow aisle of a clothing store, I was concentrating on the display of numerous tops and blouses. Carefully examining each one, I got about halfway down the racks when my path was blocked by another woman coming in the opposite direction. I went left, she went the same way, I went right, she did the same, and again, we both tried to go to my left. I couldn’t help laughing at the silly situation. Then I saw she was laughing too and the thought crossed my mind, well at least she looks happy and isn’t getting annoyed about not being able to pass me. She seems alright!

When I mumbled, “Sorry,” and saw her lips moving in time with mine, that’s when it hit me! The other woman was my reflection in a mirror at the end of the aisle. It wasn’t a long shop, just a short one with a mirrored wall at the end. Strange! I didn’t recognise myself at all, at least, not for a couple of minutes. I wonder what that says about me? I was totally embarrassed in case someone had seen me apologising to myself, and left the shop in haste.

Do you have strange or silly stories to tell like this?

 

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HITTING BRICK WALLS


HITTING BRICK WALLS IN FAMILY HISTORY RESEARCH

I spent over 14 years researching the many branches of my family tree and then reached so many brick walls, I decided to give up for a while and write the books I’d long planned in my head. Now I’ve published my two thrillers, and my mother’s biography, I’m considering taking up the research again.

There are some family history details of my mother’s tree in the end notes of her biography ‘The Road from Wigan Pier’. Her surname before marriage was ALKER.

 

PURPOSE OF THIS POST

From time to time, I’d like to discuss my journey discovering who my ancestors were, what they did for a living, where they lived and, if possible, what they believed. For now, though, I’ll just show you how far I got in my ALKER family tree before hitting the brick wall.

My ALKER research hit a barrier with my 8th great grandfather, Thomas ALKER, the earliest direct ancestor I had traced. There is a parish record showing this Thomas ALKER in All Saints, Wigan, Lancashire, England. This entry recorded his marriage on the 28th August 1665 to Ellen GREENHACH. Both ages were given as 25, so I can guess they were both born around 1640.

So far, I don’t know where he was born because his baptism isn’t recorded in All Saints, the Wigan parish church, but there were a lot of ALKER families in Ormskirk before this time, and also a few in Salmesbury. Both of these areas are also in Lancashire.

In the parish records of All Saint’s, Wigan, there is also a burial on 28th August 1710 for a Thomas ALKER of Aspull. I’m not sure if the two records are for the same individual, but it does look promising. This is where my research is at the moment. How do I prove both records are for the same person? Where will I find the baptism record of this Thomas ALKER and thus the names of his parents?

This highlights an inherent problem with family history research. As we research further back, the records become sketchier for the average family. It’s different if your ancestors had a more prominent place in history, like if they were royalty, great leaders, or innovators.

My ALKER ancestors were mostly farmers, so although I can easily place them and their farms through the census data, once we go beyond 1841, which was the earliest useful census in England and Wales, we have to then rely on parish registers.

There was no explicit law in those days that births, marriages, or deaths had to be officially registered. That law was passed in 1836. Before that, religious families would often ensure their rights of passage were recorded in their own particular churches and often in family bibles, but if they were not religious people, they were not so meticulous in celebrating or recording these events.

This is why I’m often sceptical when people say they’re related to a famous figure from long ago. It’s not impossible but, for that to happen, every generation of the family would have to be so prominent, they were officially recorded over several hundred years. In reality, there is often a rise and fall pattern in families, and once great names sometimes become obscure.

I know some families have an old family bible with a few notes recorded, but I doubt there are many with a detailed family tree covering several generations. In any case, they couldn’t go back further than 1539 when the first English bible for public use was introduced, enabled by the earlier invention of the printing press.

Despite the dearth of records, family history research is still a fascinating project to undertake. When you discover a previously unknown fact about your family, it’s almost like a light bulb going on. You feel like a detective solving a difficult case. It’s euphoric and really addictive until you hit the next brick wall.

pexels-photo-283932

Why don’t you try researching your family tree? It’s the most fascinating of hobbies.

#FamilyHistory #BrickWalls #AlkerTree

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How Not To Do Book Promotion.


Food for thought for hardworking authors.

WordyNerdBird

Every author I know dreams of finding the perfect ‘set and forget’ book promotion.

I’m here with some bad news: it doesn’t exist.

Effective book promotion is about engagement and communication. It’s letting people know your book exists, what it’s about, and why they should read it… without stuffing it in their face and demanding that they buy it.

