Book Jacket


rank 2991
word count 98259
date submitted 09.05.2008
date updated 10.05.2014
genres: Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, Comedy
classification: universal

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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My Life with Chappaquiddick



“So what have you been doing lately?” Stacey Warrington shouted above the

roar of Ken the Chin’s motorbike as we bucketed down the Great West Road.

“Not a lot,” I yelled back.

I winced at the pressure of her weight on my knees. We were squeezed into the sidecar and we were heading for Devon. Stacey was sitting on my legs and our luggage was on her lap. The situation was uncomfortable, and probably illegal, especially considering that Ken the Chin’s best mate Carlotta was riding pillion with his  rucksack stuffed with pot. But what did I care? Unknown to Stacey, in whom I’d decided not to confide, I’d escaped from my failed honeymoon with Colin Shuttlehanger and the summer was all mine. 

I’d been friends with Stacey in our first year at secondary school, and then she’d moved out to Reading with her family. After that, we’d done little more than exchange Christmas cards. Auntie Pam had never cared for Stacey, who lived on a Council estate and whose father was banged up for GBH. Stacey had bushy brown hair, smoked, was on the pill from the age of twelve and always copied my Latin homework. It was Stacey who told me, as we hid in the stock cupboard of the Domestic Science department at school, illicitly eating the dried fruit and sticking our wet fingers into the jars of sugar, that you should always close your eyes when kissing a boy and make liberal use of your tongue. She also told me that if you saved up ten thousand bus tickets, London Transport would give you a Route-master of your own, that you couldn’t get pregnant if you did ‘it’ standing up, and that oral sex caused gum disease. But, despite this misleading information, she also protected me from the bullies who hung around the bike sheds at Brondover Girls School. I’d missed her when she’d left, and now here we were, reunited.

While I was glad to see Stacey again, I had mixed feelings about Ken the Chin and Carlotta, who, despite the nick-name, was a sinuous, six foot male. 

     “They’re sweet blokes!”  Stacey had insisted.

They didn’t look particularly ‘sweet’ to me. Ken the Chin, so named because of his Hapsburgian protuberance, was six foot two, fifteen stone and an amateur wrestler and brick-layer.  Carlotta, (real name Carl), spent most of his time chewing on a matchstick. He rarely spoke and then only in monosyllables. His usual response, was to look at the ground and mutter ‘rats!’  He knew, Ken the Chin assured us, where to get ‘good grass’, and he was great fun when ‘rat arsed.’ I didn’t find either of them attractive, but I had a dreadful suspicion that Ken the Chin ‘fancied’ me.

           “Where d’ya wanna go?” he’d asked as he strapped on his crash helmet.

    “Devon,” Stacey said.

    “Where in Devon?”

    “How about Dawlish?” I said. I was remembering a British Rail poster of a gorgeously amber swathe of beach, a vivid blue sea and cliffs resplendent with semi-tropical vegetation. “It’s supposed to be beautiful.”

               “Rats,” said Carlotta, and spat out his matchstick.

               Ken the Chin must have wanted to please me in his Cro-Magnon fashion, since he duly set off for Dawlish. We stopped only once on the journey, in order for Ken and Carlotta to relieve themselves into a roadside hedge, and when we arrived at Dawlish, we found the place enveloped in a sea-fret. Stacey and I extricated ourselves, cramped and bruised, from the confines of the sidecar, and checked into a ten pound a night B. and B., while Ken the Chin and Carlotta announced their intention of sleeping on the beach.

    An hour or two later, we met them at a pub at a place known as the Warren. The large bar area was crowded with people in their late teens and early twenties and there was a board announcing that a live band was booked to play there that night. Ken and Carlotta slurped back Newcastle Brown, and Stacey and I sipped Dubonnet with ice and a slice. Stacey had changed into a backless, silver lame dress and a pair of high heeled sandals. I was wearing a Laura Ashley skirt and a white blouse, and had made up my face with care, including the liberal use of lipstick in a shade known as ‘Courtesan red’. I felt simultaneously eager to have a good time and equally determined to repel the advances of Ken the Chin. 

“You’re a bit of a miserable cow, aren’t you?” he said, putting his arm around my shoulders, breathing beer into my face. Perhaps this was his idea of seduction. I attempted to wriggle away from him along the fake leather banquette.

“Those are nice,” I said, indicating the row of coloured fairy lights hanging above the bar, hoping to distract him. My ploy was unsuccessful as he only tightened his grip.

“Gawd, what a tosser!” Stacey pointed to a middle aged man with a quiff of grey hair who had come to the microphone on the platform by the bar. Behind him, a pair of silver-grey curtains shimmered.

  “Boys and girls, ladies and gentlemen,” the man picked up the microphone. There was a sharp whistling sound as the PA system rebelled. “Put your hands together and welcome the band. This group of lads have just signed a recording contract. They’re going places! They’re good! You’re in for a special treat tonight. You’ll all be wetting yourself with excitement when I tell you who they are. It’s CHAPPAQUIDDICK!” 

There was a drum roll and a flash of disco lights, another whistle from the PA system, and an amplified cough. A voice from behind the curtains said, “Mind my fucking foot!” and a cymbal crashed. Then the shimmering curtains parted.

A white faced youth with dusty brown dreadlocks grabbed the mike with both hands. He was wearing baggy, slashed jeans and a faded grey T-shirt. He shook his shoulders, and then, as the music thundered, he began singing through a mouthful of rather broken teeth:

Mother Hubbard, Mother Hubbard, why is your cupboard bare?

            Open your door, give me more,

            Mother Hubbard, you’re a whore!

           You’re a whore, you’re a whore, you’re…” 

His movements gave him the appearance of someone afflicted with some dreadful, palsied disease and his voice was raucous, urgent and anguished.  Behind him, a spindly, hunch-shouldered man was playing the drums and nodding his head in time to the beat. On his left, a boy with a shaved head was making sounds using a variety of strange devices, sink plungers, and bits of lead piping, one of those children’s whirly tubes and a hand held vacuum cleaner. I didn’t know them then, of course, but later I would know them well. Dingo, Loon Tailor and Mad McArthur.       “Don’t see how we’re going to bop to that,” Stacey wrinkled her nose in disgust.

         “Rats,” agreed Carlotta.

           “Shall we go outside?” Ken the Chin suggested, putting his hand on my knee.

            And then it happened. As the first number ended, the dreadlocked singer, the spindly drummer and the man with the sink plunger were joined by someone else. A blonde young man with a guitar. The spotlight fell on him, the others remained still, and he began to play his solo. And my life changed for ever.


I’m told that some people go to their graves without ever once experiencing love at first sight. Some people don’t believe it can happen. Other people have said it’s an illusion that wears off. I can only speak for myself. It does happen, and it happened to me then.

    The band began their second, ensemble number, (‘Who killed Cock Robin?’). I stood up, thrusting Ken the Chin away from me. I squeezed my way through the crowd to the platform. I had to get close to him. And I wanted him to see me. 

And he did.

   “Wotcha, girl,” he said, kneeling down  at the edge of the platform, and looking me straight in the eye.

Now we were within an inch of each other, I noticed a tiny, strange, v-shaped scar on his left cheek, just under the eye socket. It was the sexiest thing imaginable.

The band had finished their set, and were heading off to the bar, but this young man was more interested in me.

           “Hi,” I said.

           “Want to go for a walk on the dunes?” he asked.

           “All right,” I said. There was no question of playing shy or prevaricating. And I felt quite safe. Somehow, I knew I could trust him with my life.

          We sat down on the sand. Marram grass tickled my cheek.

           “What’s your name?” he asked. 

           “Dora. Dora Harker,” I told him. I had reverted to my maiden name. There

would be no more ‘Shuttlehanger’ for me.

“I’m Dave,” he said, “Dave Dellow. Cor---if you married me, you’d be Dora Dellow. ‘Ow about that?” 

Somehow, it didn’t seem strange or threatening that we’d only just met and he was talking about getting married.  And somehow, that. It felt just right. He put his arm round me. Then a coarse, unearthly cry fractured the night.

           “What’s that!” I jumped.

           “It’s just an old mad beach donkey,” he said, “What did you think of the band?” 

    “I thought you were brilliant.  Chappaquiddick, though, it’s rather an odd name, isn’t it?”

“Is it?” he frowned, “We used to be called Nagasaki, then we was Gangrene, then Dingo changed it to Chappaquiddick.”

“All in very bad taste,” I giggled. “Those names.”

              “Why’s that then?” he stroked my arm. 

           “Nagaski was where they exploded an atom bomb, gangrene’s a flesh rotting disease, and Chappaquiddick was where a girl died in an awful accident in the sixties.”

           “Dingo said it was a place in America.”

           “It is. That’s where it happened. Senator Edward Kennedy’s car went into the water and a girl drowned, Mary Jo Kopechne.”

            “You know a lot of stuff.” he said “First I’ve heard any of this. I thought Nagaski was food you had with noodles. And gangrene---well, that’s the colour of me mum’s curtains, you know, like lime green, sea green, gang green…” 

     “Oh, oh….” I started laughing and then I stopped because he was kissing me.

I’d never known anything like it. It wasn’t as though I’d never been kissed before. I’d experienced every form of kissing. I’d had dry kisses, wet kisses, tongue wrestling kisses, kisses where teeth unfortunately clash, shy kisses and cursory pecks, sex-mad kisses and kisses that tasted of nicotine and cheese and onion crisps.   But Dave’s kisses were entirely different.  I had just found the world’s most expert and wonderful kisser, and as an added bonus, he looked like a Greek god.

There was no point in resisting destiny. The next day, I decided to abandon my college course, I wrote an apologetic letter to Uncle Horace and Auntie Pam and I went on the road with Chappaquiddick.


It was the best time in my life, even though I had to put up with the company of Loon Tailor, Mad McArthur and Dingo Potts.  Sleeping in the van was uncomfortable, and so was going without a shower for days. It wasn’t healthy, living off a diet of booze, fags, Coca-Cola and chips.  I had to listen to the rambling conversations between Loon and Mad and endure bitchy comments from the groupie girls that Dingo picked up along the way. They always hated me, those girls, because I had my hands on the best looking and only monogamous guy in the band.

Every warm summer night, Dave and I  made  love, after gigs where Dingo had urged the band on to a frenzied climax, shaking his dreadlocked hair and rasping out his nursery rhyme lyrics, Cut off their tails! Cut off their tails! Cut off their tails with a carving knife! Dave and I fell upon each other in meadows, on haystacks, in long grass,  in parks and on waste land, in forests and down by the river by the reed beds, by gorse bushes and once even on a newly mown cricket  pitch.  There’s nothing like sex in the open air, even if you do get bitten by mosquitoes and find

squashed spiders on your skin, and run the risk of picking up a tick and getting

that awful disease that ticks spread, except that we never did.

          As time went on, I realised that Dingo was the driving force behind the band.  He’d recruited Loon when they were fourteen and then they’d met Mad McArthur when they were playing at a holiday camp in Pwellhi (a place which Dingo pronounced ‘Pure helli’, claiming that was an accurate description). McArthur was a semi-alcoholic, Loon Tailor always wore the same pair of jeans and a red T-shirt, and had only two fingers on his left hand, and Dingo was filthy. His clothes had never been washed, and his hair, I was convinced, was lice ridden, but he wore his dreadlocks and his abnormal pallor with pride. His expertise, if that is really the word, consisted of arranging the lyrics to the so-called ‘music’. I say ‘arranged’ because Dingo never wrote any original material, but simply adapted nursery rhymes, and jokes he’d read on toilet walls:

         “He kills cornflakes! He kills cornflakes!

         Cereal  killer! Cereal Killer!”

           ‘Cereal killer’ had made the charts at number fifty four after John Peel had played the record very late one night when only insomniacs and truckers too stupefied with cholesterol to take anything in were listening to the airwaves. It had been that song that prompted Kumquat records to offer the band the contract for the album, Who killed Cock Robin. And then it seemed everyone knew those lyrics:  

     “I said the sparrow, cos your eyes are too narrow…”

              And then Dave asked me to marry him.


“First you marry a man with no balls, and now you’ve married a man with no brain,”

Uncle Horace told me over his third glass of port at the wedding reception. “Dora, I

despair of you.”

He said this with a twinkle in his eye, as if he didn’t really mind. It wasn’t true that Dave had no brain, but he hadn’t had much education. His ignorance and simplicity was touching. He didn’t know the names of any film directors, or even that films had directors, he’d never read a book, apart from the reading primers he’d been given in the Remedial department at school, he didn’t know whether the Tudors came before the Plantagenets or whether it was the other way round. He believed that the sun went around the earth, that God had a long white beard and that Elvis Presley had been the King of America, in the quite literal sense of having sat on a throne with a crown on his head in a palace called Graceland. What did I care? I loved him. He was angelically beautiful and he was good and kind and gentle.

My guitar hero and I found a small flat in the London Borough of Havering over a TV rental business  and next door to what was described  in blue lettering on a white background,  as a  ‘Quality Fishmongers’. The quality fishmonger, Mr Jowls, was in the habit of loping down to a shed at the end of a long narrow garden where he smoked his own haddock and kippers. He had a rubbish tip, not far from the back of the shop, piled high with fish guts, fish heads and flies.  The smell was intolerable, especially in warm weather, but we didn’t care. We were too happy.

That day began just like any other, except that I woke up feeling queasy and dizzy. The band had a gig that night, but I couldn’t face all that bumping around in the van along country roads, coming back late at night, after three hours in a smoke-filled venue. And so Dave set off on that fatal journey without me.  

That evening, I was lying on the bed with a tissue pressed to my mouth, my eyes closed, trying to sleep. At least, I thought, Mr Jowls was on his annual holiday. The shop was locked up, and he hadn’t been loping down there to his shed to smoke his herrings and haddock for several days. If I’d had to put up with that fishy stench when I was already feeling so nauseous, it would have been intolerable. I had no idea why I was feeling so ill, unless it was something to do with the kebabs we’d had last night.  I began to drift away, and then Dave spoke.

“Sorry to leave you like this, girl,” he said softly, “Especially with you up the duff an’ all.”

I sat up with a start. I was alone in the room. I saw the time on the bedside clock; eleven thirty three. I wasn’t expecting Dave home until the early hours of the morning. ‘Up the duff’? Was that it? Was I pregnant? How funny to have dreamt that Dave knew. But what did he mean, sorry to leave you? 


It had happened, at that exact moment, all those miles away, on that quiet fenland road. Killed instantly. I was told that it was better if I didn’t see Dave’s body. I knew what that meant, and I tried not to think about it. The other thing I tried to forget was Dingo’s account of the crash.  

He never changed his story, even after he was sectioned. White and shaking, he insisted he hadn’t been hallucinating on drugs. He hadn’t hit that tree. The tree had hit them. He’d seen it with his own eyes, and he hadn’t been able to avoid it. Not when, without a moment’s warning, it had heaved itself up out of that ditch, and walked out on its muddy roots, straight on to the road in front of him.




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Magicweaver wrote 26 days ago

What a great antidote to all the pretentious vampire and ghoulie stuff for teens! I read through most of this and, apart from the odd typo and some quaint formatting, it rattled along at a great pace. Ralphie is a great character, very easy to sympathise with and your MC, Dora, is just the right mix of naivety and determination. Great fun, well done :)

Spokenamos wrote 68 days ago

Intriguing. I'm shocked I hear demons take the form of the dead. Its true! Glad you mentioned it. I enjoy your writing. It flows smoothly. Aimee'. "Possessions of the Human Kind" and "Angelica".

Katefin wrote 466 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 543 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 543 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 543 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 543 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 981 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 995 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 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 996 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!

Forgiveness Fits

Sharon.v.o. wrote 996 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 996 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 996 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 996 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..."

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 996 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

CBBlanchard wrote 1102 days ago

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

Sue50 wrote 1160 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!

ccb1 wrote 1160 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 1161 days ago

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

Red2u wrote 1163 days ago

I really really enjoyed the read! Twenty-eight and already three 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!

M. A. McRae. wrote 1172 days ago

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

Ariom Dahl wrote 1172 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 1188 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 1264 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 1266 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 1267 days ago

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 1322 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.


Kaimaparamban wrote 1322 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 1331 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 1355 days ago

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

Eunice Attwood wrote 1357 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 1358 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 1387 days ago


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 1400 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 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,

Sue G. wrote 1412 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 1413 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. 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 1413 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. 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 1416 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 1427 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

beegirl wrote 1428 days ago

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

TalulaJane wrote 1435 days ago

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

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

Linda Lou wrote 1440 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

CarolinaAl wrote 1444 days ago

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

Esrevinu wrote 1445 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.
The Esrevinu Chronicles/Secrets of the Elephant Rocks

Rosemary Peel wrote 1445 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 1450 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 1453 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.


noirangel wrote 1453 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 1456 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 1457 days ago

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