WIP Writing Challenge – Fight or flight


At 11p.m. that evening, Robert’s squadron received orders from Lord Edward Cecil. B.P. was planning an attack on Game Tree Fort, a Boer stronghold to the north of Mafeking. The reasons for the proposed attack were two-fold. Firstly, B.P. aimed to capture Creeky [a giant cannon] and stop it wreaking further devastation on the town and, secondly, he wanted to open up the line to the north in order to join forces with the British troops who were reported to be approaching from Gaborone.  In addition, B.P. hoped to gain some additional grazing ground for the town’s cattle as the exiting ground had been devastated by a plague of locusts.

At 3a.m. Robert’s platoon rendezvoused at Dummie Fort to learn the details of the plan. Robert’s fingers tingled with anticipation at the planned offensive attack. It made a difference from the defensive position B.P. had followed to date, and exhilaration at being able to fight upright and out in the open, surged through him. He was tired of firing surreptitiously from a trench like a rat protecting its hole, showing vicious yellow teeth but never getting close enough to bite his tormentor.

C Squadron would lead the attack from their position near the railway line to the west of Game Tree Fort, and Robert’s D Squadron would support them. The armoured train was planned to offer additional support with its small breech loading cannon called a Hotchkiss, and a Maxim. The right flank of the attacking parties would be protected by the Bechuanaland Rifles under Captain Cowan. One troop of A Squadron men, with three seven-pounder guns and one cavalry Maxim, would attack from the left, supported by another two troops from the same squadron.

The stench of sweat and tension hung in the air as the camp waited silently and watchfully in the cold. Robert’s taut nerves made him certain that vengeful eyes were watching them from the cover of the surrounding vegetation. He twisted his head this way and that, looking for any signs of movement in the heavy darkness. He saw nothing. The only sounds were the heavy breathing of his comrades and the crunch of hard ground as they shuffled their feet.

At 4.30a.m. the bark of the first gun rent the cold early morning air. It was still dark and the flash shone brightly, momentarily dazzling them all. Shells from the seven-pounders followed, soaring through the air and exploding around the target in brilliant flaming balls. “The railway line’s been pulled up about half a mile from here,” the message traveled along the lines, just as the men prepared to charge forward. “The armoured train isn’t coming.”

The attackers surged forward as a mass, each focusing on his steps, knowing that if he fell, he would be trampled by those coming afterwards. This is it, thought Robert. There is no flight option left. Now we must fight to win or be slaughtered like pigs.

As Robert ran, legs pumping and his bayonet held at the ready, the guns of the supporting artillery and the Maxim roared to life, intensifying the din which swirled around him like mist. He was conscious of the men of D Squadron around him, as well as those of the C Squadron about three hundred yards ahead of him. A great surge of comradery surged through him as these men, his brotherhood, charged forward through the smoke, directly into a hail of bullets from the Boer musketry.  Death seemed certain, but, at this precise moment, this did not matter to Robert, over whose mind a cloud of red anger and lust for blood had descended. The anger prevented fear and grew in its intensity as the occasional figure, including that of Captain Fitzclarence, dropped around him in small explosions of red.

C Squadron reached the fort, which was hidden by bushes, and the guns roared; the sound growing and swelling into a terrific and discordant orchestra. Robert and his men slowed their forward momentum as they watched more ghostly forms falling, to lie in ghastly bleeding piles on the ground. The few men still standing started to fall back, shouting at D Squadron to follow suit. “The walls are too high… Impossible to mount without scaling ladders,” the shouts filled the air, mingling with the gunfire and moans, groans and cries of the wounded.

Robert and another man, William, picked up their captain as they slowly and deliberately retraced their steps. The blood lust had faded from their eyes and their moods had turned sullen. Expressions of dejection had settled on some faces. The Boers stopped their fire as soon as the retreat commenced, and the resultant silence felt heavy on Robert, like a shroud. These Boers are decent men. They could pick a lot more of us off now if they kept shooting.

Moving backwards, lugging the heavy body, was immeasurably hard. His overtaxed leg and back muscles trembled, and his sweat slicked hands slipped and slid under the captain’s arms.  Robert expelled a sigh of relief when he and William were finally able to lay their burden down at a designated spot near to the stranded armoured train. His legs refused to hold him up any longer and he sank to his knees. That was when he noticed  the blood. A bullet had grazed his chest and he hadn’t even noticed. Blood had stained his shirt and run down into his pants. He pulled his lips back into a grimace as pain seared his side. It was like being slammed with a club.

This extract from my WIP is shared for Didi Oviatt’s monthly challenge as follows:

So, for January 2020, the first month of this year, not only do I challenge you to write your characters in a dire FIGHT OR FLIGHT scene, but I dare you to. This isn’t an easy challenge, so naturally I expect only those who are truly ready for a challenge to step up to the task!

You can join in here: https://didioviatt.wordpress.com/2020/01/04/jan-wip-writing-challenge-fight-or-flight/

#Booktour – Author Interview

Thank you to https://readeropolis.blogspot.com/ for hosting me today for my Through the Nethergate book tour. This post includes an author interview about my intended audience for this book and why that audience should read it. There is also a Giveaway you can enter from Brooke Blogs. Thank you to Great Escapes Book Tours for organising this tour.


Author Interview

Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

This novel is aimed at young adults and adults who enjoy supernatural fantasy. It is essentially a story of good versus evil and includes a modern take on hell and Lucifer. Technology is used by the villains in the book as a vehicle for evil and I thought this would resonate with younger readers. One reviewer stated that “Cheadle ties in current events including the war in Syria, mass shootings, xenophobia, economic disenfranchisement and “fake news” – all the work of the devil.” I feel this quote aptly recognizes what I was aiming to achieve with this book. A manipulation of current events to demonstrate how they can lead to conflict and evil. The main theme of this book is that good always overcomes evil in the end.

How did you come up with the title of your book or series?

The idea for this book came to me while I was writing my book, While the Bombs Fell, which is a fictionalized autobiography about my mother’s life growing up as a young girl during World War II in the town of Bungay, Suffolk in England. 

While I was doing research for this book, I discovered legend of the black dog of Bungay and this led to my undertaking further research. I learned that black dog was thought to be the spirit of Hugh Bigod, the second son of Roger Bigod who built Bungay Castle in 1100, and who was a most evil man during his lifetime. 

Hugh is traditionally believed to haunt the town in his canine guise. This interesting legend was linked to a number of other stories about famous and less famous ghosts that are believed to haunt various places in the town, and this gave me the idea of writing a book of short stories about these ghosts and how they died. 

Nethergate is the street in Bungay where my mother lived as a young girl. Nethergate also means the gate to the netherworld or hell. A discussion with my mother about the meaning of Nethergate gave rise to the name of this book, Through the Nethergate. It seemed very appropriate given the subject matter of the book and its links to Bungay and my mother’s childhood.

Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image?

The talented Tim Barber from Dissect Designs designed the cover for me. We came up with this idea together. I wanted a cover that depicted a young girl going down into a cellar. My original idea was for the flames of hell to be rising from the cellar. Tim plucked this idea almost out of my head and created the current cover which I loved straight away. 

The reason I wanted the girl going into a cellar is because the cellar of the inn in Bungay is where this story starts. It shares a wall with Bungay Castle and, in the book, it is haunted by Hugh Bigod and a number of his ghostly slaves. Quite a bit of the action in the book is set in the cellar.

The main character, Margaret, is a sixteen year old girl and I though the silhouette of a girl was the perfect image to portray her and to send the message that this is predominantly a YA novel, although adults can read and enjoy it too.

Give us an interesting fun fact or a few about your book or series:
What other books are similar to your own?  What makes them alike?

I am a big fan of Stephen King’s earlier works and dystopian novels. I have also read and loved classic fiction like Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I think that these authors and genre’s have had an influence on my choice of genre and style of writing.

Through the Nethergate is a story about good versus evil in much the same manner as The Stand and Salem’s Lot by Stephen King and Dracula by Bram Stoker although my villains are ghosts and the devil rather than vampires. My description of my villains is different to these books, however, as I have created an incredibly attractive and desirable villain rather than an elderly and/or frightening looking one.

The idea of ghosts coming to life and doing harm to humans is not knew but I think the idea of the ghosts reincarnating and regaining human attributes is unique. The modern setting and concept of hell as a stock broker dealing in human souls is also unique, as far as I am aware. There is a strong focus on faith in this book which is probably a result of my Catholic upbringing and years spent attending a convent. I have no negative thoughts about this period of my life and find the mysticism and superstitious nature of the Catholic Church fascinating.

Do you have any unique talents or hobbies?

I collect antique and vintage dolls which my family finds very creepy. They do not like my doll collection, which is in the region of about sixty dolls. My family finds the eyes particularly unsettling.

I do a lot of baking and create figurines, flowers and animals out of sugar dough or fondant. I have seven children’s book about a little man called Sir Chocolate who lives in a world where you can eat everything, including the houses, flowers and trees. Sir Chocolate goes around helping his friends put wrong things right. I wrote the Sir Chocolate series of books with my son, Michael, who was aged six to ten years old at the time.

Continue reading here: https://readeropolis.blogspot.com/2020/01/through-nethergate-by-robertaeaton17.html


#Bookreview – My Gentle War (Memoir of an Essex girl) by Joy Lennick

Book reviews

What Amazon says

My Gentle War is the story of a young girl and her family. Ripped away from the home she loved, from her friends, and familiar surroundings, she spends her formative years in the comparative safety of the Welsh Valleys. With the World at War, and her father sent to the battlefields of Europe, her war is fought holding back tears whilst waiting for news of her father, never knowing whether she will see him again. This is the story of a young girl learning to live a new life, holding her family together in unfamiliar surroundings, all the while dreaming of the father that was forced to leave her. My Gentle War is Joy’s story.

My review

My Gentle War is a delightful memoir about the life on a little girl, aged seven years old when war was declared in 1939, and her family as they navigated the changing landscape of everyday life in war time Britain. Joyce’s family lived a middle class life in Dagenham, London when the war started and her father and his brother, Bernard, signed up with the Royal Air Force to go and fight. Joyce’s parents decide that it will be safer for her mother, two younger brothers and herself to go and live with her family in Merthyr Tydfil in Wales. The book describes in great detail the difference between her father’s beautifully cultivated garden filled with gorgeous flowers in Dagenham and the wild and lonely beauty of life in the Welsh mountains. Her father’s sadness at having to ruin his garden by building a bomb shelter in the middle of it is the first insight the reader has of the changes that are going to come.

The second insight comes when the author describes the chaos of Paddington Station when her father leaves to go and fight in France and the rest of the family depart for Wales. It is not that easy for an evacuee to fit into life in a rural village, but Joyce and her brothers are young enough to do so without to many problems and, other than one incident when Joyce has a broken glass bottle thrown at her, they all settle into their new life and school. The hard life in Wales is detailed through the memories of the little girl who sees the poverty and learns about the hardship inflicted by the depression prior to the war, on this mining town. The risks of mining are also described through the chronic lung disease suffered by her uncle and the death of a young cousin in the coal mine. The joys of life for children are also expressed with the town arranging concerts staring the children, a picnic and other forms of entertainment. During the early part of the, the bombs do not reach Wales and the food shortages have not as yet bitten.

Throughout the war, Joyce’s family go between places of refuge, initially Wales, and their London home which they return to when her father is home on leave and intermittently while her mother is doing war work in London.

For the last part of the war, Joyce and her brothers become real evacuees are are sent to live with strangers away from London and the buzz bombs. This particular part of this memoir made me realise how fortunate my own mother was during her days growing up in the war. Her family never had to leave their home town of Bungay and were able to stay on their farm throughout the war.

I really enjoyed this memoir which reads like a conversation and tells of life for Joyce and her mother and siblings in Britain and also tells of some of her father’s experiences of the war in France, including the lead up to the evacuation of Dunkirk, through extracts of his diary and letters home. For people who are interested in World War II and particularly every day life for people during this terrible time, this is a wonderful and eye opening book.

Purchase My Gentle War (Memoir of an Essex Girl)

Amazon US

My Gentle War by Joy Lennick (2015-02-05) Paperback



#Openbook – My top three distractions while writing


This week the topic is:

What are your top three distractions and how do you deal with them?

I saw the blog hop topic this morning and I have spent the day thinking about it on and off. I have come to the conclusion that I am not easily distracted from what I want to do and I get frustrated when I have to spend time doing things that I consider unimportant and trivial in the pursuit of my goals, both personal and for work.

There are things that must be done before I can write such as working at my day job [and full weekend end job in respect of this one just past], seeing to my sons and making sure they have food, drink and get their homework done [to my standards], spending time with my parents, especially my mom, my aunt and my husband’s family and listening to my husband’s work tales. These are not distractions, these are my life.

Social media could be a distraction, but I consider it to be an important part of my brand building and book marketing. I limit the social media I participate in to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. I don’t consider WordPress and blogging to be a social media. I consider it to be a discussion group where authors and writers share ideas, thoughts, experiences, extracts of their books, book reviews and other interesting things. All of these things help me grow and I feel a sense of belonging with other writers, readers and blogging as we all share common interests. I do limit my time on all social media and WP so that it doesn’t take over my time.

I have some other hobbies such as baking and fondant art, but these also feed into my writing and blogging life so are an important part of who I am and my author and blogging persona.

I love writing because it is a solo hobby. My blogging and other friends are part of my writing life but not part of the actual writing experience which I do alone. I love that my writing is all mine and I can work to my own timelines, write when it suits me and change my mind and direction without consulting others and relying on inputs from them. It is the most wonderful thing to be totally independent of others.

What are your distractions from writing? Let me know in the comments or join in with your own post here:

What distractions affect other blog-hoppers? Click on the blue button below to find out, or just add a comment.


1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
5. Put a banner on your blog that you are participating.


You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Author interview: Robbie Cheadle

Thank you, Esther Chilton, for hosting me on your blog today with this author interview. I really enjoyed answering your questions, especially What’s the hardest thing you find about being a writer?

Many of you will know the very talented author, Robbie Cheadle. I’m thrilled she agreed to be my author interviewee this week. In the interview, she tells us about her latest book, how she goes about her detailed research for each of her books, how she gets her ideas and much more.

Q. Your book Through the Nethergate, for young adults,was published in the summer. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

A. Through the Nethergate is essentially a story of the on-going battle between good and evil in the world. What differentiates this book from other books with a similar theme, is that there are a lot of historical characters woven into the storyline who tell their stories as part of the overarching storyline. In addition, technology and modern politics are tools used by the devil to manipulate people, on mass, into negative and potentially evil thinking.

Margaret is a young girl, recently orphaned and sent to live with her grandfather in an ancient inn in the English town of Bungay. Margaret has a gift whereby she can see ghosts and when she is in close proximity to them, they reincarnate. The inn is haunted by a number of ghosts who are all slaves to their evil master, Hugh Bigod, the most powerful of the phantoms. The ghosts hope to use Margaret’s gift to escape their eternal servitude, but things don’t go as planned when Hugh comes up with his own plan for Margaret. Margaret and the ghosts soon realise that Hugh’s evil is nothing in comparison to Lucifer, the guardian of hell.

Through the Nethergate by [Cheadle, Roberta Eaton]

Q. You clearly enjoy writing books with a supernatural theme. What do you most enjoy about writing in this genre?

A. From a very young age I enjoyed ghost stories and I started reading books by Stephen King and Peter Straub at ten years old. They scared me to death, but I loved them. My favourite stories were the ones about ghosts and other mythical creatures. I also enjoyed books based on “real-life” supernatural events like the story of the Mary Celeste and the ships and aeroplanes that have disappeared in the Bermuda triangle. I have a few books about South African ghosts which I have read many times over the years and which are treasured possessions.

I enjoy writing in this genre because ghosts interest me. I like to find out the basic details of a ghostly presence and then make up a story about their lives and how they died weaving in the true facts. I find this type of writing comes easily to me and I have lots of ideas for stories which makes it appealing to me.

Q. You also enjoy writing horror stories. Which do you prefer and why?

A. Many of my horror stories are also paranormal or supernatural in nature. It is easy for me to imagine the rage and anguish of a ghost who did badly and wants revenge on a person or group of people.

The first two horror stories I wrote for one of Dan Alatorre’s short story competitions were The Willow Tree and The Haunting of William, both of which appear in Dark Visions, a horror anthology, edited by Dan Alatorre. The Willow Tree is about a serial killer and is based on a real murder that occurred when I was a child and the bodies of the victims were found under a willow tree outside a shopping centre. I don’t recall any of the details, so this a fictionalised account, but the idea of bodies under willow trees haunted me for years afterwards. The Haunting of William was developed from a two-sentence account I read of a ghost who committed suicide after discovering she was pregnant and that her lover had left her.

The three short stories I wrote for inclusion in Nightmareland, the sequel to Dark Visions, are all paranormal horror stories. The Siren Witch is about a flesh eating witch who enchants her victims through her lovely singing and them murders them. A Death without Honour is about an escaped convict who murders a couple in the mountains near Paarl in South Africa. The Path to Atonement features a young girl who commits suicide and blames her employer and certain colleagues for her death. She sets out to destroy them all.

One of the two short stories published in Whispers of the Past paranormal anthology, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth is about a controlling grandmother who comes back to haunt her granddaughter after her death. This is my favourite of all the short stories I have written as I love the idea of this grandmother who was like Sinbad the Sailor’s “old man of the sea” during her life time. The other short story, Missed Signs, is about a boy who contracts rabies.

I don’t really have a preference, but I do seem to gravitate towards the paranormal in my historical and horror writing.

Carry on reading here: https://esthernewtonblog.wordpress.com/2020/01/17/author-interview-robbie-cheadle/


#Booktour – A lovely review and the use of technology in Through the Nethergate

Thank you toThe Book’s the Thing blog for hosting me today for Day 4 of my Through the Nethergate book tour. This post includes a lovely review for Though the Nethergate as well as a post about the use of technology in the book. There is also a Giveaway you can enter from Brooke Blogs. Thank you to Great Escapes Book Tours for organising this tour.


Margaret, a girl born with second sight, has the unique ability to bring ghosts trapped between Heaven and Hell back to life. When her parents die suddenly, she goes to live with her beloved grandfather, but the cellar of her grandfather’s ancient inn is haunted by an evil spirit of its own.

In the town of Bungay, a black dog wanders the streets, enslaving the ghosts of those who have died unnatural deaths. When Margaret arrives, these phantoms congregate at the inn, hoping she can free them from the clutches of Hugh Bigod, the 12th century ghost who has drawn them away from Heaven’s White Light in his canine guise.

With the help of her grandfather and the spirits she has befriended, Margaret sets out to defeat Hugh Bigod, only to discover he wants to use her for his own ends – to take over Hell itself.


Through the Nethergate is a young adult paranormal story revolving around a young girl, Margaret, who moves into her grandfather’s inn and is confronted with an abundance of spirits. The majority of these spirits only want Margaret’s help to set them free, but she will discover that some have much more sinister plans for her.

I found this young adult novel to be a quick, entertaining read. Margaret is a brave young woman and someone it’s easy to root for. Some of the spirits come straight out of the history books, which makes them that much more engaging. I think most middle-grade and younger teens with a taste for spooky stories will really enjoy this one.

I feel privileged to be able to share with you the following guest post from the author, Roberta Eaton Cheadle.

The use of technology in Through The Nethergate

One of the recent reviews for Through the Nethergate states the following:

“Another interesting aspect of the book is the way technology is identified as a vehicle for evil. Hell looks like an office building full of cubicles. Cheadle ties in current events including the war in Syria, mass shootings, xenophobia, economic disenfranchisement, and “fake news” – all the work of the devil.” – Amazon review

I made use of a lot of different types of technology in Through the Nethergate. I chose to do this when writing this book for young adults, as technology is what makes our modern world go around. It is hard for me to believe, looking back over my life, that I received my first computer when I started my articles for my training as a chartered accountant when I was 24 years old. Prior to that, I didn’t have a computer and all my work for school and university was done by hand. Nowadays, I can’t imagine you could manage a university course without access to a laptop, the internet and possibly a cell phone.

Finish reading here: https://booksthething.com/2020/01/18/through-the-nethergate-by-roberta-eaton-cheadle-guest-post-giveaway/

#Booktour – Characterization: Katharine de Montacute and a review


I am over at I Read What You Write blog with a guest post: Characterization: Katharine de Montacute, one of the ghostly characters from Through the Nethergate, and there is a lovely review of the book included. Thank you to I Read What You Write for hosting me and to Great Escapes Book Tours for organising this tour. You can find the details here: https://www.escapewithdollycas.com/great-escapes-virtual-book-tours/books-currently-on-tour/through-the-nethergate-by-roberta-eaton-cheadle/

Characterization: Katharine de Montacute
by Roberta Eaton Cheadle

Katharine is a young girl born in the 14th century to a wealthy family dominated by her grandfather, Sir Edward de Montacute. She is a beautiful girl and has a wonderful life with a secret admirer who she hopes to marry until her father decides to enter her into the Benedictine Priory in Bungay. She feels obligated to follow her father’s wishes and joins the Priory as a novice.

Katharine hates life in the convent as she is in love with her admirer, William, and devoted to her family. She struggles to adjust to losing them all and being compelled to devote her life to prayer and charity. She manages to make contact with William from within the convent and they make a plan for her to escape and for them to run away together. Naturally, this does not work out as intended or hoped, and it ends in the death of Katharine. Her resentment at the time of her unnatural and harsh death, enables Hugh Bigod, the black dog of Bungay, to pursue her to turn away from Heaven’s white light and remain in the Overworld as a ghost. Katharine joins the ranks of Hugh Bigod’s ghostly slaves.

Katharine meets Margaret fairly early in the book and, as a result of this meeting, reincarnates and regains her physical form.

She is an intelligent woman, but is a product of her time and is physically and emotionally submissive to firstly, her father and subsequently to William and then Hugh Bigod. Her intelligence is demonstrated when she takes the lead in explaining the situation to Margaret’s grandfather after she is kidnapped and also takes the initiative in going to fetch Father Merton when he is identified as the man who can help them with their difficult situation. She is also the incarnate that gives Margaret the information about how Hugh Bigod would possibly be overthrown.

Katharine is empathetic and feels terrible when she realises that the ambitions of the ghost to use Margaret’s powers to help them escape their eternal servitude has put her in danger. Her guilt is exposed during her conversation with Father Merton at his rectory:

“Katharine had finished speaking and was looking at him. Her lower lip trembled and tears formed in her luminous eyes. “I feel so guilty. Our desire to be free of the Master caused this.
Our servitude was our own choice. We then chose to ask Margaret for help to free our spirits and now she’s been taken.””

Continue reading here: https://ireadwhatyouwrite.wordpress.com/2020/01/16/guest-post-characterization-katharine-de-montacute-by-roberta-eaton-cheadle/