Book Jacket

 

rank 3013
word count 98259
date submitted 09.05.2008
date updated 26.01.2012
genres: Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, Comedy
classification: universal
complete

The Practical Woman's Guide to Living with the Undead

Sue Gedge

Divorce Lit. with vampires: a novel for those wiling to venture into the dark territory beyond the Aga!

 

Brave enough to venture into the dark, spooky territory beyond the Aga? Then meet Dora Harker, an ordinary divorced single mother as she battles with demons and vampires.
Dismayed to discover the ghost of her second mother- in- law in the house, Dora is grateful when Ralphie, a charming elderly man she met in a strangely Gothic pub, offers to perform an exorcism. But having been invited in, Ralphie is reluctant to leave and Dora’s perturbation increases when he reveals he is a vampire, Lord Ralph Dunglass de Marney, undead since 1944.
Dora thought she had the job from hell as a supply teacher in a North London comprehensive school, but she soon finds herself facing even greater horrors than class 9X on a Monday morning. Why is there a green, slimy lake in the middle of the living room? What really happened to her second husband Dave, when he set off on his fatal journey with his band, Chappaquiddick? Did Peregrine, her third husband really dabble in demonology? And what about the Apocalypse that Ralphie insists is imminent?
Dora certainly has a few issues to resolve, but maybe her charming, if inconvenient undead guest can help her after all!

 
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tags

, comedy, divorce, ghosts, vampires

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Never Speak Ill of the Dead

Chapter One              

 

 

“You wouldn’t, by any chance, know someone who could perform an exorcism?” I looked across the pub table at Ralphie.

“An exorcism?” He put his death’s head walking stick down on the polished mahogany between us. “My dear lady, why do you ask?  Are you assuming that I know how to deal with restless spirits and other such troublesome riff-reff?” 

Ralphie spoke like a pre-war BBC Home Service announcer, all clipped vowels and formal precision and the way he dressed too, in elegant frock coats and a silk waistcoat lavishly embroidered with lilies, made him appear like a refugee from the past. I was, however, quite unable to guess his age. With his fine-boned features and pale, papery skin, he might have been anything from a raddled, emaciated sixty to a well-preserved ninety-two.

“I was hoping that you might know what to do,” I admitted.

“I see. “ He looked thoughtful. “It’s certainly true that I have led a long and rackety life, dabbling in the decadent and brushing up against the bizarre in the most curious quarters of Europe. But as for an exorcism…”

He picked up his glass, warming it between his cupped hands.

“Strange,” he mused. “You can’t get really good absinthe any more. Dear Georgia does her best, supplying me with this stuff,” he held up the cloudy liquid, “but give me the wormwood of old.  Absinthe, the drink of the dark, made from any species of Artemisia, but usually wormwood. The name, of course, comes from the Greek, apsinthion’. In Paris, in my youth, I once went into a café where…”

Ralphie, I hate to interrupt, but the thing is, I think I’ve got a ghost.” I took a nervous

gulp of my wine. “In my house,” I added. 

“Dear, dear,” Ralphie commiserated. “What an unfortunate incursion into your domestic privacy.”

 

It was just after five and we were sitting together in the saloon bar of the Lord Halifax, the only customers at that early hour. I was fond of The Lord Halifax, a comforting, dimly-lit, characterful Victorian pub that I’d discovered quite by accident one afternoon when I was on my way home from the comprehensive school where I worked as a supply teacher. I’d been feeling exceptionally tired and frazzled and had decided to walk along the canal path for a change. I was admiring the peace and simplicity of the ducks on the water, when I noticed a set of stone steps leading up from an embankment overgrown with buddleia. I’d never seen those steps before, and in a mood of curiosity, I’d bounded up them to see where they led and found myself in a narrow cul de sac with dilapidated artisan houses on one side, and an old pub on the other. The Lord Halifax. It had a mysterious air, with black velvet curtains pulled across the plate glass windows, and hanging baskets of dark purple flowers. The door was half-open. I peered in and saw the period décor, the worn red plush banquettes, the wreaths of black roses and gilded cherubs on the walls, and the tarnished chandeliers. Then Ralphie had seen me.  

“Do come in, dear lady,” he’d purred, in his charming, elderly voice. 

And for no reason that I could explain, I had. 

Now I was in the habit of calling into The Lord Halifax every day on my way home from work. I never had more than a single glass of chilled white wine and I never stayed longer than an hour, but it was soothing to sit in this gothic place. Ralphie’s witty, erudite conversation was therapeutic after a day of trying to communicate with morose, monosyllabic teenagers. He was always sitting in the same winged armchair, in the alcove that was to the left of a draped funeral urn, to the right of a mezzotint of a scene from Dante’s Inferno, and a respectful distance from the stuffed bear that stood at the bar with a bottle in the crook of its forearm. Georgia, the licensee, collected curios; she boasted about having found the mezzotint in the basement of a Florentine museum and the bear in a junk shop in Camden Passage. The urn had been one of the relics that she’d salvaged when the local council bulldozed the old church of St. Sebastian. It was only considerably later that I discovered how she’d acquired Ralphie.