What many people don’t realise is that effectively promoting your book is a process, not an event. You cannot simply advertise it once, post it on Facebook and/or Twitter, then sit back to wait for the sales to roll in.

Personally, I’d love to think that everyone I know who sees my book will buy it, and that would flow on to lots of people I don’t know buying it. That isn’t how it works. The people you know are often less likely to be interested and willing to buy and…

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What’s Cooking?


A powerful new aroma rose drew demons from near and far to the enormous kitchen.

“I smell sea salt,” moaned Festus as he wiped his drool on his sleeve.

“Do you really? I smell Vegemite!” exclaimed Provokus.

“You’re both wrong. It’s meat pies! That smell of melting, bubbling flesh is unmistakeable.” Cocky and confident, Argumentus sneered at the obvious errors of the others.

“Damn, I wanted some January 26 lamingtons, or a pavlova.” Minimus, the smallest of them all, who also had the sweetest tooth, looked very disappointed.

“Hey boss, what’s cooking?” Festus asked.

Satan snickered as he answered: “Australia.”

Copyright 2019 by Joanne Van Leerdam

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A Change That Is Long Overdue.


Perhaps we judge ourselves too harshly. This is one author’s journey to self-acceptance.

WordyNerdBird

I have reached a new landmark in my journey of self-acceptance and self-care:  I have finally decided to stop saying and thinking horrible things about myself. 

When I posted this image last night, a friend responded with the observation that ” The trick is to catch it and recognize it. That’s the hard part.”

What she says is true, but the fact is that I’ve already been recognising it, and it’s something that has been bugging me for a while. 

For me, the hardest part is that I see my flaws and failures much earlier and more honestly than anyone else does. I know I’m valued and loved, and I know I have talents and abilities that others admire, but I am much quicker to comment on my mistakes and shortcomings than on anything good or positive that I might do. Sadly, this is the habit of a lifetime. 

It’s…

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I have a cunning plan….


Oh, the joys of early morning writing. This made me laugh, so thank you for that, Kirsten.

Kirsten Nairn

And this is it….I set my alarm for 5.30 (yes, am) in full knowledge that my family will still be in the realms of deep sleep and nothing bar a full-on emergency will waken them. I will be able to snatch an hour of unadulterated peace and quiet. Even the cats aren’t morning people and are highly unlikely to want fed, let alone any seek attention.

I wrap myself in my cosy PJs, make a nice coffee and I actually manage to write about three hundred words, when something catches my eye. A grey and white ball of fur is moving with sloth-like speed across my kitchen floor and on closer inspection seems to be enjoying a tasty bowl of dried cat food. 

It’s Maureen, next door’s ‘dwarf’ rabbit, who has escaped AGAIN, made her way into my back garden AGAIN and is in my kitchen (A FIRST). She has…

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The life of a secret writer


This is only one of the thousands of writers who struggle to find some quiet moments in which to write.

Kirsten Nairn

I write in secret! No one, not even family or friends know I write, but the only problem with that is I can’t just close the door and put up a ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign, which means in reality, I rarely get any writing done unless I have a rare moment of peace and quiet or a day off the day job.

So far today I have worked a full shift, raced into town on my way home to pick up a pair of must have trainers for the 11 year old (apparently he has waited his whole life on these beauties). Seeing an opportunity to have ten minutes to myself at the shops I was faced with the dilemma of ‘popping’ into Zara to look for a pair of skinny jeans for myself or trudge around the supermarket to stock up on fruit to replace the mouldy, unrecognisable species…

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Barnes & Noble 10% off Voucher 2


10% off coupon if you order paperback version of ‘TISSUE OF LIES’ through Barnes & Noble. Order HERE now!

A STOLEN BABY, A DARK SECRET, and MORE LIES than anyone can imagine leads to danger. Will Julie discover the truth before her quest puts her life at risk?

 

5***** REVIEWS

“Easy to read and with a roller-coaster like plot with many twists and turns, I would definitely recommend this… looking forward to Parkes’ next novel.”

“Mystery and suspense filled read. This was an enjoyable read and the author has a great writing style.”

“A five-star novel; that will hook you from the start and would make an amazing movie. I will be recommending ‘Tissue of Lies’ to family and friends and suggest you read it too!”

 

 

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Barnes & Noble 10% off Voucher


10% off coupon if you order the paperback version of ‘Your Last Breath’ through Barnes & Noble. Order your copy HERE now!

 

 

5***** REVIEWS

***** “Wow!!

Absolutely fantastic book!!! A gripping game of cat and mouse, so much suspense! I couldn’t get enough of this book… I hope there is a sequel. One of the best books I’ve read for a while!! Loved it!!!”

– “Excellent read! I finished ‘Your Last Breath’ and was so drawn to the book from Chapter One! It really kept you wondering what Raymond Lang would do next.  Can’t wait to read the next book.”

#SerialKiller #thriller #horror

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Her Secret Family Means a Christmas Dilemma


Julie Simpson is finding out that Christmas invitations are even more complicated when you’re leading a secret double-life. She has two sets of parents; the ones who lovingly raised her and her recently discovered birth parents who informed her she was stolen from them when she was a baby.

To protect her mum and dad from possible prosecution and to learn the truth, she builds a secret relationship with her natural parents telling them the ‘parents’ she grew up with are both deceased. This one little lie leads to many more as Julie, with the help of her husband, John, becomes ensnared with fibs and half-truths.

Despite the intricacies of the situation where neither set of parents know about the other, Julie is coping well until she realises that both sets of parents are expecting her company on Christmas day. How can she resolve this dilemma and still keep her secrets?

Carole 6

 

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Creating a ‘Specific Friends’ List for Facebook Posts


To keep profile posts private from your other ‘friends’ eyes, you can create a ‘Specific Friend’s’ list. Here is how you do it:

FB Specific Friends

 

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A Taster


via A Taster

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MEET THE CHARACTERS FROM YOUR LAST BREATH

A unique opportunity to meet the characters from the shocking, gripping, and suspenseful thriller

‘Your Last Breath’

Your Last Breath’ is far more than just another who-done-it murder story. From the start you know who is committing themurders. What adds to the intense suspense, are all the characters involved with the victims and their own stories.

To begin with, let’s start with the serial killer’s victims. There are five in total, but two other females also came close to becoming his prey.

FIRST VICTIM -VALERIE HOLBROOK

In truth, Valerie wasn’t really a victim. Her beloved husband, Justin, had died and she was finding life a struggle without him.  She wanted to commit suicide but was afraid if she did it herself, she wouldn’t get to heaven where she was sure she’d find Justin. With this in mind, Valerie asked Raymond Lang, voted in high school ‘the most likely to be a serial killer’, to assist her.

Shy, unassuming misfit, Raymond Lang, craved becoming a famous author of murder thrillers, but suffered from writing block. To his amazement, the euphoria he felt after killing Valerie gave him the impetus to write several book chapters.

Read more about Valerie HERE in this book excerpt.

 

SECOND VICTIM – TAMMY LOGAN

Tammy was a tall, fifty-something, blond haired, blue eyed woman with a stocky build. Despite being married, she was always on the hunt for men, especially younger ones like Lang. Her husband, Eddie, was one of Lang’s friends, and certainly didn’t deserve to be cheated on.

After his experience with Valerie, Lang was looking for someone to kill, someone who wouldn’t be missed too much in this world, and Tammy fitted the bill. When she tried bullying him into having sex with her, it gave him the perfect opportunity to see if his euphoric writing spree was just a one-off, or something that could be repeated until he reaches his goal of writing the perfect crime thriller. Would killing her help cure his recurring writer’s block…?

 

THIRD VICTIM – LAURA ATKINSON

Knowing Lang was keen on her, Claudia Atkinson had been teasing him yet rebuffing him for months. The time came when he couldn’t take any more.

On the night Ray Lang was intent on killing her, Laura, her mother, unexpectedly arrived at her daughter’s house while she was out. Lang didn’t know about her impromptu visit and when he saw the lights on, he assumed Claudia had come home early and it was her taking the shower. How will he  react when he finds he’s killed the wrong woman.

Read more about Laura HERE in this book excerpt.

 

FOURTH VICTIM – AMY CHADWICK

Lang first spotted Amy in an up-market coffee shop in Westminster. It was her low buttoned, white blouse and high-cut, black skirt that initially caught his eye. He could tell by her appearance and the way she moved she was nothing more than trash with aspirations for being more. Watching her move around the room cleaning tables and flirting with the single men cemented the notion. She was perfect for what he had planned…

Read more about Amy HERE in this book excerpt.

 

FIFTH VICTIM – ANNABELLE THOMPSON

Lang found Annabelle on Facebook. She was a writer, a blogger, and a dance-costume designer. He couldn’t believe she was so gullible as to leave her computer settings easily accessible to outsiders. Finding everything about her he needed to know, even her home address, he sets about stalking her, even playing a tense game of cat and mouse as he spies on her from outside her home. Will she she him…?

Read more about Annabelle HERE in this book excerpt.

 

INTENDED THIRD VICTIM – CLAUDIA ATKINSON

See how she teased Lang, making her the obvious choice for his third victim. For a moment he regrets mistaking Claudia’s mother for her, but it was only for a brief moment…

Read more about Claudia HERE in this book excerpt

 

ALMOST FIFTH VICTIM – CINDY

See how close she came to being Lang’s fifth victim, and also what saved her…

Read more about Cindy HERE in this book excerpt.

YOUR LAST BREATH

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Meet the Characters: Almost Fifth Victim, Cindy


YOUR LAST BREATH

A virtual stranger in London, serial-killer, Raymond Lang. is delighted when he bumps into someone from his own country.

Excerpt

Cindy has a pleasant, innocent smile which seems to constantly light up her face, so much so, I have trouble looking at her gorgeous blue eyes as we talk because I‘m constantly drawn to her smile.

“So, what brings you to London from Tennessee?

“Work!” she replies, rolling her eyes as she pulls her hair back, exposing her soft pink neck. “I work for a small IT firm in Knoxville which was purchased by another firm based here in London. They flew a bunch of us over here to train us on ‘their way of doing things’. It’s so mundane; we do things almost exactly like they do. I guess they like hearing their own voices or something. Oh well, at least I get to see London finally and I’m getting paid to do it.”

“I never would have guessed you were the nerdy type. Where are your glasses and pocket protector?”

Cindy smiles while rolling her eyes. “I wear contacts, and ink pens are so last millennium! Besides, doesn’t a thirty-five-year-old woman wearing this T-shirt scream nerd?”

“First off, wow, thirty-five? I thought you looked twenty-five at the oldest; and secondly, no, if your T-shirt makes you a nerd, then I’d be a nerd myself, and I’m not a nerd!” I laugh then and Cindy laughs too.

“You sir, are full of shit but thank you, nonetheless, on the compliment about my age and yes, you are a nerd!” She takes a sip of her drink, scrunching her nose as it burns her tongue. “So what brings you to London?”

I point at my laptop and respond with a sheepish grin, “I came here to write. The story in the book I’m working on is based in London, so I came here to get some authentic inspiration from the city and its people.”

“So you’re an author? How many books have you written?”

“Actually, this is my first. The first of many, I hope.”

“That’s so neat! When you’re a bestselling author, I can tell all my friends I had coffee with you when you were still starting out.”

“I don’t know if I’ll ever be famous but, hopefully, I can get published some day.”

“Well, I’ll still be able to say I knew you when,” Cindy says checking her watch. “Oh crap, I’m going to be so very late! I was to meet a co-worker five minutes ago, to go sightseeing.” She rises from her seat.

“Well, it was great meeting you, Cindy from Tennessee. I hope you enjoy your sightseeing.”

Cindy, about to give a similar goodbye response pauses. Instead, she says, “I really don’t ever do this… but would you like to come to my hotel room for supper tonight? I have one of those rooms with a small kitchenette and was planning on making spaghetti and meatballs. There would be enough for two if you’d like to join me. I’m so used to cooking for myself and my grandma; I usually forget to cut back when I’m buying for just me.”

I give away my eagerness in the speed of my reply, “I’d love to!”

On a napkin, she writes details of where she’s staying. Then, as an afterthought, blushes and adds her cell number before handing it to me. “I put my number on there just in case something changes and you need it later.”

“Thank you, when would you like me there?”

“Sorry, let’s say around six?”

“Six it is.”

“I’ll see you then!” Cindy makes a hasty retreat to the door, giving a hurried wave as she steps outside.

I watch her leave and immediately she’s gone, I think of her invite and how it’s planted the seeds of doubt in the opinion I’d initially formed about her. She’s not as innocent as she first seems. Her offer is a little too forward for my taste, more the actions of a woman with loose morals. It’s always the same, just as I begin to think there’s a woman I can respect, she shows herself to be just like all the others. Knowing what I must do now, I begin to plan my night with her.

