*Extract* The Five Things – Beth Merwood.

Blurb; For nine-year-old Wendy, the summer of 1969 will never be forgotten. Local kids have always told stories about the eerie wood on the outskirts of the village, and Wendy knows for sure that some of them are true. Now the school holidays have started and she’s going to the wood again with Anna and Sam, but they soon become convinced that someone is trying to frighten them off. When a terrible event rocks the coastal community, the young friends can’t help thinking there must be a connection between the incident, the tales they’ve heard, and the strange happenings they’ve begun to witness. As glimpses of a darker world threaten their carefree existence, they feel compelled to search out the underlying truth.

Extract; Rural England, 1969. The three main characters are on their school summer holidays, going about their carefree lives. Soon an event is to occur that will change their world for ever …

The following day Anna, Sam, and I went to look for the camp on the beach. It was a cooler day and a little misty. The sea lapped against the shore, otherwise everything was quiet and still. We went to the end of the wall and climbed the first steep section of rock to the level area. We couldn’t hear anyone else up on the cliff. The pine trees were giving off their pungent smell. We walked along, holding on to branches to steady ourselves, up a little hill and down again. We didn’t need to walk far. In a gap between the trees, we found the camp. There was definitely no one else there. “Wow!” I said. “It’s a really good place,” said Sam. “It’s really fab!” said Anna. “How did they get all the stuff up here?” I said. We admired the work that had gone into it. There was actually a sort of building made from pieces of corrugated iron. “Those crates must be for sitting on,” said Sam. “There’s even a carpet!” Anna said. Sam went to the corner and took three crates from the pile. We arranged them on the sack matting and sat looking out. “No one would ever find you here,” said Sam. “Oi!” We heard a shout, the cracking of vegetation breaking underfoot, and the swishing of branches. Someone rapidly approached. It was Robbo. “What are you doing in the camp?” He pretended to be annoyed with us but soon forgot and started to show us around. “Oi!” We heard a shout, the cracking of vegetation breaking underfoot, and the swishing of branches. Someone rapidly approached. It was Robbo. “What are you doing in the camp?” He pretended to be annoyed with us but soon forgot and started to show us around. “Look,” he said, “we put up a swing.” He pulled a long, thick length of rope down from an upper branch of the tree opposite. It was tied to the branch at one end and there was a knot in the other, so you could sit astride it and go for a ride. You could swing quite a long way to and fro. He demonstrated. “Not only that,” he said, “we can also make tea.” He scrambled over and revealed an old kettle, pushed into a hole in the cliff face behind. “There’s water, and I have matches.” He pulled over another wooden crate, which had been camouflaged under some foliage, and took off the makeshift lid. It contained a box of tea and some enamel mugs. He uncovered a jerry can filled with water. He set about gathering some sticks and trying to light a fire. Robbo was older than we were. He had a reputation for being a bit of a tough guy, but we knew that in fact he was quite friendly. He was a big, strong-looking boy with lots of curly, dark hair and already had the first signs of a dark hair growing on his chin. We watched him in admiration. “Shall I help you?” I asked. “I might have messed up,” he admitted. “I think the matches have got a bit damp.” He smiled at me, a warm-hearted sort of smile. We all liked Robbo and we trusted him. “You won’t tell the others we were here? They might be mad,” I said. “Nah,” he confirmed. “You know I always look out for you lot.”

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chick-lit · romance

*Extract* The Summer Island Festival – Rachel Burton.

Blurb; When Willow walks out on her own wedding, there’s only one place she can go: Seaview village, on the island she once called home. But she’s not the only islander back for the summer…

Twelve years ago, Willow ran away to the mainland after her childhood sweetheart, Luc, betrayed her. Luc has since become a heartthrob musician, touring sold-out stadiums around the world, but he’s finally come home to headline the island’s annual music festival – and to win Willow back.

As Willow untangles her messy past, she stumbles on a secret that could destroy the island’s fragile community – and her second chance at love…

Chapter One; Willow. Four Days Later… Willow sat on the shop counter looking out of the window at the beach beyond, at the sunmotes glinting off the sea and the white cliffs in the distance. Her phone had been beepingincessantly for days, sending her a stream of endless texts, WhatsApp messages and Facebook requests all of which she’d been trying to ignore. She couldn’t reply because she didn’t have the answers. She didn’t know why she’d run away from the church. She didn’t know why she hadn’t been able to go through with the wedding. Pushing her phone aside she picked up her father’s old mandolin, her fingers tracing the strings, and wondered if she could still remember how to play it. The sensation of the instrument in her hands again made her shiver – music was as much a part of her past as the beach, the cliffs and the sea. Ending up back here after all these years was confusing, asthough she didn’t know which version of herself to be anymore.The bell above the door of the shop jangled, jarring the silence. She must have forgotten tolock the door when she shut the shop.‘We’re closed,’ she called, without looking around.‘Still trying to figure out how to play that thing?’ asked a voice that Willow hadn’t heardin a very long time. She could almost hear that crooked smile in his words. She’d seen the posters plastered all over the place – the Island’s prodigal return from America to play the Seaview Folk Festival. She’d known he was coming back but she’d been hoping to have alittle bit more time to pull herself together before she actually saw him. ‘It’s been a long time Willow,’ the owner of the voice said. He spoke more softly this timeand it sounded as though he was standing closer, even though Willow hadn’t heard his footsteps draw nearer. His voice was unmistakable, even with the American lilt he’d pickedup over the years. ‘Turn around and let me see you.’ She did as he asked, needing to see him even though she knew exactly what he looked like these days. Everybody had heard of him now.

He was wearing scruffy jeans and boots, an un-ironed shirt and a grey herringbone waistcoat, his hair carefully sculpted into a quiff. He was barely recognisable from the boywho left twelve years before, but his face still held the ghost of who he used to be – a dimple on the left side of his mouth, a crooked smile that could melt hearts, eyes as green as thegrass on the clifftops. Of all the times he had to walk back into her life. ‘How are you, Willow?’ he asked without taking his eyes off her. ‘How are you after all these years?’The last time she had seen Lucien Hawke he still went by the name of Luc Harrison and they had both been eighteen. They’d left the Island on the same week and, as far as Willow knew, Luc had never returned.Until now. He had tried to contact her in the aftermath of what happened on that unseasonably warm September night when everything unravelled, writing her letters addressed to her department at university, letters that she had never replied to. She’d ripped them up and put them in the bin at the Student Union so she wouldn’t be tempted to piece them back together again late atnight when the loneliness became overwhelming.‘It’s been twelve years,’ he went on, his lips curving into a smile – lips Willow had loved so much once. ‘I’ve missed you.’‘Why are you here, Luc?’ she asked, finally finding her voice.‘I’m here because of the festival,’ he began, seeming surprised she was asking. ‘I know that,’ Willow replied, her voice sharp and unwelcoming. ‘What are you doing here in this shop right now?’ He hesitated and Willow noticed his eyes flick away from her for a moment. ‘I was looking for Cathy,’ he said. ‘Mum’s not here.’ ‘Can you tell her I was looking for her?’ he asked. ‘I tried calling but her phone was off.’ Cathy Cole’s phone was always off. Willow had no idea why she had one at all.‘What do you want her for?’ she said, turning to face him again.‘I just wanted to…’ Luc hesitated again, cleared his throat. ‘I wanted to…’

‘I’ll tell her you were here,’ Willow replied willing him to leave. But instead he started to wander around the shop, his fingers stroking the guitars that hungon the walls.‘It hasn’t changed at all,’ he said softly. ‘The Island or The Music Shop?’ Willow asked. ‘Both.’ He moved towards the rack of sheet music, carelessly flicking through the musicalscores. ‘So many memories,’ he whispered as he turned to look at her again. Please leave, she thought. ‘Isn’t it strange to be home?’ he asked quietly, but Willow didn’t reply. It was strange to be back in the small village of Seaview on the east coast of the Isle of Wight. It was the place where both she and Luc had grown up and where her mother’s small business, simply known as The Music Shop, was located. As she watched Luc all those memories of her childhood, of her parents and of him, came flooding back.‘I heard about what happened on Saturday,’ he said. ‘I’m so sorry.’ She could feel the blush creeping up her neck at the shame of what she’d done, the reasonshe was back on the Island, the reason her phone wouldn’t stop beeping. Everybody knew that she’d run away from her own wedding, even Luc. ‘I…’ she began, searching for an explanation. ‘I just…’He stepped closer to her. ‘I just needed to be on my own for a while,’ she said. ‘That’s why I’m here, I guess.’ That and the fact that she had nowhere else to go. But Luc didn’t need to know everything. ‘I’d better go,’ Luc said but Willow didn’t want him to leave after all. When he stopped at the door and looked over his shoulder at her again, she felt a wave of relief. ‘Have you seen Skye?’ he asked. ‘I’m only going to be here for a few more days,’ Willow replied as though that was anexcuse. She still cringed inside when she remembered what had happened the last time she’d seen Skye and what Charlie had said. ‘You should see her,’ he said. ‘I think she’d like to see you.’‘Have you seen her?’ she asked. He nodded. ‘It was good to catch up,’ he said with a smile. ‘You never know, you might even enjoy it. It might take your mind off…’ he hesitated ‘…things,’ he said, waving a hand vaguely.

Willow felt suddenly and irrationally angry. Who was Luc Harrison to walk in here afterall these years telling her what to do? Had he and Skye been talking about her, about the wedding, about what Charlie had said to Skye all those years ago? But perhaps he was right. At the very least Willow owed Skye a long overdue apology. They stared at each other for a moment as though neither of them wanted to be the first tosay goodbye. ‘Think about it at least,’ he said eventually as he turned and opened the door. The littlebell rang again as he walked away.

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chick-lit · Content posts · romance

*BLOG TOUR* Coming Home to Hope Street – Marcie Steele (EXTRACT)


Step across the cobblestones, pull back the curtains and peek behind the doors in the second instalment of The Hope Street Series. Catch up with old friends and fall in love with new ones in a story of friendship, second chances and new beginnings.

Livvy has no choice but to return to Hope Street, the childhood home she left over twenty years ago. Along with her sixteen-year-old daughter, Pip, she turns up on the doorstep, hoping for forgiveness from her sister.

Hannah thought she’d never see Livvy again. She’s overwhelmed with emotion but locks away her real feelings. How could Livvy stay away without any contact? And why has she come back now?

It isn’t long before the charm of the market town of Somerley begins to work its magic. Hannah is opening a book shop in the square, adjoining The Coffee Stop, and Livvy’s offer to help out brings the sisters closer together.

But when someone from Livvy’s past arrives unannounced too, he threatens everything she’s built up since her return. Can Livvy convince her sister, and her new friends, that her intentions to return were good ones? Or will her dreams of settling down and being happy again become nothing but a closed book?

Author Bio;

Marcie Steele is the pen name of Mel Sherratt. For as long as she can remember, she’s been a meddler of words. Born and raised in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, she’s a romantic at heart and has always enjoyed writing about characters that fall in and out of love, have good friends to hang around with, and live in communities with great spirit.

She can often be found sitting in her favourite coffee shop, sipping a cappuccino and eating a chocolate chip cookie, either catching up with friends or writing on her laptop. Whether she writes crime or women’s fiction, she loves making up things for a living.

You can find more about Marcie Steele on Mel Sherratt’s website www.melsherratt.co.uk at Twitter: https://twitter.com/writermels and at Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MelSherrattauthor/


One Month Ago

Livvy Perkins let out a dramatic sigh. Working at Pizza Palace wasn’t the jazziest of jobs, but it was a good fit for her circumstances. She’d worked there three nights a week between six and ten p.m. for the past six months, as well as working part-time during the day in a local café. It meant her daughter, Pip, nearly sixteen, wasn’t alone often, and not for too long. And if she did need her mum, Livvy was always on the end of the phone.

Livvy looked forward to, as well as dreaded, her last shift of the week. Fridays would always find the staff in the takeaway rushed off their feet, orders coming in rapidly and Roberto, the owner, expecting her to deliver everything on a Fast and Furious basis that she could never do to his satisfaction.

Pizza deliveries seemed to have become the new going out. Not that Livvy knew anything about that anymore. All her days, weeks, and months were rolling into one at the moment.

She pressed the handle down on the door and went inside, the smell of grease, garlic, and a hint of burning hitting her immediately. Pizza Palace was your typical takeaway, a few plastic tables and school-type chairs at the front and a high counter with a fridge showing drinks and salads to accompany the meal at the far end. A large board on the back wall listed everything they served, and the ovens to her right were already churning out a good heat alongside the first orders of the evening. Above everything, she could hear Roberto yelling.

‘They asked for two medium cheese and pepperoni and one large mushroom. Not the other way round. You need to listen more on the phone!’ He turned to Livvy, rolling his eyes as if to say, ‘I might as well do it myself.’

She couldn’t help but shake her head in jest. Honestly, if Roberto employed a manager rather than trying to do everything himself, and failing dismally, he wouldn’t look like a stress ball all the time. Now his arms flapped around, his dark hair was messy and there were sweat patches underneath both arms on his T-shirt.

‘Livvy,’ Roberto cried. ‘Come and sort this rabble out, will you?’

‘I’ll do my best once I’ve done a few deliveries.’ Livvy reached up for a pile of order slips. There were four, all within a mile of the shop. Quickly, she routed them out in her head. If she left now before Roberto collared her, she could be there and back within forty minutes.

A scooter was the best solution for the small and narrow streets of Manchester. Roberto provided them, but they were all old and decrepit.

The traffic was light as she made her way along the main road. Pizza Palace covered most of the area and had the monopoly on lots of other takeaways. Luckily for Roberto, his establishment had a reputation as one of the best.

Livvy parked outside the first address, knocked on the door, and only waited a few seconds for an answer. The next stop was a few streets away, and after pressing the doorbell twice, that too was delivered.

As she walked up the driveway of the third address, the door was opened by a woman in her thirties, heavily made-up, wearing heels and a black dress. Lucky her, Livvy sighed. She couldn’t even recall the last time she’d been anywhere that entailed dressing up so special.

‘Pizza delivery!’ Livvy put on her best sing-song voice.

‘That’s more than obvious,’ the woman snapped, almost snatching the box out of Livvy’s hand. She thrust a note at her and waited impatiently for change.

Livvy handed it to her, knowing it was useless making small talk.

She took it all and closed the door in Livvy’s face.

‘Thank you, and have a nice evening,’ Livvy replied, with the heaviest hint of sarcasm.

She was back on the scooter, helmet in hand, ready to head to the last stop when the woman came out of her house, screaming obscenities at her.

‘What is wrong with you people?’ She pushed the box at Livvy. ‘I ordered a plain cheese, but this has mushrooms.’

Livvy’s shoulders dropped. ‘I’m so sorry, let me check the other order to see if I’ve got them the wrong way round.’

‘I’m not giving my children anything that you’ve had your hands all over.’

‘I won’t have to touch it.’ Livvy couldn’t stop herself from answering back. ‘I just need—’

‘Save it.’ The woman put up a hand as if to dismiss her, then held it out. ‘Give me my money back. I’ll have to pop some chicken nuggets in the oven now, which means I’m going to be late. And it’s all your fault.’

‘Chicken nuggets. My favourite,’ Livvy enthused. But the woman wasn’t having any of it.

Her fingers curled greedily around the money Livvy gave back to her and then, turning on her pretty stiletto heels, she marched off.

Livvy could see from the state of the box that the pizza had been handled and shoved back in. Even if it was someone else’s order, it would have to be remade.

She tried to start the scooter up, but it wouldn’t kick in.

‘Useless thing,’ she protested, just as the woman from the house came out again and got into her car. She glared at Livvy as she reversed out and then was off in a screech.

Livvy looked at the woman’s house, her car, and had a guess at her lavish style. She reckoned she’d never had to work hard to make ends meet. And even then, she didn’t need to be that rude.

A tear rolled down her cheek, quickly followed by one on the other side of her face. She wiped at her eyes.

With resignation, she rang Roberto to tell him she wasn’t going to make order number four and the fate of order number three. Then she took a handlebar in each hand and began the mile-long walk back to the shop with the scooter.

Why was life so unfair? She was working two jobs but was in debt up to her ears, yet she grafted as hard as she could.

Bloody Kieran. This was all his fault.

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