 

“Are you sure that your home has been invaded by a presence?” He brushed a lock of grey-white hair back from his forehead with his liver-spotted left hand.

    “It certainly looks like it.”

    “How inconvenient.” He stared up at the ceiling, then said, “Tell me, where do you live?”

“In Arcadia Square.” 

“Ah!” He nodded. “That explains it.”

“But it isn’t an old house,” I protested. “It’s one of the new ones, just opposite the deli.”

“I see.” He placed his finger-tips over his eyelids. “Let me try to form an image of your dwelling place in my mind. Yes! I see a spacious kitchen with scrubbed pine units and an adjoining utility room with an Italian tiled floor. On the first floor, I see a bathroom with an ivory-coloured bath and a scallop shell soap dish. I see a plethora of soft towels and scented toiletries. It is a pure house, with pale carpets and white walls, highly polished wooden floors and big fluffy duvets on the Scandinavian beds. Everything is spotless, with the scent of furniture polish in the air, and toilets flushing merrily away with that blue stuff in the cistern. Not a speck of dirt to be seen!” He opened his eyes and smiled at me triumphantly.

“You’re not entirely wrong,” I agreed. “I do have some of those things. But the house isn’t as pristine as that.  After all, I do have two sons. When Seb’s home from uni he leaves piles of dirty laundry on the stairs and beer cans all over his room, and I’ve sometimes caught his friends stubbing out their illicit fags on the kitchen worktops. And Caspian’s been known to stuff empty crisp packets down the back of

the sofa.”

“The joys of motherhood!” Ralphie exclaimed with the breezy detachment of someone who’d never been a parent. “But, all the same, I imagine you dislike mess.”

“I do my best to keep the house clean and tidy.”

“I’m sure you do. But now you have discovered a bitter truth. Your beautiful, well-lit home is haunted and Domestos does not kill all known household demons.”

“I don’t think it’s actually a demon,” I said.

“I’m afraid it could be. Demons are adept at taking the form of the recently deceased.”

Oh!”  This really wasn’t a pleasant thought.

“But it may be a simple haunting. Have you identified this spirit?”

“Unfortunately, yes. It’s one of my mother-in-laws.”

“One of your mothers-in-law,Ralphie corrected me with schoolmasterly

severity. “Do you mean to tell me you have had more than one?”

“Yes. I’ve had three.”

“That does sound excessive. And which one of these three ladies has chosen to

manifest herself in spirit-form?”

“It’s my second mother-in-law. Agatha Dellow. The only one who’s dead. 

Cynthia’s still with us. But now I come to think of it, I have no idea whether Gertie 

Shuttlehanger is still alive.” 

Gertie Shuttlehanger? Ralphie looked aghast. “But no-one is called

Gertie Shuttlehanger!”

“My first mother-in-law was,” I said. “But I haven’t seen her for over twenty years. I never want to see her again.”

“You certainly wouldn’t want to see her if she’s dead,” Ralphie smiled slyly. 

“No.” I shuddered as a vision of my first mother-in-law’s face in all its lean,

mean malevolence flashed into my mind. For entirely the wrong reasons, I found myself praying that she was still in the land of the living. 

“Have you actually seen this ghost?” Ralphie asked.

“No, but Caspian did. He’s only eight, but I don’t think he was making this story up. When he said Nanny had popped in, I thought he meant Cynthia, but then I saw what had happened to the cushions and Caspian said, ‘Oh no, Mum, it wasn’t Nanny Well Preserved! It was Nanny Barrel Hips!’”

“My dear lady,” Ralphie spread out his hands beseechingly, “You’re beginning to confuse me! All these names, all these mothers-in-law and now cushions! Please explain!”

“Right. Well, I’ve been married three times. Gertie was my first mother in law, and then I was divorced, and I married Dave, who was Seb’s father, and Agatha’s son. That marriage also ended and twelve years later, I married Peregrine. He’s Caspian’s father. We divorced three years ago.”

“Dear, dear.” Ralphie shook his head gravely. “This is a sad theme, all this divorce and separation.  I sympathise.  In my youth, I knew what it was to long for the silken hand of romance to touch my life.” He picked up his glass and gazed soulfully into his absinthe.

    “I’m certainly not looking for romance,” I said firmly. “Now I’m divorced, I

intend to stay an independent, single mother.” 

“But you are still young,” Ralphie objected. “You need not remain alone

forever.”