The timing of Cindy coming into the picture couldn’t have been more perfect. At least, if all goes well, I’ll be writing at full speed again by morning. The way I have it figured, all I need do is slip quietly into her room, hack her sexy, little body up and slip quietly back out. Her throat begged for my knife to lay it open. Her crimson blood would flow nicely down her milky-white chest. I can already see her laying there, her mouth twisted in pain. Her mouth… her smile… I can’t get it out of my mind.

I open my laptop to try and write again, but all I can see in front of me is her smile—her innocent, sweet smile. Maybe I have her all wrong; she may be different from the others after all. I stare at the screen for several more minutes, but her perfume still lingers and I can’t focus on the screen at all I can’t seem to make my mind up about her, don’t trust my own judgment. I tell myself I need this, I need to draw blood once more, and this couldn’t be more perfect.

I make up my mind, Cindy will die tonight… I will go through with this! Heaviness settles into my heart as I think about her smile again and how she must take care of her grandma. What if she’s telling the truth about that; it might not be a ruse to get me alone with her.

I’m struggling on the inside. Valerie, Tammy, Claudia, well, Claudia’s mom, and Amy were all motivated by anger, I have none towards Cindy, I don’t know how I could ever kill someone so sweet. Is she really as sweet as she seems though? She is, after all, a woman and women can’t be trusted. I bet if I push her, I’ll see her evil side. Then I’ll be doing the world a favor. All women have an evil side; the sweet side is just to draw men into their trap so they can spend the rest of their lives torturing those men. Why would Cindy be any different?

How hard could it be to draw the evil side into the light? I could use supper tonight as an opportunity to draw out Cindy’s evil side. Then I’d have no problem killing her. What if she’s real though? What if I can’t draw her out? What if there’s nothing to draw out? Is that even possible?

I close my laptop and unplug it before heading to the car. As I step outside, a happy young couple passes by and I think about being part of a couple. That could be Cindy and me. If there’s no evil to be found, I’ll follow her back to Tennessee; we’ll date, fall in love and get married. I’ve always wanted to be part of a couple and marry.

I set my laptop in the back seat and climb behind the wheel. My mind’s made up, I’m going to meet her for supper with an open mind and see what materializes. I haven’t felt this happy, this normal, in a long time. I don’t want to lose this feeling but, deep down, I know our meeting tonight would soon bring an end to it. I can’t help it! I know what I am and I know I’m no good—damaged goods. I’ll only bring pain and misery to her…

YOUR LAST BREATH

 

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An Interview with author Carole Parkes


Doug's Scribbles and Ramblings

Interviewing the Author, Carole Parkes

I was born in Liverpool, England in 1945, after the war had ended. Seventy years later, I can look back on a life that is mainly a happy one.

Carole 1Question: What is your impression of your childhood?

I had a happy childhood. When I reflect on it now, I know that was mostly due to having a really loving father. I never realized it when I was a child, but my mum suffered depression which led to often repeated bouts of crying. It was my dad who we went to whenever we needed anything. He put plasters on our cuts and grazes, rocked us on his knee while he sang a lullaby, and gave us a donkey ride up the stairs to bed. It was only in later years I began to ask why mum never cuddled us or took us to bed. Now I’m…

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Meet the Characters: Fifth Victim, Annabelle Thompson


YOUR LAST BREATH

A SHOCKING, CHILLING THRILLER

EXCERPT

Annabelle is dressed in a pair of blue denim jeans and a pink cardigan over a snug fitting white top. She’s in her early forties but looks like she’s taken care of herself. She’s very appealing to the eye. She’s even more attractive in person than in her pictures.

As she finishes her task and turns to admire her garden through the window I’m watching her from, I have to quickly duck out of sight. Annabelle and I continue this game of cat and mouse for a few hours as she goes about her chores, never suspecting I’m only a few feet away from her some of the time. I watch her put together some kind of dish, a casserole of some sort, then put it in the oven to cook. I watch her wash dishes, sort through her mail, and sweep a few floors. She dries and folds her laundry before taking it to the bedroom. When she finally settles back at her computer, I decide it’s time to take action.

She seems mild and meek, so I should be able to control her if things don’t go as planned. I still need to pull this off quickly and smoothly. I see a shovel leaning against a wheelbarrow that’s been left beside a freshly dug flower bed. A plan comes to mind, so I grab the shovel and approach the back door. Through the glass panes in the door I can plainly see into the empty kitchen. I place my knife in my waist band and dial her number once more…

***

Annabelle had just settled back at the computer when the ringing of the phone disturbs her a second time. The sooner she buys another set of telephones the better, she thinks, and then she won’t have to keep traipsing out of her study to answer it.

“Hello?” She hears that annoying automated silence again and curses the wretched sales people she believes are calling her yet again.

Again, Lang remains silent. While she’s still in the hall, he grabs the shovel and swings it hard at the door, shattering the glass which cascades noisily onto the kitchen floor. Without delay he tosses the shovel into the grass. Then immediately drawing his knife with one hand while reaching through the door with his other hand, he unlocks the door. Turning quickly he flattens his back against the outside wall. Hidden from Annabelle in this manner he waits, listening intently…

Annabelle hears the loud, shattering crash from the kitchen and freezes. Hell! That sounds like a window breaking…. Her unease turns to curiosity. Inquisitively, she takes a few strides swiftly down the hall before fear takes hold of her again and she stops. Standing just inside her kitchen, she hesitates uncertainly….

Lang hears her footsteps lightly tapping down the hall and entering the kitchen, but it’s silent after that. He grips his knife tighter and tries to control his breathing and heart rate. He wants her to come near the door—or better yet, open the door herself before he strikes. He doesn’t hear anything more for what seems like several minutes. Why is she so quiet? Did she flee to the front door? She couldn’t have, I would have heard her leave the room like I heard her enter it. No, she’s just being cautious. Be patient, she will open the door.

Quietening her breath, Annabelle nervously enters further into her kitchen and sees the smashed back-door window pane. Oh no! Thousands of glittering pieces like sparkles in sand lay randomly scattered on the floor where they’ve landed.

She panics, terrified. Her heart jumps in her chest almost reaching her throat. Glued to the spot, she’s acutely aware of her awakened nerve endings primed for flight. Is anyone there?

Holding her breath, she listens…. There’s no sound now, just the faint ticking of the wall clock. Fearfully, she looks around…. The back door, thankfully, is still closed. Looking through the broken pane to the garden beyond, she can’t see anyone. Everything outside looks quiet—seems normal, yet, someone or something has broken the glass. Carefully, trying to avoid stepping on the shimmering fragments but failing, she slowly inches closer to the door…. Is it still locked?

The faint sound of glass being ground into the hard floor disrupts Lang’s thoughts. She is there after all. His adrenaline starts pumping faster. His pounding heart makes it difficult to hear what’s happening inside the house.

He knows she’s close now; he can smell her perfume wafting through the broken window. Come on, open the door! He can feel his impatience building. He can’t wait! He grips his knife tightly and reaches for the doorknob. She’s right there, I can feel her!

Frantically checking behind her while drawing ever nearer to the back door, Annabelle feels, rather than sees, the smashed door crash violently inward with the propelling force of the intruder.

As he bursts into her house in one super-quick motion, he sees she’s only a few feet from him now. Sheer terror fills her face as he swiftly crosses the final few feet. She opens her mouth to scream, but his knife penetrates her flesh as he buries it deep in her stomach. She inhales loudly as the pain takes her breath away. Her blue eyes dart around the room before settling on his face.

Through the tortured, pained expression on her face he thinks he senses a hint of recognition in her eyes. Does she recognize me from my blog picture? Who the hell cares? Emboldened by the agony on her face he shoves her backwards across the kitchen until she comes up against the counter. He withdraws his knife then plunges it back into her body. He feels the tip hitting something hard. She’s small—her spine possibly, or it could be the counter top behind her.

Her warm blood flows slowly over his gloved hand as he draws near her to breathe her in. The smell of her perfume, her blood, and the sweet smell of her terror excites him. He withdraws the knife once again before driving it deep into her petite frame.

Her gasp is silent this time. She starts to sink as her life ebbs, so he drives his knee between her legs to hold her up and feels her blood soaking into his jeans. Gripping her hair he lifts her head and looks her in the eyes for several moments. The life is leaving them so he twists the blade to get a response. They shoot skyward then back to him—sadness and pain look back at him— and he delights in it.

Slowly, he removes the blade from her body and holds it up between them so both of them can savour it. Her dark red blood trickles down the blade, running over the hilt and onto his gloved hand. Her breathing is slow and shallow as he places the bloody knife to her throat.

Annabelle’s strength is gone, her struggles futile. She watches him as he cruelly holds the dripping, bloody knife up for her inspection, sees him devouring her terror before he menacingly moves it to her throat. Her last fading vision is of his manic eyes oddly searching hers and his look of sheer ecstasy as she feels her life drifting away….

YOUR LAST BREATH

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