Guest Post: Menagerie by Joan Hall #bookreview #shortstories #newrelease #TuesdayBookBlog

I’m thrilled to be batting cleanup on Joan Hall’s blog tour for her new release, Menagerie. I can’t tell how much I enjoyed this collection of stories – but you can read all about it in my review below. Give a big welcome to Joan!

Mystery Woman

Hi, Teri. Thanks so much for hosting me today on this last stop of my book tour. It’s a pleasure to be here to talk about my latest release, Menagerie, a mixed-genre compilation of thirteen short stories. Each stop features a different title and I tell how the story came about. Today, I’ll tell the story behind Mystery Woman. With a title like that, I don’t need to tell the genre.

Stories of the unexplained intrigue me. A favorite TV show from back in the 1980s was Unsolved Mysteries. One of the first episodes told the story of Glen and Bessie Hyde, a newlywed couple who disappeared in 1928 while rafting through Grand Canyon on the Colorado River.

Despite being warned not to continue their trip by noted Grand Canyon photographer Emery Kolb, the couple continued the journey. When they didn’t arrive at their destination, a search party found their abandoned raft, which was actually a wooden scow, along the shores of the river. The raft was intact, and their gear still inside. There was no sign of the couple, and their bodies were never found.

In the early 1970s, a group rafting the river stopped for the night at the location where Glen and Bessie disappeared. An older woman on the trip claimed to be Bessie and stated she killed her husband. The woman later recanted the story.

In Mystery Woman, Nicole Aldridge takes a rafting trip down a fictional river. Among the people in her raft is an older woman named Anna Holloway. Anna is a strange one who tells Nicole conflicting stories. First, she said she’d been on a rafting trip many years earlier. Later, she denied it. She talked about her husband, but Nicole later learns Anna never married. Anna is also obsessed with the story of a couple who drowned while rafting the river in the early 1950s.

A year later, Nicole and Tim Ross, who she also met on the trip, learn some startling information about Anna.

Below is an excerpt.


“Anna, you haven’t told us what you do,” Tim said.

The older woman’s expression softened. “I’m a retired schoolteacher. I turn seventy in a few days.”

A course of birthday wishes followed.

“I’ve never been on a rafting trip, so this is a gift to myself.”

Nicole furrowed her brow. “I thought you told me at lunch you had rafted before.”

“You’re mistaken, dear. I don’t know why you would think that.”

She opened her mouth to reply but let it go. Maybe the woman was forgetful. Might even have early-onset dementia.

After dinner, everyone gathered with the larger group to sit around the campfire. The rhythmic chirr of cicadas, crickets, and other night insects signaled nightfall. A smattering of stars appeared, and a half moon was almost directly overhead. The faint smell of sagebrush, along with smoke from the fire drifted in the breeze as coyotes howled in the distance.

Tim opened a can of beer as he took the seat next to Nicole. “Care for one?”

“No, thanks. I had a couple of glasses of wine at dinner. Any more alcohol and I’ll be down for the count.”

“Never thought I’d have such amenities on a camping trip. Rib eyes. Grilled vegetables.”

“Don’t forget that Dutch oven cake. You were right. This is almost like a luxury cruise.”

Mark Mills rubbed his hands together. “Who’s ready for a ghost story?”

Nicole listened absently as he told of a mysterious light that often appeared on the rim of the canyon. When others chimed in about similar sightings in other parts of the country, she studied those around her, especially Anna Holloway. She couldn’t shake the feeling the older woman was hiding a secret.


King’s. The Tower of London. Glass. What do these have in common?

Each is a famous menagerie.

While this Menagerie doesn’t focus on exotic animals, it does contain a collection of stories that explore various trials people face and how their reactions shape their worlds.

Survivors of a haunted bridge. Women who wait while their husbands fight a war. Former partners reuniting to solve a cold-case murder.

These are just three of the thirteen stories in this compendium, encompassing past and present, natural and supernatural, legend and reality. The genres and timelines are varied, but there’s a little something for everyone who enjoys reading about simpler times and small-town life.

Purchase Link:

About the Author

Social Media Links

Website   |   Blog   |   BookBub   |   Goodreads

My Review

I absolutely adored this collection – every single story. Usually with short story collections there are at least a few that aren’t as interesting or don’t work for me. But that’s not the case here. Maybe it’s because there are thirteen stories and it was released on a Friday 13th – which has always been lucky for me because my son was born on a Friday 13th. Who knows? I’ll try to choose a few that stuck with me longer.

Ghost Bridge – The small town of Clarkston and its citizens completely charmed me. I wanted to join Kate and her dog Dakota on her porch and have a glass of wine. I wanted to sit with them and listen to the clip clop and creaking wooden wheels of the horse and buggy carrying the ghost of Dr. Noah Stoddard across the bridge by her house. The ending was perfection.

Seven Days – Stressed out author Mindy Jarvis spends a week at a friend’s cabin – where there’s no wifi or cell reception. I initially balked at that, thinking there’s no way I could do it. By the end of the story, I was envious of Mindy and wanted to trade places with her for a week. It had me reminiscing simpler times.

Summerwood – Lead guitarist in a popular band, Dylan Grant collapses on stage due to exhaustion. He travels back to his hometown to recover and make some life-changing decisions.

Lone Wolf – Cowboy Jake McLaughlin saves a wolf whose leg is caught in a trap. He has no idea the wolf will repay that kindness. I nearly cried at the end of this heartwarming tale.

This is a fabulous collection of suspense, mystery, and contemporary stories that will appeal to a variety of readers. There’s something for everyone, and I enjoyed it from beginning to end.

Gleanings by Neal Shusterman #bookreview #fantasy #shortstories #TuesdayBookBlog

The New York Times bestselling Arc of the Scythe series continues with thrilling stories that span the timeline. Storylines continue. Origin stories are revealed. And new Scythes emerge!

There are still countless tales of the Scythedom to tell. Centuries passed between the Thunderhead cradling humanity and Scythe Goddard trying to turn it upside down. For years humans lived in a world without hunger, disease, or death with Scythes as the living instruments of population control.

Neal Shusterman—along with collaborators David Yoon, Jarrod Shusterman, Sofía Lapuente, Michael H. Payne, Michelle Knowlden, and Joelle Shusterman—returns to the world throughout the timeline of the Arc of a Scythe series. Discover secrets and histories of characters you’ve followed for three volumes and meet new heroes, new foes, and some figures in between.

Gleanings shows just how expansive, terrifying, and thrilling the world that began with the Printz Honor–winning Scythe truly is.

The Arc of a Scythe series is one of my absolute favs, so when I saw Gleanings on NetGalley, I might have squealed with glee (I totally did).

The Arc of a Scythe series has concluded, but the author (and several co-authors) had more stories to tell about this world and some of its characters. And I was totally thrilled with that. I recently finished the last book in the series, so I remembered some of the characters mentioned in Gleanings. One of my favorites is Goddard’s origin story. Like most readers, I wasn’t a fan of his, but he was a fascinating character I wanted to know more about – and my wish sure was granted. I also enjoyed seeing Scythe Curie in a couple stories and learning what became of her. A big smile split my face when Scythe Lucifer/Rowan made an appearance. That story was also one of my favorites even before he showed up.

Although I loved the end of this series (seriously, I can’t tell you how much I loved that ending), I was sad to see it conclude. Getting this book of short stories set within that world was like an early Christmas gift. If you haven’t read Arc of a Scythe, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s filled with magnificent world-building, complex characters, and jaw-dropping moments.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

A Sliver of Darkness by C.J. Tudor #shortstories #horror #suspense #bookreview #TuesdayBookBlog

The debut short story collection from the acclaimed author of The Chalk Man, featuring ten bone-chilling and mind-bending tales

Timeslips. Doomsday scenarios. Killer butterflies. C. J. Tudor’s novels are widely acclaimed for their dark, twisty suspense plots, but with A Sliver of Darkness, she pulls us even further into her dizzying imagination.

In Final Course, the world has descended into darkness, but a group of old friends make time for one last dinner party. In Runaway Blues, thwarted love, revenge, and something very nasty stowed in a hat box converge. In Gloria, a strange girl at a service station endears herself to a cold-hearted killer, but can a leopard really change its spots? And in I’m Not Ted, a case of mistaken identity has unforeseen, fatal consequences.

Riveting and explosively original, A Sliver of Darkness is C. J. Tudor at her most wicked and uninhibited.

I’ve had The Chalk Man in my TBR for longer that I’d like, but so many books! When I was offered an ARC of the author’s short stories, I knew the time had come to get acquainted with her. And now I’m kicking myself for waiting this long to read her novels.

One of the things I liked best about this collection was the author’s introduction to each story – personal experiences that sparked the idea, where she was when the idea came to her, etc. I always love hearing origin stories. Each of these captivated me, and I could probably have finished the book in one sitting (it’s a little over 250 pages), but I did have a few favorites.

End of the Liner – What if a pandemic/apocalyptic event/catastrophe made living on land impossible? In this story some passengers have lived their whole lives on a cruise ship that never docks. Once they turn seventy-five they’re “retired”. And by retired I mean tossed overboard.

Runaway Blues – The author says this is probably her “most King-esque short story”. Maybe that’s why I enjoyed it so much. Blues music, dancing, young couples in love, and hat boxes that you may not want to open.

Dust – A woman checks into a hotel to get away from the stresses of being dumped by her boyfriend. But is that where she really is? Sometimes it’s hard to face the consequences of our actions.

If you’re looking for a compelling, quick read, A Sliver of Darkness will keep you glued to the pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

#BadMoonRising In a Corner Darkly by Sue Rovens #thriller #shortstories

Today’s author names one of my favorite King novels as the one that unsettled her most (I still have the movie images of the floating kid outside the bedroom window and the guy in the creaking rocking chair in a dark bedroom imprinted on my brain). She also brings physical evidence of things (very cute ones) that have prevented her from writing. Welcome Sue Rovens!

Which Stephen King novel unsettled you the most?

I’d have to say ‘Salem’s Lot. I read it when I was 15/16, and it became the impetus for me to write horror (which has turned into suspense/thriller). I found the characters and story so compelling, I wanted to be able to create a world like that. Plus, at the time, I thought it was terrifying. I hadn’t ever read anything like that before, so it made quite an impression on me.

Which unsolved murder fascinates you the most?

It isn’t murder, per se, but the story of The Titanic, the Dyatlov Pass Incident (an event in which nine Soviet trekkers died in the northern Ural Mountains in 1959), and The Donner Party will always have my attention. I think the intensity and unsettling nature of ALL of these are what pull me in.

If you could have a spooky Halloween pet (black cat, owl, bat, rat, wolf, etc.), which would you choose?

Oh, there’s so many adorable ones! I would say a kitty (which I already do! Noodle!) and/or an owl, because they’re awesome.

How do you use social media as an author? 

Probably not well enough. I have my own blog ( which is where I have the majority of my “author presence”, but I am on FB (my personal page), and I do have a tiny footprint on Twitter. I guess I’m on Instagram too, but I don’t do much there. Honestly, I sell best in person, and I just don’t have the time/desire to spend most of my day on social media. That might result in fewer sales, but probably not by much.

Have pets ever gotten in the way of your writing? 

Constantly. Noodle (left), being chill. He’s the 18 pounder. Monkey (right), the diva, with a couple of friends.


What are you working on now?

My fifth novel! Sanctum. It follows Ed Thackery, recent retiree who got into the real estate game to get out from under his wife’s feet. He manages to sign his first clients, but then realizes that something’s wrong with their house. It’s not only haunted…it’s… (spoilers which will not be discussed – you’ll have to read it for yourself). 😊

I’m working on draft #3 now, meaning it should be ready for public consumption next year sometime. My best guess is summer of ’23.

Not much time? These VERY short tales are just the thing. Perfect for the upcoming spooky season.

Some horror, some apocalyptic, some weird. Volume 2 of In a Corner, Darkly, elevates the horror to a whole other level. Meet Mark DeSoto who scores a cool, new job in a record store, who learns the secret behind why their merchandise is flying off the shelves; follow Gully into an apocalyptic nightmare as he attempts to escape the men with the icepicks; join a group of friends as they realize what it means to get lost in the jungle. These fifteen tightly spun tales will keep you in… SUSPENSE!

Purchase Link


Author Bio and Social Media

Sue Rovens is an indie suspense/horror author who hails from Normal, Illinois. She has written four suspense novels and two books of short horror stories. She is currently working on a fifth novel, Sanctum, which should be out sometime in 2023.

Track 9, her second novel, snagged a starred review in Publisher’s Weekly (May 2018), her short story, “Coming Over”, from her book, In a Corner, Darkly (Volume 1) was turned into a screenplay and short student indie film by the theater department of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and another short story, “When the Earth Bled”, won 2nd place in the Support Indie Authors short story contest in 2021. Her two most recent books (Buried and Rage) are under Plump Toad Press.

Sue owns a blog ( which includes interviews with authors, musicians, podcasters, and artists. She is also an Executive Producer for an indie (short) horror film which is currently in pre-production called “Let’s Do Things that Make Us Happy”.

Sue is a member of The Chicago Writers Association and the Alliance for Independent Authors (ALLi). 

Blog –

Email –

Twitter – @SueRovens

Amazon Link –

Things Old and Forgotten by Mae Clair #bookreview #shortstories #paranormal #TuesdayBookBlog

A man keeping King Arthur’s dream of Camelot alive.
A Robin Hood battling in a drastically different Sherwood.
A young man facing eternity in the desert.
A genteel southern lady besting a powerful order of genies.
A woman meeting her father decades after his death.

These are but a few of the intriguing tales waiting to be discovered in Things Old and Forgotten. Prepare to be transported to realms of folklore and legend, where magic and wonder linger around every corner, and fantastic possibilities are limited only by imagination.

What a wonderful, eclectic collection of short stories wrapped inside a beautiful cover!

I’ve read several other titles by Mae Clair, and I’ve always been a fan of her brand of paranormal blended with mystery and suspense. To have this many of her stories in one book was like a gift box of dark chocolate with an edible bow (peanut butter would be perfect) on top.

While I was captivated by all fifteen offerings, I had some favorites. As a Robin Hood fan, I especially enjoyed the unique spin on this tale. I’ll read anything involving King Arthur and Camelot, so there was no doubt it would be at the top of my list of favs. Kin-Slayer has a jarring twist I didn’t see coming. Father’s Day is heart-warming and of personal significance to the author. Miss Lily Makes a Wish left me laughing – never underestimate a genteel, southern lady.

Filled with action, ghosts, monsters, genies, and memorable characters, this collection offers tales guaranteed to provide hours of entertaining reading.

#BadMoonRising Glimpses by Hugh W. Roberts #shortstories #paranormal #supernatural

Only three more days until Halloween – are you ready? I read the second volume of short stories in this series and described the tales as chilling, humorous, and unpredictable. It’s an eclectic collection that offers something for everyone, and I have no doubt this first volume is the same. This author’s tarot card reading hit the bullseye, and a prediction came true that same night – but in the very best way. Trust me when I say it’s swoon-worthy. Welcome Hugh W. Roberts!

Have you ever had a tarot card reading?

Yes, I’ve had several and have always been amazed by what the cards have told me. The most memorable reading happened on September 18th, 1993, on the pier at Brighton in England. The reader told me several things; the most important was that a new love was about to enter my life. That evening, it did and twenty-eight years later, that love is still in my life.

Was there a horror movie you refused to watch because the previews were too scary?

Yes, the 1999 movie ‘The Blair Witch Project.’

What scared me more than anything else was that I was reading that some people who had seen the film at the cinema were dying a few days later, usually under mysterious circumstances. I remember many people talking about it, and some media channels also ran the stories. Even today, I still don’t know if the reports are accurate, but I still have never watched the movie and never will. 

If you watch horror movies, are you the person who yells at the characters, covers your eyes, or falls asleep?

If you had asked me this question forty years ago, I’d have said ‘yells at the characters.’

Now, I find myself covering my eyes, even if I’ve watched the movie before. My days of loving lots of blood and gore in horror movies have long left me. Now, I find it difficult to watch any horror movie without covering my eyes at least 20 times or finding an excuse to go and make more popcorn.

However, I often find myself still shouting, ‘why are you going down in the cellar when all the lights have gone off, and there’s a strange noise coming from down there?! For goodness’ sake, go out the front door and call for help!’ 

If you decided to write a spinoff of a side character, who would you choose?

Jennie Savage from my short story ‘The Truth App.’ Jennie is a passionate blogger, and although she’s not the main character of the story, there was something about her that screamed out she wanted a spinoff about what she does to specific unexpected followers of her blog. It all sounds rather nasty, but Jenny could well have been the person who saved victims of ‘The Truth App’ (that is if she wanted to). You’ll have to read the story to find out more about her.

What do you do to get inside your characters’ heads?

I pretend that I am them and put myself in their shoes. I find that placing them on the television screen in the situation I’ve placed them in also helps. It may sound crazy, but I will sit in front of a blank television screen, close my eyes, and watch what they do and say. Does that make me sound weird? 

If you could spend the day with another famous author, who would you choose?

Rod Serling. He’s my writing hero. Most famous for bringing ‘The Twilight Zone’ to our screens, he’s the master of twists in storytelling. Ever since I watched the first episode of ‘The Twilight Zone’, I wanted to write like Rod. I loved how he could turn any everyday object into something that either scared me witless or made me think even deeper about its purpose for being in our lives. His writing, although not always scary, sends shivers down my spine.  

After publishing some of his short stories on his blog, Hugh W. Roberts, who suffers from dyslexia, received numerous requests to publish his short stories in a book.

Here, at last, are 28 short stories that will take your mind on a rollercoaster of a ride into worlds that conceal unexpected twists and turns.

‘GLIMPSES’ allows the reader a peek into the lives of everyday people who are about to have life lead them on an unpredicted path. From a mysterious deadly iPad app to a hole in the fence that is not all it seems, to a strange lipstick that appears to have a life of its own, you will encounter terror, laughter, sadness, shock and many other emotions on journeys which promise a thrilling and gripping climax.

If you are a lover of shows such as ‘the twilight zone’ and ‘tales of the unexpected’, then you’re in for a real treat with this first collection of short stories from Hugh.

Universal Link for buying Glimpses

Universal Link for buying More Glimpses

Author Bio and Social Media

Hugh W. Roberts lives in Swansea, South Wales, in the United Kingdom.

Hugh gets his inspiration for writing from various avenues including writing prompts, photos, eavesdropping and while out walking his dogs, Toby and Austin. Although he was born in Wales, he has lived around various parts of the United Kingdom, including London where he lived and worked for 27 years.

Hugh suffers from a mild form of dyslexia but, after discovering blogging, decided not to allow the condition to stop his passion for writing. Since creating his blog ‘Hugh’s Views & News’ in February 2014, he has built up a strong following and now writes every day. Always keen to promote other bloggers, authors and writers, Hugh enjoys the interaction blogging brings and has built up a group of online friends he considers as an ‘everyday essential.’

His short stories have become well known for the unexpected twists they contain in taking the reader up a completely different path to one they think they are on. One of the best compliments a reader can give Hugh is “I never saw that ending coming.”

Having published his first book of short stories, Glimpses, in December 2016, his second collection of short stories, More Glimpses, was released in March 2019.

A keen photographer, he also enjoys cycling, walking, reading, watching television, and enjoys relaxing with a glass of red wine and sweet popcorn.

Hugh shares his life with John, his civil-partner, and Toby and Austin, their Cardigan Welsh Corgis.

Blog: Hugh’s Views and News

Twitter: @HughRoberts05


Amazon Author Page


#BadMoonRising Undercover: Crime Shorts by Jane Risdon #shortstories #mysteries #thriller

Today’s author lives in England, but when she contacted me, she mentioned her featured book was being used by a class at Western Kentucky University. Which is located ten minutes from me. It’s a small world, my friends. She’s also experienced some hair-raising moments with figures in her peripheral vision. Making her debut at BMR, welcome Jane Risdon!

Hello Teri, thanks for hosting me on your fab blog. I hope your readers my answers to your questions.

Have you ever had a Tarot card reading?

Actually, I’ve had many. Years ago, when I was still working in the international music business we (my husband and I) were asked to get involved in a series for the new and revolutionary Satellite television which was all the rage. One production company asked us to put together a show about Mediums, Clairvoyants, Spiritualists, and Witches – it was in return for some favours.

It involved us spending a year going the length and breadth of England interviewing all manner of people and during many such interviews, we—of course — had Tarot card readings.

Some readings were hilariously ridiculous but one or two were rather hair-raising. Suffice to say we filed it all away for the programme, which sadly, didn’t transpire because the production company lost their funding. But from our point of view, we put it down to experience. We are still waiting for what the cards told us, to come true.

Do you ever see figures in my peripheral vision?

I haven’t seen any for many years but when I was first married, we had a grotty flat in an old Georgian house — my husband’s band was still struggling back then – and the flat was all we could afford, especially with a new baby, and many landlords back then refused to entertain allowing babies and children in their accommodation; I used to see many figures out of the corner of my eye. Shadows walking out of a cupboard and across the room, a feeling of not being alone when I knew I was.

Prior to my experiences at the flat, I had also had an experience when I was pregnant and lived in another flat, also in an older property, when I used to get the feeling that someone was watching me while I slept. My husband and his band were way on tour, and I was alone. I was often woken by sensation of being observed and a few times I opened my eyes to see an old lady, dressed like an Irish crofter, leaning over me staring. In fact, when my husband returned from tour, she appeared again, and he saw her too. I went into labour the next day.

Candy Apple or Candy Corn?

In England we call an apple covered in toffee, a toffee apple, and I gather that is what you mean. Although I have lived and worked in America, I have never had candy apple or candy corn, so I cannot say yes to either. I have had toffee apple, but not for many years. I value my teeth.

In response to your questions, Teri, I’d like to talk about my latest — as yet unpublished novel –  Ms. Birdsong Investigates, which is the first in a series and is out with my agent now.

Would you and your main character get along?

Ms. Birdsong Investigates: Murder in Ampney Parva, is the title of my series about a former MI5 Intelligence Officer who has been forced into early retirement due to a joint operation with MI6 — involving the Russian Mafia and Ukrainian people traffickers — going pear-shaped. Lavinia Birdsong tries to find her way back into the Security Services when a local woman goes missing and she has the opportunity to investigate her disappearance, hopefully inveigling herself back into the Security Services.

I think Lavinia and I would get along really well. We both love rock music, and good wine.  She is an intelligent woman, and she is a martial arts expert and a crack shot — and that is where we part company — I am most definitely neither. She does not tolerate fools gladly and has a wicked sense of humour. Lavinia is a true patriot, a ruthless opponent with a keen sense of right and wrong.

I am fascinated by the secret world of spies and criminals where Lavinia Birdsong has spent most of her adult life. I know we’d get on like a house on fire.

A ‘taster’ chapter can be found in my crime collection – Undercover: Crime Shorts which is available now.

If you decided to write a spin-off character, who would you choose?

I’ll stick with my new series, Ms. Birdsong Investigates for this. My spin-off character would be Michael Dante, MI6 Intelligence Officer.

Lavinia has worked at MI5 for twenty years and during that time she has worked in several areas of the Security Services, including being on secondment to MI6 for some years. She met Michael Dante, whilst working with a team of MI5/MI6 officers sent on a mission, Operation Matryoshka.  

Michael is her former lover when my books begin, but he is a great candidate for a spin-off character. Michael and Lavinia have unfinished business in the series, and who knows what might happen, but he would be good to follow in a spin-off series throughout his career and his investigations as part of MI6. He is a determined man, ruthless in his pursuit of terrorists and criminals just like Lavinia is. He has a strong love of country and justice.

What do you do to get inside your character’s heads?

I am a crime writer mostly, and my writing often features my past career in the international music business and also my earlier career working at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Both careers are a gift to a crime writer for so many reasons. However, I have also written Women’s Literature (Only One Woman with Christina Jones) which is available now, and in various other genres which can be found in many of the anthologies I’ve contributed toward with short stories, and my experiences in music and in public service have definitely influenced my writing and how I mould my characters.

Using my experiences and memories from those times in most of my writing, it is easy for me to get inside the heads of my characters because I have worked in these areas, have met people similar to my characters and observed them. I know what makes most of them tick. I can put my experiences and knowledge into my work because of my past careers. And I know where to look for information, and I have detectives I can call upon to assist me if I get stuck.

In order to ensure my writing is as accurate as it can be, and to ensure that I don’t have Lavinia or any of my characters in any of my books do something which is wrong or impossible — when tracking and investigating terrorists or criminals — I decided some years ago to educate myself in the basics of Forensic Science and Criminal Justice. I took several courses especially designed for crime writers who want to ensure their writing is as correct and accurate as it can be. These courses also helped me get inside the heads of my characters, not only the investigators but the perpetrators too.

I read a lot of crime novels, thrillers, and mysteries, as well as watcing True Crime on TV too. This helps me with writing my characters and trying to see events from their point of view.

This has been fun Teri, once again, many thanks for letting me loose on your blog.

Under one cover for the first time a collection of Crime Shorts from Jane Risdon featuring previously unpublished stories which will have you on the edge of your seat. There is an extract from Jane’s forthcoming novel (series) Ms Birdsong Investigates Murder at Ampney Parva: Operation Matryoshka – with the title of Undercover – for those who’ve been awaiting this series about a former MI5 Intelligence Office, Lavinia Birdsong. There’s something for everyone who enjoys a good yarn and more twists and turns than Spaghetti Junction.

Purchase Link


Author Bio and Social Media

Jane Risdon is the co-author of ‘Only One Woman,’ with Christina Jones (Headline Accent) and ‘Undercover: Crime Shorts,’ (Plaisted Publishing), as well as having many short stories published in numerous anthologies. She writes for several online and print magazines such as Writing Magazine, and The Writers’ and Readers’ Magazine.

Undercover: Crime Shorts was the February Free Book of the Month on the virtual library and festival site,, and her live video interview features in their theatre. She is a regular guest on international internet radio shows such as, and The Brian Hammer Jackson Radio Show, as well as podcasts and online video interviews including Donnas Interviews Reviews and Giveaways and Be Bold and Break the Mould.

Undercover: Crime Shorts is being used by Western Kentucky University, Kt. USA, in an Intro to Lit Class for second year students Autumn 2021. Jane will be doing a Zoom Q&A session with the student in October 2021.

She is the Lead Panellist, next March (2022), for an online discussion of The Intersection of Literary Fiction and Women’s Literature at LitCon, an author’s conference out of New York USA.

Before turning her hand to writing Jane worked in the International Music Business alongside her musician husband, working with musicians, singer/songwriters, and record producers.  They also facilitated the placement of music in international movies and television series.  In her early life Jane worked public service at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, The Ministry of Defence and other government departments.

In December 2020 Jane signed with Linda Langton of Langton’s Literary Agency in New York City, New York USA. You can contact Jane via Linda at:

Jane’s Links:

Ms. Birdsong Investigates has her own private Facebook Group and you can join her here:

You can find Jane on:

#BadMoonRising The Dead Boxes Archive by John F. Leonard #anthology #horror #shortstories

“This is one grim, twisty, short story that filled this horror fan’s heart with glee.” That’s what I had to say about Call Drops, today’s author’s short story collection, when I read it a couple years ago. Looking at his reviews, I’d say he’s made many horror fans happy. Welcome John F. Leonard!

Which urban legend scares you most?

I’m not sure any urban legend really scares me but one I find endlessly fascinating is the idea of the ‘dark’ village or town. Those vaguely anonymous localities where things aren’t quite right at first glance and something truly horrendous bubbles below the surface. It’s a concept that appears in a lot of my writing. Whitewood Heath in Bad Pennies is a place touched by the demonic. The Bledbrooke Works is heavily reliant on the notion. Newgate Wood from Night Service goes a step further in that Newgate exists beyond our everyday reality. Any unwary traveller driving in will find it very difficult to leave.

Actually, thinking about urban myths, freaky food is one that does cause me genuine concern. There are numerous disturbing food stories – chewing gum stays in your gut for years, bottled water causes cancer, fingers fried in with the chips. All tales that are mostly untrue and easily dismissed. However, I can’t shake off a more deeply-seated uneasiness about our modern diet. Here in the UK, the pandemic has accelerated a trend toward online grocery shopping. Plus, takeaway delivery companies have proliferated. It’s great in many ways and worrying in others. One consequence is a huge section of the population simply take what they’re given. I mean, why go to the trouble of actually inspecting what you’re going to eat before buying it when stuff can be thrown into your porch with a few clicks?

We trust the delivery, the origin of the contents, and what we’re told about the ingredients. Life was very different when I was younger. My mother used to feel fruit and vegetables before purchase was even considered. The butcher had to show her the cut of meat and name the source. She cooked our meals with the confidence of knowing precisely what was in them.

The possibilities for story-telling are endless and endlessly scary. However trustworthy the merchant, what are you really getting in that crate from the market or steaming bag from the takeaway? Will it contain something you don’t expect or want? A mutagen, an undetectable additive which could be changing you, altering the very fibre of your being? Muahahaha.

Have you ever had a tarot card reading?

No. I’m pretty sceptical, despite writing scary stories and being interested in the supernatural. Cartomancy is one of those areas which requires a considered distinction between the fictional and factual. In my experience, people who charge for this sort of stuff are frequently charlatans and those doing it for free all too often deluded. A measured dose of cynicism a day keeps the doctor away. It’s also likely to save a few quid and help you make better decisions.

That’s not to say I’m completely dismissive. There are definitely areas beyond our comprehension that defy logical explanation. But the world is also full of folk just itching to take advantage. A bit of harmless fun is fine, so long as you don’t get duped or dragged into infinitely dark realms : )

If you watch horror movies, are you the person who yells at the characters, covers your eyes, or falls asleep?

I watch horror movies and don’t usually do any of those things. Although, on reflection, I do recall that The Birds by Alfred Hitchcock made me hide behind the sofa when I was a kid.

Digressing slightly, but my early years were illuminated by horror movies. Hammer Horror and the like. They were a wonderful distraction from routine life. I’m well past the spring chicken stage now and the films I watched in my youth seem impossibly distant and yet still resonate. There was an innocence to it all. Those old movies are gentler, gore and guts weren’t necessary to create a sense of horror. Some see it as a golden era when the genre was more finely crafted. Subtler, atmospheric and quietly disturbing. Entertainment that generated some unsettling deliberation rather than the gag reflex. We were yet to reach the age of instant gratification and visceral repulsion. The drift toward the latter is understandable – the ante needs to be upped as you hit a certain level of saturation. Plus there was no continual internet assault to influence attitudes and dull appetites.

Do you ever see figures in your peripheral vision?

They appear with an alarming regularity. The moth memories smudged on reality, ephemeral and whispering the walls. Spectral things, slipping through a crack in the past and speaking of bleak tomorrows. That said, and being totally honest, it’s mostly when I’m the worse for drink. Mostly.

Would you and your main character get along?

I’ve written a lot of characters and generally identify with all of them in some respect. By that, I mean I’ve climbed at least part way inside their heads. Gone to bed thinking about the fictional person and drifted into an unsteady sleep thinking about how they deal with the mundane and the extraordinary. It’s the only way to write, as far as I’m concerned.

There are no ‘throw-away’ characters, they all have to contribute. It might not be in an obvious way. A reference to or association with another story. A figure that adds to and illustrates the general situation you want to portray. If they’re good, I don’t think you need to justify them too much. Relevant to the concept is what matters.

Which book have you read more than once?

For me, rereading an old favourite is one of the great joys of life. Especially with a decent interval between the visits. Enough time to have lost a little detail so the revisit offers an occasional surprise or forgotten moment in the story. There are quite a few books which I’ve read more than once.

Several Stephen King titles spring to mind – The Stand, a definitive apocalyptic horror novel. Salem’s Lot, one of my best vampire stories ever written. The Tommyknockers, a delightful take on alien invasion/artefacts. Just writing the titles has brought a smile to my lips. Radix by A. A. Attanasio is another which I’ve probably read half a dozen times over a thirty year period. A science fiction fantasy that fired my imagination as a teenager and is still intoxicating.

By the way, I’d love to spend some time with either of these authors. They’ve given me so much with their writing. If nothing else, it would be nice to shake hands and thank them face to face.

What are you working on now?

I’ve got a ridiculously long list of story ideas. Some are started or in progress and others merely rough sketches. Choosing the next to finish and publish isn’t finalised in my head. Odds are it will be an apocalyptic horror story from the Scaeth Mythos, set on an orbiting space station, with the provisional title of The Offearth Experiment.

I ought to give the above statement some context. The last book I published is The Dead Boxes Archive, a collection of shorter stories and novellas written between 2017 and 2020. Seven stories, five available to buy as individual books and one with limited availability. The last was new for the collection. Compiling and publishing this felt like a watershed moment. I hadn’t set out on my author odyssey to write lots of stories. My original intention was to publish one book. My second, 4 Hours,  featured a spin-off character and was entirely down to reader request. After that, I just got kinda caught up in the process.

By the time of The Dead Boxes Archive it felt as if things were spiraling out of control. My other writing, non-fiction and consultancy for websites, was putting increased demand on me and there are only so many hours in a day. So, I reluctantly decided to slide fiction onto the back-burner and make sure the mortgage was paid. Writing fiction is fabulously enjoyable and taking the indie road offers maximum freedom. However, freelance commercial stuff offers greater predictability on the income front.

All of which makes me treasure The Dead Boxes Archive. It won’t be my last fictional publication and that was always a possibility when I’d finished it. Instead, it stands as a personal marker – a ‘you are here’ kind of thing. I think it’s a good representation of my writing so far. Quiet horror that gets somewhat louder in places : )

The Dead Boxes Archive is a chilling collection of short horror stories and horror novellas. Together for the first time in one volume, seven tales from the critically acclaimed Dead Boxes series.

Dead Boxes are scary things. Wonderful and dreadful secrets hiding themselves in plain view.

On the surface, they often appear to be ordinary, everyday objects. Items which are easily overlooked at first glance. Perhaps that’s just as well because the Dead Boxes are as far from ordinary and everyday as you can get. They hold miracle and mystery, horror and salvation, answers to questions best not asked and directions to places better left unfound.

This collection offers an insight into some of these delightfully eerie articles. A stunning omnibus of old school inspired horror, the brooding and ominous variety. Not to say that there isn’t a little gore and gruesome in the mix. But one of the beauties of horror is that it comes in many forms. Blood and guts don’t need to be stars of the show for a story to be dark and disturbing. Something that will stay with you long after the reading is done.

Our diabolical banquet opens with Call Drops, a deliciously dark look at second hand shops, car boots and the infernal treasures which sometimes lurk within them. It might give you pause for thought about our ever-increasing reliance on the ubiquitous mobile phone.

“10 out of 5 stars” – Erik Henry Vick, author of Demon King.

Next up is the rather beautiful and deceptively innocent Doggem. In many ways, this short story defies description. It’s about a toy dog and school days and so much more. Ordinary families with folklore legacy, mundane existence amidst vaguely mythical settings, witchcraft and the supernatural. All mixed with apocalyptic undertones.

“The Velveteen Rabbit meets Rosemary’s Baby” – Barb Taub, author of Do Not Wash Hands In Plates.

A Plague of Pages is a nightmarishly enjoyable look at the perils of writing fiction. Betrayal, revenge and instruments of ultimate evil are blended into a mesmerising and horrific cocktail. Written well before the terrible events of 2020, it also touches upon historic pandemics and the prospect of present day apocalypse.

“ a wonderfully creepy read” – Gingernuts of Horror, premier UK horror review site.

Night Service is a tale of travel and terror that quickly gets up to speed and then doesn’t slow down until the haunting finale. A warning for all the night owls out there who use those last dance, last chance darktime buses. It can sometimes be a helluva ride!

“ flies by …excitement, chases, tension and bloody gore galore” – Char, leading Horror Aficionado and Vine Voice.

The ghostly Burntbridge Boys might initially appear to be about professional football. Don’t be deceived. When a Dead Box is involved, fraud and corruption in sport are only the tip of a demonic iceberg that spans dimensions and stretches into the dim and distant past.

“Sammy’s meeting with Burntbridge’s Chairman Millicent is stunningly good” – Terry Tyler, author of The Devil You Know.

The spooky old house, a gothic horror staple, gets a fresh lick of paint in Linger. Inheriting lots of money and a gothic mansion from a father you never knew sounds like some sort of dream come true. This revisit breathes new life into a horror classic.

” the Gothic …concentrated to its essence, with the richness this implies ” – Ramsey Campbell, British Horror Legend.

We conclude with The Screaming Mike Hawkins Story, a darkly inventive final twist from a mind filled with bleak and creative twists. Part author’s note, part biography, the shadowy career of Michael Hawkins is a mystery wrapped in more than one conundrum.

Amazon Links:

The Dead Boxes Archive UK:

The Dead Boxes Archive USA: The Dead Boxes Archive Australia:

Author Bio

John messes around with words for a living. He was born in England and grew up in the industrial Midlands. That was where he learned to love scrawny cats, the sound of scrapyard dogs and the rattle and clank of passing trains.

His official education mostly involved English, Art and History. Everything else came later. The employment record is somewhat difficult to summarise. Chequered is probably a good word for it. Shop worker and office boy, sculptor and odd-job man, fraud investigator and thief. It’s all the same, when you boil it down. Pay your way and try to have a good day.

He enjoys apocalyptic stuff, horror, comedy and football (not necessarily together). A family man, John now lives a few miles from the old Victorian house in which he was born. Scribbling scary stories seems to keep him vaguely sane (accurate at time of writing). Current projects include more tales from the Dead Boxes, another everyday cosmic horror novel from the Scaeth Mythos, and new books set in the post-apocalyptic world of Collapse.

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#BadMoonRising Fear Farm No Trespassers by S.J. Krandall #shortstories #horror #indieauthor

Today’s author is making her debut appearance at BMR with her collection of short stories. Read on to see which book has become almost a summer read tradition for her. The novel and movie made plenty of folks wary about going into the ocean. Welcome S.J. Krandall!

What’s your favorite season of American Horror Story?

I am a big AHS fan and my favorite is season one, Murder House.  It was our first introduction to the series and talented cast. I was immediately drawn to the emotion of the characters and their stories. I also liked how they portrayed the dead throughout the show.  

Candy apple or candy corn?

Candy corn always.  I have a major sweet tooth so anything sugary makes me happy. 

Which urban legend scares you most?

Which Urban Legend that scares me the most is the one about the Spider Bite.  I love all things horror except spiders and having them crawl out of your skin is the creepiest.  I shiver just writing this.  

If you decided to write a spinoff of a side character, who would you choose?

If I decided to write a spin-off of a side character choosing which one would be a toss up between a little girl and the killer.  I think it would be nice to know what happens to the girl as she grows up but I also believe the killer has a back story that has never been told.  

Which book have you read more than once?

As a long time fan of the movie Jaws I have both seen the movie and read the book many times.  It’s almost a tradition now as the early Summer season rolls around to give it a read.

How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?

My book’s ideal reader would be anyone who loves short stories and quick reads.  It would be someone who loves a suspenseful scare and edge of your seat fun. It blends modern day with old fashioned horror like the ones you listen to around a campfire. I suggest anyone over 15 due to some gore content. 

Within one year, reports of several missing people took over the media. The victims, all had ventured to parts of the deep wooded countryside never to return. Rumors, posted from local townsfolk, of what might have happened to them caught the attention of the public. Some said the undead may have taken them. Others believed that quick changes in weather patterns played part in their disappearances. A survivor, the only witness, was committed for madness as her story went uncredited. Even though some information was strange investigators, family, friends and adventure seekers all looked into them finding nothing. The lack of any evidence baffled the minds of the people involved as they continued to search for answers. Among them, a young woman so obsessed with these stories in her past that her own nightmares become a reality as she stumbles upon unspeakable horrors playing out before her very own eyes. Are they made up in her mind? Are they a dream? Or is she next? Whether real or fantasy, a story was unfolding before her and she could not stop the images that played out as she confronts who or what was responsible for these individuals grotesque fate.

Purchase Links


Author Bio

S. J. Krandall is a self-published author from N.J. with her first book released in July of 2020. She was born in Florida but raised in New Jersey where she resides with her husband, her two sons and two dogs. . For more than twenty years she has enjoyed working with children as both a teacher and an aide.  Now, a stay at home mom, she cares for her family and takes time to enjoy other interests such as writing, traveling, art and photography.

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#BadMoonRising Tales From the Annexe – 7 Stories From the Herbert West Series by Audrey Driscoll #horror #occult #shortstories

Some readers aren’t quite prepared to jump into novel-length horror, but they can handle the torture scares in shorter spurts. Today’s featured book of short stories checks off that box. Read on to find out which chilling book has stuck with this author since the age of twelve. Welcome Audrey Driscoll!

Would you rather sleep in a coffin for one night or spend the night in a haunted house?

A nice new, padded coffin in a coffin showroom would be okay, as long as the lid was left open. If it had to be closed, or if the coffin had been previously occupied, I might just go for the haunted house. On the other hand, spending time in a closed coffin might be a useful experience for writing a horror story.

Has a movie or book scared you so much you couldn’t sleep?  Which one?

Yes, terribly! When I was about 12, school kids could order books from a company called Scholastic. One of the books I bought was called Stories of the Supernatural, and one of the stories was “The Willows” by Algernon Blackwood. It’s about two guys who take a canoe trip down the Danube River. They camp in a place where the river flows among many small islands overgrown by willow bushes. Seriously weird things happen. The terrifying thing about this story is its subtlety. It hints at the horror rather than describing it in any concrete way. It’s not a ghost or a monster, but Something Else. And there’s a lot about the experience of fear and the narrator’s awareness of it as it develops from vague unease to full-on terror. I was a nervous wreck for months after I read it.

Would you rather use a Ouija board or participate in a séance?

I’ve never wanted to participate in a séance because I just assume they’re faked, but I have used a Ouija setup, decades ago. It wasn’t a board, though, but a homemade arrangement. Each letter and number was written on a separate small piece of paper, and the paper bits were randomly arranged in a circle. They were not in order. We used a glass instead of a planchette. When everyone placed a finger on the glass, it skittered around and spelled things out. While I can’t remember what the message was, the fact that actual words were spelled out was so creepy we never tried it again.

Do you write to music?

I have done, to the point where the music found its way into the writing, and even exercised an undue influence on it. Both those things happened to my first novel, The Friendship of Mortals. There is a scene in which characters attend a performance of J.S. Bach’s Goldberg Variations. And listening to Loreena McKennitt’s album The Mask and Mirror while I was writing, especially “The Dark Night of the Soul,” nudged the plot in an unintended direction. Then there’s my not-yet-published novel about a young woman’s experience with Franz Schubert’s gloriously gloomy song cycle Winterreise. Listening to that music compelled me to write about it.

What was the hardest scene to write in your featured book?

In one of the stories in Tales from the Annexe, the main character is physically immobilized. In another, mobility is limited by illness. Action has to happen in memory, imagination, or hallucination. Since I haven’t experienced situations like these, writing them strained my imagination engine to the utmost. I hope it and I succeeded, but only readers will be able to say for sure.

Which comes first for you – plot or characters?

Characters, definitely. I think that’s why my novels are slow burns; I get too involved with my characters and have a hard time pushing them along through the plot and making them suffer. Sometimes plot ideas of the “what if” type go nowhere because the inspirations don’t come with equally good characters.

Seven stories from the world of Audrey Driscoll’s Herbert West Series, followed by seven other tales of illusions, delusions, and mysteries on the edges of logic.

Discover Herbert West’s connections to Egypt, and how a dead man can help solve a mystery.

Share Charles Milburn’s ruminations as he explores another dimension of his friendship with Herbert.

Experience the horror of a long-anticipated revenge.

Sample the treats on offer from the ice cream truck from Hell.

Ride along with a dad who abandons his ten-year-old son in the woods where something howls.

Find out why a woman paints her bedroom a very special colour.

Accompany fifteen-year-old Ann as she tries to prove she belongs to the glamorous family on the other side of town.

These and seven other curious encounters may be found in this annexe to the ordinary.

Buy Links for Tales from the Annexe:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon Canada

Amazon Australia

Author Bio

Three quarters of the way through a career as a cataloguing librarian, Audrey Driscoll discovered she was actually a writer. Since the turn of the millennium, she has written and published five novels and a short story collection. She negotiates with plants, juggles words, and communes with fictitious characters in Victoria, British Columbia. Her opinions on gardening, writing, and things that bug or delight her, along with information about her books, may be found on her blog at

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