Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Stella Whitelaw: Hauntings Once More

Help us welcome back the lovely, Stella Whitelaw.

Stella is a prolific author of  56 books and 327 short stories, including the popular Jordan Lacey Mysteries, Sweet Seduction, No Darker Heaven, Lucifer's Bride, and others.

In her newest, the Once More Series, Stella pulls together some of her favorite short stories into themed collections. Previously, she published the first in the series, Yesterday Once More, which was a collection of historically based stories -- settings from the 16th to 20th centuries . . . all 'yesterday' stories. Christmas Once More was a similar collection -- stories with a Christmas theme.

Today, Stella is publishing another collection in the Once More Series -- Hauntings Once More. And as the name suggests, these stories are themed at the paranormal -- ghosts, witches, and things that go bump in the night . . . and the day too ;-)

What I love about collections like this is there is usually something everyone likes. And for the season that's in it, some of these would even be perfect for those storytelling times around the campfire! It's hard for me to pick a favorite, so you'll have to grab a copy and see which is yours.

Thank you, Stella, for sharing some of *your* favorite haunting tales!

As always, there's a free book on offer today. All you need to do is comment with your email address to put your name into the draw for an ebook copy of this book. If you can't wait, just click here to grab your copy.

• • •

A collection of haunting short stories:

Beautiful Witch
Catching the Sea Wind
Day the Sea Stood Still
Dress Rehearsal
Free Fall
Ghost Train
Good Foot to Heaven
Memories Are Made of This
Merry Hell
Night Lighter
Other Cemetery Guide
Pillar Box Freak
Strictly Come Dying
Sunday Ghost
The Willows

extract from The Day the Sea Stood Still

The strangeness began as I stood on the shingle in my Wellington boots and looked out in disbelief. The clouds were still stitched to the sky but the sea was close pounding the shore, white topped waves high and powerful. The waves crashed on the shingle, pulling pebbles back onto the sand.

“This is all wrong,” I said to no one. But something was wrong. I could feel it.Every day I walk the coast from Worthing Pier to the Sea Lane Cafe in Goring, and back. Sometimes I walk on the promenade, occasionally on the wet shingle playing catch-me with the retreating waves at the end of each groyne, but other days far out on the wet sand among the squabbling seagulls and curiously running little pied wagtails.

I read the tide tables as if they are a book. The fine print tells me a story. The changing pull of the moon dictates my footwear. Is it to be trainers for the promenade or Wellington boots for the beach?

When the sea is right out I am unconnected, in a different world, the pier like a gigantic insect astride the sand on multiple legs, the sea-front hotels and terraced 18th Century houses lost in haze, the ugly multi-storied car park mercifully shrouded from view by the band stand. (They pulled down the elegant Grafton House to build that monstrosity. They should have gone underground, like Mole.) I know it's haunted. When I pass by late at night, I hear the clunk-clunk of croquet balls and the tinkle of china tea cups.

My watch said 4.20 p.m. A 6’3’’ high tide had been at 11.31 a.m. The sea should be seeping far out by now, nudging the distant pale horizon.

"Misprint," I said aloud, dismissing it. But I knew it wasn't. No one else had noticed the change but I know the tide times by heart. Something had gone wrong with the tide.

The churning sea matched my annoyance as I stumbled and slithered down the steep bank of shingle and trudged along the water's edge, climbing over each slippery weed-hung groyne. It was hard work.

"You got it wrong," I shouted to the waves. I often talk to the sea. It matches my moods. It is a satisfactory conversationalist, mirroring my thoughts, answering back with a myriad of reflected twinkles in its eye. No words, just a rush of water.

A dog came leaping out of the waves, plumed and eager, stepping high as a thoroughbred racehorse. It came bounding over and shook itself, the spray flying like crystal rain from its pale coat.

"Hello," I said, my ill-humour vanishing. "You're a nice dog. What's your name? Maybe I shall call you Flora, after Flora Macdonald."

The dog barked and bounded off, wanting to play. There was a lot of greyhound in her. I wished I had a ball. I don't throw stones for dogs. It wasn't fair when they could never find them. And I hated the thought of sharp flints carried in tender mouths.

"How did you know her name?"

• • •

Stella Whitelaw began writing seriously at the age of nine. She was ill with measles when her father gave her an Imperial Portable typewriter. Covered in spots, she sat up in bed and taught herself to type.

At sixteen, she became a cub reporter and worked her way up to Chief Reporter. She was the first woman Chief Reporter, the youngest, and the only one who was pregnant.

After producing a family, she became Secretary of the Parliamentary Press Gallery at the House of Commons. Secretary then meant the original meaning, Secretariat, the keeper of secrets. She was awarded an MBE in 2001 but is not sure why.

Like Trollope, she wrote books on the train and in the recesses. The Jordan Lacey PI series is her favourite and the cruise crime books. Her big romances, No Darker Heaven and Sweet Seduction, were a marathon adventure.

Stella has won a woman’s magazine national short story competition and the London Magazine’s Art of Writing competition judged by Sheridan Morley. The Elizabeth Goudge Cup was presented to her at Guildford University.

Homeless cats find their way to Stella’s lifelong hospitality and she has written eight books of cat stories for the 7 – 70 plus.

Find Stella online --

Website - http://stellawhitelaw.co.uk
Blog - http://stellawhitelaw.co.uk/category/e-log
Tirgearr Publishing - http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Whitelaw_Stella

Buy your copy here: http://tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Whitelaw_Stella/hauntings-once-more.htm

Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of this book!


  1. Welcome back, Stella, and congratulation on releasing another wonderful collection of short stories, all geared for the upcoming holiday...Halloween!

    I wonder, do you have a favorite of these tales, and if so, which is it, and why?

    1. Thank you Kem for your kind welcome. I like all the stories but my two favourites include
      The Day The Sea Stood Still and The Beautiful Witch. One day I believe I shall see the waves stop moving, even if only for a few seconds.
      It's bound to happen.
      And I love the beautiful witch, walking an inch off the pavement so that her shoes don't
      get wet.
      If, for some reason, a story goes wrong, then it ends up deleted or in the bin. I hope my
      readers send me some ghosty stories.

  2. I really liked the Day the Seas Stood Still too. It reminded me of a story I heard when I was young about the sea, and how it had receded and after a long while, it would come back to shore in a gushing wave, taking out everything in its path. I think it was Ray Bradbury, but I haven't had time to go looking for it. Like you though, I like that time just between high tide and low tide when the water doesn't seem to move. It's especially so in tidal rivers around where we live. The water is like glass. Like it's holding its breath before the big adventure back the other direction.

    So, are you asking readers to share their ghost stories with you? Perhaps some real ghost sightings?

  3. Dear Kem

    I think you have seen the moment that the sea stands still! I am hoping that readers will send me their ghost stories. The Barn Theatre which I love has three ghosts. I've only seen one of them.
    It is an old saw mill and is in the Domesday Book, now cleverly converted to a
    very modern theatre but it still has eight parade posts (core dated 1413) holding up the roof. Our show starting November 18 is Thoroughly Modern Millie.

    1. I can't say I've seen a ghost, but I've certainly had some interesting things happen over the years. There's a castle in southwest Ireland that has a chamber just inside the main door. The place is in total ruins but still has some chambers and upper floors. It's hard to say what this one was originally. My guess is something not nice happened in there because it's the coldest chamber in the place, and every time I tried entering, something gave me the willies enough to not cross the threshold. Peter went through OK, but I couldn't go in. First time I'd ever had that happen. And I've been in a lot of ruined castles and abbeys.

      When I was very young, I was being cranky with my babysitter (childminder) and a loaf of bread that had been on the top of the fridge flew off at me.

      Or, I could tell you about the time I worked in a bookstore, and one of the staff *really* upset me. As I walked back to the stock room, books started flying off the shelves ;-) (true story!)

  4. Congrats on the collection, Stella.I have never come across a ghost, and I have to admit that I don't believe in them. But I remember as a child, we used to go down as a family to a 200 year old farmhouse in West Cork. It was vast and draughty and we used to take half the house; the farmer's family would live in the other half. One night, when I was old enough to be told about it obviously, my dad heard a noise just outside the bedroom door and went to investigate. He found himself frozen in one spot, unable to move, as an icy cold settled around him. Then, after a minute or so, he was released, and the temp returned to normal. In the morning, he mentioned it to the farmer, who casually told him that it was the resident ghost, and he wasn't to worry, as she would never harm him!! Don't know what that was, but I've always loved the story.