The Legend of the Swashbuckling Pirate

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The Legend of the Gypsy Hawk by Sally Malcolm is a swashbuckling pirate tale. In this fascinating post, the author describes some of the legends that inspired her novel …

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A pirate is hanged at Execution Dock.

Pirates have a special place in the heart of all romantics, especially those with a taste for adventure and a healthy disregard for authority.

They are the ultimate rebels, the punk rockers of their day, thumbing their nose at social convention.  Scandalous in the silks and brocade reserved exclusively for the upper class, pirates flaunted their wealth and sexuality, even allowing women to join, and occasionally lead, their crews.

Pirates thrilled and shocked their contemporaries, and very quickly legends sprang up around these fascinating rebels.

Trials of infamous pirates like Captain Kidd were reported in salacious (although not entirely accurate) detail in the eighteenth century scandal rags, and that’s where the pirate myths really began.  So captivating were the stories woven around these men that, while awaiting death, renowned pirates were visited in their cells by dazzled women eager for a little pirate stardust …

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The Flying Dutchman, or, The Demon Ship, published 1839.

By the 1830s, with an increasingly literate population eager for entertainment, the ‘penny-bloods’ began to dip into pirate legends from the Golden Age of Piracy. One of the earliest was The Flying Dutchman, published in 1839, telling the tale of the legendary ghost ship and designed to horrify, thrill and delight its eager readers.

And so began an industry. From The Pirates of Penzance and Treasure Island, to movies like Captain Blood and Pirates of the Caribbean, our fascination with the outrageous, dangerous and rebellious pirate remains as enduring as ever.

Long may it continue, say I.

If you enjoyed Sally’s post on pirates, why not give her novel a go? The Legend of the Gypsy Hawk is now available in paperback from all good bookshops and stockists. Purchase it here:

Amazon UK: http://goo.gl/LFpAhz

Amazon US: http://goo.gl/sELQfe

If you need more convincing, watch the fab book trailer here:

https://youtu.be/InHVhS0LMDs

 

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays from the Choc Lit Team and our Santa Clauses!

Merry Christmas from Team Choc Lit!

Merry Christmas everyone, Happy Holidays! Thank you for all your fabulous support in 2015. We look forward to sharing more exciting releases and fabulous Choc Lit books with you in the new year.
Love from the Choc Lit Team x
(Lyn, Lusana, Jane O, Liz, Jane E, Marie, Jessamy) 

And now a message from our Choc Lit Santas: :)

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juliet Santa photoJuliet Archer:  ”As Jane Austen said in Emma, published 200 years ago this month: ‘This is quite the season indeed for friendly meetings. At Christmas every body invites their friends about them, and people think little of even the worst weather.’ I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New Year, with lots of ‘friendly meetings’ and as little as possible of ‘the worst weather’.”

Santa - Rhoda BaxterPLEASE RELEASE ME_front150dpiRhoda Baxter: “Wish you all a fab holiday season with lots of chocolate, cake and nice warming books to read. See you next year.”

 

Zana Bell - Santa!

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Zana Bell: Meri Kirihimete (Maori) everyone and many best wishes from New Zealand. May you all have a wonderful festive season. ”

 

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AnneMarie Brear: “Wishing everyone a very merry Christmas, (a perfect time to read good books) and a safe and healthy 2016!”

 

 

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Jan Brigden: “Wishing everyone a joyful, peaceful, healthy Christmas & New Year, with much festive good cheer, happy reading (and chocolate goodies aplenty!). Enjoy!”

 

Angela Britnell - Santa!

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Angela Britnell: “Wishing all of our Choc Lit readers a joyous Christmas and a wonderful New Year filled with good books!”

 

Sheryl Browne Santa!

 

9781781892350Sheryl Browne: Christmas time, mistletoe and wine … If you fancy a gorgeous hero to complete the scene, dip into scrummy Choc Lit book. Perfection. Have a lovely Christmas everyone!


You Think You Know MeClare Chase - Santa!Clare Chase: “Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas, full of warmth and good cheer, followed by a very happy 2016.”

 

An Irish Promise

Valerie Olteanu  - Isabeall Connor - SantaLiv Thomas - Isabella Connor - Santa!Isabella Connor (Liv & Val):  Nollaig shona dhaoibh. Wishing all Choc Lit readers and their families, a wonderful Christmas, and a happy 2016.”

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Christina Courtenay - Santa!Christina Courtenay: “I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Have a peaceful, relaxing holiday hopefully with lots of time for reading! Thank you all for your support this year and here’s to a fantastic year in 2016!  Christina xxx”

Some Veil Did Fall

Kirsty Ferry - Santa!

Kirsty Ferry: “Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a happy, healthy 2016. I hope you enjoy a festive season filled with cake, chocolate and a multitude of good books! Love from Kirsty xxx”

 

9781781892206Debbie Santa photoDebbie Flint: “Wishing you sleighbells and snowflakes, mince pies andmulled wine, silent nights and holly-days, myrrh and magic moments, tinselled tots and festive pets, plus perfect peace, Christmas cheer – and to all a good night!”

 

9781781892466 Kathryn Freeman - Santa!Kathryn Freeman: “Christmas – a time to relax, to indulge. Whether you’re turkey or goose, chocolate or champagne, Christmas films or a sack full of books, I wish you all a very happy Christmas.”

 

Janet Gover - Santa!9781781892688Janet Gover: “May Christmas be a time of joy for you and yours – and I hope 2016 will be a wonderful year filled with love and laughter.”

 

 

The Highwayman's Daughter

Henriette Gyland - Santa!Henriette Gyland: “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May 2016 be filled with love, laughter and good books to read.”

 

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Linn B. Halton: Wishing everyone peace, love and happiness this Christmas time, and a wonderful start to 2016! Linn x

 

 

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Liz Harris - Santa!Liz Harris: ”Wishing you everything for 2015 that you wish for yourself.  May it be a year filled with health, happiness, chocolate and, of course, books!!”

 


The Wedding Cake TreeMelanie Hudson - Santa!Melanie Hudson: 
“Wishing you love, light and oodles of laughter this Christmas.”

 

 

9781781892701Laura E James - Santa!Laura E.James: “Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a 2016 that’s overflowing with good health and great books.”

 

 

Magic Sometimes Happens

Margaret James - Santa!Margaret James: “Merry Christmas, readers and writers, and may 2016 be a wonderful year for you all.”

 


Impossible ThingsKate Johnson Santa!Kate Johnson: “I’d like to wish everyone a very happy festive season and offer my best wishes for the new year.”

 


Dangerous DecisionsMargaret Kaine - Santa!Margaret Kaine: “I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas whether you are spending it with family or friends, or have chosen to be on your own surrounded by chocolates, wine and good books. May I wish you both good health and happiness throughout 2016.”

 

Jane Lovering - Santa!9781781892817Jane Lovering: “Wishing everyone a happy HobNob dunking, marshmallow toasting, Tony Robinson watching day! Although if you don’t like any of these things, I wish you a Happy Christmas anyway…all the more for me! JANE X”

 

9781781892176Sally santa photoSally Malcolm: “Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas, and a New Yearfull of adventure!”

 

 

Alison May - Santa!9781781892947Alison May: “May your festive season be joyful and filled with books, chocolate and all good things. Happy Christmas one and all.”

 

 

Emma - There's No Turning BackLinda Mitchelmore - Santa!Linda Mitchelmore: “Happy Christmas to you all. I hope you will have a wonderful time, spending Christmas in whichever way you choose. I also hope there will  be a little window of time to curl up with a Choc Lit novel – or two – somewhere warm with a glass of something festive.”

Lynda Stacey Santa photoLynda Stacey: ”May your Christmas sparkle with happiness, surprises and above all else, good health. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a fabulous 2016  xx”

 

 

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Follow a StarChristine Stovell - Santa!Christine Stovell: Nadolig Llawen! Merry Christmas one and all. Here’s wishing you everything you would wish for yourself.”

 

Romancing the SoulSarah Tranter - Santa!Sarah Tranter: “Merry Xmas and a fabulous 2016 to you all!”

 

 

Never Marry a Politician!Sarah Tranter - Santa!Sarah Waights: “Wishing all Choc Lit readers a fabulous Christmas and as much romance and chocolate as you can handle in the year to come.”

 

Out of Sight Out of Mind

Evonne Wareham - Santa!Evonne Wareham: “Happy Christmas – Nadolig Llawen – and health, happiness and lots of good books for everyone in 2016.”

 

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Nicky Wells:  ”Frohe Weihnachten und ein Gutes Neues! ~That’s “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year” in my native German, and I’d like to wish you both of those with all myheart. May your Christmas sparkle and may your 2016 be filled with love, laughter and happiness. Xx”

MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ONE AND ALL! 

Halloween Round Robin 2015

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We hope you all enjoyed our Round Robin and had a suitably spooky Halloween! The festivities might be over now but, if you missed it, you can now read the whole story from start to finish (but please note, the competitions at the bottom of each post are now all closed). Enjoy ;)  

PART ONE by Berni Stevens

PART TWO by Jane Lovering

PART THREE by Christina Courtenay 

PART FOUR by Kirsty Ferry

PART FIVE by Rhoda Baxter

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! Halloween Round Robin: Final Part by Rhoda Baxter

HALLOWEEN DAY FIVE

Happy Halloween to all of our readers! We hope you have lots of fun spooky plans for today (even if you’re a little too old for trick or treating!) Start as you mean to go on with the FINAL part of our Halloween Round Robin by Rhoda Baxter. We do hope you have been enjoying the story and that you read right until the end for our last Halloween competition :)   

If you have missed any of the extracts, make sure you catch up before you read Rhoda’s part. 

Part One by Berni Stevens

Part Two by Jane Lovering

Part Three by Christina Courtenay

Part Four by Kirsty Ferry

Ghostwatch: A Tale for Halloween

Final Part by Rhoda Baxter

Addy was so enthralled by the gardens that it took a moment for his words to settle into her mind. ‘S … Some of us?’ She turned to look at him.

‘I think there is something you should see.’

Addy frowned. She took another sweeping look at the gardens. How could they be here? She knew there was nothing here but sea sprayed grass. Her gaze turned to the Abbey itself. Moonlight gleamed off the faceted panes in the windows, the stones and, looking further up, the intact roof.

‘How-’

He held out his arm to her. ‘Come. Let me show you.’

She hesitated. He looked solid. She slipped her hand into the crook of his arm. Definitely solid.

Deverell led her back into the house. She looked down to try and see where she was going. Where there should have been uneven ground, there was stone. Deverell walked on, confident, as though he knew exactly where he was going. He led her past large, moonlit windows, with views out onto the silverwashed gardens. This was weird. But … but this was amazing.

They went through another door that opened itself and Addy gasped. They were in the main hall. A long table ran along the middle of the room. There was a carpet, although it wasn’t bright enough for her to see what colour it was. A chandelier full of unlit candles hung from the ceiling. Along the walls were portraits.

She stared at it. If she concentrated really hard, she could see the ruins silhouetted against the sky above them. But the minute her eye moved, she was back inside an intact room. ‘How is this possible? Deverell?’

He led her a little way into the hall and stopped in front of one of the paintings. He gestured towards it.

Addy looked up and, for the second time, almost forgot to breathe. The moonlight fell on the portrait. Illuminating two figures. A couple. Even in the dim light, she could see the resemblance. Deverell. And herself.

The moon disappeared behind a cloud, plunging everything into darkness. All the hairs on the back of Addy’s neck stood on end. The magic disappeared. The tidy, sensible part of Addy’s mind reasserted itself. She extracted her arm from Deverell’s and put her hands on her hips.

The light reappeared, now slanting down through the ruins that stuck up against the star pricked night.

‘What the hell is going on?’

For the first time since she’d met him, he looked less than a 100% sure of himself. He rubbed a hand through the back of his hair. Now, with the moonlight glinting off the top of his head, he had lost that ethereal look. ‘It’s to do with the curse,’ he said. ‘Shall we… go back outside? I’ll explain.’

As they walked out of the ruins. The gardens has disappeared and to Addy’s intense relief, the Elsa’s wove past, arm in arm.

‘It’s to do with the curse,’ said Deverell. ‘The couple in the portrait. He was my great- great grandfather. They married for love, so that branch of the family survived. But the curse … it still follows us around.’ He shrugged. ‘From time to time, if one of us isn’t married by the time they’re twenty-five, they start to feel a … connection … to this place. There are some nights when it’s especially strong.”

‘On Halloween?’ She raised an eyebrow. ‘Convenient.’ A gust of wind cut through her costume, making her shiver. She rubbed her arms.

Seemingly without thinking about it, Deverell threw his cape around her, pulling her closer. ‘No, on full moon nights. The Halloween thing was just a coincidence. I came here tonight because I felt… compelled. And when I saw you earlier, I knew why. My ancestors brought me here to meet you.’

She should have scoffed at the idea, pushed him off and run away screaming, but she thought of the gardens, the hall in its splendour. ‘How can you be so sure?’

He pulled her closer. ‘Because, the minute I saw you, I felt the world change.’

Addy could see right into his eyes. That was easily the most romantic thing she had ever heard. Her heart sped up. She tried to think of something witty to say, but all she could think of was how much she wanted to kiss him. ‘Uh.’

His kiss was anything but cold. By the time they came up for air, Addy was warmed to her toes.

It took her a moment to get her breath back and say, ‘So you think … this…’ she gestured to him and herself. ‘This is love?’

He smiled sheepishly and nodded.

Addy reached up and touched his cheek. ‘I suppose time will tell.’

Deverell’s smile widened as he pulled her to him again. ‘I think it already has.’

The End

Aww, despite the spookiness, it was still a happy ending for Addy and Deverell! Well done to our talented authors for putting together such an awesome story once again :) Happy Halloween everyone! 

COMPETITION TIME! 

The Halloween Round Robin might be over but there’s still time for one more competition – and this one’s extra special!

If you’d like the chance to WIN a copy of Hubble Bubble by Jane Lovering, Halloween chocolate AND an exclusive pink Choc Lit T-Shirt (in your choice of size) simply tell us what you thought of the story in the comments below. Good luck! :) The winner will be announced on Monday 2nd November.

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Halloween Round Robin: Part Four by Kirsty Ferry

HALLOWEEN DAY FOUR

Kirsty Ferry is in charge of the penultimate part of our Halloween story today. What does she have in store for Addy and Deverell? Read on to find out … and make sure you check out the competition as well ;)  

If you haven’t read the previous parts of our special Halloween Round Robin, make sure you read them before reading today’s extract. 

Part One by Berni Stevens

Part Two by Jane Lovering

Part Three by Christina Courtenay 

Ghostwatch: A Tale for Halloween

Part Four by Kirsty Ferry 

Addy blinked.

Deverell pulled away from her, a secret little smile playing around his lips. ‘Was I too familiar?’ he asked. ‘I’m most terribly sorry.’

She knew, however, that he wasn’t really sorry at all.

‘No. It’s fine. It’s this place. It’s Halloween. It’s making people excitable,’ Addy stammered.

‘Excitable. That’s one way of putting it,’ he said.

Addy found her hands, within her white, buttoned up gloves, were sweating in a very un-sexy manner and she tried to subtly wipe them down her skirt. For the party, she had decided to go more Goth than Demon; and she’d opted for more coverage than cleavage. She was wearing a long, black dress, pretty much like a Victorian riding habit, complete with bustle and fitted jacket. She hadn’t bothered with an elaborate hairstyle, but had gone for a little hat with a veil, which she now realised was sitting askance on her head.

Deverell looked at her and, as if he could read her mind, he lifted her hair from her shoulders again. She could feel the chill from his fingers, touching her like cobwebs. ‘I like your hair loose,’ he said thoughtfully. ‘It suits you. I never liked it up.’

‘What?’ Addy took a step backwards. ‘You don’t know what I normally do with my hair!’ It was true – normally she had it pulled back into a ponytail or clipped back for work. The main reason she had it loose tonight was because it was supposed to be a ‘party’ and she didn’t think Stern Victorian Governess would rock it, somehow.

She looked around her nervously. She was, now she had come to her senses, in a pretty deep, cavernous vault of an ancient building with a stranger. Who, it seemed, was rather free with his affections and was apparently a bit of a stalker. Her heart began to beat quickly, thumping against the corseted bodice of the riding habit.

The silvery light coming through the latticework dulled as clouds drifted past the moon, plunging them both into an eerie otherworld that was, quite frankly, terrifying.

‘I think I should go,’ she said. ‘My friends will be wondering where I am.’

‘No they won’t,’ said Deverell. ‘Believe me, they’ve other things to keep them occupied tonight. I’ve made sure of it.’ The moonlight washed over him again as the clouds shifted outside and he took a step towards her. ‘Come. Walk with me,’ he said. His eyes were soft and very, very blue in his pale face. Addy looked at him and registered something else there – a sadness of some kind.

‘What are you?’ she whispered.

Deverell didn’t answer. Instead, he bowed low and offered his hand to Addy. ‘Please. I’ve waited a long time for this.’

As if she was in a dream, Addy found herself responding. She raised her hand and he took it, then stood up and looked at her. It was as if he was staring into her soul. She felt herself go weak around the knees again and choked back a little gulp of either terror or anticipation.

‘Where are we going?’ she asked, her voice sounding odd in the cavernous space.

‘Outside. Look. There’s the door.’ He turned, still holding her hand, and drew her towards him, tucking her into the side of him. It felt safe there – oddly safe and familiar.

Without protesting she walked with him to the door. He reached out a hand and she could almost have sworn the door opened by itself.

She stood in the open archway and gasped as she looked outside. The landscape was nothing like the grounds of the Abbey she had come to this evening. Lawns rolled onwards, ever onwards, sparkling in the moonlight. Trees were topped with moonbeams and a lake of some sort was to one side of them, black and still, with weeping willows dipping their silver fronds into the glassy water.

‘It’s beautiful,’ said Addy, staring around her. ‘I never knew it was like this here.’

There was a soft chuckle beside her and Deverell drew her closer. ‘No. Nobody knows what it was like really. Except some of us.’

Okay, things really are getting a bit spooky now! Who is Deverell? And what does he really want with Addy? Find out tomorrow when Rhoda Baxter takes to the stage with the final part of our Round Robin – just in time for Halloween! 

COMPETITION TIME!

Congratulations to Rae Cowie who was the winner of our competition from yesterday!

For today’s competition you could be in with a chance to win a copy of Some Veil Did Fall by Kirsty Ferry and some Halloween chocolate. To enter, simply tell us how you think the story is going to end in the comments below. The winner will be announced tomorrow – Saturday 31st October.

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Halloween Round Robin: Part Three by Christina Courtenay

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We hope you’ve all being enjoying our Halloween Round Robin so far! Today’s spooky extract is from Christina Courtenay. If you haven’t read the other two instalments yet make sure you do. Part One by Berni Stevens is HERE and Part Two by Jane Lovering is HERE. Read right until the end for our third competition :)  

‘So you know my name, but I don’t know yours,’ Addy pointed out.

‘True,’ he said, flashing her a smile. ‘Does it matter?’

‘Well, it’s kind of one-sided, don’t you think? And I like to know who I’m talking to.’

‘How about you just call me Deverell? My first name is a bit … old-fashioned.’

‘Deverell? As in that posh family who used to own the Abbey?’

‘Yes.’

Addy frowned. ‘I thought they’d died out, like ages ago. Late eighteen-hundreds? Some curse or something.’ She searched her memory but the details eluded her for the moment.

‘Maybe not all of them,’ Deverell muttered and walked further into the cellar.

Addy followed without thinking and walked into him – again, damn it – when he stopped abruptly and turned around. A shaft of moonlight shone down on him like a spotlight, making him look almost other-worldly, with his dark hair turned to liquid silver. His outfit, which wasn’t so much vampire as Victorian gentleman she realised, suited him to perfection – the tight-fitting jacket of his dark morning suit emphasised the broad shoulders and for some strange reason she longed to be enveloped in his red-silk lined cloak. For a moment, Addy thought he looked as though he was lit up from inside, but when she blinked the illusion was gone.

She shook her head. Get a grip, woman. He probably had some of those glow-sticks in his pockets or something. Tina had brought some, she’d said so earlier.

Deverell was staring at her, a small smile playing about his mouth. ‘It’s a beautiful place this, don’t you think? Or it used to be, when it was a family home.’

‘Yes, must have been awesome, although a bit spooky. It was a monastery before Henry VIII wrecked it and let the Deverells buy it, right?’

‘Correct.’ He grinned. ‘Maybe we’ll see some of the monks tonight? Is that chanting I hear?’ He pretended to listen.

Addy smacked him gently on the arm. ‘Stop that! I sure hope not. Anyway, I don’t believe in ghosts.’

‘Don’t you?’

His expression made her suddenly doubt herself and she decided to change the subject. ‘So, that curse … how come your branch of the family didn’t succumb to it, whatever it was?’

Whomsoever marries a Deverell had better be in love or suffer the consequences.’ Deverell intoned the words in a mock-scary voice that sent shivers up Addy’s spine.

‘What? Sounds like a load of tosh.’

He shrugged, his eyes narrowed. ‘Maybe, but the fact is all those who married a Deverell merely for money or position died within a year. That’s why the name died out … er, almost.’

‘Well, serve them right, I’d say. One should always marry for love.’

‘Is that what you would do?’ His teasing grin was back and Addy shivered for a different reason.

‘If I was lucky enough to fall in love with the right person, yes.’ It sounded impossibly prim, but she couldn’t blurt out what she’d really wanted to say, that if she’d met someone like him instead of stupid David she wouldn’t mind walking down the aisle any time.

‘Perhaps you’ll meet him tonight.’ Deverell reached out a hand and pushed her long blonde hair over her shoulder, a curiously intimate gesture that turned her legs to jelly for some reason.

‘I doubt it.’ She glanced outside where the snogging couples could be glimpsed as grotesque shadows on the ancient stone walls and added without thinking, ‘I haven’t even been kissed yet.’

‘That can be arranged.’

‘Huh?’ Addy realised what she’d said, but before she had time to feel mortified his mouth was on hers, his arms wrapping her inside that amazing cloak, just as she’d wished earlier. She knew she should have pushed him away – she barely knew him, for goodness’ sake – but two things stopped her.

One – he was an expert kisser and she hadn’t been kissed like that for years, if ever. And two – she realised with a jolt that his mouth was freezing cold, as cold as the grave, and she was frozen to the spot.

Wow! The more we hear about Deverell, the more we’re intrigued … and also a little scared! What will happen in the aftermath of the kiss? Find out tomorrow when Kirsty Ferry takes over ;)  

COMPETITION TIME! 

Congratulations to Karen Mace who was the winner of yesterday’s competition. Those who weren’t so lucky, fear not. We’re running another one today!

If you’d like the chance to win a copy of Christina Courtenay’s fabulous new book, The Jade Lioness (as well as some Halloween chocolate), simply tell us what you think will happen next in our story in the comments below. Good luck! The winner will be announced tomorrow – Friday 30th October.

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Click HERE for the next instalment by Kirsty Ferry.

Halloween Round Robin: Part Two by Jane Lovering

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It’s time for the second part of our special Halloween Round Robin – and this one’s by Jane Lovering! Find out what happens to Addy at the Abbey next and whether she bumps into any ghosts … or handsome, blue-eyed strangers ;)  

If you haven’t read the first part by Berni Stevens, you can see it HERE

Ghostwatch: A Tale for Halloween

Part 2: Jane Lovering

More and more of the group arrived during the evening. Addy wondered where Tina had managed to drag them up from. Actually, looking at the way they were dressed, some of them really did seem to have been dragged up, but Tina just muttered at her for being ‘rude’ when she mentioned this. A squadron of zombies, who were, Tina hissed when Addy drew her attention to them, from the local accountants who worked for Tina’s company; a cotillion of witches, some of the green-faced ‘Wicked’ variety and others for whom being wicked was obviously on the agenda later tonight. Addy had never seen so many stockings and suspenders on display in one locality.

‘Cheer up Ads.’ Tina was, as ever, at the centre of things, preparing the party under the most Gothic of the arches the Abbey had to offer. ‘It’s a laugh. Remember “laughing”? Honestly, since David dumped you, you’ve been so mardy, and it wasn’t even as if he was much of a catch. You can do so much better than a bloke whose only conversation is about his Morris Marina.’

‘It was a classic car’, Addy mumbled, but she knew Tina was right. Knew there was more to life than beige seat covers and a man who counted his loose change every night before bed.

She walked away from a trio of mummies, trailing their filthy bandages as though they were trying to make some point about the NHS, and stood at the edge of the headland, where the Abbey grounds had washed into the sea. She watched the last of the light leach out of the sky and the first stars appear, dotting the darkness like little points of hope.

‘Funny to think they’re always up there, isn’t it?’ A voice spoke just beside her and made her jump. ‘We just can’t see them during the day. All that beauty, and it’s invisible until it gets dark.’

Addy tried to look out of the corner of her eye.  She didn’t want to be uncool and stare, but she knew it was the blue-eyed stranger who’d wished her that misplaced Happy Halloween earlier. Behind them, Tina’s iPod played a snatch of ‘Monster Mash’ and there was the sound of a raucous dance-off starting up.

‘They aren’t even drunk yet’, she said, and then berated herself for the superficial comment. Here was a stranger, gorgeous and, more to the point, talking to her, and all she could do was cast aspersions on her fellow partygoers.

‘You don’t approve of a Halloween party?’ He sounded amused, and now she did turn her head to look at him.

‘We’re too old for this. Hallowe’en is for kids, all apple bobbing and “Trick or Treating”, we’re just using it as an excuse to dress up and get drunk.’ She managed to get the words out, despite the fact that her mouth had dropped open. Old Blue-Eyes was sensational, tall and slim with shoulders that filled out his vampire costume a treat. He even had a cape, which twirled about him like a well behaved spaniel.

‘You don’t believe in All Hallows Eve? The night when evil must be driven back with light and fire?’ He sounded amused.

Addy looked over her shoulder at where several party-goers had started throwing the marshmallow eyeballs at one another. ‘I think it might take more than light and fire,’ she said.

Beside her, Blue-Eyes laughed and she could feel it down to her toes. ‘Oh, Adelaide, you do need cheering up, don’t you?’

Addy felt a little prickle of something almost like fear raise the hair on her neck. ‘How do you know my name?’

Another laugh and she tried to ignore its slightly erotic power. ‘Tina told me, of course.’ He started to walk, away from the headland now and back into the Abbey, but away from the fires and music that were breaking out and the little parties of snogging that had clustered around various fallen buttresses. Addy saw a skeleton and a couple of Elsa’s from Frozen chasing one another with a bottle of vodka and decided to follow him.

They walked into the darkest part of the Abbey, the old cellar, where an arched stone roof curved overhead and the remaining walls were thick enough to cut out the sound of the revels outside.

       Oooh, do you think it was a good idea for Addy to follow the blue-eyed stranger? You’ll find out if it was in the next part of the Round Robin tomorrow by Christina Courtenay!

COMPETITION TIME!

Congratulations to Beverley Lloyd who was the winner of yesterday’s competition!

If you’d like the chance to win a copy of Vampire State of Mind by Jane Lovering and some Halloween chocolate, simply comment below and let us know whether you think Addy was right to follow the blue-eyed stranger and why. The winner will be announced tomorrow morning – Thursday 29th October.

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Click HERE for the next instalment by Christina Courtenay.

Halloween Round Robin: Part One by Berni Stevens

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It’s Halloween this week and we’re celebrating with an exclusive Round Robin and a competition a day until the 31st October! Remember to return to our blog every day until Saturday to catch up with the story and enter the competitions :)  

Today, Berni Stevens starts us off in suitably spooky fashion! 

Ghostwatch: A Tale for Halloween

‘Eyeballs?’  Adelaide stared at her best friend, Tina. ‘Seriously?’

Tina grinned. ‘Not real ones,’ she said. ‘Eyeballs made out of marshmallow.’

Adelaide shuddered. ‘Even so …’

Somehow she felt this whole thing had suddenly spiralled out of control. She had never been a fan of All Hallows Eve, and the thought of spending the night anywhere haunted made her want to vomit. Actually, eyeballs made out of marshmallow made her want to vomit too.

‘And we need glow in the dark cobwebs.’

‘You’ve thought about this way too much.’ Adelaide gave her a stern  look. ‘Plus I have real cobwebs here all year round – and spiders,’ she added, watching as Tina glanced about her with  a worried look on her face. ‘Big ones.’

‘It will be fun, Ads,’ insisted Tina, keeping a furtive vigil for anything of the eight-legged scuttling variety.

‘It’s commercialised rubbish,’ said Addy. ‘It’s for kids.’

Tina sighed. ‘Promise you’ll think about it?’

Addy shrugged in a non-committal, don’t hold me to anything kind of way.

Tina hugged her, and left for her evening Zumba class. Something else Addy thought over-commercialised. Probably the person who’d invented Zumba was, at this very moment, coming up with another money-spinning dance idea, which would intimidate anyone who hadn’t trained in ballet from the age of two. She plopped down on the sofa, and sighed again. Hallowe’en? It really was for kids wasn’t it? Trick or Treat and all that stuff. What on earth would a bunch of so-called young professionals get out of  sitting around in a ruined abbey waiting for a ghost to show up? Other than pneumonia.

Addy picked up the romance she’d been reading when Tina turned up. In spite of her reticence about Halloween, she liked ghost stories. Not that she actually believed in ghosts. Seeing was believing after all … but … can you see ghosts?  She put the book on the table and switched the TV on. A bit of channel flicking found Most Haunted. Talk about ghost overload. She pressed the off button and went back to her book.

***

On Saturday afternoon, Adelaide trudged up the hill to the Abbey. “Addy and the Abbey”, she thought with a smile. Hardly the stuff creepy ghost stories were made of. Somehow she’d found herself agreeing, against her better judgment, to go along with Tina and the gang on their Halloween ghost watch. Well, what was the worst that could happen? They could get arrested for drinking wine in the grounds of an ancient monument, or someone could trip and break a leg in the dark or … well maybe it wasn’t a good idea to think of the worst things. It had been ages since she’d walked up to the Abbey, it was always just … there. Overlooking the town in its quiet and elegant Gothic way.

There were plenty of visitors milling about, taking photographs and posing as vampires in various archways. Addy wandered around the outer walls, enjoying the warmth of the Autumn sunshine. She squinted up at a gargoyle, high up on the ancient wall. It appeared to be poking its tongue out, so she poked her own out back – and cannoned straight into a tree.

‘I’m sorry,’ said the tree. ‘Are you all right?’

She squinted to get her eyes back in focus, and found herself staring up into a pair of very blue eyes.

‘What?’

‘I asked if you were all right,’ said the owner of the blue eyes.

‘Yes – thanks,’ she said. ‘Sorry.’

He smiled and the blue eyes sparkled. He was definitely better looking than the gargoyle. She found herself smiling back, and edged around him, unable to think of anything else to say.

‘Happy Halloween,’ he called after her.

‘Erm … you too,’ she replied. Did people normally wish each other a “Happy Halloween”?  She turned back to get another glimpse, but strangely there was no sign of him.

Tina loved Addy’s account of meeting the blue-eyed stranger. ‘He’s probably a ghost,’ she said.

‘In the daylight?’ Addy gave her raised eyebrows and a look of disbelief.

‘Ghosts aren’t vampires.’

‘Eyeballs,’ said Addy, changing the subject.  ‘Two bags of. But you can get your own cobwebs.’

If you’ve watched horror movies, you’ll have learned that nothing good ever comes from staying in haunted places overnight. How will Addy and Tina fare at the Abbey? And will the blue-eyed stranger make a reappearance? Come back tomorrow to find out in the second part of our Halloween Round Robin by Jane Lovering!

COMPETITION TIME! 

If you enjoyed Berni’s extract and would like the chance to read more of her work, then why not enter our competition to win a copy of her novel, Dance Until Dawn? Simply comment on this post and let us know what you think is going to happen to Addy next to enter. We don’t have any marshmallow eyeballs to give away but we will throw in some Halloween chocolate as well ;) The winner will be announced tomorrow morning – Wednesday 28th October 2015.

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Click HERE for next instalment by Jane Lovering.

Choc Lit on holiday!

HOLIDAY COMP 2

Are you a Choc Lit reader and lucky enough to be going on holiday this year? 

Why not enter our summery competition? Here’s how:

1. Pack your Choc Lit paperback or load up that eReader.

2. Take a photo of your Choc Lit paperback or the front cover of your eReader (as shown above) by the pool, on the beach, in a French cafe, or up a mountain if that’s more your style!

3.  Send the photo to us at info@choc-lit.com with the subject heading ‘Choc Lit on Holiday’. Make sure you tell us where you are.

The best photo will win a cash prize of £100 (to be paid via Paypal) and there will also be runner-up prizes to win SIX Choc Lit books. The closing date is September 30th 2015 so get snapping! We’re looking forward to seeing your entries :)

Full terms and conditions available from info@choc-lit.com