“I’m thirty eight.”

“But that is young!” Ralphie protested. “You must not shut yourself away. mMany have thought themselves beyond love and then they have succumbed to a passion so deliceuse that they are swept off their feet.” He kissed his finger tips and fluttered his hand in the air. I suspected that it hadn’t been women who had featured in his search for romance. “But let us return to the matter in hand. Why do you call this woman Nanny Barrel Hips?”

“The boys made up secret nicknames to distinguish their grandmothers. They

called Peregrine’s mother Nanny Well Preserved and they called Dave’s mother Nanny Barrel Hips because…”

“Oh, I think I can work that one out.” Ralphie purred. “Tell me, how long is it since Nanny Barrel Hips left this mortal sphere?”

“It’s been just over a year. She was on a pensioners’ cut price flight to Florida.

They were all booked into a hotel where Tom Jones was due to be doing cabaret, and

they were  halfway over the Atlantic when Agatha was sucked out of the plane.”

“Sucked out!” Ralphie sounded astonished, as well he might. “How did this surreal event occur?”

“It was a freak accident,” I said. I didn’t feel like explaining all the details.

“But at least she died while she was enjoying herself with her friends. I can just imagine how

they must have all been passing bags of boiled sweets around and singing raucous choruses of

‘Delilah’. She must have died happy.”  

“I wouldn’t be so sure.” Ralphie looked solemn. “People who shuffle off this

mortal coil before they’ve had time to adjust or prepare themselves can be extremely problematic. For one thing, they may not even recognize that their situation has changed, if you see what I mean, and secondly, they usually have a considerable amount of unfinished business. But explain what meant when you referred to the cushions?”

“When I came downstairs this morning, I found all the scatter cushions arranged on the settee with a hollow in the middle, as if someone had been sitting there. Dave’s mum always used to do that. I wouldn’t have minded if she’d had a bad back, but she was just a self-indulgent, interfering old...”

“Don’t say any more.” Ralphie slapped the table with the flat of his hand.

His vehemence was startling. “Never speak ill of the dead!”

“Why not? You can’t libel or slander the dead.”     

“The expression ‘Never speak ill of the dead’ has nothing to do with the laws of defamation,” Ralphie leant across the table towards me, lowering his voice to an urgent whisper. “It has everything to do with self-preservation.”

“What do you mean?”

“If you speak ill of the dead,” he told me gravely. “There is a very real danger

that they might return for vengeance. So I should be very polite to your late mother-in-law if you do happen to see her.” 

 

I was feeling nervous as I walked home from the Lord Halifax. It had been a relief to confide in Ralphie but nothing had been resolved. Not only was I distinctly unsettled, I was also beginning to feel rather annoyed. I really didn’t want my late ex-mother-in- law to haunt my house. It hardly seemed fair that I should have to cope with spirits while I was in the throes of trying to survive a miserable job at Havelock Ellis High School. Supply teaching, as anyone who has done it is likely to tell you, is exhausting, and I didn’t really want to be a teacher in any case, much as I admired those with skill and a vocation. But I’d been driven into working at Havelock Ellis through sheer financial necessity, and my dream was to get my career as a freelance cinema critic off the ground. If only I didn’t have an ex-husband who was so mean with money and if only the small press listings magazine that I’d worked for hadn’t gone bankrupt.

But I mustn’t succumb to self-pity, I told myself, as I turned the corner into Arcadia Square. I was lucky to be living in this lovely part of London, so full of character and so close to the park, just a bus ride away from the Heath. I adored the area, the streets of tall, early nineteenth-century terraced houses with their cream and white stucco facades. I liked the little shops and bistros and felt that I was living in a community, a genuine London village. Sometimes, at night, I could hear the wolves howling at the zoo.

I walked up to my front door and put the key in the lock. The house still belonged to Peregrine, as he never tired of reminding me, and I didn’t know whether I’d still be able to live there once Caspian had grown up and moved away, but it was better not think about that now. It was time to count my blessings. Here I was, home after a long working day and it was time to relax. I had another hour to myself, time to have a soak in the bath, change, listen to some music, fix myself a G. and T. and…grief!

The moment the door swung open, I knew something was wrong. The hall  was filled with the sickly-sweet smell of cheap face powder and the living room door, that I’d closed before leaving for school, was half-open. There could be no doubt about it. Someone had got in

I took several deep breaths, telling myself that I must try to be calm. But my heart was thumping. I edged my way towards the doorway and, bracing myself, peered inside.     

“’Ello!” a voice announced with cheerful belligerence.    

I screamed, dropped my school bag and watched transfixed, as it fell open, scattering exercise books and papers across the floor. I was too shocked to stoop and pick them up. My legs felt as wobbly as if I’d just seen an impossibly large spider in the bath. My mouth opened, but no sound came out. It was only with the greatest effort that I managed to look up to check that I hadn’t just had some weird hallucination.

No. This was real. Here she was, dressed in a vast, pleated white skirt and a purple cardigan, her bouffant white hair meringued on her head. She was firmly established on my oyster-cream sofa, the red velvet cushions plumped up around her. She looked like a fat, self-congratulatory old hamster ensconced in a gigantic nest.

Caspian was right. Nanny Barrel Hips had returned from beyond the grave.  

And after the day I’d had at Havelock Ellis High School, too. This really was too much!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapters

1

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Katefin wrote 377 days ago

I like the character of Ralphie, quaint, and eccentric. Also the way you root the supernatural events in a convincingly described real world is really effective and well handled. I can identify with the narrator and her world, and then the ghostly apparitions, though startling also have a good comic element. My mind was spinning with plot possibilities with three ex mother-in laws! Imagine if they had all died? Or died proressively over the book. It reminded me a bit at this point of Blythe Spirit, maybe because of the camp Ralphie. Just finished Chaper 1, will be back to read more

desbill1 wrote 454 days ago

I have just started reading this story, and quickly found myself transported to The Lord Halifax! Only on chapter one, at the moment, but so far, so good!

desbill1 wrote 454 days ago

I have just started reading this story, and quickly found myself transported to The Lord Halifax! Only on chapter one, at the moment, but so far, so good!

desbill1 wrote 454 days ago

I have just started reading this story, and quickly found myself transported to The Lord Halifax! Only on chapter one, at the moment, but so far, so good!

desbill1 wrote 454 days ago

I have just started reading this story, and quickly found myself transported to The Lord Halifax! Only on chapter one, at the moment, but so far, so good!

LizX wrote 892 days ago

The opening line is a killer... in the best possible sense. The delivery is perfect. So casual, but with that unexpected ending. I thought she was going to ask for the phone number of the local plumber! It certainly drew me in, but for more comments you'll have to wait.... I'm too busy reading!

Fynagl Duplicitus wrote 907 days ago

Flash Mob Friday Review

Hi Sue,

This was a humorous piece. Your dialogue is spot on and you do a very good job of revealing the details of Dora's life, her family and past marriages without plonking us in chunky texts of backstory. I like Ralphie's character and there does seem to be a bit more to him than we initially see (I love the campy bit where he flutters his hand in the air).

One thing I noticed especially in the opening chapter is that you sometimes tend to let your sentences run rather long...you love the commas :) For example see the paragraph "Now I was in the habit of calling in...with a bottle in the crook of its forearm."
You sometimes also use a comma before 'and' when it isn't really needed.

There's nothing wrong with starting a sentence with 'and' but you do rely on it a bit much. Either drop some of them or work them into the preceding phrase where possible.
"And why do you ask me?"
"And then Ralphie had seen me."
"And for no reason that I could explain..."
"And Caspian has been known to..."
"And which one of these three ladies..."
"And you certainly don't want to see her dead..."
"And when he said Nanny had popped in..."
"And life is full of surprises..."
"And how long is it since Nanny Barrel Hips..."
"And after the day I've had..."

I love the names and nicknames of the mothers-in-law :)

Although I enjoyed the first chapter and in particular the dialogue, I started to feel a bit restless as I waited for some action to develop out of Dora's conversation with Ralphie. Don't get me wrong, the writing is very good and I laughed at the banter but a part of me kept waiting for Ralphie to say "Let's go sort this out right now..." That feeling has me wondering if maybe starting the chapter at "Are you quite sure your house has been invaded by a presence?" would be an option? The description about how Dora first got to The Halifax is lovely but the chapter could just as easily do without it...just a suggestion - in one ear and out of the other as you see fit.

The second chapter was absolutely hilarious. Be careful with the "And"s again.
"Shut up! Shut up, you silly old bag!" My quote for the day.

All in all a rib-tickling read with plenty of laughs, witty conversation and an MC at her wit's end.

Keep going!

AudreyB wrote 907 days ago

Hi, there – this is your review from AudreyB. I am often accompanied on my reviews by my English teacher alter-ego, The Grammar Hag. If I say anything you don’t like, it was probably her idea.

As I begin your story, I see a woman asking an older man for help with an exorcism. The death’s head cane tells me she has good reason to believe he might know something about spirits, and his wardrobe suggests that he may not be quite as modern as we are. I also know that he’s of an indeterminate age.

Love the description of the pub and how she found it. The reader can almost believe that the pub isn’t really there….

The urn and the reference to Dante’s inferno continue the theme of death.

I didn’t known then how she’d acquired Ralphie. Oops.

I love how we learn of your MC’s marriages through her explanation of the current ghost. I am assuming we need to know all this.

“Demons are adept at taking the form of the recently deceased.” OK, now I’m really wondering about Ralphie.

I suspect you have some “carriage returns” in your manuscript. Turn on options so you can spot them more easily.

Gertie Shuttlehanger! I will remember that. If her name appears again in this manuscript I will definitely know who it is.

Is the kissing of fingertips and the fluttering of a hand always a sign of sexual preference? I read this a few times, trying to understand your point.

Ralphie’s warning to avoid speaking ill of the dead also comes across as foreshadowing.

Love the end to your first chapter. I definitely find myself intrigued and want to turn the page. Great description of Granny Barrel Hips!

“…unaware of the gravy and now it seemed she was equally unaware of the grave.” Funny.

I love how Cynthia isn’t the least bit concerned that Granny Barrel Hips is a ghost.

OK, I want to study this astral traveling deal. Sounds perfect.

You do a nice job of injecting humor. I often found myself chuckling at your lines.

Well, I got to mid-way through chapter 3, and find this to be an enjoyable story. It’s way outside of my usual genres, but it’s well written and entertaining. I like the way you combine humor with death.

I hope you’ll see this rise rapidly!

~AudreyB
Forgiveness Fits

Sharon.v.o. wrote 907 days ago

Flash Mob Friday Review

Sue, I have to tell you that I enjoyed this very much. I read the first three chapters and chuckled out loud in several places. I loved the imagery of “her hair being meringued on her head” and “shambolic, bohemian squalor”. Its awesome.

The only error I found was in chapter two when she goes into the shower and finds her other mother in law. You have “the fug began to disperse.” I presume you mean fog.

I have added this to my WL. At the end of the month, when I have a space, I plan on shelving it.

Your writing style reminded me a lot of Katie MacAlister. She blends supernatural with humor very well, as do you. As to there being a market for it…Katie does quite well. No reason why you wouldn’t.

I plan on reading more. If you are inclined to e-mail some pages to me, message me, and I will give you my e-mail address.

Great book, well written, giggle inducing fun.

andrewmcewan wrote 907 days ago

FMFR. What a great first chapter. It's funny without any obvious jokes. Everything, the humour, the characterisation, the plot leaks out like it should, almost unseen and without contrivance. And then there's Ralph. A proper vampire methinks, one promising no end of fun and shenanigans. I have to make the tea now but will sample a few more chapters over the weekend (hangovers permitting). For now I would just add that your book cover isn't doing you any favours. In fact if you ask Daisy nicely she might be able help with that...

Jack Cerro wrote 907 days ago

More flash mob fun.

Excellent opening line and character descriptions drew me in here.

I enjoyed the mini flashback explaining how the mc met Ralphie. That was tastefully done and led us smoothly back into the scene. It also allowed you to describe the setting of the scene in a flashback where it seemed more appropriate than if you cut away from the initial conversation for a description of a bar that the mc already is familiar with.
The conversation set the scene perfectly for the encounter at the end of the chapter.

You probably here this a lot but this novel shouldn't be sitting at 2,000.

DaisyFitz wrote 907 days ago

Flash Mob Friday Review:

I actually like the sound of this book from the LP/SP.

I like Ralphie's alliteration.
"I see." He nodded. "[It's]..."
"I didn't know then how she acquired Ralphie."
- I struggled with this line. I sort of know what you mean but it's so hard to read, I read it three times, got bored and moved on. Which I think loses the little hook you're aiming for.

Gertie Shuttlehanger is an awesome name. Totally unreal, but fabulous. Love it.

Layout/Formatting - I know Autho does some odd things when you upload, but it seems you have paragraph breaks where there shouldn't be any - so where there should be single line-spacing, it's gone double, makes it hard to read. e.g. Ralphie's dialogue starting "Dear, dear..."

Loving:
The description of her two sons - the crisp packets and friends fags.
The fact she has three MILs
I don't know anything about her.
Writing style. Suits me.
"confirming my suspicions..." - loved that line.
Astral planing.

Less keen on:
The long description of finding the Lord Halifax. Realise it adds to the mystery of the place and him, but maybe separate into two separate chunks - broken up by dialogue or something. But this is me - I'm not keen on big descriptions. I skip half of it and miss key info.
"I was feeling nervous as I walked home..." -

OK, I'm backing this for a bit. It needs tidying but I like it. I like Dora. I like the characters, I like the concept. I'm not sure where you'd sell it in a bookshop - but I like it.

Norton Stone wrote 908 days ago

Flash Mob Friday.
From a quick read of chapter one I sense you had a lot of fun writing this. I found the set up interesting and the premise engaging. I feel you handle the comedy differently at the beginning of the chapter, but very quickly you establish this is going to be a farce with the character names, Gertie Shuttlehanger, Nanny Barrel Hips, and the 'sucked out of a plane' incident. I felt you could have kept a slightly tighter rein on the farce keeping the story just a tad more believable, but that is entirely a matter of my comic taste and in absolute fairness your pitch and title relates quite clearly where you are headed. I think I found the start very believable which is why Gertie came as a bit of a shock. You have created a very strong character in Ralphi, though occasionally I felt his dialogue didn't quite live up to the image I had in my mind. There is a little bit of Quentin Crisp in there and if you have not heard of Crisp he could be worth looking up to get a sense of what I mean. I saw two 'actually's' which you could lose IMO. Little rhythm and flow issues like 'between his cupped hands'. Do you need' cupped'?. At the beginning you mentioned the deaths head walking stick and then later referred to it again as the deaths head walking stick. The second time it sounds forced, walking stick would do IMO. 'I said', 'I admitted', 'he nodded', a matter of taste but possibly not needed.
I am taking the time to-Nit Pick because I like it. It is different and the first chapter has some excellent elements that could make this a real stand out. I do feel Ralphi is a larger than life so his language should be also. I don't know whether this is a work in progress or something you have moved on from, but I think it is worth persevering with, it has great potential. A thrice married Mother of three as MC also has a lot going for her.

Great work
Norton

CBBlanchard wrote 1014 days ago

Funny, witty, well-written- this deserves to do very well.

Sue50 wrote 1071 days ago

Your work was recommended by CC Brown author of Dark Side. What I read was entirely funny! Like your style. Happy to put you on my shelf. Good Luck!
Sue50

ccb1 wrote 1072 days ago

Backed The Practical Woman’s’ Guide to Living with the Undead. Laugh out loud funny in places! Every woman's nightmare...haunted by her mother-in-law. Hope you will check out our book about the undead, Dark Side.
CC Brown

Su Dan wrote 1072 days ago

this chilling and funny, a combination that works...you use a strong style, and the first person narrative is very effective...on my watchlist...with 6 stars******
read SEASONS...

Red2u wrote 1074 days ago

I really really enjoyed the read! Twenty-eight and already three mother-in-laws.lol My only qualm and very minor is the last sentence in Chapter 1. There really isn't any reference to what kind of day Dora has at school . Will place on my Wl and plan to go back and read more .Best of luck with the book!
Red

M. A. McRae. wrote 1084 days ago

Well written, polished and witty. Well done. Marj.

Ariom Dahl wrote 1084 days ago

I thoroughly enjoyed this when I first read it and am even more enjoying rereading it. Very clever and funny.

Tom B wrote 1100 days ago

Ha ha ha

One thing that spoils the reading experience is extra paragraph breaks. It's sort of off putting.

Oh and my MIL's name is Gertrude, but she likes to be called Trudy, she hates her real name.

billysunday wrote 1176 days ago

Very funny stuff!!! An original breath of fresh air. Love the mother-in-law stuff. With three of them, the jokes keep on rolling. 5 stars and appreciate your tongue and cheek approach to horror.

billysunday wrote 1177 days ago

Sounds like it could be funny and scary at the same time. Backed and ready to read. If a chance, please try 33 or Halo of the Damned. Dina

B. Hurtado wrote 1179 days ago

Sue,
Read the book — I’ll bet you’re dredging up memories some people would rather not have. Nevertheless, isn’t that what a good book, movie or play is supposed to do?
The (9X) delightful children (knowing a few teachers, all I can say is “the horror — the horror” J. Then again, Joss Whedon always said “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was really about the terrors of High School). I’m not going to go for anything (I hope) a good Editor would find and then correct.
At the end of the first paragraph of chapter 13, I just want to say ‘So long, and thanks for all the fish’.
OK, hopefully that’s just me.
Consistency in books is just as important as it is in movies. You’ve already shown Dora isn’t dense. Therefore, a phrase like ‘lupusnocturni, whatever that was’ is totally out of character, as she would have looked it up already, and it would have been known. Being familiar with film majors, they would do this kind of thing. It is obvious that you yourself have done this (henbane, and previous, as well as later things — like the parts of spiders and the name as well) so you should have certain characters do the same — unless you‘ve decided ‘they have no brain’.
Anyway, with 30 chapters, I should keep this short.
B. Hurtado (To Meet With Darkness)

Oh, by the way, free range chickens — always makes me laugh anytime they’re mentioned J. As most people don’t realize they eat bugs (insects and spiders) and ‘pick’ at anything else they can find — dead things, poop (dried of course, when it becomes ‘free game’) , and other things as well.

Kaimaparamban wrote 1234 days ago

Your novel is a good blend of horror and usual life. You brilliantly performed a skill how to blend these two things proportionally. Your proportion is success that is why it is increasing quality of your creation.

