31 March, 2016

My Gratitude List - March 2016

I am back again after around 10 days gap to real blogging :-) Here is the foremost reason to show gratitude, what say?

1. A big shift
An important life decision and moving to a new place in another country. This decision has been pending from around 6 months and God has given courage to take a right step. I hope, everything goes well. So, it's time to thank God for this major change. 

2. A not so intimidating 25 hrs travel with kids
I have been planning, thinking, re-planning for this travel from 2 weeks so that everything goes right. Checking about the baby food that I can carry on long flights, taking care of baggage which should be light but include all basic necessities for kids, various options to get help in transits, jet lag, setting up new home with basic amenities etc., The list is long. I am very grateful that this transit happened with less discomforts.
3. Weather change
I am grateful to the nice weather that welcomed us in the new place. It drizzled for the first few days and we enjoyed it. I know, weather will not be this friendly in future, but at least it didn't show its' dark side on the first week itself :-)

4. My new phone Samsung Galaxy S6
Ok, it's not secret anymore. I love a phone with good camera and more battery life. Very basic needs, right? Got my new phone 2 weeks back, I was busy and couldnt check all the features yet. But, I loved the camera. See this pic taken from flight :-)


5. More family time
I have experienced the joyous moments in my life this month. Though feeding my 1 year old is a very difficult task, I enjoyed everything else :p

So, that's a quick list for this month. Linking this to #GratitudeCircle hosted by Vidya Sury.  
Showing gratitude brings more happiness to our lives. Join the circle and spread positivity :-)

Until next time,

Image courtesy: From google images marked for non commercial reuse.

27 March, 2016

Never Trust a Skinny Cupcake Baker by D E Haggerty - Pre-Release Blitz

Cozy Mystery
Date Published: April 11, 2016

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A cozy mystery with a heap of laughs, a generous portion of romance, and just a smidgeon of suspense.

Callie’s life is rather awesome. She owns a successful bakery and teaches German literature at the local university. There’s just one tiny problem. She has no self-confidence when it comes to her body. And then there’s the little matter of her being accused of murdering her pole dancing instructor. There’s no way Callie’s going to risk losing her teaching position and thus she embarks, with her best baker bud Anna, on a journey to discover the real killer. Between stripper auditions and a detective who insists Callie is the woman of his dreams, it’s a roller coast adventure. Cupcakes not included.


I take a deep breath and walk into the club. It’s dark and smoky. No surprise there. The floors are covered in shag carpeting, the walls are painted a red so deep it looks black, and the chairs are red velour. Is strip club a euphemism for whore house? To the right is a shiny, black bar. Straight ahead is a stage in an M-shape with three stripper poles. Of course there are stripper poles. Dolly worked here after all.

“You next?” A man shouts, and I nearly jump out of my shoes. I look to my left to see two men in shiny suits sitting at a table in the middle of the room. “Come on, doll, are you the next dancer?”


The man rolls his eyes and talks to the man next to him. “Not the brightest one of the bunch is she?” He turns back to me. “Come on, sweetheart.” He looks me up and down, and I feel the sudden need to shower with bleach. “You’ve got the body for it. Show us what you can do.”

I’ve got the body for it? Have we landed on planet opposite? I’m still trying to figure out how to respond when Anna grabs my hand. “Where are the dressing rooms? She needs to change.”

The man points to a door on the right side of the stage behind the bar. “Hurry up. We ain’t got all day!”

Anna pulls me to the door. I stumble behind her unsure if I should follow her or get the heck out of Dodge. She pushes through the door and looks around before spotting a room filled with racks of clothing. She lets my hand go and starts pawing through the outfits.

“Anna, stop!” I say when my brain finally catches up. “I can’t go up there and dance. Let’s just get out of here and come back another time.”

I don’t even get a chance to stand up from the chair before Anna’s on me. Her tiny body boxes me in the chair. “I don’t want to hear it! You heard the man. You’ve got the perfect body for this because you’re… let’s say it together… sexy!” She turns back to the rack of clothes. “Besides, while you’re up there doing your thing, I can snoop around.” She pulls out an outfit and hands it to me.

I don’t have a choice but to take the hanger as she shoves it in my hand. There’s not enough fabric here. She’s got to be kidding me. “I can’t wear this,” I protest.

Anna’s having none of it. “You will wear it, and you will go up on that stage and totally rock! In the meantime, I’ll be doing some investigating so we can save your job. You know the one that you spent the last 10 years studying and preparing for?”

I want to scream and shout and fight her, but I don’t really see what other option we have. I suppose we can sneak out the back door, but then we’d have to come back at some point as this is our only lead. Mr. Creepy #1 and Mr. Creepy #2 might not recognize me – a chubby girl with boring brown hair. But a tiny pixie with bright pink hair? I shake my head and put on the darn outfit.

About the Author

I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on from my mom's Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When I wasn't flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although I did manage every once in a while to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. Another job change, this time from lawyer to B&B owner and I was again fed up and ready to scream I quit, which is incredibly difficult when you own the business. Thus, I shut the B&B during the week and in the off-season and started writing. Several books later I find myself in Istanbul writing full-time.

Contact Links

Purchase Links

$15 Amazon gift card

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Until next time,

24 March, 2016

Wealth and Privilege by Jeanette Watts - Guest Post

Hello all..

Let me introduce you to Jeanette, the author of Wealth and Privilege today. Jeanette is a dance instructor, a costumer and a writer. Here is her guest post on dos and dont's of writing.

Historic Fiction
2013 / 2015


Boy meets girl, falls in love at first sight. Oops, she's already married. Bad planning. She becomes a friend and a muse, helps him find his voice. He knows that no one gets to capture their own muse, but he can dream, can't he...?

About the Author

Jeanette Watts is a dance instructor and performer of many different kinds of dance, a costumer, a former television producer, and a big softie who can't learn to say no when people need help with their festivals. It makes it really difficult for her to get time to write.

Twitter: @JeanetteAWatts    

Purchase Links
Amazon: Wealth and Privilege: https://www.createspace.com/4352661

Guest Post:

Do's and Don'ts of Writing

1.) Do make writing a priority. It is so easy to let other distractions get the better of you. The phone. The laundry. The dishes. Email. Facebook. There is absolutely no end to the number of things which can take up our time. Problem is, the laundry gets done, but the writing doesn't. You can get your kids or husband to load the dishwasher or throw the laundry in the dryer. But only you can write your book.

2.) Don't forget your friends and family want to help you. I had been working on my novel for years and years (and years...) off and on. I loved my characters, I knew where I was going... but I could never seem to keep any momentum. A dear friend who is not a writer, didn't give any sage advice, or know any publishers ended up being the single most important factor in getting my book done. She faithfully called me every day, and asked me, "Have you worked on your book yet?" Having a "book conscience" made all the difference in the world. I think three days was my maximum tolerance of saying no...because then I had to answer her when she asked, "Why not?"

3.) Don't assume you can proofread and edit your own work. You can't. You've been living with this manuscript intimately for a long time. (Hopefully looking at it every day!) You simply aren't going to see every typo, every missed set of punctuation marks, every "teh" that was supposed to be "the." Get help. There are professional editors out there who will work freelance. If you don't have the money but you know other writers, offer to trade proofreading/editing services.  I personally prefer to have at least six other pairs of eyes going over my manuscript. No one sees everything. Even the professionals! These days, I can't help but notice how many otherwise high-quality magazines will still have a typo sneak through.

4.) Don't let your ego make bad decisions for you. I had a friend, we'll call him Tom, who heard that I'd published a book, and he asked me to proofread his novel for him. I started to... but every page was covered in missing punctuation, grammar mismatches, incomplete sentences. It was obviously a former screenplay he wanted to turn into a novel. "Cut to director and producer. Pan across audience" are not the words of a best selling author. But when I told him that his manuscript wasn't even ready to be proofread, much less ready for print, he got offended - and went to print with it. Good writing is about more than having a big ego.

5.) Don't lose patience.  Writing is a craft. It is an art form. Beautiful things take time. Michelangelo's sculptures were not created in an afternoon. Neither were DaVinci's paintings. It took 182 years to build Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. You are going to put one word after another, then scribble them out, then write different words. Your characters are going to defy your wishes and expectations and outlines.
6.) Don't censor yourself.  I got the most surprising advice from a college English professor. When someone in class told him I was having trouble saying what they wanted, he told us, "when your brain keeps stopping you, and you start second guessing yourself and you can't seem to get anywhere, that's your internal censor. Give him a shot and a beer and tell him to go to sleep for awhile." I couldn't believe our professor was telling his students to drink!  Only in Wisconsin... But his real point was that, if you edit while you're writing, you'll never get anything written down. Spill all the words out onto the page, and then organize and delete and replace and supplement later.

5.) Do keep calm and carry on. Expect a lot of rejection. Believe in yourself, and believe in your work, and the people who helped you craft your book into the best shape you could make it. In today's publishing environment, Dr. Seuss wouldn't be able to get a publisher, and would be striking out on his own.

6.) Don't expect everyone to love your book. You are going to get good reviews, you are going to get bad reviews, you are going to get middling reviews. Listen and learn from all of them. That is, unless you never plan on writing again.

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Until next time,

22 March, 2016

Meddling with Murder by Ellie Campbell - Cover Reveal

Meddling With Murder by Ellie Campbell

Pages: 350

Series: Crouch End Confidential

Publisher: Across the Pond

Release Date:9th April 2016

Genre:Cozy Mystery


Crouch End Confidential, the agency started by
housewife, Cathy O’Farrell, with ex-cleaner Pimple, is failing badly. Hardly
surprising when their only clients are little old ladies seeking lost pets.
Until the strange case of the missing dog…

Soon Cathy’s multiple problems include stolen bikes, a
possible murder weapon, the sabotage of her friends’ new shop, drug-dealing
yobbos targeting her children’s primary school and being forced to pose as the world’s
most inept maths tutor. Worse, best friend Rosa hires her to investigate fiancé
Alec and – horrors – Cathy’s husband Declan is intent on moving himself, Cathy
and kids to the safer climes of rural Norfolk. Suddenly Cathy is endangering
her marriage, friendships and her life to untangle these messes. But
that’s what you get for meddling with murder…

 Add-To-Goodreads: Meddling With Murder by Ellie Campbell



Chapter 1

What the fudge?
The branch creaks alarmingly as I test
my weight against it. For a second I think it might snap but then my foot slips
and we part company anyway. Bark scrapes another layer off my grazed skin and
to my horror I find myself tipping backwards, falling, falling…
Far beneath me my daughter Sophie gives
an unwitting squeal, Henrietta’s twins shriek in unison and I hear son Josh
call out ‘Mummeeee!’ when as much by luck as design my left arm catches a
forked limb long enough for me to grasp it and come to a bone-jolting,
shoulder-wrenching stop. Sweat drips down my body, my knees shake
uncontrollably and something’s poking between my ribs like a sharpened spear,
causing an actual hole through clothes into flesh.
Dangling, I somehow hook one leg round
the main trunk and cling there like my life depends on it. Which, for the
record, it does.
‘Hang on, Mum!’ Sophie yells for perhaps
the fifteenth time. She’d wanted to climb up here but I’d told her it was too
dangerous. When will I listen to my own advice?
I stop panting long enough to call down.
‘I’m OK, sweetheart. Perfectly safe.’ How long since I last clambered up a
tree? Me, an overweight, unfit middle-aged, mother-of-two in not so skinny jeans.
And what did I promise my family – that I’d avoid potentially risky situations?
That any cases I took on would absolutely not involve capturing murderers or
exposing criminals? Not that our patch of North London known as Crouch End is
inundated with killings, just that I’ve somehow succeeded in entangling myself
with two in the last eighteen months. And now the simplest of mundane jobs has
turned an everyday school drop-off into what could possibly be my final
A terrified glance below shows Sophie
clutching on to her younger brother’s arm, their long-standing feud forgotten
as they contemplate their mother’s plight. Lauren, Henrietta’s eldest by two
seconds, is hopping from foot to foot, pale with anxiety while her sister’s
nervously studying her watch. I wonder what’s upsetting them most – the thought
of Aunty Cathy’s untimely demise or being late for class. Yet again.
Three feet above me, inches from reach,
a tortoiseshell cat stares down with baleful yellow eyes. I hold out a coaxing
hand. ‘Here, Fluffy. C’mon, kitty. Pishhh whishh.’
Disregarding me entirely, he licks his
paw before stalking further out, balancing on a twig, with the arrogant grace
of a tightrope walker. Oh how I wish I’d ignored him when I saw that
distinctive white-tipped tail swagger across the zebra crossing. But I’d spent
weeks scouring backyards, crawling on hands and knees, peeking under parked
cars, over hedges, listening to sweet old Mrs Thompson choke back sobs as I
admitted failure.
I’m gathering my courage and strength to
scale higher when my mobile rings. I wedge my bum into a crevice between branch
and tree, tighten my hold and, with a few contortions worthy of the great
Houdini, extract my phone from my pocket to peer at the screen.
Caller’s number withheld. Should I
answer it?
Am I in any position to answer it?
Could be urgent.
‘Hello?’ I venture.
‘Is this…?’ A woman. Middle-aged at a
guess, posh sounding. She drops to a muted whisper so low I have to crane to
hear. ‘The HP…um…WS…um…thingy?’
Several months back I’d been donated
this money, you see, ten thousand pounds, which was kind of hot, but gone cold.
Semi-illegal – not to be returned. Brilliant timing as my husband, Declan, had
recently re-evaluated what he wanted from life: Rhode Island Reds and a less pressurised
career, I’d been suspended from work and my house cleaner, Pimple, was tired of
domestic duties. I was thinking maybe it’s time I should do some soul-searching. So we, as in Pimple and myself,
decided to start up a business.
‘That’s right,’ I say briskly, with
enough softness to encourage conversation. ‘The H.P.W.W.O.C.S. Helping People
Who Would Otherwise Commit Suicide. Or even H.P.W.M.O.C.S. – People Who Might
Otherwise…but we’re called Crouch End Confidential now.’ Impromptu market
research among friends had ended up with tongue-tied repetitions and lots of
‘You whats?’
We’d originally substituted the would for might, because after all, how can one predict who’ll kill
themselves? Some people threaten it with no intention of going through with it
and others, not a word and then boom – lives are devastated. Then there’s those
who talk about it all the time and no one gives a hoot because they’re labelled
attention-seekers and before you can say boom again – they carry out what
they’d always said they’d carry out.
‘But you are that organisation? The ones
who help with, uh difficult problems, like er…’
‘Lost pets?’ I finish for her, looking
up again at Fluffy. ‘Yes, we do a fair amount of those.’ Far more than
intended. ‘What kind do you have?’
‘Well, I-I…’ She seems at a loss.
A strange wailing fills the morning air.
At first I think it’s the cat, but it’s clearly a siren, volume increasing as
it draws closer. Exceptionally loud now. Anyone would think it—
‘Is that the police?’ There’s a fearful
edge to the woman’s voice. Or perhaps she’s merely anxious to be heard over the
I glimpse through the branches, hearing
cotton rip as I lean forward. A huge red vehicle’s speeding this way, lights
‘Fire engine,’ I report back. ‘Can’t see
smoke but it must be nearby. They’re slowing down. They’re—’
Stopping right beside the kids…
What the blazes?
Sophie’s small face gazes up at me,
expression distraught in the strobe lighting, finger pointing in my direction.
‘PERHAPS I’D…’ I find I’m screaming into
the phone as the siren abruptly cuts out. I turn away from the cluster of
grinning helmeted and booted firemen assembling at the foot of the tree as
someone cranks up the ladder. Fluffy takes one look, turns tail and bolts down
the other side. I modulate my voice to more professional tones. Perhaps I’d
better ring you back I’m about to suggest politely, but too late. She’s gone.


‘Calling Cathy O’Farrell. Hello? Can you read me?’
‘Yes, I’m here.’ I swiftly hide the nail
polish, climb into my swivel chair and wire myself up to the Skype headset.
‘Where exactly, lovey?’ Pimple’s
bespectacled eyes scan the computer screen. They travel left and right, until
they finally focus on where I’m now perched facing the webcam, sporting a big
beaming smile. ‘Found you. Hang on a jiffy.’
She ducks down, sits back seconds later
clutching a wide-toothed comb and starts tugging vigorously at her tight curls,
turning them into a helmet of grey frizz.
‘That’s better.’ She drops out of sight
again, emerging with pencil in hand. ‘Now update on yesterday?’ She licks the
lead tip.
My business partner, former cleaning
lady and long-time friend. I both love and hate her enthusiasm for news. Love
that she’s still interested in our work even though she’s travelling the globe
on that luxurious cruise ship. Hate that I’ve nothing of interest to convey and
am very likely letting her down, business-wise.
‘Shouldn’t you be in bed?’ I say, having
lost track of the various time zones she’s travelled through.
‘Gosh, no. It’s only just gone
midnight,’ she says cheerfully. ‘I’ve a card game booked in an hour and then
I’m off to the casino. Thought we might have a catch-up in between.’
‘OK,’ I say, reluctantly clicking onto
my spreadsheet. ‘You remember that petrol station cashier with the lost
‘Sure do. How’s that going?’
‘Good. We fitted him with a tracking
collar. Discovered he not only had two homes but three. All the owners met for
coffee. Arranged a feeding rota. She was very grateful.’
‘How grateful?’
I scroll through the columns – last on
the right – Income. ‘Oh Pimple, I just couldn’t ask her to cough up.’ I drop my
head in shame and twist the headphone wire round and round my finger until it
turns bright pink at the tip. ‘She was skint, stony broke. Only got the cashier’s
job recently. Five kids to feed as well as the cat and still claiming benefits.
And that’s what the fund’s about isn’t it, helping those in trouble?’
‘But Cathy, we’re meant to be running a
viable concern here,’ she says. ‘Fair do’s, we agreed to support a few charity
cases, but we need paying ourselves at some stage.’
‘I know.’ I’m totally feeble at fee
chasing. ‘Oh but I did find Fluffy this morning. Owned by Mrs Thompson.’
‘Pensioner. Harringay Ladder.’
‘That’s right.’ I’m always amazed by her
memory for detail.
‘Marvellous. We got paid for that then,
I groan. ‘I was going to charge her, I
swear. But then she pulled out this ancient threadbare purse—’
‘Phooey!’ she scoffs. ‘Oldest trick in
the book, that one. Bringing out the ancient threadbare purse. You’ll need to
wise up, Cath. Those houses on the Ladder are worth a bomb. What else?’ Her
pencil’s poised above her pad.
I run through our list of jobs, which
takes precisely three minutes as apart from our two ex-clients, there’s only
the newsagent who contacted me yesterday to ask if we’d investigate who’d been
stealing his papers and a schoolkid called Ben who’d rung Monday to say his new
mountain bike had been nicked and the police weren’t doing anything about it.
I’d asked him to wait a few days and if
no joy to call back.
‘That’s it?’ She wrinkles her brow.
‘For now.’
‘Looks like I’ll need a new mop when I
get home, after all.’ She lets out a sigh that sounds like a steamship in heavy
Worse thing is she probably will.
Money’s haemorrhaging faster than I can spell the word. We had to invest in the
computer because mine was horrendously slow. Then there was the cost of
stationery, surveillance equipment, etc. – all the paraphernalia needed in
setting up. At least office space is free. We’re based in Pimple’s Edwardian
semi-detached home, couple of miles down the road from Crouch End. Seemed daft
forking out when she had a spare room – perfect to shove two desks in. It’s
where I am now.
‘Oh I’m sure that won’t—’ I stop.
Because there’s a ploppy sound and she disappears into the ether, like Endora
from Bewitched.
I wait a few seconds, see if she’ll
reconnect, but nothing. No need to call back. We’ve both said what we had to.
The phone, the one all prospective clients are meant to call, is staring at me
I pick it up. Check it’s still working.
Could be a fault and hundreds of sad souls have been trying to connect. Crying
out for help.
I listen a second. Strong, healthy brrr.


By the time I turn into our drive around five
thirty, I’m bushed. Rest of the afternoon had been spent clearing up the
newsagent’s problem. I’d arrived at his shop, introduced myself, politely
listened to his plans for an elaborate stake-out and then suggested we first
have a good delve around the shop floor, back room and the flat above. Bingo.
Turned out, his elderly widowed mum was nicking the papers and hiding them
under her bed. Early signs of dementia at a guess but at least that’s that one
solved. For us anyway. Frankly it was too bloody efficient. Less than an hour’s
work but the poor guy’s got a long hard journey ahead. How could I possibly
charge him?
On the other hand, I scold my
ineffectual self, I need to toughen up. Do I really want to start again on a
I hang up my jacket by the porch and
trudge through to the kitchen.
Declan’s standing over a saucepan which
is bubbling away on the six-ringed range cooker which dominates our good-sized,
somewhat country-style, kitchen. A heavenly tomato-ey aroma permeates the air.
Everything’s worked out great for him. He’s ridiculously happy with his new
postman’s job. Has to leave home at five a.m., but he’s always been an early
riser so never minds. Gets bags of exercise on his assigned pushbike, and he
finishes mid-afternoon, in time for the school run. Never mind that it pays
half what he earned before. It’s the quality of life that counts, right?
Plus, best part, I have dinner waiting
for me every weekday evening. All those years of wedded bliss with me muddling
along, running out of recipes and not really being faffed and now he’s
completely taken charge of the cooking. Wondrous.
I put my nose in the air and sniff.
‘Mmm. Smells delicious. You do know I’m out later?’
Once Weekly girls’ night. How could I forget?’ He turns to peck my cheek.
‘Thought I’d make a big stew anyhow. We can eat some over the next few days and
freeze the rest. Much more economical. Talking of which…’ He opens the fridge,
pulls out a used cardboard carton and lifts the lid with a cheesy grin. Five brown
eggs, still with a few feathers attached, smaller than shop-bought but hey.
‘Ta-dah. Even Pocahontas delivered. Fresh, free range, and best of all free.’
He always says this and I always tut and
do an exaggerated who-gives-a-monkey’s shrug. Not that I’m averse to owning
chickens. Can be rather relaxing squatting outside their coop, watching them
scratch the earth and vie for pecking order. And Josh and Sophie wake
themselves up early each morning to see which hen’s laid what, which is a heck
of a lot better than me screeching at them to get out of bed. Plus free
anything’s great with my almost non-existent wages, but I don’t like admitting
it, because he bought them without consulting me – his wife. Then again, at
that time, he was acting weird and buying other things without consulting me
too. Like our super-expensive oven, which we’re still paying off. Male
menopause, my insurance broker reckoned. But we’re over that. Back on an even
keel. Perhaps not financially but definitely hormonally speaking.
‘Where’s the kids?’ I slump onto a chair
and watch him stirring, tasting, stirring again.
‘Upstairs. Sophie’s watching TV. Josh is
on the Xbox, where else. He’s done his spelling homework, though he needs help
with reading later.’
‘OK, I’ll cover that.’
I watch him as he adds a spoonful of
paprika, dash of Worcestershire sauce then a variety of fresh and dried herbs.
He’s tall, few inches over six foot, gingery-brown hair, blue eyes. Irish born
and bred, although you’d never believe it from his London accent. His body’s
still good for his forty-three years. Actually, tell a lie, his body’s
fabulous, but that’s only because he gets to spend afternoons in the gym while
I’m slogging away in my office.
We’ve been married a little over eleven
years. Not saying there’s been no ups and downs in that time, but the ups far
exceed the downs. My friends all consider him Mr Wonderful and sometimes I do
too, even though I maybe don’t say it often enough.


‘So how was the gossip at the school gates this
afternoon?’ I ask.
Just after eight and I’m sitting back at
the kitchen table, now set for one sole diner, after doing the
bath-bed-book-lights-out routine. Declan’s preparing a salad and I’m enjoying a
quick cuppa before heading off.
‘Drugs,’ he says, dicing a carrot.
‘Who’s on drugs?’
‘Feral youths supposedly.’
‘So what’s new?’
‘That.’ He nods at a letter on the
sideboard behind him.
I pick it up and begin silently reading.
Dear parent…
‘Says there,’ he starts chopping up tiny
cherry tomatoes into even tinier quarters, ‘two teenagers were spotted hanging
around Princes Road Primary. Offered a pupil some substance. Guess which one?’
I can’t imagine. Love my kids’ school
but they’re famous for blowing the slightest unsettling ripple into a tsunami
of alarm.
‘No, stop. Let me think.’ I hold my hand
up and screw my forehead in concentration. ‘Heroin? Ketamine? Miu Miu?’
‘Meow meow, you mean. Miu Miu’s an
Italian designer, but I wasn’t meaning which drug, I was meaning pupil.’
‘No idea.’
‘Pip Henfield.’
‘Sheryl’s Pip?’
‘Yep, and William was with him.’ He
tosses the tomatoes into a bowl, adding a drizzle of olive oil.
That confirms it. ‘My oh my. Knowing
that family, I’ll bet it was something hideously toxic – like a Diet Coke. Or a
powdered doughnut.’ I’m not too familiar with Pip, but I’ve seen him around,
being the elder brother of Josh’s ex best friend, William. Once inseparable
they’ve recently gone their separate ways, or rather Josh dumped William for
another classmate. Slightly mortifying because I often bump into William’s mum
at morning drop-off. Truth be told, though, if someone’s heart had to break
over an early bromance, then I’d rather it wasn’t my kid’s.
‘School’s taking it seriously. Pip ran
back in and told his teacher.’
‘Of course they are.’ I scan greedily
through the rest of the letter but the details are amazingly vague. ‘They’ve
got to, don’t they, to protect themselves. Besides Sheryl’s running the PSA.
And the way that woman overreacts, it ought to be the drama club. Remember when
she saw Custard lick William’s mouth and went into hysterics about intestinal
worms, giardia and rabies injections? And then when I’d finally calmed her down
and convinced her the poor dog had barely made contact and not to call an
ambulance, William piped up, “It’s OK, Mummy. He does it every time.” I’m sure
Sheryl was gloating like a goat.’
‘Too right she was.’ He fetches a
cucumber from the fridge and slices it into paper thin layers. ‘Holding court
when I arrived. Gaggle of parents hanging on her every word.’
I tap the letter in my hand. ‘Says here
that we should keep vigilant. Talk to our kids.’
‘And so we must. They’re guarding the
gates at pick-up time. The teachers rushed out but the “yobbos”, as Sheryl
called them, had disappeared by then and there was nothing on CCTV.’ He digs
his fingers into an iceberg lettuce and expertly tears it apart. ‘Becoming
worse round here for sure. Honestly, I feel sorry for Josh and Sophie. Probably
have better survival chances with a pack of ravenous wolves than inner cities
today. Drugs at primary school, vandalism everywhere, fourteen-year-old
pregnancies. And that’s without random crazies, potential terrorism and the
local crime…’
Is it my imagination or does a cold wind
suddenly whistle through the kitchen?
‘They love it here. And they’re a darn
sight better adjusted than William and Pip, with their allergen-free,
sugar-free, gluten-free cotton wool existence.’
‘You might be right.’ He opens a bottle
and pours himself a rare glass of wine. I mean rare for him, that is, rather
than vintage. For an Irishman his alcohol intake is shockingly moderate. ‘So
how was your day?’ He eyes me shrewdly. ‘Any more enquiries? Prospective
‘One, but the caller got cut off.’ I
feel obliged to sound a bit more positive. ‘Terrible line but she was definitely
interested. Sounded right up our alley.’
‘Uneventful otherwise?’
‘Pretty much. Managed to close a couple
of cases.’ Hopefully he’ll assume that means money in the bank.
‘Good for you. Hang on a second, what’s
that?’ He leans towards me and begins tugging at my hair, emerging with a tiny
twig between his fingers.
‘Thanks.’ I take it from him. ‘Very
blowy outside today. Oh what’s that?’ I pick up a magazine lying on the Welsh
dresser and leaf through pages of bucolic landscapes, slightly uneasy at the way
he’s watching me – kind of sideways, mouth quirking.
‘Got dropped through the letterbox.’ He
brings the saucepan over to the table and ladles a portion onto his plate.
‘Advertising houseboats. Miles cheaper than conventional houses.’
I put the magazine down. ‘No wonder.
Who’d want to live on a leaky old barge with no room to swing a cat?’
‘Speaking of cats,’ he’s still wearing
that weird expression, ‘not seen any lurking around lately, have we?’
‘Well, there’s doubtless loads lurking
around.’ I stand up so I can avoid his eyes, grab a dessert spoon from the
drawer and dip it into the bubbling mixture. ‘They say you’re never more than
six feet from one in London.’
‘Isn’t that rats?’ He laughs.
‘Rats too.’ I blow fast at my spoon,
like a silent flautist. ‘Stands to reason, where’s there’s rats there’ll be
cats. Supplement their Whiskas.’
‘Only…that was the other thing parents
were chattering about. Fire brigade had to rescue a mum who’d chased some cat
up a tree. All on YouTube. Children arrived at class forty-five minutes late.’
‘Talking about being late…’ I leap up,
pointing at the oven clock. ‘Holy Christ, is it really quarter past? Meant to
be meeting the girls at eight thirty. I’ll never
be ready in time.’


Meet the Author:

Ellie Campbell is a pseudonym
for sisters, Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell, who write together from their
respective homes in Surrey, England (Pam) and Colorado, USA (Lorraine). After
years of selling short stories independently, they began their Ellie Campbell collaboration
with a first novel, How To Survive Your Sisters, followed by When Good Friends
Go Bad, Looking For La La, To Catch A Creeper and Million Dollar Question. They
write contemporary women's fiction laced with humour, romance, and mystery.
Meddling With Murder is their 6th novel and follows Looking For La La and To
Catch A Creeper in the funny, cozy ‘Crouch End Confidential’ mystery series.



Prize: 10 Ebooks of Meddling With Murder by Ellie Campbell.
Ends 3/3/16 
Open worldwide to those who can legally enter. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Njkinny from Njkinny Tours & Promotions and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Until next time,

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