Kids Conference – highlights

During late October last year, I participated (upon an invite) in a wonderful conference for kids held in Victoria.

It was a fantastic day. The children could choose from a number of different activities, including:

Hip Hop



Writing (fun storytelling and poetry)



Aboriginal Art

Weird Science


Wild Animals

Yes, you can easily guess which was the activity I was involved in.

Anyway, I recently stumbled upon the highlights on YouTube, which I thought I’d share with you.

And if you can’t pick me, I am the one with the purple wig and spider on my head.

Oh, and happy Halloween (if you celebrate it).


Posted in All my posts | Tagged , | Leave a comment

If you are a poet and an Australian …

Helen Ross:

For Aussie Poets …

Originally posted on Gabrielle Bryden's Blog:

if would be a terrific idea for you to become a member of Australian Poetry :D

poetscornerHear Ye Poets!

Here is a message from AP


‘As you know, Australian Poetry is a non-profit charity organisation established to promote and support Australian poets and poetry.

We receive funding from the Australia Council and Arts Victoria to support our operations. Critically, however, that funding only goes part way to covering the costs of our ongoing programs. We are dependent upon the support of our members to keep operating.

Australian Poetry wishes to thank all of those who have sponsored, made a donation or contribution to the organisation. Without your generous financial contribution, Australian Poetry could not exist.

Unfortunately, the number of Australian Poetry financial members has recently dropped. As a national organisation, we are disappointed but not discouraged. We believe that there are many more Australians who care about poetry in…

View original 133 more words

Posted in All my posts | 1 Comment

The Summoning of The One virtual blog tour

This week it is my pleasure to host author, Royce Bond during his virtual blog tour for his new book, The Summoning of The One (Book 2 in The Knights of Katesch), published by Morris Publishing.

Rockhampton resident, Royce Bond, published his first book, Kitchen Science, with Ashton Scholastic after he won the prestigious National B.H.P. /C.S.I.R.O. Science Teacher’s Award. This book was used in schools throughout Australia, New Zealand, South East Asia, and in some schools in South America. Many books in the science field followed.

Since his retirement, he has changed his writing to young adult fantasy novels. The Princess and The Pirate, the first in the series The Knights of Katesch was published by Morris Publishing Australia in 2013.

Before we meet Royce, here’s a little about The Summoning of The One -

Andrew Weatherby, a bullied computer nerd from Central Queensland is ripped from his world to lead The Knights of Katesch in their direct attack on Maligor the Destroyer. In the midst of the battle in Mountain City, he rescues princess Katarin to find he has been betrothed to her since birth.

This feisty young lady risks her life to save Andrew. The Knights believe that have finally defeated Maligor after ten thousand years of conflict. In an attempt to escape the fanatic red guards seeking revenge for the death of their god, Agmar accidentally releases a monster army: the Kazdoom. (Fantasy/Adventure 12 years +)

Cover front The Summoning of One by Royce Bond

Without further ado, let’s find out where Royce gets his ideas for his books.

Welcome Royce.

royce bond 2 Morris Publishing Book Tour 14 Sept 2014

My pleasure, Helen

Could you please describe your book in five words or less.



Action packed


How did the ideas for your book come to you?

As a child, I worked on market gardens with my family. Picking beans doesn’t use much of the brain, so I found myself daydreaming while I was working. I dreamt that I had all of these exciting adventures in different worlds and with fantasmagorical creatures.

I used to play act at home that I was an archer, saving people from dragons and tyrants. My father would make swords out of pieces of tin so I could be a swordsman in the back yard, when we weren’t on the farms.

The ideas for this story had decades to develop in my mind.  In my daydreams on the farms, I have had all of these adventures, with the characters that are in this book.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes. Life has a way of bringing adventures into our lives at the most unexpected times and in the most unexpected ways. In fact, when we step out of the door each morning we may be taking the first step into an adventure that could whisk us to places we have never been before, to meet people we never thought we’d ever meet and to do things we had never imagined.

Watch out for the adventure. It may be around the next corner.


Sept. 14th

Sept. 15th

Sept. 16th

Sept. 17th

Sept. 18th

Sept. 19th

Sept. 20th

Sept. 21st

Sept. 22nd

Sept. 23rd

Sept. 24th

Sept. 25th

Sept. 26th

For any updates please check the blog tour by selecting the link below.

Stockists: Wholesale and Retail Orders:

Dennis Jones and Associates –

James Bennett library suppliers

Peter Pal library suppliers

eBook available on Amazon, Smashwords and many online stores.

To book Royce for School visits:

Royce is available for school visits. Please phone Elaine on 07 54 981 332 or email

The Summoning of The One – Book 2 in The Knights of Katesch

Cover front The Summoning of One by Royce Bond

AUTHOR:       Royce Bond

ISBN:               978-0-9925052-0-2

FORMATS:     eBook and  Paperback

PUBLISHER:  Morris Publishing Australia

CATEGORY:   Fantasy/adventure

AUDIENCE:   12 +

Author’s  website:

Publisher’s website:

Posted in Australian writers, author promotion, Blog tours, Helen Ross writes, Interviews-successful Independently published Australian authors, Virtual blog tours | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Meet Ashleigh Galvin, author of Birth by Fire’s Embrace

I always find it fascinating discovering when and how writers take their first steps on their writing path. So it is my pleasure to welcome talented Australian author Ashleigh Galvin to my blogging corner, and find out the inspiration behind her writing journey.

Ashleigh is currently promoting her first novel, Birth By Fire’s Embrace (part one of her Amethyst series), published by Spectacle Publishing Media Group, LLC.

Birth By Fire's Embrace Cover

I love the front cover - the colours are very vivid.

So without further ado, let’s meet Ashleigh.

Welcome Ashleigh.

Ashleigh Galvin Author

Thanks Helen for inviting me to your blog.

My pleasure.

Ashleigh, could you tell us a little about yourself and your writing journey?

I’m a bookaholic. I’ve written three books at this stage. Birth By Fire’s Embrace is currently released with Standing In The Wind’s Shadow coming out later this year. Book 3 of the Amethyst series is in the editing process. I’ve been writing since I could hold a pencil and using my imagination for even longer. To me becoming a writer was as natural as breathing. If I don’t get my stories down onto paper and out of my head, they tend to haunt me constantly for weeks, demanding to be realised. As such, I currently have fifteen potential book ideas (not including the Amethyst series) waiting to be written. I’m going to be busy but as they say, no rest for the wicked.

Did you always want to be a writer?

I’ve been creating stories ever since I was young so I think I did always want to be a writer. Having said that, I only considered becoming an author in High School. I had always read books and wrote stories. So one night I sat down with my laptop and I started planning a full novel, longer than anything I had ever written before. It took me over two years to finish. But I had done it. It was a major victory and a great inspiration to continue. I had found that, not only did I enjoy reading books, writing was just as fantastic. If not, more so. Now it takes me a few short months to write a novel.

Did you love reading as a child? If so, what were you favorite books? Who is your favourite author and why?

I was a very active child and sometimes it got me in into trouble with teachers. I had too much energy. I didn’t know what to do with it all. My mother introduced me to reading. All that energy suddenly ended up inside my head and I couldn’t stop devouring book after book. My favorite authors are probably Tamora Pierce, Emily Rodda, Anne McCaffrey and Piers Anthony. Their books take up a very large portion of my bookshelves. The aspect I probably love most about their books are the Fantasy realms they create.

Your first published novel, Birth By Fire’s Embrace, was released in May 2013. Could you tell us the inspiration behind this novel?

The story for the Amethyst series (which Birth By Fire’s Embrace is the first book) came to me as a day dream while I was still in High School. I spent a few years mulling over the idea, changing the storyline and improving until I just knew I had to write it down. The plans for Birth By Fire’s Embrace and indeed the whole Amethyst series has changed immensely since those early days.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block or did encounter any other obstacles during the writing process of your book?

I don’t get writer’s block very often as I tend to plan my book quite thoroughly even before I start writing them. It helps because when I start every chapter I know exactly where the characters are going. It’s simply the matter of getting them there.

Have you written in any other genre?

While most of my plans and novels are Fantasy, I do have plans for a Thriller and some Sci-Fi novels as well. My primary genre is Fantasy and even if I branch out, I’d like to subtly incorporate Fantasy aspects into other genres.

Some writers have a preferred writing schedule.  Do you?

Not really. I write whenever I get the chance. Sometimes I have a burst of inspiration and I must scribble down what I’m thinking no matter where I am. Mostly I write at home at night.

Do you have a favourite place to write?

I write at my desk in my bedroom. It’s slightly cramped but better than nothing. If I get uncomfortable, I write on my laptop in bed instead. Perfect for those chilly winter nights.

What is your greatest joy in writing?

I love being able to create stories and characters. I watch them grow and become real people as my novels progress. Seeing the insane thoughts in my head appear on paper as intricate storylines is very satisfying.

Is there one person you can think of who has played a significant part in your writing career? If so, can you elaborate?

I think one of the most influential people would have to be my mother. She read my first stories when I was young and never stopped supporting me. She’s had the patience to read every one of my edits and always has the best suggestions for how to improve.

What projects are you working on now?

My current project is editing Book 3 of the Amethyst series. Once that’s complete, I will either start on Book 4 or try a side project. I haven’t decided yet.

What attributes do you feel are necessary to be a successful author?

Patience and perseverance. The ability to never give up and always try to become a better writer. Creativity helps too.

What words best describe you?

Imaginative, thoughtful, nice, determined and just a touch nutty.

Do you have any tips for writers about the writing process or the path to publishing?

Never stop writing. Ever. If you don’t write, you’re not a writer. Every word written will help you grow and learn. Ask questions and seek advice. Writing a good book is like building a house. You have to learn the rules of your trade before you can master it. Also don’t be afraid to fail. Failing isn’t that bad. It means you tried and can try again once you’ve learnt your mistake. The worse thing that can ever happen is not to try at all.

Where can we buy your books?

My novels can be bought at all the usual sites. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, IBook etc. Just google the book title, Birth By Fire’s Embrace and all the stores will appear. The ebook can be purchased for as little as $6.

And Ashleigh, just to finish up, could you please complete the following:

At school I was … always really bored. I started daydreaming in class because it was more interesting.

When I was a child I wanted to be … an archeologist. It’s still my ultimate job however it’s very hard to become one in Australia. Becoming an Author was an extremely close second.

I relax by … having a 2L bottle of coke in hand and a game controller in the other.

Where can we find out more about you? 

Website/Blog address:


Book Reviews at: Amazon

Birth By Fire's Embrace Cover(

Thanks so much Ashleigh for sharing your journey and for your inspiring tips.  

We wish you all the best with the promotion of Birth By Fire’s Embrace, and with the forthcoming release of Standing In The Wind’s Shadow.

Thanks Helen.

And if you love Fantasy don’t forget to check out Ashleigh’s books.

Don’t go yet, there’s more!

The following information has been taken from the publisher’s website:

Birth by Fire’s Embrace

A taut fantasy for all ages, Birth by Fire’s Embrace explores how drastically things can change when the world that lies just beyond our senses begins to surface. When all that is familiar vanishes from Shar’s life, she begins to look inside and find the strength and courage to carry on in a harsh world, and look towards another world that lies ahead.

Available in all formats!

Link to the Publisher’s press release for Birth by Fire’s Embrace:

Helen Ross interviews Ashleigh Galvin Copyright 25 August 2014.

Posted in All my posts, Australian writers, Blog tours, Helen Ross writes, Interviews | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Review of Suburban Terrors by Pauline Montagna

Do we really know what secrets lurk behind the tall fences and locked doors of our city’s suburbs?


Suburban Terrors by Pauline Montagna is a collection of twelve stories that delve into that mysterious realm, prompting the realisation that not everything is always as normal as it may seem.

The settings are typical suburban settings that readers can relate to but with a twist. I love that Pauline used Australian suburban names and references, and being from Melbourne I could relate to the imaginative The Loop. (FYI – Melbourne’s underground circular train system around the city centre is referred to as the Loop or City Loop). This story is based on an observation of Pauline’s during a tram ride in Hanover, Germany in 1998. Pauline has turned this anecdote into a tale with a great twist. I found it a very compelling read.

Whilst the collection could be described as suburban suspense, it is an eclectic mix of stories incorporating elements of suspense, eeriness, the spine-tingling, and similar; ranging from the imaginative twist in The Loop, the chilling I Know What You Did, the entertaining The Dognappers and the intriguing Into The Darkness. There are a couple of expected endings, however all are entertaining and well-written.

Pauline Montagna is a skilful writer, and each story is well-honed. Though the stories are short this writer knows how to bring a character to life, through relatable descriptions, dialogue and characteristics. I particularly loved the old couple in A Hostage Situation.

