Australia's Historical Places, Australian Folklore, Ghosts & The Paranormal, Inspiration, Spooky Stories, The Curse of Marsden Hall, The Story Behind the Story

The Ghost of Ascot House.

Rumours of a ghost at Ascot House in Queensland, Australia, have been circulating as far back as the 1890s. It wasn’t until some one-hundred years later, that the ghost could finally be put to rest.

Ascot House was built for wealthy businessman and politician, Frederick Holberton, in 1876, and was originally named ‘Tor’. Situated in Newtown, a suburb of Toowoomba, it once stood on 13ha (32 acres) of land. It eventually changed hands, and the new owner renamed it Ascot House, and undertook numerous renovations. Ascot House contained a gothic tower, sweeping staircase and large high-ceilinged rooms.

Many years later, the house would fall into a state of disrepair. During the 1940s, flats had been added, which housed people looking for cheap accommodation. It was not until the 1980s that the house was sold to a successful renovator, who proceeded to bring the house back to its former glory.

Artist impression of Ascot House. Artist unknown.

No sooner had the new owner moved into Ascot House, that she would hear footsteps walking down the hallway at night but seeing no-one. Once, during the early hours of the morning she felt fingertips brush her shoulders. One warm evening, she leaned against a wall where the surface was icy cold. The cold patch lasted for months and defied explanation.

There have been numerous eye-witness accounts, including one man who saw the apparition of a young woman that looked as if her neck was broken. It had been rumoured that a young servant girl had hung herself within the house.

After many years of searching, the owner identified the young woman as Maggie Hume, who had worked at Ascot House as a housemaid under the employ of the original owner, Frederick Holberton. At 23 years of age, she committed suicide, not by hanging, but by taking strychnine. According to the police reports, it was believed she suicided after learning she was pregnant. At the inquest, a couple of male staff members confessed to having ‘connections’ with her.

As a single woman committing suicide, Maggie was buried in an unmarked grave. Now, a headstone has been placed at the site, giving her the sympathy she never received in life.

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Movies/Television

Revisiting ‘Sleepy Hollow’

Halloween is rapidly approaching, so I’ve decided to get in a bit early on watching movies for the season. Recently, I re-watched Sleepy Hollow (1999), and with scary pumpkin heads (amongst other things), makes this a good Halloween movie.

Johnny Depp plays Ichabod Crane, a young police constable sent to the village of Sleepy Hollow to investigate some gruesome murders.

Classified as a Gothic supernatural horror film, there is a suitable amount of gore without overwhelming the audience. Beheadings, digging up graves, and dissecting corpses is balanced with the arrival of impending doom of the headless horseman.

Despite the horror, the film has some lighter moments, mainly through Johnny Depp’s character, who at first comes across as awkward, weak and a bit eccentric. It is his unconventional approach to the investigation that helps him to solve the case, as well as become a stronger person.

There is a good cast alongside Johnny Depp, including Michael Gambon and Richard Griffiths (both of Harry Potter fame), Jeffrey Jones (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), Miranda Richardson (Harry Potter, Blackadder), and of-course the legendary Christopher Lee (always a winner in my book 😉 ).

Boo! I love the gloomy atmosphere of this film.

My favourite moments throughout the film would have to be the headless horseman and the outdoor scenes.

The combination of set design and visual effects helps make this film one of the best in terms of gloomy atmosphere. The village is a perpetual dark and eerie place, and the nearby forest is surrounded in a thick fog. The appropriately named ‘Tree of the Dead’ is old and gnarled, with a bloodied past.

The headless horseman, played by Christopher Walken, has a facial appearance every bit as horrific as the rest of him, with wild hair and eyes, and sharp, pointed teeth.

With such a menacing presence, the film comes to a satisfying, but frightening conclusion.

What films do you have planned to watch this Halloween?

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Australian Folklore

The Three Sisters and Their Legend.

About 60 kilometres (37 miles) west of Sydney, lies the Blue Mountains. A mountainous region and National Park, it was listed as a World Heritage area by UNESCO in the year 2000. It is called the Blue Mountains due to the blue-grey colours of eucalyptus trees.

The setting for some of my stories are based within the Blue Mountains as I lived there for several years. I’ve always been drawn to the Australian bush, which is an ideal setting for stories of a Gothic or horrific nature.

One of the region’s best-known tourist destinations is The Three Sisters, a unique sandstone rock formation at Katoomba, and is one of Australia’s most photographed landmarks.

People have been known to climb them, but due to their cultural significance to indigenous Australians, there are some restrictions.

Image courtesy Hans Braxmeier on Pixabay

Aboriginal women would give birth in a cave near Echo Point while the men would watch the third sister for a sign that the birth had occurred. It is believed that this third sister is sacred.

When I was young, one of my favourite books was about a dreamtime story on the Three Sisters. My copy was a Little Golden Book, which I still have to this day. 😊

Once, a wise medicine man named Tyawan, was good at imitating the lyre bird and it was rumoured that he could change himself into one if he wanted by using his magic shin-bone. He had three daughters, named Meenhi, Wimlah and Gunnedoo.

One day as he left the girls alone while he hunted, a rock fell over a cliff, waking a bunyip from his 100-year sleep. Seeing the girls, the bunyip went after them. Tyawan arrived back in time to point his magic shin-bone at the girls, turning them to stone. The bunyip chased Tyawan, who turned himself into a lyre-bird, but in his efforts to get away, his magic shin-bone became lost.

The bunyip returned to his cave, but to this day, Tyawan continues to search for his magic shin-bone so that he can turn himself and his three daughters back into human form.

Lyre-bird image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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Book Promotion, First Christmas, My Books

Comfort Reads & Christmas in July.

Image courtesy Pixabay

Hi everyone!

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, and/or read some of my stories, you’ll know I don’t write romance per se, but some of my stories do have romantic elements. Writing romance was a part of the craft I needed to improve, which is why I joined Romance Writers of Australia.

As it is now winter here, I was pleasantly surprised to be asked to be a guest on their blog and talk about my comfort read.

But be warned – my book of choice does not fit the modern definition of a romance novel. 😉

So, grab a cuppa. I hope you join me. ☕

Image courtesy Pixabay

Speaking of romance…

In other news, Christmas has come early!

If you’re looking for a romantic read this month, I’ve got together with romance writers to celebrate ‘Christmas in July’.

In fact, I’ve joined two promotions, so there’s over a hundred books for you to choose from!

My book, First Christmas, is included and contains two paranormal romance short stories.

Click the links below for further details.

Christmas Romance in July

Sweet Christmas Romance in July

These promotions are for this month only, so grab them while they last!

Happy reading and have a great weekend. 😊

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Life Lessons, This Writer's Life, Up Close & Personal, Writing

The Writing Journey: Persistence Matters.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

In November of 2019, I self-published my first short story. Since then, I have published two more short stories and recently published my first novella, the first in a series. I have learned a few things along the way, and being an author is an occupation where you are always learning. But I think one of the biggest things I’ve learnt is that indie publishing is not for the faint of heart.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m one of the most determined and obstinate people you will ever find (just ask my husband), but one of my biggest weaknesses is comparing myself to others. I’ve been telling myself (and you here on this blog), that everyone’s writing journey is different, and this is my way to remind myself of this reality. In her book Dear Writer, You Need to Quit, Becca Syme has an entire chapter on the subject – ‘Quit Trying to Be Like Everyone Else.’ It’s good to know that there are other people out there who feel the same way I do. Even though my husband has been telling me this for years, I guess I needed to also hear it from others.

However, back in September 2020, things started to fall down around me. Despite being in a network of other writers, I felt alone. Even though they are lovely people whom I’m happy to have as writing friends, it began to dawn on me that they were not my ‘tribe.’ What I write does not necessarily gel with theirs. I started to pull away and even though I published another book of short stories a couple of months later, I began to go through one of the longest bouts of depression I have ever experienced.

Throughout this period and into a new year, I spent months setting up and sending out newsletters, and preparing my first Gothic novella for publication. I wondered what the point was because nobody cared, no-one was interested. I felt like a complete failure, but I persisted. As recently as April, a month before publication, my husband told me that if I wasn’t enjoying it anymore, then don’t do it. Do something else. I couldn’t stop because writing is all I’ve ever wanted to do. ‘This is me,’ I told him. ‘This is who I am.’ He just didn’t get it.

I like to keep this quote on my desk as a constant reminder.

It was also around this time, that something started to happen, a kind of shift. A fellow writer put me onto David Gaughran’s course ‘Starting from Zero.’ As I prepared my next book for its release, I began to use what he taught me. Shortly after release, a Facebook friend sent me a request to join a group for indie horror writers. From that group, I was asked to participate in a competition for Gothic writers, as well as join a group for Gothic readers (which also included writers). I had finally found my ‘tribe.’

Together, these two incidents, helped make the launch of The Curse of Marsden Hall, my most successful. It reached as high as No.4 in one of its categories on Amazon Australia and was one of its ‘hot new releases.’ This then helped one of my other short stories, First Christmas, reach No.2 (yes, you read that right) in one of its categories on Amazon Australia.

A rare moment of seeing two of my books side by side in the Top 20.

Of-course such a high is short lived and it was a good couple of weeks while it lasted, but it gives me hope that maybe – just maybe – things might be starting to change on my writing journey.

For eight months I struggled with self-doubt and depression, but it was also a journey of self-discovery. I’ve learned who I am as a writer, both in my genre and my process. I’ve come to the conclusion, that although I may not become a big name, what’s important for me is the writing itself, and making my readers happy. Who knows, I might become an ‘overnight success’ by the time I’ve published my 20th book! 😉

Yes, I’ll continue to doubt myself and make mistakes along the way, but I’ve managed to overcome this hurdle. Persistence (and a healthy dose of stubbornness) pays off.

Being an indie author is hard work but there’s no point in worrying about things out of your control. Keep showing up and put yourself out there. Have fun, and love what you do!

It’s been some months since I last posted about writing and my writing journey (and reading this post, you’ll understand why). This hasn’t been an easy post for me to write, but I do so because I prefer to be honest with you and maybe help others who are struggling with their own writing journey.

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Book Promotion, Books, Legacy & Other Short Stories, The Ghost at Willow Creek

Curl Up With a Chilling Read.

Image courtesy Pixabay.

Hi everyone!

It’s time once again for a little shameless promo.

I’ve partnered with other authors this month to give you some spooky reads. From 1-15 June, our books are either Free on Kindle Unlimited or 99cents each.

The collection is a mix of genres, including horror, mystery, and suspense, so there’s something for everyone.

Both my short stories The Ghost at Willow Creek and Legacy and Other Short Stories are on the list! If you haven’t yet read either, now is a good opportunity to try one – or both! 😉

Click this link for details – Chilling Reads

This promotion is for two weeks only, so grab it while it lasts!

Happy reading and have a great weekend. 🙂

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Writing

‘The Curse of Marsden Hall’ is Now Available!

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

The day has finally arrived! My novella, The Curse of Marsden Hall, is now available!

Many thanks to those of you who pre-ordered a copy. I really appreciate it! 🙂 Your support means so much to me. It’s nerve-wracking releasing a book into the world, but knowing that my stories are being read (and enjoyed) is what keeps me going.

Here is the blurb:-

Some things are better left alone.

Australia, 1875.

Successful businessman, Richard Marsden, is going to marry his sweetheart and has built the house of his dreams. Despite the scenic location, Richard’s house in the Wolfrose Mountains sits on land with a chequered past, one full of violence, witchcraft, and murder. He does not believe in curses or superstition.

When something unexpected happens, he wonders if the land he built on is indeed cursed and begins to question his own sanity.

Meanwhile, someone or something is watching… waiting.

Get your copy here!

It is available through Amazon for only $1.20AU ($0.93US).

Thank you for your support and have a lovely weekend! xx

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Australia's Historical Places, Australian Folklore, Ghosts & The Paranormal, Spooky Stories

The Ghost of The Blue Mountains.

Australia’s colonial history has a bloodied past, with some of these stories handed down into folklore. The story of a ghost at Mount Victoria Pass is no exception and had been popularised in Australian literature during the 1890s.

The ghost is believed to be that of a young woman by the name of Caroline Collits. She married her husband, William, in 1840. He came from a respectable family but was generally regarded as a person of ‘weak mind’ and a bit of a spendthrift.

Their marriage was not a happy one, and eventually, Caroline left him and moved in with her sister and brother-in-law, John Walsh. Caroline’s new housing arrangements caused rumours that she was having an affair with her brother-in-law and was regarded as a woman of ‘loose character.’

There was talk of a reconciliation with her husband, and together with her brother-in-law, met William in a local tavern. After leaving the tavern, John Walsh attacked William Collits. Caroline intervened, allowing her husband to escape and called after him to run for his life. This was the last time she was seen alive.

The ghost at Mount Victoria is Australia’s own ‘woman in black’.

Caroline’s battered body was found the following morning near the road on Victoria Pass. Her skull had been smashed in with a large stone, which had been found nearby, covered in her blood and hair. Despite his pleas of innocence, John Walsh was arrested for her murder. He was later convicted and hanged.

In the years that followed, rumours of ghostly encounters surfaced as travellers used the road on cold, windy nights. One such encounter involved a couple of young men whose horse became so spooked, it refused to go any further. As they moved closer to the bridge, the figure of a woman appeared, dressed in black. She did not move or utter a word. One of the young men described her eyes as if ‘there were sparks of fire in ‘em.’ She then went on to raise both her arms and open her mouth, making a noise which ‘sounded like no ‘uman or animal I ever ‘eard.’ The horse bolted, taking his male companions down the road with him.

This story would influence the poet, Henry Lawson, some years later when he came to live in nearby Mount Victoria. One of the verses described the incident as follows: –

Its look appeared to plead for aid
(As far as I could see),
Its hands were on the tailboard laid,
Its eyes were fixed on me.
The face, it cannot be denied
Was white, a dull dead white,
The great black eyes were opened wide
And glistened in the light.

‘The Ghost at the Second Bridge.’ Henry Lawson (1867-1922).

These days, the road is part of a busy highway, where the old bridges are barely visible. It would then come as no surprise that sighting of Caroline’s ghost in the area have not occurred for quite some time.

She may yet wander the road alone, her mournful cries unheard, but her story continues to live on.

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My Books, The Curse of Marsden Hall

‘The Curse of Marsden Hall’ Available for Pre-Order.

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Hi everyone! I hope you are well.

Just a quick post to let you know that my novella, The Curse of Marsden Hall, is now available for pre-order.

It will be released on 21 May, but you can order your copy NOW. It is available through Amazon for only $1.20AU ($0.94US).

Thank you for your support and have a great weekend! 🙂

Subscribe to my newsletter for regular updates and receive an exclusive flash fiction. I’d love it if you could join the discussion! 🙂

My Books, The Curse of Marsden Hall

‘The Curse of Marsden Hall’ is Almost Here!

Here it is everyone! I can finally reveal the cover for my upcoming novella, ‘The Curse of Marsden Hall.’

With this book, I decided to experiment and do something a little bit different. I asked for opinions from some friends on Facebook and was pleased with the feedback I received.

That experiment was putting my other creative side to the test and creating my own cover. As this is the first book in a series (I have two more in the pipeline), I will be creating the covers for those as well. I hope you like it!

Here is the blurb: –

Some things are better left alone.

Australia, 1875.

Successful businessman, Richard Marsden, is going to marry his sweetheart and has built the house of his dreams. Despite the scenic location, Richard’s house in the Wolfrose Mountains sits on land with a chequered past, one full of violence, witchcraft, and murder. He does not believe in curses or superstition.

When something unexpected happens, he wonders if the land he built on is indeed cursed and begins to question his own sanity.

Meanwhile, someone or something is watching… waiting.

* * * * *

‘The Curse of Marsden Hall’ will be released on 21 May. I’ll let you know when it’s ready for pre-order. 🙂

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