Joy

Kaimaparamban wrote 1234 days ago

Hi Sue,

As the pitch impressed me very much, I decided to go for further reading. Your book is in my w/l

Joy J Kaimaparamban
The Wildfire

C.H.Valentino wrote 1243 days ago

Started reading the first chapter and fell in love! The beginning is well written and colorful. Looking forward to reading the rest, but for the time being, you are backed!

Malcolm Judge wrote 1266 days ago

Drawn in by the title and enjoyed your style straight from the start. Backed, will read more.

Eunice Attwood wrote 1269 days ago

This is brilliant. The pitch had me hooked along with line and sinker. I can see this rising through the ranks rapidly, and if it doesn't, it jolly well should. Backed with much pleasure. Eunice - The Temple Dancer.

Ceeds wrote 1269 days ago

Really funny! Loved it. Promise to read more. Good luck with this, really promising start. Well written. Ceeds - JOE's NAN

JD Revene wrote 1299 days ago

Sue

The pitch is so good I almost backed this without reading. But now I've read the first chapter and the writing's just as good as the pitch promised.

Backed with pleasure

Barry Wenlock wrote 1312 days ago

Hi Sue, Very good work, indeed.
A great description of Ralphie, using both his voice and his attire to build a picture of 'a refugee from the past'. Then, Dora's need to interrupt him -- he's off on a ramble about his youth.
'I think I have a ghost...in the house -- matter of fact dialogue, yet a pretty stunning revelation (liked it)
As an ex-supply teacher, I accepted her need for a glass of wine after a hard day, hence her regular visits to the Lord Halifax.
Her conversation with Ralphie regarding her three mother-in-laws is brilliant -- Nanny barrel-hips...sucked out of a plane -- loved it.
Ralphies emphatic warning not to speak ill of the dead, added a touch of tension.
Dora's return home to discover the ghost, is a great lead into the next chapter.
Very entertaining and well written.
Backed with pleasure,
Barry
LITTLE KRISNA AND THE BIHAR BOYS

Sue G. wrote 1324 days ago

Thank you so much for your comments, Teresa! How brilliant to find someone who's read the whole book! (The copy of the fax wasn't in Caspian's room, btw---it fell out of an exercise book owned by one of 9X in the kitchen!)

The rescue scene really gave me grief when I was trying to write it, and I think I will have to work on it some more!

Teresa Baker wrote 1324 days ago

I finished your book in one day (reading at work--bad girl!), and I loved it! At first I was miffed that you were keeping the sons out of the story, but when Caspian came onstage, he did so with a vengeance! I only have two criticisms--how did the fax get into Caspian's room? Did I miss something? Was he in on the plot, and his loving mother can't see it (he is going to that school where they are teaching him who-knows-what!)? And I just felt cheated by the anti-climatic rescue scene. I sooo wanted our heroine to beat some demon about the head and shoulders with her hensbane. But I guess she already did that with the fish.... Well, I wanted her to do something other than have a character we'd never met or even heard of before come bursting in the door like some kind of comic-book hero. Unless...you expanded that a little, and she felt a burst of electricity between them as he carried from that stygian pit of doom, and then she'd have TWO possible men in her life....? I still would have at least liked to have met the rescuer before he rescued them. Perhaps at a parent-teacher conference...? Anyway, all that to say, I loved this book, and it is the first one on my bookshelf. Thank you for creating such wonderful characters and such an entertaining plot!

Teresa Baker wrote 1324 days ago

I finished your book in one day (reading at work--bad girl!), and I loved it! At first I was miffed that you were keeping the sons out of the story, but when Caspian came onstage, he did so with a vengeance! I only have two criticisms--how did the fax get into Caspian's room? Did I miss something? Was he in on the plot, and his loving mother can't see it (he is going to that school where they are teaching him who-knows-what!)? And I just felt cheated by the anti-climatic rescue scene. I sooo wanted our heroine to beat some demon about the head and shoulders with her hensbane. But I guess she already did that with the fish.... Well, I wanted her to do something other than have a character we'd never met or even heard of before come bursting in the door like some kind of comic-book hero. Unless...you expanded that a little, and she felt a burst of electricity between them as he carried from that stygian pit of doom, and then she'd have TWO possible men in her life....? I still would have at least liked to have met the rescuer before he rescued them. Perhaps at a parent-teacher conference...? Anyway, all that to say, I loved this book, and it is the first one on my bookshelf. Thank you for creating such wonderful characters and such an entertaining plot!

Sandra Davidson wrote 1327 days ago

Hi Sue,
I'm new to authonomy and your book is the first one on my bookshelf. You have a very delightful writing style. I love your plot and am looking forward to reading more of your work. My book is COLD MOON RISING. I'd love to get a comment from you.

Gail_M wrote 1338 days ago

This is hilarious and obviously destined for the book shelves! You may need a little edit before it hits the editor's desk, but only for the occasional typo and missing word, otherwise I simply can't fault it. Backed with pleasure

Best wishes
Gail
NEW BEGINNINGS

beegirl wrote 1340 days ago

This is a charmingly funny story. You have such a dry dark wit perfect for your book!
Well done.
Barbara

TalulaJane wrote 1347 days ago

The ghost of an ex mother in law- yikes.. that is scary-lol!
Carrie
The Darkwood Tales: Demouri's Defeat

PS- thank you for supporting my book! have fun on your way up, girl!

Linda Lou wrote 1351 days ago

hullo Sue. What an interesting scenario, not just one but two mother-in-laws at one time. One dead and the other alive, well maybe. Great story. Already shelved and backed.
Please take a look at my book if you have not and thanks for that.
Linda Lou Long
Southern dis-Comfort
http://www.authonomy.com/ViewBook.aspx?bookid=11421

CarolinaAl wrote 1355 days ago

Captivating. A journey filled with surprises. Fascinating characters. Wondeful imagery. Sparkling dialogue. Spot on humor. Backed.

Esrevinu wrote 1356 days ago

Sue, you have a winner on your hands--the imagery and the writing is superb. The rhythm is excellent and the writing compelling. Your descriptions are intelligent to say the least. I was as captivated by your wonderful book. I wish you the very best.
Best
Scott
The Esrevinu Chronicles/Secrets of the Elephant Rocks

Rosemary Peel wrote 1356 days ago

There is nothing that I can find to criticise in this very entertaining and readable book. I normally steer well clear of vampitres and the like but something about your pitch told me I aught to take a look. I'm very glad I did. I can't offer advice or feedback to help your writing - as far as I can see, the work is extremely polished and professionally written. Backed because of the skill of the storyteller and the high potential of the book.

Andrew Burans wrote 1361 days ago

You have created a delicious and unique premise for a book. I like your use of the first person narrative voice as it allows you to explore, and you do it well, Dora's feelings, thoughts and fears. Your use of crisp, realistic dialogue and short paragraphs keeps the pace of your story flowing nicely. Your character development of Dora and Ralph is excellent and your descriptive writing sprinkled with the right touches of humour makes your work a pleasure to read. Backed.

Andrew Burans
The Reluctant Warrior: The Beginning

andrew skaife wrote 1364 days ago

Although I am not a big fan of first person narrative you have it covered.

You have imaginative use of environment and descriptive abilities to suit.

I have to say that I was not over enamoured at the thought of reading about another vampire but your writing style makes the subject immaterial.

I like the use of socially well known names and social models that are out of place (a young emo) which make your work memorable.

BACKED

noirangel wrote 1364 days ago

Sue, this is a delight. I love the humor and I love the characters so far. I have put it on my shelf and backed it. I was immediately drawn into the world by your description and of course fell in love with Ralphie immediately. I can't wait to read more of it. Very happy to Back.

Plagarma wrote 1368 days ago

I thought the start was slightly wrong. I would have liked Dora to have been called that rather than late in the second chapter. After all she was on talking terms with Ralphie at the pub, so he wasn't a stranger. Ralphie immediately believed she was asking him if he could perform the exorcism, when she wasn't. He was intelligent enough to know that, so I would have expected him to say - 'Such a person doesn't spring to mind immediately - perhaps I may be of assistance?'. Then she could go on to explain her dilemma. Overall I've found it to be a good read and flowed very well. Happy to back.

Joanna Carter wrote 1369 days ago

Brilliant premise, engaging characters and you write with a clear, assured voice. Backed with pleasure.
Joanna Carter
Fossil Farm

Wilma1 wrote 1400 days ago

Totally off the wall Three mother-in laws she must have one thats haunting her. Raphie is a brilliant charachter fits into the role brilliantly. You have a good sense of place and your imagery is excellent. I likes the line bony liver spotted hand I may well pinch t for book 2. Best of luck with this i'm sure it will do well in its genre.
Sue Mackender
Knowing Liam Riley

KW wrote 1403 days ago

This is highly entertaining. A green, slimy lake in the living room. Hmm, probably the left overs of absinthe consumed by a ghost or two. The band's name is great. A definite shout-out to a dead Kennedy or the group Dead Kennedys? Yeah, ghosts can be "an unfortunate incursion into your domestic privacy." Especially, if it's the ghost of your ex-mother-in-law: Nanny Barrel Hips. I love the names you use for this. Caspian? Really? What a hoot! I love this and will be back to read more when I can pull myself away from watching the World Cup.