I enjoyed this collection of suburban suspense but I think my favourite is Last Fare, an intriguing taxi fare.

The paperback of Suburban Terrors is of a nice size to take along on a train ride, or whilst sitting in a café. But beware, you may start wondering what is really lurking nearby.

Giveaway eBook competition

To be in the running for an eBook of Suburban Terrors, click here:

Where to Buy the Book

As an eBook for $2.99 -

Author’s website at:


As a Paperback for $12.79 -


And if you missed my interview with Pauline this morning, chatting about the inspiration behind Suburban Terrors, please click on the following link: Here you will also find a sample story, The Dognappers.


Please note:


Due to my current time constraints please do not send me requests for reviews of books. Any reviews  I undertake and place on my blog (such as this one) are due to my invitation ie. I have shown interest in reviewing, and subsequently contacted the author or publisher. Thank you for your understanding.

Posted in Australian writers, author promotion, Helen Ross writes, Reviews of independently published books, Virtual blog tours | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Pauline Montagna’s ‘Surburban Terrors’ Virtual Blog Tour

This week author Pauline Montagna is busy dropping by many blog sites as part of her Surburban Terrors Virtual Blog Tour.

suburban_smashcoverToday, she drops by my blog. First, a little about Pauline.

Pauline Montagna was born into an Italian family in Melbourne, Australia. After obtaining a BA in French, Italian and History, she indulged her artistic interests through amateur theatre, while developing her accounting skills through a wide variety of workplaces culminating in the Australian film industry. In her mid-thirties, Pauline returned to university and qualified as a teacher of English as Second Language, a profession she pursued while completing a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing. She has now retired from teaching to concentrate on her writing. She has published two books, The Slave, an historical romance set in Medieval Italy and Suburban Terrors, a short story collection.

Welcome Pauline.

Thanks Helen for hosting me during my virtual blog tour.

My pleasure, and congratulations on Suburban Terrors. It is an enjoyable read.

Could you tell us about the inspiration behind Suburban Terrors?

You could say that the inspiration for Suburban Terrors came from a story in my local paper. As a teacher of English to migrants, I’ve found that the local newspaper is a great resource. It’s free, you get a new one every week, and it gives you lots of information about the local area. We were reading an article I found there about a car chase. The police were chasing a stolen car down a suburban street. The stolen car clipped another car that flipped over trapping the two elderly passengers, then crashed into a front fence. The driver leapt out of the car, jumped over a few back fences and tried to hide under a house that was being renovated. Unfortunately for him, he was found by the builder who kept him trapped there until the police came for him. Soon after that I was asked to write a horror story in Short Story class. I’m not much of a horror fan, but I do like ghost stories and I remembered that newspaper article. What if, I thought, the car thief had actually got inside a house, a house that belonged to an elderly couple that were in that car he hit? And what if the couple didn’t survive, but had been killed? So combining that thought with characters inspired by real people, I wrote the earliest story in the collection – A Hostage Situation – though what you’ll read in the book is a later version of the original story. The success of this story inspired me to start thinking about putting together a collection of similar stories and Suburban Terrors was born.

Do you have a favourite character or story in this collection? If so, which one and why?

Now you’re asking me to choose between my children!  I love them all. I hope my readers will, too.

Are there any stories in Suburban Terrors based on your own experiences? If so, could you elaborate on one of them?

Jim-from-next-door is based on my own neighbour when I lived in Perth. It so closely follows the actual facts that I would give the whole story away if I told you all about it, so I won’t. Suffice to say that while the narrator is fictitious, almost everything that happens between her and Jim (OK so I spiced it up a bit) actually happened, though not all to one woman. Instead I’ll tell you about the origins of ‘In the Loop’. In 1998 I went to Germany and spent a few days with a friend in Hanover. One day we caught the tram into town where we witnessed a rather strange incident. A couple of young students got on the tram. He was dark and handsome and she was pretty with long blonde hair. They spent most of their time in a prolonged kiss. Soon the boyfriend got off leaving the girl behind and they lovingly waved goodbye. At the same stop another dark and handsome young man got on with a male friend. He would have seen the fond parting. Although he continued to talk to his friend, he found it difficult to keep his eyes off the girl. She knew he was looking at her and pretended very ardently that she didn’t notice and didn’t invite it. In fact, she could have easily avoided his gaze by sitting in a nearby seat with her back to him, but she didn’t and remained standing where he could see her, even after he and his friend sat down. All three got off at the same stop which was a major intersection in the city’s underground. The last I saw of them he was following hard on her heels up the escalator. I dearly wished I could see what came next. This was one of the rare occasions when I wrote such an observation down. (Truth to tell, I’m not much of an observer of life, living mostly in my head as I do.) The incident was certainly intriguing, but the problem was how to turn it from an anecdote into a story, and a story with a twist at that. Finally the answer came to me. Here in Melbourne our suburban trains also go underground in the city centre in a circular system we call the Loop. Trains enter the Loop, go around the central city then come out where they came in and head back out to the suburbs. This similarity to the original location, its circularity and the hint of repetition in the original incident – the second boy looked very much like the first boy – all came together in a story in which a commuter observes a similar incident seemingly endlessly repeated.

When you wrote, did you have a favourite place to write?

I have the good fortune of having a room set aside for my writing, what should be the second bedroom in my two bedroom unit. I have it well set up with a wide screened computer and lots of book shelves. Unfortunately the view out the window is restricted to the side fence and my neighbour’s clothesline, but then I couldn’t have written a book like Suburban Terrors in the country!

How do you get started with writing real stories with a twist? (ie. how do you start developing the story?)

Writing stories of any kind is a creative process so it’s hard to pin down how I went about it. Calling on how I wrote ‘A Hostage Situation’, I started by collecting stories – news stories, anecdotes I had heard, incidents from my own experience, urban legends – and putting them in individual folders which I would revisit from time to time and add a thought here or a link there. However, when I decided to publish a collection, I had to knuckle down and turn those notes into cohesive stories. Mainly it was a matter of working on it until it came together. Sometimes I kept the structure of the original story intact but created a new cast of characters. ‘Last Fare’, for example is closely based on an urban legend in which a kindly taxi driver gives a dying woman her last look at her old haunts. In my story a rather grumpy taxi driver picks up a mysterious passenger who is connected to his own past. Sometimes the original idea became a simple germ that developed into a completely different creature. For example, ‘I Know What You Did’, in which a killer is harassed by a mysterious caller, came out of a story I had heard many years earlier about a teenage telephone prank. The final story bears absolutely no resemblance to the original story except that they both involve phones. I can’t tell you where the final story came from. It just popped into my head.

What advice would you give writers who wish to work on a collection of stories?

Well, first of all I have to warn you that in general poetry and short story collections and anthologies don’t sell very well, so it’s unlikely that a publisher will take you on. If you do decide to self-publish, make sure your stories have been workshopped by fellow writers or have done well in short story competitions. This will ensure that the stories work and aren’t just anecdotes or synopses for a novel. If the stories are meant to be comic, test them on a few readers to make sure they also find them funny. You can’t tell a reader ‘you had to be there’. Most readers find ‘literary’ short stories, in which nothing much happens and its ending is unresolved, rather disconcerting. If this is your style, make sure your potential readers know what to expect.

What advice would you give to writers who run out of creativity when writing?

All writers dread writer’s block. It makes you feel that perhaps you’ve chosen the wrong career. The advice I was given is that if you are in the middle of a project and find yourself stuck, it may be because you’ve taken a wrong turning at some point. You should go back to the beginning and look for the point where you had a choice and explore what might have happened if you took the alternative route. If that doesn’t work, then I would advise you to step back from what you are doing for a while and take a break. If you have other projects on the boil, devote some time to one of them and let the ideas brew subconsciously. If you really feel you’ve run out of ideas altogether, then start reading. Read newspapers, blogs, biographies, history books, other books in your genre, good ones for inspiration, bad ones to react against. Watch documentaries, especially those about ordinary people in extraordinary situations. The ideas will come.

Where can we purchase Suburban Terrors?

Suburban Terrors is available as a paperback from Lulu and Amazon, as an ebook in all formats from Smashwords and as an epub from Barnes and Noble, and directly from my website at .

Could I also take this opportunity to tell readers that I’ll be holding a book group discussion about Suburban Terrors on my Goodreads Group between September 1 and 12 (one day for each story). To join in you will need to become a member of my group at . In the meantime you might want to comment on this book tour, or put a question to me. I look forward to seeing you there.

Pauline Montagna, Writer and Publisher

Thanks Pauline for dropping by, and sharing your Suburban Terrors journey.

Thanks Helen.

To follow Pauline’s Suburban Terrors Virtual Blog Tour, click on the following link:

Wait! There’s more.

Please drop by my blog later today for my review on Suburban Terrors. It is an enjoyable read.

In the meantime, you will find a  sample story from Suburban Terrors below:

Pauline’s Social Media contacts:









 Where to Buy the Book:

 As an eBook for $2.99 -

Author’s website at:


 As a Paperback for $12.79 -



Here is a Sample Story from Suburban Terrors:

The Dognappers

It was all Dave’s idea, I swear. He figured it was easy money. Grab a dog (you had to make sure it was well looked after, no use picking a stray) ring the owners and demand a ransom. Easy. I mean it’s not like you’re grabbing a kid or anything. We just needed some quick cash, just to see us through ‘til the crop headed.

But it was me that found the dog. A little black thing it was. Just a puppy really. Dave said it looked like a big black rat. I thought it might be a fox terrier, or maybe a cross, part labrador or something. Anyhow, it came to me when I called it, all trusting and  wagging its little tail and looking at me with its big black eyes, while Dave jumped on it from behind with this sack. It struggled a bit when we shoved it in the car, but it didn’t make a sound.

When we got it home we took it out to the backyard. I had this old lead from when we had a dog, a big pit bull terrier, but someone came over the back fence and poisoned it and stole our crop. Dave wanted to get another one, but I couldn’t stand it. I loved that old terrier. Maxy, his name was. Anyhow, we had this old lead, so I used it to tie the dog to the clothesline. Used one of those really good knots I learned in the boy scouts so it wouldn’t get loose.

The dog had a collar with the owners’ phone number, but no name. I asked Dave if we should ring the owners straight away, but he said wait a bit and let them stew. He said they’d pay more that way.

So we left the dog and went to the pub.

We got home pretty late because Dave was meeting this bloke he knew who was selling us one of those big plasma TVs off the back of a truck. He was only asking $500. Dave loves his footy and I don’t mind a good flick now and then, you know, one with a good car chase. So we had to wait ‘til well after dark for him to turn up and then we had to have a couple of drinks with him. He was trying to sell Dave an indoor gym as well. He had to be joking. Anyhow, Dave was trying to put him off without admitting he didn’t have any more money. Once we’d got home and brought the telly inside it was well after midnight before we remembered to feed the dog.

When I saw the mess I just swore to buggery. You should’ve seen it. Chewed up marijuana plants thrown around all over the lawn. And they were just about to head, too. Dave came racing out. When he saw it he roared. ‘Where’s that fucking dog? I’ll kill the fucking cunt.’

I got to the dog first. I could’ve killed it myself. When it saw me it got up, wagging its little tail and looking at it me with its big black eyes. I’ll give you wagging your little tail I was thinking, but then I saw it couldn’t’ve been the dog. It was still tied to the clothesline just as we’d left it, same knot tied in the same way and all. I showed it to Dave. He was still so angry he’d’ve given the dog a good kicking anyway, but I made him see sense. Whatever the little mongrel had done, it meant money to us, money we’d need more than ever now. Dave gave the shed door a good thumping instead.

The next morning I cleaned up the mess, but it wasn’t ‘til I went to feed the birds that I saw the worst of the damage. They were all lying still in the bottom of the aviary, their little claws stuck up in the air. And there wasn’t a mark on them.

That night Dave rang the owner while I listened on the extension. A woman answered. Dave put on this really tough deep voice. ‘We’ve got your dog. It’ll be five thousand dollars if you ever want to see it again.’ Dave reckoned that was fair compensation for losing the crop.

There was nothing for a moment on the other end, then she said, ‘Is the dog all right?’ She sounded worried, but pretty calm.

‘For now,’ Dave said.

‘I’m just a pensioner,’ she said. ‘I can’t pay five thousand dollars.’

‘You will if you want your dog back in one piece.’

‘You won’t hurt the dog, will you?’

Dave just laughed. ‘We’ll give you another ring soon. You think about it.’

‘I’ll call the police.’

‘No you won’t, love. Not if you ever want to see your dog alive, you won’t.’

Dave gave me a grin as he hung up. ‘She’ll pay.’

Dave had bought another plant from a mate, just for our personal use, so we decided to put the dog to bed in the outside laundry, just in case. I tied it up to the pipes with a good strong knot. We left it sitting on top of the washing machine and bolted the door. We didn’t hear a peep all night.

The next morning I got up and went outside for a piss. I thought I might check up on the dog, give it a drink of water or something, when I saw all this water coming from under the door. I unbolted the door and jumped back. It opened by itself and all this filthy water came pouring out. I thought the dog must’ve drowned, but when I looked in it was sitting on the washing machine, just where we left it the night before. The taps were running and the trough had overflowed. I rushed in and turned off the taps and then looked around. It was a bloody fright. All the dirty clothes we’d left in the washing machine were torn up and thrown all over the place. There were even bits hanging from the rafters. Everything was covered in soap powder, and all the bottles were open and the stuff inside emptied out all over the place making this sticky goo. But when I checked out the dog it was completely clean and dry and when he stood up you could see the spot under him was clean, too.

We rang the owner again that afternoon. I’d managed to clean up most of the mess before Dave got up, but I had to tell him what happened. He wasn’t too happy, but the old woman wouldn’t budge. ‘I still can’t pay you,’ she told us.

‘Look, lady,’ Dave said, ‘you’ve got a nice little dog there. You wouldn’t want to see it come to any harm, would you? There are places that’d pay good money to get their hands on a healthy specimen like him. Would you like that?’

‘No, I wouldn’t,’ she said, ‘but I just don’t have the money.’

‘All right,’ Dave said. ‘What about two thousand dollars? You think about that and we’ll call you tomorrow.’

That night we emptied everything out of the old broom cupboard off the kitchen and put the dog in there. Dave screwed a huge bolt to the door and we even wedged a chair under the door handle. There was no way he was going to get into any mischief in there.

But the next morning I was woken up by Dave bellowing like a wounded bull. I rushed out to see what was wrong. There were broken CDs and DVDs all over the living room. The videos had all been unwound and the tapes were all tangled up together. And the brand new plasma TV was lying smashed up on the floor. Screaming like a banshee, Dave ran out to the kitchen and pulled the carving knife out of the drawer. ‘Where’s that fucking dog?’ he yelled. ‘I’m going to kill it.’

He pulled the chair away from the cupboard door and unbolted it. I stood back (I’m not good with blood) but Dave stopped in his tracks, the knife still in midair. I peaked over his shoulder. The dog was still tied up inside, wagging its tail and looking at us with its big black eyes.

Dave backed out and turned and looked at me like he was in shock or something. I sat him in a chair and took the knife off him. I made him a cup of coffee and sat down with him, but we had nothing to say to each other.

That day, I talked to the dog’s owner. ‘Look, lady, we know you don’t have much money, so we’ll do a deal with you. We can give you the dog for a thousand dollars.’

But she wasn’t ready to deal. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said. ‘That’s still too much.’ And she hung up on us.

We put the dog in the aviary that night. We tied it up with two strong ropes so it could barely move. We locked the door and tied it shut with another strong rope, making sure the knot was well out of reach. And they were good knots too, the strongest ones I’d learnt in the boy scouts. There was no way it could get out of there. Then we went inside and locked all the doors and shut all the windows.

But I tossed and turned all night. I kept having these dreams about the little dog sneaking around the house, looking for some more mischief. I finally fell into a deep sleep in the early hours of the morning, so I didn’t wake up until late. Still pretty groggy, I went to the kitchen to make some coffee and found Dave lying unconscious on the floor. One leg and an arm were lying at funny angles and he was bleeding and bruised all over. While I was waiting for the ambulance, he came to. He couldn’t tell me what happened, just that he’d got up in the night to get a drink of water and fell over something. He said it was something warm and moving.

After the ambulance took Dave to the hospital, I went out to look at the dog. It was sitting, just as we left it, tied up in the aviary, looking at me with its big black eyes.

I rang the owner again that afternoon. I couldn’t let Dave down altogether so I asked for five hundred dollars.

‘I’m sorry,’ she said, really cool like. ‘I’ve already told you. I’m a pensioner.’

There was no use carrying on so I asked her for her address and said I’d bring the dog round to her. I thought maybe she’d give me something for my trouble, but she refused to tell me and hung up on me.

I was at home all alone with the dog that night. I put it back in the aviary and tied it up. I locked and tied the aviary up. Then I took all the heavy things I could find in the shed and the backyard and put them in front of the door and all around it. I locked all the doors and windows in the house. I went to my room, locked the door and moved a chest of drawers in front of it. But I still didn’t feel safe. I sat up all night, and all night I could hear something outside my bedroom door, scratching and knocking.

In the morning the noises had stopped, but I was still too scared to go out. I called the  owner on my mobile. I begged her to come and get the dog. I swore I wouldn’t hurt either of them.

She didn’t say anything for a while, then she said, ‘All right. Tell me your address. But if there’s any trouble I’ll call the police.’

Quarter of an hour later, I opened the door to this really weird looking woman. She was tall and sort of elegant, pretty young looking for a pensioner, except that she had this really long white hair. She was wearing a long black dress with all these symbols sewn on it in red. And she had these really blue eyes that looked right through you. ‘I’ve come for the dog,’ she said, ‘and no funny business.’

I wasn’t going to give her any trouble.

I took her out to the backyard and let the dog out. It jumped straight into her arms and licked her all over. She laughed and kissed it back, talking baby talk to it.

As I took her back through the house to the front door she looked around and said, ‘Where’s your friend? I thought there were two of you.’

I told her he was in hospital.

She gave this cold, cruel smile and said, ‘Well, he should be safe there.’

I opened the front door to see her out. Ours is only a short street and I know everyone’s car. There were no strange cars in the street. Where we’d picked up the dog was at least an hour’s drive away, and I knew she lived in the same area because of her phone number. I couldn’t help asking, ‘How did you get here?’

She gave me a knowing grin that gave me this cold feeling.

Before I knew it I was shoving a hundred dollars into her hand for a taxi.

‘That’s very generous of you,’ she said with that same grin, stuffing the note down her dress. She looked around for the dog. It had gone exploring up and down the street. ‘Here, Satan,’ she called to him, ‘let’s go home.’


Please drop by my blog later today, for my review on Suburban Terrors.

Posted in All my posts, Australian writers, Author interviews, author promotion, Blog tours, Helen Ross writes, independently published Australian books, Virtual blog tours | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Suburban Terrors Virtual Book Tour

Tomorrow, my writer friend, Pauline Montagna, commences her Virtual Book Tour for her short story collection, Suburban Terrors.

Suburban Terrors blog tour banner

Suburban Terrors is a collection of twelve stories that delve into the mysterious realm of secrets that lurk behind the tall fences and locked doors of our city’s suburbs. So if you like a touch of horror, a ghost or two, and much more, then please join Pauline on her virtual tour.

Suburban Terrors Virtual Blog Tour Schedule:

Monday 28 July - Pauline will visit Sheri for an author interview on the Making Connections Blog. Pauline will chat about why readers like to be terrified.

Tuesday 29 July - Pauline will visit author Cameron Trost Here you’ll find out about the origins of one of Pauline’s stories in Suburban Terrors, Martha and May.

Wednesday 30 July – Pauline will be dropping by my blog for an interview  about how the stories came about.  I will also be reviewing Suburban Terrors.

Thursday 31 July - Book blogger, The Avid Reader, will be putting a spotlight on Suburban Terrors.

Friday 1 August - Author Anita Dawes will be reviewing Suburban Horrors on her website, Anita Jay Dawes.

Saturday 2 August – Historian and lover of historical fiction, Shannon Leigh will be reviewing Suburban Terrors on her website, The Most Happy Reader.

Sunday 3 August - Pauline will visit award winning historical fiction author, Wendy J. Dunn who wants to know if Pauline has any more short stories in the offing.

If you have read and enjoy Suburban Terrors Pauline would love you to come along and participate in the book group discussion between 1 and 12 September. To take part, all you have to do is join Pauline’s Goodreads Author Group (and read the book, of course.)

In the meantime, don’t miss out on the opportunity to get a 20% discount on your copy of Suburban Terrors direct from Pauline’s website, as an ePub for your e-reader or iPad, a mobi for your Kindle or a PDF for your screen or tablet.

Also, you can follow Pauline’s Suburban Terrors blog schedule on her website.

Posted in All my posts, Australian writers, Author interviews, Helen Ross writes, independently published Australian books, Virtual blog tours | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment