Book Jacket

 

rank 3026
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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Chapters

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Die Young, be a Good Looking Corpse

CHAPTER  ELEVEN 

 

 

 “Did you get off on it then?” Zelda dipped a piece of pitta bread into the taramosalata, scooped up a generous portion and shoved it into her mouth. 

“‘Get off on it’?” I repeated, appalled. “What are you saying?”

“I’m saying that it sounds like you enjoyed your spat with Deputy Dawg.” She reached for an olive. “My guess is that the air between you was positively fizzling with sexual tension.” 

It should have been possible to refute this suggestion with a witty riposte, but for the moment I couldn’t think of one. I stared at the naively painted mural of the Acropolis behind her, and wondered, instead, if the rumours about Jen Fowler and Aidan could possibly be true. Was it really likely that, almost as soon as he’d arrived at the school, they’d started an affair?  Or had they known each other before? Or had Zelda simply picked up some vibes that suggested that the Politically Correct Beanpole had designs on him? And why should I care anyway? If Jen Fowler wanted to throw herself at a man who walked around with a briefcase with his initials on it, that was up to her! 

“Dora, it’s classic,” Zelda spat an olive stone into the palm of her hand and put it on the side of her plate. “You meet a man, it’s antagonistic at first, and then, before you know it, you’re between the sheets and bang!”

“No thanks,” I said. “My last marriage cured me of that kind of thing. I never want to have a relationship with a man again.”  I forked up a piece of fetta and chewed determinedly.

“But the sparks flew between you, didn’t they?”

“I don’t know why I got so annoyed. I suppose it was because I had a dreadful

feeling that he was in the right. I mean, I never thought 9X were in any danger, but what about what they did to the poor Honey Monster?”

“Don’t beat yourself up about it. That wasn’t your fault. And you left the class with someone you had every reason to believe was a qualified teacher and then you supported the Year 8 swim. Rumour has it, that when 9X didn’t turn up for their geography lesson with Pickering, not only did he fail to report them missing, he went down the pub!”

“All the same, I’ll have to be more careful in the future,” I said. 

 

Kris’s Kebab House was a tiny place, tucked behind the old engine sheds in Engel’s Crescent. The service was quick, the meze was cheap, and there was something soothing about the stained tablecloths, the threadbare carpet, and the loop of bazouki versions of White Rose of Athens and Never on a Sunday. It was always semi-deserted at lunch time, the perfect place to escape from Havelock Ellis for an hour. 

“Have you really not been involved with anyone since Peregrine?” Zelda asked me.

“No. I’m too busy looking after Caspian.”

“You could still have a little fling on the side. Are you sure you don’t fancy Deputy Dawg?”

“Quite sure. Can we please change the subject?”

“OK,” Zelda shrugged. “Listen, about last night. I’m sorry if I was insensitive. But I was just knocked out when I found out! About Chappaquiddick, I mean.”  

“And I didn’t mean to be so defensive,” I put my fork down and picked up my glass of mineral water. “But the thing is, I don’t really want people to know that I ever had anything to do with the band. At the beginning, I mean just after it happened, there were so many fans sending me letters, asking me if I’d got any tapes of unreleased material, wanting me to give them an interview. And then, every so often, I’d get a call from a journalist. And even now, all these years later, people track me down. I even get invitations from some total ghouls who want to hold a candle-lit vigil at the scene of the crash.”

“Well, perhaps,” Zelda suggested gently. “You should stop thinking of them as ‘ghouls’ and start thinking of them as people who loved the band.”

      “I expect they did love the band,” I bit my lip. “But how can those people think that I’d want to stand on that road, in that place, where Dingo lost his mind, Loon Tailor got crippled for life, and where Dave, my lovely Dave…oh hell!” I was filling up. 

“Hey,” Zelda leant across the table and squeezed my hand. “You know what I

think? I think it would help if did go one day to meet those fans. And maybe even go and visit the place where it happened. You might feel better. It would be closure. And can’t you share some of your memories with me and Josh? Surely you wouldn’t mind Josh knowing? Let me tell him, and then the three of us could have a great evening. We could listen to some Chappaquiddick tracks—have you got the bootleg tapes by the way? And you could enjoy a really cathartic sob-fest. It would be good for you. What do you say?”

    I stared at her across the table. Her expression was sympathetic but I really felt as though she lived on an entirely different planet. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I didn’t believe in’ closure’, nor was there such thing in my book as ‘enjoying’ a ‘cathartic’ sob-fest. As far as I was concerned, all I knew was crying uncontrollably in private until you threw up and then getting on with the rest of your life and trying not to give way again. And as for going to the scene of the accident on the anniversary of Dave’s death, that would be unbearable if other people were there. I knew exactly what was likely to happen. They’d start asking me my opinion of Dingo’s extraordinary testimony. They’d ask me if I believed that it had been no ordinary road crash and if I thought it was possible that Dingo had really seen what he’d said he’d seen and if…

“So can I tell Josh?” Zelda interrupted my thoughts.

I considered the question. What harm could there be in Josh knowing? And she was bound to tell him anyway.

“All right, then,” I said. “You can tell Josh. And if he wants, I’ll lend him the tapes. But please don’t ask me to listen to them. I just couldn’t bear it.”

 

 

I’d had a difficult afternoon, trying to supervise a Year 11 Games lesson, and now there was a coffin on my doorstep. At least, it looked like a coffin, an oblong box, mitred at one end. But if it was a coffin, it was an antique, a casket that had lain for centuries in an ancestral vault, containing the remains of a deceased aristocrat with a dubious reputation.  It was covered in stained, green leather and there were metal studs along the edges, and on the side, there was a handle in the shape of a two-headed serpent. And there, I noticed as I bent down, with some trepidation, to look, under the handle, was a scroll, tied up with a red ribbon and fastened with a thick seal.

Where had this extraordinary object come from?  It obviously hadn’t been delivered by Parcel Force. An artifact like this must have been transported over a treacherous, winding mountain road on a coach drawn by four, black plumed, madly whinnying stallions and driven by a cloaked, hunchbacked retainer who was whipping the beasts into a nostril-flecked frenzy.

Tentatively, I put my hand out and removed the scroll. I unrolled it and held it

up to the security light above the door. With some difficulty, I managed to decipher the spiky, Gothic script:     

Property of His Excellency, Count Valkhov. Touch it  ye not those who are too ignorant to understand. Dabble ye not with the forces of darknesse. If undelivered to the rightful address, return this boxe to the Palais de Pere Lachaise, Paris, otherwise, beare the consequences of thefte and deception.’  

I’d heard of Pere Lachaise. That was the cemetery where they’d buried Oscar Wilde and Jim Morrison and half the wealthy bourgeoisie of nineteenth century Paris. I hadn’t, however, ever heard that there was a palace there. Who was Count Valkov? Was he one of Ralphie’s friends? And if this coffin belonged to him, did that mean that Count Valkhov was inside? Oh! I imagined an emaciated corpse with hands like bunches of  brown, dried bananas crossed over its chest, and a wizened head resting on a pillow edged with lace, and lips that had shrunk back to expose long, yellow teeth, set in a macabre grimace. No! I didn’t want to look any closer. I was just going to go into the house and…as I went to step over the mysterious oblong box, my foot collided with the box, and with a creak, the lid began to rise.

I’m proud to say that I didn’t scream, although I did clap my hand over my nose and mouth. But that was to try and block out the awful smell, musty and sickly sweet, like a damp old church filled with rotting apples and dead mice that rose up as the lid crashed against the front door. All right, I admit was apprehensive. The fact was, I was sure that I knew what was going to happen next. A revenant corpse was about to swing up in a stiff, ninety degrees, Jack-in-the-box elevation from the waist. But wait, this couldn’t be a coffin. Coffins didn’t have hinged lids, did they? 

I looked down, faint with relief. Books. Nothing more sinister than books. 

But wait! Wasn’t there was something alarming about those books?  I could

see several ancient, leather bound tomes, lying under sprigs of mistletoe and dried ivy leaves, and they were all stamped with the insignia of the two headed serpent. And the stench of damp and dust was getting stronger by the minute. 

I wasn’t sure what to do now, but I’d seen enough horror films to know what I shouldn’t do. I shouldn’t, for example, pick up one of these books, open it at random and start reading the text out loud, particularly if it happened to be in Latin, Aramaic, or some forgotten tongue spoken only by Egyptian necromancers in the tenth century BC. Nor should I flick through the books and put my hand on any woodcuts. Entities depicted in those were notoriously fond of leaving the page and creeping up beside you while you were innocently reading by candlelight. And if any of these books were grimoires (I only had a vague notion of what a grimoire was, but I knew it was something lethal) then I was in serious trouble. No, there was no way I was taking this property of Count Valkhov into my house.

I edged round the casket, unlocked the front door, went in and slammed the door firmly behind me. Then I kicked off my shoes, dumped my school bag in the hall, and padded through to the kitchen. I sloshed some gin and tonic into a glass and went to the fridge for ice. As I opened the door, I saw a piece of parchment sticking out from under Seb’s Mont Blanc fridge magnet. I recognized the purple ink:  

     Gone to The Lord Halifax to collect some pieces of the  dear blue china that Oscar gave me.  Do meet me there later. We have much to discuss.  Yours  R..

Blue china. Right. Well, at least I had the house to myself for a while. I opened the fridge, took out some ice, put it in my glass, and went up to bed. I fell gratefully under the duvet and after a few sips of my drink, I had zonked out. 

 

Wotcha, girl.”

It was a husky voice, gentle as the September dew on Hackney marshes. But I hadn’t heard that voice for twenty years. And now it had roused me out of an uneasy dream, where I’d been floating, shipwrecked, on a plank of wood in a greasy black sea. The sky had been blood red and I’d seen a dark mass coming towards me and I’d started waving at it. But as the mass advanced, I saw that it was not a ship at all but the old 1870s London brick building of Havelock Ellis School, and that it was bearing down on me. And then 9X, transformed into a group of rotting zombies, had leaned out of the windows, grimacing and catcalling at me. “You’ll get incident slips, you’re not in school uniform,” I’d yelled back and then Rizwan had pulled off one of his arms and hurled it at me.

Wotcha, girl.” The voice again, here in my room. But how could he be here? It just

wasn’t possible.

 “Davey?” I stretched my hand out to turn on the bedside light.

“Don’t do that, girl, I ain’t ready,” the voice said. “Too much light, and I

might be gawn.”

    “But I can’t see you!”

“You will in a minute, girl. But don’t move. You have to stay where you are. We can’t touch or nothing. Now, I’m ‘ere, girl, can you see me?”

    “Yes,” I breathed. “Now I can.”

It was a miracle. As my eyes adjusted to the semi-darkness, I saw him there,  by the window, doused in the orange sodium street lighting leaking in through the chink in the curtains. His blond hair was fanning out in the slight breeze from

the open window. His thumbs were hooked into the belt of his denims. He was standing in his characteristic, cool pose, and he looked just as he had done when we first met, those fabulous, sculpted cheekbones, that generous mouth, the sweet, tiny scar under his left eye, and his swimming-pool blue eyes. Five feet ten inches of staggering physical beauty that might have been chiselled out of Carrara marble by a Renaissance master. Dave Dellow, the boy I met in Dawlish all those years ago, and not a single mark of a violent death on him.

I didn’t want him to see that I was trembling. Dave never liked excessive displays of emotion. He’d been the strong, silent type, an East End lad of the old school, but he’d also been capable of great tenderness, in his understated, laid-back way.

“Oh,” I said softly, “It’s really you.”

Yer, it’s me,” he grinned. “Sorry I never come back before.” 

Oh, that voice.  I’d always adored the way he spoke, despite the fact that his accent was of the same provenance as that of Nanny Barrel Hips. But while she invariably sounded raucous and aggressive, his dropped h’s and glottal stops had been gorgeous and sexy.

             “How are you, Davey?” I asked.

             “Apart from being dead, I’m fine.” He was standing very still. “And how’s the kid? Me son?” 

              “You know about Seb?”

                “’Course I do.”

                “He’s not a kid any more, Davey. He’s in his second year at university.” 

                 “Cor, fancy that,” Dave sounded surprised. “Don’t take after me then. I

mean, he must have brains.  I haven’t seen him since he was born.”

                  “You saw him?”

      Yeh. But that was a one-off. I managed to get a view into the ‘orspital, and I saw him, lying in that little cot on wheels.”

                 “Oh, Davey. I felt as though the lump in my throat would choke me.

                  “But after that,” he looked rueful, “I couldn’t seem to come back. Not until now that is. Some people can do it easily, but it’s taken me a while to get the hang of it.  Sorry girl, I always struggled with stuff.”

“You didn’t struggle, Davey,” I said. “You played the guitar like a genius, and you made love like an angel. And now you look just like one.”

“I ain’t no angel, girl,” he grinned. “Anyway, what would I want with a bleeding ’arp?”

“Oh, Davey,” I giggled. Dave could always make me laugh. “It’s so good to see you again.”  

     “It’s all right seeing you too, girl,” he said.

    Neither of us spoke for a moment. It was one of those comfortable, loving silences that we’d always enjoyed. But there was something I wanted to ask him, something only he would know. 

“Davey, about that night,” I said, “The night when you…”

“Got meself killed? Oh, don’t think about it. It’s water under the bridge. No good crying over spilt milk. What’s done is done. You make your bed and you lie on it. No point me being a dog in the manger. Worse things happen at sea. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.  You’ve got to row, row, row your boat swiftly down the stream.  When your cup’s half empty, it’s really half full, ignorance is bliss,

when you come to the end of a perfect day…”

    “Davey, oh, please stop!”

“What’s wrong, girl?” he sounded perplexed. “Ain’t I making no sense?”

“No, no, it’s not that,” I saw, to my consternation, that he was becoming increasingly translucent. The wardrobe door was visible through his chest. “It’s just that I haven’t seen you for so long. There’s so much I want to say and…” 

“And I’m talking rubbish,” Dave completed my sentence. “It’s a funny thing, being dead makes you do that. There’s all this stuff floating in your ‘ead and you can’t get the words out. You know what? I’ve learned stuff since I’ve been on the other side. I wanted to be your equal. I learned all that stuff you was studying. I know about Battleship Potemkin and the films of Ingmar Bergman, who wasn’t the same person as Ingrid Bergman, and I know about tracking shots and what the gaffer does, and the best boy, I even know what a focus puller is  and…oh sorry, I’ve gone off again, haven’t I, and I did have something important to tell you. Only I can’t quite remember what it was, no, wait, it’ll come to me in a moment.”

I could hardly see him at all now. He was fading like a Victorian sepia photograph that had been over-exposed to sunlight.  

 “Oh, Davey!” I leaned forward, anxious not to lose sight or sound of him. “Davey, Davey, stay here!”

“Sorry girl. I’ve got to go.”

“You have to stay. Please, you must try!” All I could see of him now was the vaguest outline. The bedroom seemed to be filling up with mist.

“Listen, girl,” his voice was fainter. “What did you go and marry that bloke for? The one who owns this gaff? I didn’t want you to live like a nun, girl, but you could have done better than him. You deserve better.”

“It was a mistake,” I bit my lip. “I’m sorry.”

“It don’t matter, girl.”

“But it does. I should have known. There could only ever be you.” 

“But I’m dead, girl, it’s no bleeding good. Here, it’s coming back to me, henbane, you’ve got to get some henbane...” his voice was echoing as though from the bottom of a fathomless well.

“I don’t understand. What are you saying?” 

    “I said to Dingo.... watch out for that tree.....”

“The tree!” Desperately, I was trying to keep him here. “Davey, what about the tree? Did you see…?”

“The henbane….don’t forget the...henbane....bloody strange way for a tree to behave…henbane…”

I heard a car roar past outside. Then there was silence. He was gone.

 

I threw back the duvet, got up, and went over to the window. I stared out at the foggy street. I was alone, feeling the desolation of his loss all over again. My past was coming back to haunt me, and still, nothing made any sense. But the memories were stirring, and the only thing now was to go with them, and see where they would take me.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapters

11

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Katefin wrote 385 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 462 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 462 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 462 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 462 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 899 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 914 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 914 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 914 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 915 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 915 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 915 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 915 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 1021 days ago

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

Sue50 wrote 1079 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 1079 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 1080 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 1082 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 1091 days ago

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

Ariom Dahl wrote 1091 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 1107 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 1183 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 1184 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 1186 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 1241 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 1241 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 1250 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 1273 days ago

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

Eunice Attwood wrote 1276 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 1277 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 1306 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 1319 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 1331 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 1331 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 1332 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 1335 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 1345 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 1347 days ago

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

TalulaJane wrote 1354 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 1359 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 1363 days ago

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

Esrevinu wrote 1363 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 1364 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 1369 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 1371 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 1372 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 1375 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 1376 days ago

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

Wilma1 wrote 1407 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 1411 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.