Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
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Showing posts with label ghost stories. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ghost stories. Show all posts

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Ghostly Castles and Tales by Madeline Martin

Ghostly Castles and Tales
by Madeline Martin

Europe has no shortage of ancient castles and dwellings, and where there are ancient settings, there are ghosts.

I think one of the things that fascinates me so much about ghost stories is the full on romanticism behind them. Most are driven by and explosion of passion, propelled by love or hate or sheer envy. The stories behind them are rife with drama and intrigue and desire.

In researching ghost stories for this book to decide where to set it, I found a couple of interesting facts to share with people.

First of all, is that Queen Mary of Scots has several ghost stories. She’s reported to haunt Borthwick Castle dressed as a page boy (the way she’d managed her escape in life once before). She’s also reported to haunt Stirling Castle as the pink lady. A hotel in Oundlel in Northhamptonshire, England also claims she haunts their halls where the staircase from Forthinghay Castle had been transported and incorporated into the building. Have you heard of other stories where Queen Mary of Scots has done some haunting?

Secondly, are all the ladies dressed in green. There are seriously a lot of ghostly women in green. And there’s a reason for this. Green is thought to be a color of ill luck in the Celtic legends as it was considered the favorite color of the fae people – and everyone knew they were deviously mischievous. And, of course, ghosts have a tendency to also be deviously mischievous.

I decided to go with Castle of Park for my castle with A Ghostly Tale of Forbidden Love because the story involved had not one, but two ghosts. The first was a green lady who had apparently been the lover of the laird, however, when she found herself with child, she was terminated from her position there. Unable to take the despair of her circumstances, she threw herself from one of the upper story windows to her death. The second ghost was a monk who had been walled up within the castle.

I loved the idea of the green lady getting her own form of vengeance, but felt the ghost story still needed to be made whole. This was what inspired my twist in A Ghostly Tale of Forbidden Love. But I can’t tell you what it is, or I’ll ruin all the fun. I hope you enjoy what I’ve done with the story. I truly had so much fun writing a little paranormal spookiness into this novella.

Senara becomes a lady's maid at Castle of Park to help ease the financial burden of her beloved family. She does not expect to have such a wicked mistress any more than she expects to find a handsome laird...or a ghost with a burning need for retribution.

Gavin vowed on his father’s death bed to watch over his aunt, and regrets it every day. Especially when her new maid arrives. The woman is extraordinarily fascinating, which not only stirs his interest, but also his cruel aunt’s ire.

Can he protect Senara from his aunt? Even more important, can he keep himself from giving in to his longing for the country lass?

Theirs is a journey of treacherous pasts, painful loss, hidden longing and vengeance.

Sweet Excerpt: 

He plucked a bit of hay from her hair. The slender stalk shook between his fingers. “We canna see one another anymore.” His voice was deep with desire.

Senara nodded in agreement and her hands gripped the banister of the stairs, as if she were holding on for dear life.

They had the same conversation every day. And yet every day at noon, they both arrived.

If he were a lesser man, he'd have had her long ago. But he couldn't in good conscience, not with knowing he would have to marry another someday.

He would marry another, one befitting his station.

Until then, he dreaded the day she would finally not show at noon.

Spooky Excerpt:

A cry sounded in the distance, a wisp of an anguished scream as if carried on a hearty wind. Though far off, the sound scrabbled over her nerves.

No, not so far away. Below.

Senara looked to where the stairs disappeared into a dark nothing. Anything could be in that nothing.
Her courage flagged for but a moment. Da would not be frightened of a noise. She may have left his sword upstairs, but she was never without his bravery. Or her dirk for that matter.

With the power of being her father's daughter, she crept down the stairs with her dirk locked in her grip. On the first floor, the air was cold enough to nip at her nose and leave the bottoms of her feet chilled through the thick-soled slippers she wore.

The wailing cry came once more, louder though still distant, muffled almost. She followed the sound down the hall to where she'd been before where the cold stone had hummed against her palm.

The candle flame sputtered and set the narrow hallway bouncing wildly around her, but it did not go out.

Her breath fogged in front of her and hovered in a hazy white cloud. She stared at the frozen breath in wonder. While summer was not always warm, it seldom was ever so cool as to cause such a chill - especially indoors.

A grinding sound filled the quiet and mortar sifted down from the strange stone. Senara's breath came faster and filled the air with white puffs.

Something was in there. 

Want to read more? 

Available in ebook and print
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fzpy5Q
Nook: http://bit.ly/2xkTzzl
iBooks: http://hyperurl.co/gtflib
Kobo:  http://hyperurl.co/gtflkobo
Google Play:  http://hyperurl.co/gtflgp

Madeline Martin is a USA TODAY Bestselling author of Scottish set historical romance novels. She lives a glitter-filled life in Jacksonville, Florida with her two daughters (known collectively as the minions) and a man so wonderful he's been dubbed Mr. Awesome. All shenanigans are detailed regularly on Twitter and on Facebook.

Madeline loves animals in sweaters, cat videos, wine and Nutella. Check out her FB page on any given Friday to see what great new book she's giving away by one of her fellow authors.

She also loves connecting with her readers, so feel free to follow her on any one of her social media platforms, or send her a message :)

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/MadelineMartinAuthor/
Twitter: @MadelineMMartin
Sign up for her newsletter: http://eepurl.com/biji1j

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Ghost Ship Mary Celeste

It’s October and what better way to gear up for the holidays than with a spooky tale.

Have you ever been on a boat suspended between the horizon and the ocean? That wondrous place where the blue sea meets the equally blue skies? Or when the sun tucks in for the evening and liquid black blends into the star-studded night? If so, you know how incredibly small you are. Nothing but water for miles and miles can be daunting. When the sea is smooth as glass, it is a peaceful place. But when angry, lashing out with slaps of waves, the sea can be unforgiving. Calm or rough, the ocean is dangerous...and scary.

Mary Celeste
The mysteries of what lies beneath in the deep drink has stimulated the imagination for centuries. Since the first boat cast out to sea, tall tales of monsters, mythical beings, strange happenings, and phantom ships have been told. Some yarns and legends are merely fantastical explanations of odd sea creatures or weather occurrences from superstitious sailors. But some stories are real and unexplainable. One such story is the ghost ship Mary Celeste.

The Mary Celeste was launched in 1861 under her original name Amazon in Nova Scotia. As she prepared for her maiden voyage loaded with a timber cargo bound for London, her first captain Robert McLellan fell ill and died. That should have been an omen. The journey to London under a new captain would go on, but the voyage was hardly a smooth one. She collided with fishing weir causing a gash in her hull and needing repair before she ever sailed out into the Atlantic. Once she finally made it to London, she struck another ship, sinking it. Not really the best start for a brand new ship and it wasn’t the end of mishaps surrounding the vessel. Six years and many captains later, she was run aground by a storm off a Nova Scotia island and abandoned. Declared a derelict, Amazon was sold, repaired, refitted, and renamed Mary Celeste.

On November 7, 1872, the brigantine Mary Celeste sailed out of the New York Harbor and into the Atlantic bound for Genoa, Italy. Risky business considering the Atlantic often churns with volatile weather during the winter months. The cargo, 1701 barrels of denatured alcohol meant to fortify wine. She was captained by master mariner—and, ironically, teetotaler—Benjamin Spooner Briggs of Massachusetts. Along for the voyage was his wife, Sarah, 2-year-old daughter, Sophia, his trusted first mate, Albert Richardson, and six hand-picked crewmen.

Having left the port just eight days after the Mary Celeste, the Canadian brigantine Dei Gratia sailed within sight of the ship nearly one month later on December 5th midway between the Azores and Portugal. Repeated attempts to hail the ship garnered no reply and soon it was realized the aimlessly drifting Mary Celeste was deserted. Not a soul on board. Aside from weathered sails, the main halyard line hanging over the side of the ship, a faulty pump, and the soaking wet interior rooms from open hatches, Mary Celeste was in relatively good condition. She was well-stocked with provisions, her cargo untouched, and her occupants’ personal items still on board. Only the yawl (lifeboat) and a couple pieces of navigational equipment, the chronometer and sextant, were missing.

The last entry in the ship’s logbook on November 25th recorded her location within sight of the Azores island of Santa Maria. That was nine days earlier and 400 miles from where she was found adrift by Dei Gratia’s crew. Imagine boarding a seaworthy ship in the middle of the ocean to find no one on board and not a trace of what happened to them. That would be eerie!

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The abandoned ship was sailed to Gibraltar by three of Dei Gratia crew members. Under maritime law, a share of the salvage of ships and/or cargo can be awarded to those who bring them in. But the British vice admiralty court suspected something amiss with the salvage. Perhaps the Dei Gratia crew ambushed and killed Captain Briggs and his family and crew, hoping to cash in a sizable salvage. Eventually, the court found no real evidence of foul play but awarded a much smaller reward.

Theories abound over what happened to the missing Mary Celeste crew, including marauding pirates, sudden waterspouts, an attack by a giant squid, a violent seaquake, and mutiny. All claims have been refuted. So what happened to her crew?

The most plausible explanation is something caused Briggs to order everyone off the ship and into the yawl. Perhaps strong vapors from the alcohol in the hold panicked the captain into calling for an immediate abandon ship. The lifeboat was probably tied to the thick rope that had been found hanging over the side of the ship. Whatever caused the captain to make that decision was likely a false alarm, but somehow the halyard snapped—whether by rough seas, a nefarious act, or something entirely mundane—and the little party was left behind, watching the Mary Celeste sail away without them. Ten people, suspended in the wondrous place between the horizon and the ocean, mysteriously vanished never to be seen or heard from again. More than 140 years later, the mystery still remains.

The Mary Celeste sailed for another twelve years until she was intentionally shipwrecked in an attempted insurance fraud. Seemed her fate all along was a doomed one.

Ghost ships like Mary Celeste have sparked my imagination, as well. One named Gloria is featured in my second full-length novel A Kiss In The Wind in the Romancing the Pirate series.

For a brief video on the Mary Celeste, click the link below.

About the Author

Jennifer is the award-winning author of the Romancing the Pirate series. Visit her at www.jbrayweber.com or join her mailing list for sneak peeks, excerpts, and giveaways.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Historical Fiction Review & Giveaway: Spirit of the Highway by Deborah Swift

01_Spirit of the Highway

Spirit of the Highway (Highway Trilogy, Book II) by Deborah Swift

Publication Date: September 30, 2015
Endeavor Press eBook & Paperback;
292 Pages
 Genre: Historical Fiction/Young Adult
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England 1651.  England has been engaged in a bitter Civil War for nearly ten years. Ralph Chaplin, a farmer's son, has fallen for beautiful copper-haired Kate. There is only one problem -- he is a Roundhead soldier and she is a Royalist lady.

Tired of bloodshed, Ralph volunteers to fight, sensing that the Battle at Worcester will be a chance to finish the fighting for good. He longs for peace, so he can forge a secure future and find a different, more equal way of life for himself and Kate.

But war is not what he imagined, and soon he has made a deadly enemy; one who will pursue Ralph and those he loves, and wreak vengeance. What's more, Ralph finds he has just as many enemies at home, as on the battlefield.

Told by Ralph's ghost, Spirit of the Highway is the stand-alone second part of the Highway Trilogy based on the real life and legend of Lady Katherine Fanshawe, highwaywoman and heiress.


Praise for Deborah Swift

"The past comes alive through impeccable research, layers of intriguing plot line, an understanding of the complexities of 17th century politics and the sheer power of descriptive prose." -Lancashire Evening Post

"characters you can really get interested in" -The Mum website

Praise for Shadow on the Highway (Book One, Highway Trilogy)

"Shadow on the Highway is an awesome work of YA historical fiction. It is definitely my new favorite Deborah Swift book!" -So Many Books So Little Time Blog

"Swift brings layers of historical and imaginative detail to her stories and I highly recommend as a light read for any adult and for teenagers interested into foraying into historical fiction." -Hook of a Book Blog

"Shadow on the Highway is an exciting peek into the English Civil War from both sides of the fighting... I very much look forward to the next two books in this trilogy!" -Historical Tapestry

My Review

This was an intense and gripping tale about struggle with self, with love, with what is right and what is honorable. This is a different way of telling a story--the main character is a spirit. Perfect for the season!

Ralph is impulsive, and he's struggling with a bit of post-war issues, which most people who've seen what he's seen would. He is working on his anger, on being so quick to put up his fists, and in the end, he did manage to gather the will within himself not to do so, but it cost him greatly.

There were several characters in this story that I really despised: Downall, the Snopes, Ralph's sister Elizabeth, and Copthorne. Man did I really hate those guys. Ralph has so many people against him, and not enough on his side, which is mostly because of his impulsiveness, and his reckless behavior and way of thinking. Thank goodness for his good friend Cutch, his sister Abigail and Kate, his love, who are willing to stick their necks out for him time and again.

The book was fast-paced (I read it in two days), and filled with adventure and heartache. Though it is categorized as a YA Historical, I think it read well for an adult, too. I learned a lot about a time period I'm not familiar with--the Civil War in England. It was fascinating to learn about--all while being entertaining.

I did not read the first book in the series, and I don't think you have to (though I will be going back to read it). I can't wait to read the third installment, as the book sort of ends on a cliffhanger. I have to find out what happens to Kate and Abigail and Elizabeth!

02_Deborah SwiftAbout the Author

Deborah Swift is the author of three previous historical novels for adults, The Ladyís Slipper, The Gilded Lily, and A Divided Inheritance, all published by Macmillan/St Martinís Press, as well as the Highway Trilogy for teens (and anyone young at heart!). Her first novel was shortlisted for the Impress prize for new novelists. She lives on the edge of the beautiful and literary English Lake District - a place made famous by the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge.


Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 26
Guest Post at Passages to the Past

 Tuesday, October 27
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight & Excerpt at Let Them Read Books

  Wednesday, October 28
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective

  Thursday, October 29
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

  Monday, November 2
Review at The Maiden's Court

  Tuesday, November 3
Spotlight & Excerpt at Brooke Blogs

  Thursday, November 5
Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

  Friday, November 6
Review at Bookramblings
Review at Just One More Chapter
Guest Post at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf


To win a signed paperback of Spirit of the Highway please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below. Three copies up for grabs!


  • Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 6th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Giveaway is open internationally.
  • Only one entry per household. 
  • All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion 
  • Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. Spirit of the Highway

03_Spirit of the Highway_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL