The Importance of Reading in Childhood


In March we released The Truth Lies Buried by Morton S. Gray in paperback. Today on the blog, Morton emphasises the importance of reading in childhood and talks about her own reading experiences as a child. 

My mother always read to me when I was young. As a result, I was reading myself aged four and well before I went to school a couple of days after my fifth birthday. I have fond memories of snuggling up to my mother’s side and listening to stories of fairies, giants and twins. I still have a few of the books from this time. Reading was just something we did for enjoyment and togetherness.

We used to go as a family to the local library every Saturday morning and all head off to different sections – me to children’s, Mom to fiction and Dad to local history. Our house was always full of books. Mom and Dad belonged to mail order book clubs and books would arrive in the post at regular intervals. In fact, the headboard of their bed incorporated shelves which had loads of books on them. I have no pictures of it, but can visualise it so easily in my mind – I wish I still had that headboard now!

Nan used to read to me on Sundays too, as well as teaching me to play card games. She usually read Rupert stories, pronounced the character names adorably strangely and tended to fall asleep in the middle of a sentence, leaving me to wonder how the story ended until she woke up.

My infant and junior school essays were full of caves, buried treasure and big brothers, stories mainly influenced by my love of Enid Blyton books. If you look closely at my novels, you can still see these influences even now, as I don’t believe my themes have progressed far from those early days! I still have a set of Famous Five and Secret Seven books which my nan sourced from somewhere.

I think I must end this post with a plea – if you have children or grandchildren please read to them, engender this love of books which will help them through life, bereavement, sickness and all that this world can throw at them. I truly believe it is vitally important in this digital age that we don’t lose the love of reading a good story (even if it is read digitally). I don’t think I would be an author without these early influences.

The Truth Lies Buried is available as a paperback, in eBook on all platforms and also as an audio book on Amazon and Audible. Click on the cover image above for purchasing options. 

For more on Morton
Follow her on Twitter @MortonSGray
Like her on Facebook Morton S. Gray – Author
Check out her blog

Christmas Memories with Morton S. Gray

Earlier this week we celebrated the release of Morton S. Gray’s new novella, Christmas at Borteen Bay. Today we welcome her onto the blog to talk about her memories of Christmas past. Do any of her Christmas traditions match up with yours? 🎅

Writing Christmas at Borteen Bay, my first Christmas novella, made me think about what Christmas means to me and to examine my childhood memories.

We always had a very traditional Christmas when I was growing up. Mom and Dad would take us to choose a real Christmas tree each year and there would often be a disagreement about the size and shape of the tree. I can remember at least one occasion when Dad had to cut the top off the tree to fit it into the room!

We would then open the boxes of decorations retrieved from the loft. Cue more angst as we tried to get the lights to work – in those days you had to check each bulb, as just one not screwed in correctly would result in the whole set not working. It was always a relief when the tree was at last illuminated and then we could get out the decorations, some of which were quite old. The glass icicles Mom’s Dad had bought home in the war from goodness knows where (I still put these on my tree now). The cardboard glitter house with Santa on the roof, which had been on Mom’s Christmas trees for as long as she could remember. The glass candy cane my nan bought for me. The Santa and sleigh for the fireplace shelf. It always seemed (seems) magical to get these items out of the boxes.

My father’s employer usually gave staff a Christmas bird and a bottle of alcohol as a Christmas bonus. They must have had some unwritten rating system, as if you got a chicken and a bottle of cheap sherry, it seemed they weren’t pleased with your performance. One year, Dad got a huge turkey and an expensive bottle of whisky. Mom wasn’t very keen on how the turkey sat on the refrigerator shelf and it was almost too big for the oven, but I guess Dad must have worked well that year.

We used to have much deeper snow when I was young. I had a huge sledge which my uncle had made. On one occasion I took it to the local park with friends. Four of us hurtled down a steep bank and hit a bump at the bottom. The three friends at the front fell off into a snow drift and I was the only one still sitting on the sledge.

We placed empty pillow cases at the bottom of our beds for Santa to fill. At that time, I shared a room with my sister, who was seven years younger. I always enjoyed watching her open her presents before I looked at my own. One Christmas morning, my sister woke me very concerned that Santa hadn’t been. Our pillow cases were still empty. We went to tell our parents and discovered that their room was festooned with Christmas gifts. Mom and Dad must have overslept their ‘Santa alarm’. My sister and I then had to guess which gift was meant for each of us – which was actually quite fun. A Christmas to remember for sure!

Christmas at Borteen Bay is now available to purchase as an eBook and in audio. Click here for purchasing options:

Halloween at Hargreate Hall: Part 1 by Morton S. Gray

Happy Halloween! It’s time for this year’s Halloween Round Robin. And this year we have not one but TWO fabulously spooky tales written collaboratively by eight talented Choc Lit and Ruby Fiction authors to share with you 👻 We shared one yesterday (click HERE to begin reading it) and today we’re starting again with a new bunch of authors! 

Morton S. Gray starts us off today, taking us to the very atmospheric Hargreate Hall where we’re sure there’s potential for spooky surprises aplenty! Come back every hour until 2pm to read a new extract AND enter competitions to win chocolate & book prizes. Alternatively you can wait until all parts have been put up and read the story in its entirety! 

Each author taking part has no idea where their part of the story will go, which leads to a few spooky surprises along the way. But you’ll need to read on to find out more 😉 

Remember to read right until the end to find details of the competition! 


Meredith had no idea why Joe had been so against her suggestion of a Halloween trail around the house and grounds of Hargreate Hall, but then he seemed pretty anti anything she suggested these days.

She was sure he hadn’t been like this when she’d first joined the staff at the hall as events co-ordinator two years ago. Having carefully analysed every time she could remember being in conversation, or a meeting, with Joe she still couldn’t decide what on earth she’d done to upset him. The atmosphere when they were in close proximity had become so frosty that she was even considering looking for another job just to get away from the man.

He was the head groundsman and in charge of anything outside of the main house. It didn’t help Meredith’s confusion that he was six feet of gorgeousness, broad shoulders and hair that flopped over his glinting blue eyes. His lips were full and expressive. Lips you could imagine kissing. Lips she’d studied often in boring meetings. Unfortunately these days those lips were usually turned down in an unhappy frown.

Joe’s objection to her Halloween idea wasn’t helpful when Hargreate Hall needed to increase visitor numbers just to keep afloat. Lord Warren had been open about the financial difficulties at the end of August, when it became clear that summer visitor numbers were the lowest ever recorded. He had asked everyone for any income generating ideas which could be put in place for the last quarter of the year. Her employer’s voice had contained a warble of desperation that made Meredith feel sad.

‘Why don’t we open the house and grounds after dark in Halloween week? With the hall lit by candles and part of the garden by lanterns, it would be magical and attract the crowds. Kids always love finding clues on a trail, Halloween-themed of course, and we could have a few surprises set up along the way – spiders, skeletons, ghosts, strange noises … and we could sell hot chocolate and toffee apples,’ Meredith had suggested.

‘A lot of work. Difficult to supervise after dark too,’ Joe had replied grumpily.

Lord Warren was positive though, so Joe was overruled. Hargreate Hall Halloween After-Dark Trail had been put into the programme, hastily blogged and tweeted about.

Now with a week to go and her article about the Halloween trail on page three of the free local newspaper, Meredith was in a panic. She’d been collecting props for the ghostly displays, pumpkins, lots of cotton wool, a few plastic skeletons and a huge spider. Could she pull this off? The downside of the hall being in financial difficulty was that she didn’t have the two assistants she’d had in previous years. She really needed Joe on her side to help set everything up in the grounds.

She knocked on the door of his office in the old stable block.

‘Come in,’ boomed his deep baritone.

It felt like entering the headmaster’s study at school after some misdemeanour.

‘Oh, it’s you.’ He greeted her with a sour expression on his handsome face.

Meredith decided not to challenge him about his attitude, although she knew that day was long overdue, but she’d hold back until after Halloween as she desperately needed his help. With her mind screaming ‘What on earth have I ever done to you?’, she smiled sweetly and plonked herself down in the chair opposite to his, pushing her long blonde hair behind her shoulders. ‘As you know, we have the Halloween trail evenings starting next Monday and I could really do with your help setting everything up.’

‘Humph …’

Oh dear, Joe didn’t look keen or helpful.

‘What exactly is involved?’

Meredith laid her newly printed trail map on the table between them. It was an adaptation of the one that had been used for the Kings and Queens and the Alice in Wonderland trails in the summer. She’d had the help of Colin and Mary for those two, but Colin had recently retired and Mary had left and in the current dire circumstances neither had been replaced. ‘I have everything ready.’ She crossed her fingers under cover of the desk. ‘It just needs to be put in place.’

Joe pulled the piece of paper towards him, sighing. Despite his obvious reluctance, Meredith was distracted by the flex of his bicep as he moved the trail leaflet closer and the spark of physical attraction she felt made her blush.

Her interest was quickly drowned by his next comment. ‘Load of rubbish. Who’s going to pay to walk around an old damp house by candlelight and stumble across the muddy grounds in the rain to find plastic skeletons draped in cotton wool?’

She bit her lip as her hackles rose, but she replied in a calm voice. ‘Look, Lord Warren supports the event. I don’t need you to approve, just to help me set things up. Pretty please. It will have to be done on Sunday though, after we’ve closed for the afternoon I’m afraid.’

‘I suppose I can help, but I’ll have my daughter with me on Sunday.’

A daughter? That was news to Meredith. She hadn’t known he was involved with anyone, let alone a father.

She smiled, whilst wondering how old his daughter might be. ‘I’m sure I can find her a few jobs too.’

He leaned back on his chair, crossing his arms over his broad chest.

As he stared straight at her, she felt her cheeks colour yet again, despite her willing them not to.

His next words surprised her.

‘Why are you trying so hard?’

We love the idea of a Halloween after-dark trail but why is Joe being so mean to Meredith?! Maybe we’ll find out in the next instalment by Angela Britnell – up in the next hour! 

If you enjoyed Morton’s writing, you can find her books available to purchase from all good online book stockists and retailers – and her new Christmas book, Christmas at Borteen Bay, will be released in November! Click the image below for purchasing options. 


To be in with a chance of winning a Morton S. Gray paperback and some chocolate simply answer the question below (we hope you’ve been reading carefully!):

What were Meredith’s two former assistants called? 

To enter, send your answer to with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Morton S. Gray comp’ by Friday 2nd November. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Monday 5th November.

Happy Birthday Choc Lit! The Forgotten Birthday – Part One by Morton S. Gray

Can you believe it? We’re nine years old today! And what better way to celebrate than with a birthday story written collaboratively by our authors, competitions, prizes and a hefty slice of virtual chocolate cake? We invite you to join us 🙂 

We’ll be sharing an extract of the story every hour until the end of the day. With every extract there’ll be a book+chocolate prize and, with six extracts, there’ll be plenty of opportunity to win! Simply read each extract to the end so you can answer a question about the story and see how to enter (we’re sure you won’t find it hard as the story’s a corker!) 

Morton S. Gray starts us off this morning, where we meet Lauren on the morning of her thirtieth birthday, and she’s getting ready for an adventure … 

The Forgotten Birthday – Part One

Lauren woke to the sound of the post plopping onto the doormat. She shrugged on her dressing gown and walked down the steep staircase of her tiny terraced house, retrieving the mail before she went into the tiny kitchen. Her friend the robin was sitting on the bird feeder outside of the window. It was almost as if he waited for her morning greeting and conversation before flying off to do whatever robins did all day.

‘Morning, Red. I know I’m late. I need to get a move on. It’s my birthday you know. Thirty. How did that happen?’

She filled the kettle, set it to boil and glanced half-heartedly at the assorted envelopes. It wasn’t likely that anyone would have sent her a birthday card. When you’d fallen out with your sister over a year ago and divorced your ex about the same time, it didn’t bode well for surprise parties or birthday greetings.

It took her the time it needed for the kettle to switch off to brave those envelopes. A charity request, store card coupons, a bill and a bank statement. No surprise there then.

‘Whoopee do! Happy birthday, Lauren.’

A cup of coffee made her feel more human and the robin uncharacteristically came back for a second visit to the bird feeder.

‘Thank you, Red. You’re the man who always make me feel special.’

The little bird bobbed into a bow, just as if he’d understood every word. Lauren laughed. Time to get ready to face her big adventure.

She’d booked her birthday treat well in advance and taken this Friday as holiday from her boring job in insurance administration. Only now did her stomach do a somersault when she thought about those unknown strangers’ faces. At least they wouldn’t know it was her birthday.

It was a terrible habit to talk to herself, but as she lived alone, it kept her on track. ‘Shower, tick, bag packed, tick, rubbish put out, tick, bird feeder well stocked for Red, tick, car keys, yes. Right let’s get this show on the road.’

Following the satnav’s annoying male voice, she headed south, stopping for another coffee at a service station on the motorway. The countryside got lovelier as she neared her destination in the Cotswolds. She kept repeating her Thomas the Tank Engine mantra. ‘I can do it, I will do it, I can …’

Before she knew it, her things were installed in a single ensuite room and she’d found her way to the conference room. There were eleven other creative writing students, five men, seven women. They all arranged their notebooks and pens on the tables and gave each other shy glances. They would be spending two days together – it was a voyage into the unknown.

Just when Lauren decided she really ought to try to make conversation and break the ice, the door crashed open. A man carrying, or rather dropping, a large cardboard box, lurched in.

‘Sorry, so sorry, I’m late, traffic was awful. Now I know you were expecting Daphne Peacock, my … erm, mother, but I’m afraid she’s sick, so you’ve got me instead.’

Hmm, this wasn’t the inspiring person she’d been hoping for. She loved Daphne Peacock’s novels. The man looked as if his jacket had seen better days, his beard was bushy. Lauren hated beards.

One of the guys helped the man pick up the box and put it on the desk. All sorts of things were spewing out of the cardboard – magazines, leaves, odd bits of metal, a watch.

‘I’m Hugh, I’m a published writer, three novels now and I’m your tutor for the weekend.’ He rummaged in the box and retrieved two rolls of sticky labels and marker pens. He scrawled Hugh on one of the labels, pressed it to his chest and then passed the rest around for the rest to do the same.

‘What sort of fiction do you write, Hugh?’ asked a fifty-something woman with a label that said Marion.

‘Romantic suspense novels, actually.’ The expression on his face suggested he was used to a weird reaction to that statement.

More rummaging in the battered box and he bought out a folder brimming with words torn from magazines.

‘Right, we’ve only got a short session before our lunch, so grab a word and write whatever comes into your head. Best to pick one at random, I find.’

Lauren found her heart-rate increase and her stomach churning as she stared with horror at the word she had picked out – chains.

Hugh was speaking again. ‘Don’t worry about this exercise, it’s just a warm up. We can share what we write in the session after lunch. Prose or poem is fine.’

It certainly broke the ice, after a tense thirty minutes of silence, apart from pens scratching over paper, the group made their way down to the dining room chattering away. Lauren held back a little listening to what the others were saying. There was a table set aside for them in the refectory with a huge Creative Writing label. Lauren glanced around at the nearby tables, Life Drawing, Vegetable Gardening, Drumming, were the ones she caught sight of.

They were the first course to arrive, but the room soon filled up. Lauren exchanged a few words about her journey with Marion and tried to assess the rest of the course members from underneath her eyelashes. All ages, but predominantly older than her. One of the men was smiling broadly at her. She squinted to read his badge, Ian, and then avoided making eye contact.

Then it happened!

A woman appeared through the door marked kitchen with a birthday cake, candles aflame and came straight over to their table.

Hugh leapt into action. ‘The course administrator noticed we had a birthday girl in our midst, Laura.’

Cheeks aflame, Lauren got up. He obviously meant her even if he had got her name wrong. She stood frozen by Hugh’s side as everyone in the room sang Happy Birthday to Laura.

‘Lauren’ she mouthed under her breath and belatedly realised she was talking aloud as if speaking to her tame robin. So much for anonymity and escape on a course miles from home.

Hugh’s face suggested he was puzzled by her reaction. Lauren blew out the candles and scurried back to her seat, amid congratulatory noises from around the room.

‘We can have the cake with our tea in the meeting room later,’ said Hugh, smiling.

Lauren wanted the floor to open and swallow her up. She’d have to read her prose piece about chains when they got back to the room …

Oh dear, how embarrassing for poor Lauren. We’re cringing for her but also can’t wait to find out more! We’re sure you feel the same. And you don’t have to wait too much longer as Kirsty Ferry’s second instalment will be up in the next hour! 

     If you Morton’s writing, you might like to check out her fabulous novels. You can find details by clicking the images above. 


To be in with a chance of winning a Choc Lit book and some chocolate to go with it simply answer the question below (we hope you’ve been reading carefully!):

What is the name of Hugh’s mother?

To enter, send your answer to with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Morton S. Gray comp’ by Tuesday 19th June. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Wednesday 20th June.

When a Fictional World Becomes Your Reality

Yesterday Morton S. Gray’s gripping debut novel, The Girl on the Beach, came out in paperback. Today Morton joins us on the blog to chat about the setting of her first novel (which is the same for her upcoming second novel, The Truth Lies Buried) – the fictional town of Borteen – and how a made-up place has started to feel very real to her! 

My debut novel, The Girl on the Beach is set in my fictional seaside town of Borteen. It is amazing how quickly a fictional place can begin to feel completely real. I can walk down the streets and name the shops and their owners, I know what the views are like from various places in the town and surrounding countryside, even how wide the roads are.

When it came to writing Book 2 in the Borteen Secrets Series – The Truth Lies Buried – my editor asked if I had a map of the town, so I drew one and added pictures to show how I envisaged the buildings and various landmarks. It was surprisingly easy to do, because I had walked the streets so often in my head. I intend to tidy this up at some point so that I can let readers see it, but at the moment the map includes some pictures to which I don’t have sharing rights.

My characters are also very real to me. If any of them walked into a café I would recognise them. I know their appearance and demeanour, how they interact as if I was inside of them looking out of their eyes, as well as from observing them through the eyes of other characters. Not only do I know how their facial features change when confronted with the situations I put them into in my books, but I know how they feel too, how their heart rate reacts and the sensations on their skin.

I suppose what I am trying to say is that I can put myself inside my story, fictional town and even inside the characters. I realise that makes me sound really odd, but it is how the process of writing works for me. I guess I see my books unfold like films in front of me.

This experience isn’t unique amongst writers, but friends who haven’t had this encounter with a fictional world can look at me a little strangely if I talk about it, especially when I mention that other Borteen residents mentioned in The Girl on the Beach and The Truth Lies Buried are clamouring for their stories to be told too. I guess that means there will be other books in the Borteen Secrets Series!

The Girl on the Beach is now available to purchase in paperback. Click on the banner below for purchasing options. 

Morton’s upcoming novel, The Truth Lies Buried, will be out on 1st May as an eBook. Click on the banner below for pre-order options. 

For more information on Morton S. Gray:

Follow her on Twitter: @MortonSGray
Like her page on Facebook: Morton S. Gray Author
Check out her website: 


A Valentine’s Wedding Fair – Part Two by Morton S. Gray


Let the countdown to Valentine’s Day commence! It’s time for another Valentine’s Round Robin from Choc Lit, back by popular demand. Five talented Choc Lit authors have been working collaboratively on a super sweet short story – A Valentine’s Wedding Fair – which we will be sharing in five parts in the run-up to Valentine’s Day (with the final part falling on the big day itself!) Come back every day to read a new extract AND enter competitions to win chocolate & book prizes.

Each author taking part has no idea where their part of the story will go, which leads to a few surprises along the way. But you’ll need to read on to find out more ;)  

Yesterday Kirsty Ferry started us off with Part One (which you can read HERE) and today Morton S. Gray takes over. What drama will unfold at the Valentine’s Wedding Fair? Read on to find out … 


Straight in front of Jess and Mark, parked to unload outside of Valentine Manor was a van emblazoned with the Bobbins logo. Harriet had arrived already.

Jess heard Mark sigh heavily. She guessed it wasn’t much fun being confronted on a regular basis by the biggest mistake of your life in the form of your ex-wife, who just happened to be a competitor for the same customers.

She turned to her boss. ‘Come on, let’s get unpacked. We’re going to be in the same room all day, so we may as well get the first meeting with Harriet and Armand out of the way.’

‘Guess so. I just felt my heart sink to my boots yet again.’

‘Look, if I’d said anything to you before you married her, you wouldn’t have listened to me … would you?’

‘They say love’s blind and it’s so true.’

It got worse when they got inside Valentine Manor. The beautiful ballroom, decorated in pink and white, where normally the wedding receptions were held was chaotically full of people and boxes. The wedding fair opened at ten and the retailers were rushing to get organised before the public arrived.

‘We’ve got stand twenty. It should be in the middle, opposite the main doors. Jess struggled to see past the boxes she was carrying. Mark followed behind her with an equally heavy load as they dodged past the other stall holders.

The awful truth dawned on her. Bobbins had been placed right next to the Buntings stand. Harriet must have spoken to Jake the Events Manager about prime positioning in the room too. Jess felt her own heart sink to her boots.

It wasn’t just the competition or the frosty relationship between Mark and Harriet after their divorce that worried Jess, but the fact that Bobbins had chosen bright red as the predominant colour for their display. Jess suspected that being right next to the tall red plastic shelving on Harriet’s table, Buntings’ display might look rather more shabby than chic.

She concentrated hard on smoothing the rosebud embroidered tablecloth on their own stand, trying to ignore that Harriet was watching her closely and was wearing a red apron with a heart-shaped top, showing an ample amount of cleavage at the V of the heart.

After piling up their food boxes on the table and pulling a have you seen that face at Jess, Mark went to park the van, leaving her to arrange the tasty delicate stock. She’d begun to assemble the cake stand centrepiece when Jake, her best friend Ellie’s dishy brother came walking towards her. Jess felt her heart rate accelerate.

‘All okay? Do you have everything you need?’ He appeared to be talking to Jess, but her smile was lost on him as his eyes were firmly fixed on Harriet’s cleavage. Hmm … maybe she wouldn’t be going for a drink with him after all.

Jess wasn’t the only one to notice Jake’s fixation with Harriet’s ample chest. Armand barged between the two stands to position himself in front of Harriet with a thunderous expression directed at Jake. As he pushed between the two stands, he didn’t seem to realise that his elbow had connected with the piled-up plastic food boxes on Buntings’ table. Jess watched with open-mouthed horror as her carefully prepared cakes, truffles and canapes went into an avalanche slide over the back of the stand with a sickening crash.

Having seen what had happened as he returned to the stand, Mark came flying across the room to confront Armand, who was still oblivious of what he had done and seemed about to challenge Jake for ogling Harriet.

Jess was frozen to the spot, torn between going to see if anything could be salvaged from the toppled food boxes and waiting to see if she needed to break up a fight.

Disaster! What a fabulously dramatic second part from Morton S. Gray. Question is, are you Team Buntings or Team Bobbins? We think we already know the answer! Come back on Monday when Angela Britnell will be taking over. Will punches be thrown? Will cakes be salvaged? You’ll have to wait and find out! 

If you enjoyed Morton’s story, you can purchase her debut novel The Girl on the Beach on all eBook platforms. It’ll also be out in paperback in April! Click on the cover image below for more details. Also make sure you keep an eye out over the coming weeks as we’ll be revealing further details about an exciting new release from Morton S. Gray. Stay tuned!



To be in with a chance of winning a Choc Lit paperback and some chocolate simply answer the question below (we hope you’ve been reading carefully!):

What is the colour of Bobbins’ stand?

To enter, send your answer to with the subject heading ‘Round Robin comp 2’ by Thursday 15th February. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Friday 16th February.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2018 from Choc Lit


Merry Christmas everyone, Happy Holidays!
Thank you for all your fabulous support in 2017. We look forward to sharing more exciting releases and fabulous Choc Lit & our new Ruby books with you in 2018.

Love from the Choc Lit Team x
(Lyn, Lusana, Sarah, Jane O, Liz, Jane E, Pia, Paul, Marie, Jessamy & Berni)

And now for some messages from our Choc Lit Santas …

juliet Santa photo Juliet Archer:
“Wishing all of you Choc Lit cheer at Christmas, and some great reads in 2018!”
The Importance of Being Emma
Jan Santa photo Jan Brigden:
“Thank you dear readers for your terrific support this year. I wish you all a wonderful Christmas and New Year, full of joy, peace and good health (with the odd choccie or two for good measure, of course!) Enjoy the festivities!
As Weekends Go
Angela Britnell - Santa! Angela Britnell:
“Wishing all our wonderful readers a peaceful and happy holiday season and an excess of books and chocolate!”
You're The One That I Want
Valerie Olteanu - Isabeall Connor - SantaLiv Thomas - Isabella Connor - Santa! Isabella Connor (Liv & Val): 
“Nollaig shona dhaoibh.
Wishing all Choc Lit readers and their families, a wonderful Christmas, and a happy 2018.”
An Irish Promise
Victoria  Cornwall Santas Victoria Cornwall:
Thank you to all those who have read my debut novels this year. I am humbled you chose to read them and very grateful for the support you have shown me. To all Choc Lit readers, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a very happy,  prosperous and healthy New Year. You are all amazing.”
Christina Courtenay - Santa! Christina Courtenay:
Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a very Happy New Year! Hope you have time to relax with a good book in front of the fire; chocolate, wine, mince pies or other goodies to hand – enjoy!
Velvet Cloak of Moonlight
Kirsty Ferry - Santa! Kirsty Ferry: 
Hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a peaceful New Year, all filled with only good things. Lots of love, Kirsty xxx”
A Little Bit of Christmas Magic
Kathryn Freeman - Santa! Kathryn Freeman:
“Christmas greetings to all our lovely readers. I hope Santa brings you both a first and A Second Christmas Wish. And that 2018 will be a fabulous year for you. All it takes is A little Christmas Faith ☺”
A Little Christmas Faith
Morton S Gray - Santa Morton S. Gray:
Wishing all of our readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy 2018. Thank you for supporting The Girl on the Beach this year. Hoping you have a peaceful and fun time whatever you choose to do over the Christmas season. May your troubles find resolution and your dreams come true. Mx
Liz Harris - Santa Liz Harris: 
“Dear Readers, Thank you for your friendship and support throughout the year.  I hope you’ve all had a truly wonderful year – a year full of happy memories.  Hopefully, 2018 will be an even better year for you.  A happy, healthy 2018 to you and your families – may all of your dreams come true. Love, Liz xx”
Little Girl Lost
Caroline James - Santa Caroline James:
“Warmest wishes to each and every Choc Lit reader, may all your Christmas dreams come true in 2018, Caroline xx”
The Best Boomerville Hotel
Margaret James - Santa Margaret James:
Thank you so much for all the support you’ve given Choc Lit authors this year. We really appreciate your feedback, comments and reviews, so please keep them coming? We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas filled with peace, love, happiness and delicious things to eat. All the Choc Lit and Ruby authors are looking forward to entertaining you in 2018 and in the meantime we’re sending you virtual chocolate and champagne!
Girl in Red Velvet
Marie Laval - Santa Marie Laval:
“A very French Joyeux Noel and all Best Wishes for the New Year!”
Little Pink Taxi
Jane Lovering - Santa! Jane Lovering: 
A huge thank you to everyone who has supported Choc Lit this year, readers, reviewers, bloggers, reading panel, even people who just come to look at our photos and laugh. Let me wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a wonderful 2018 to come!”
Christmas at the Little Village School
Hannah Pearl - Santa Hannah Pearl:
“Wishing you all a very merry Christmas and best wishes for 2018.  I’m so happy to have joined the Choc Lit family this year, and look forward to all of the wonderful stories that the next year will bring from this lovely team.”
Little Black Book
Lynda Stacey Santa - Santa Lynda Stacey:
Wishing you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas… along with lots of turkey, sprouts, figgy pudding and mince pies..! (Obviously not on all the same plate) xxxx”
House of Christmas Secrets
Berni Stevens - Santa Berni Stevens:
Wishing you all a fabulous festive time and lots of happy reading! Love Berni xxx
Revenge is Sweet
Christine Stovell - Santa Christine Stovell: 
“Nadolig Llawen!  Wishing you every happiness for Christmas and the New Year.”
Follow a Star
Carol Thomas - Santa Carol Thomas:
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Choc Lit Easter Round Robin 2017 – Part Four by Morton S Gray

Easter Round Robin4

This year’s Easter Round Robin has certainly kept us guessing! Who knows where Morton S. Gray will take us this Easter Sunday? Let’s find out! Remember to read right until the end for a competition 🙂

To enjoy this story, make sure you read the extracts in order:

Part One by Berni Stevens is HERE

Part Two by Rhoda Baxter is HERE

Part Three by Kirsty Ferry is HERE

The Easter Bunny – Part Four by Morton S. Gray

Dan felt the hairs stand up on the back of his neck. Everything had gone very quiet. Too quiet. By rights, he should be able to hear Josh’s excited shouting and the blasted dog, Zaph’s barks, but in the shade of the trees all was completely silent.

Panic gripped his heart.

‘Josh. Josh, where are you? Josh?’

No reply, no sound at all.

Tilly hadn’t kidnapped his son, had she? Oh, help!

He began to move through the trees, scanning left and right, trying to fight down the blind panic and think clearly, trying to catch sight of his son, a blonde-haired woman and a dog. Nothing! How could they have just disappeared?

Unbelievably, ahead he could see a rabbit, sitting next to a sparkly egg. The rabbit made no attempt to run away, which in itself seemed very strange.

It couldn’t be the same rabbit they’d followed, could it?

Dan leaned down to pick up the egg, too late remembering Josh’s tale of rabbit poop.

He wiped the squiggly mass off his fingers on the grass and examined the egg. This wasn’t a crude wooden egg with a number on it, like the others. This looked expensive and could the sparkles be … no, don’t be silly, Dan … impossible. Why would anyone hide such an egg?

The rabbit began to bound off.

‘Hey, you, wait. What have you done with my son?’

He was talking to rabbits now?

Dan followed the rabbit, feeling very stupid, but not knowing what else to do. The trees were thinning ahead. Maybe the rabbit knew something he didn’t. Dan, you’ve gone mad!

Beyond the coppice was a flat lawn in front of a huge mansion. Dan breathed again, as he realised Josh was safe, playing with huge chess pieces on a part of the lawn that had been mown to resemble a chess board. The child didn’t look up.

Tilly, now minus her coat and wearing a blue dress was sitting on a bench next to an elderly woman who looked like a queen. Did she really have a daisy chain on her head?

The rabbit bounded over to the bench.

‘There he is,’ exclaimed the elderly woman.

‘Who?’ asked Tilly. Then, she broke into a broad grin when she caught sight of Dan emerging from the trees.

Dan wanted to shout at Josh for running off, at Tilly for not coming back with his son, but somehow the words stuck in his throat. Magic? They’d mentioned magic and he felt bewitched.

He walked over to the two women, as if he was on automatic pilot, and held out the jewelled egg on his palm.

‘I found this.’

The old lady giggled and took it from him. She nudged Tilly. ‘See, all we need now is a kiss.’

‘I really must apologise, Dan. We should have come straight back to you, but I found Aunt Elsie sitting out here and Josh got excited by the chess set. My aunt’s not supposed to be out on her own after a bad fall last year.’

‘Introduce me, girl and stop treating me like a ninny. I’m perfectly capable of sitting safely in my own garden.’ Even though she looked frail, her voice held authority, as if she was used to being obeyed.

Tilly sighed. ‘Dan meet Aunt Elsie.’

She watched Dan shake hands with her aunt. He had that glazed look that men got when they came into this part of the garden. Tilly had seen it before and could almost believe the tales of magic.

The rabbit was nibbling grass at their feet.

‘See, this is the egg.’ Elsie held it up in front of her eyes. The sunlight glinted off the jewels on its surface.

The rabbit stopped nibbling the grass and froze.

No, no. I don’t want to come back. I like my life. Don’t open the egg. No kisses, right. Stupid sparkly egg.

Suddenly, Tilly’s dog, Zaph ran barking out of the undergrowth at the far side of the garden. Josh yelled as the dog scattered the chess pieces he’d been arranging so carefully. As one, Tilly and Dan bent to scoop up the rabbit. Their heads collided. Dan saw stars. The last sound he heard was the old lady’s laughter.

Oooh, a fabulous penultimate part from Morton S Gray – but how can Angela Britnell possibly end this magical little story? You’ll find out tomorrow in the last part of our Easter Round Robin. Make sure you’re back here for the ending!


If you enjoyed Morton’s writing, you might like to check out her debut novel  – The Girl on the Beach. Click the image above for more information.


To be in with a chance of winning a Choc Lit book and some chocolate simply answer this question:

What is Josh doing when Dan finds him?

To enter, send your answer to with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Morton Gray comp’ by Tuesday 18th April. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Wednesday 19th April.


HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! Final Part of Choc Lit Mother’s Day Round Robin by Morton S. Gray


A very happy Mother’s Day to all the mums out there – we hope you are all thoroughly spoilt today, and that you have the chance to spoil your own mums too 🙂 We’re sure your day will be full of treats but start off with this treat from Morton S. Gray – the final part of our Mother’s Day Round Robin. One final competition at the end too!

To enjoy this story make sure you read the other parts first:

Part One by Margaret James HERE 

Part Two by Jane Lovering HERE

Part Three by AnneMarie Brear HERE

Part Four by Kirsty Ferry HERE


I found myself enveloped in Mike’s arms. He rubbed circles on my back and I could feel his warmth dissolving my misery and drying my tears.

Lucy and my mother were sitting next to each other on the settee, as I peered over his shoulder. They both looked contrite.

‘So, Lucy, what’s wrong with your car?’ Mike asked. I could tell he was deliberately changing the subject.

‘I don’t know really. It’s just making a strange noise.’

‘What sort of strange noise and can you tell where it’s coming from?’

My mother piped up. ‘It sounded like a steam engine when she arrived.’

‘Something vibrates underneath me.’

With a feather light kiss on my forehead, Mike released me and walked to the window. ‘It’s stopped raining. Let’s leave your mum and gran to open the chocolates and you can start your engine and let me listen to this noise.’

The door had hardly closed when mum rounded on me. ‘He’s nice. You want to hold onto that one. So, useful to have a man who’s handy. He can sort out my garden and I’m sure Lucy will come around. You’ve done your best for her. Don’t ever believe any different. I hope Mike’s good in bed too.’

It was all I could do not to spit out the mouthful of red wine I’d just sipped.

Mum and I went to stare out of the window.

‘I always regretted not finding someone else when your dad died, love. Life is much better shared … I wonder if Mike could recommend me to his dad?’

When I looked askance at her, she said, ‘I met John once. He’s a good-looking man, a waste single. He might like a companion for concerts, or … or bridge, perhaps.’ I could swear she was blushing and her face took on a faraway look as if she was imagining a cosy tête-à-tête with John Philips.

Lucy was behind her steering wheel revving the engine. Mike circled the car, occasionally yelling instructions to my daughter as he peered beneath the car.

She switched off the engine and jumped out, handing a duster to Mike. He launched himself to the ground and put his duster-clad hand under the car. I couldn’t see what was in his hand when he got up. They stood talking earnestly to each other for a few moments. I worried about what Lucy might be saying. Was she warning Mike off? Extolling the virtues of her father?

Lucy got back into her car and started the engine again. The noise appeared to have miraculously disappeared.

Lucy was laughing as she and Mike walked back towards the house.

‘What was it?’ I asked.

‘Just going to wash my hands,’ said Mike, as he disappeared upstairs to the bathroom.

Lucy was beaming. ‘Mike is Liam’s dad.’


‘The guy I’ve fancied for ages. Mike says he’ll invite him to have a drink with us at the pub later. The noise was a piece of metal stuck above the exhaust. Mike says it was vibrating and making that awful noise. So, nothing serious or expensive after all, thank goodness.’

She walked over and gave me a brief hug, which I took as an apology for her earlier behaviour. ‘Mike’s nice,’ she whispered.

Mike came back into the room and looked at each of us in turn, a surprised expression on his face. I realised we were all grinning at him.

I shook myself and got up. ‘Right, if Lucy’s car is fixed, I’ll serve lunch. Mike, would you help me in the kitchen?’

He followed me and after a glance into the other room to make sure my mother and Lucy were occupied, he said, ‘Well, how am I doing?’

‘Wonderfully. Although I think you’ve got the role of matchmaker later. Lucy’s after Liam and mum has her eye on your dad.’

Mike came and hugged me from behind, narrowly avoiding launching the steaming lamb joint which I’d just extracted from the oven to the tiles.

‘Hmm … might make for a very complicated family tree when you agree to marry me,’ he laughed.

Maybe Mother’s Day wasn’t that bad after all.

What a truly gorgeous ending! The Choc Lit authors do it every time. We hope you’ve enjoyed our 2017 Mother’s Day Round Robin. Let us know what you think in the comments 🙂 Happy Mother’s Day all!


If you enjoyed Morton’s writing, check out her debut release The Girl on the Beach which is available to purchase in eBook format from all platforms.


To be in with a chance of winning a Choc Lit book and some chocolate simply answer this question:

What was the problem with Lucy’s car?

To enter, send your answer to with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Morton Gray comp’ by Monday 27th March. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Tuesday 28th March.

Choc Lit Valentine’s Round Robin 2017 – Part Three by Morton S Gray

Round Robin MG

We hope you all enjoyed a lovely Valentine’s Day yesterday – but the romance and fun isn’t over! We still have three days of our Valentine’s Round Robin to go – three more days to spend in the village of Thistlethorpe AND three more competitions too!

Today, it’s Morton S Gray‘s turn – and you might remember yesterday that a certain handsome vicar was introduced. Who will be Harriet’s date to the ball now? 

Come back each day until Friday 17th to read part of an amazing Valentine’s-themed story by five authors. Read right until the end so you can enter our daily competitions too! 

To enjoy this story make sure you read Part One by Kirsty Ferry HERE and Part Two by Christina Courtenay HERE first. 

Harriet picked out two of her favourite vintage tea cups and placed them on the tray with the tea pot and milk jug. She glanced over at Zack. He had removed his dog collar and undone a couple of buttons on his shirt. As he stretched his shoulders, she glimpsed golden chest hair. Hmm, nice.

Putting the best iced bun, a muffin and a huge slice of chocolate cake on a plate, she carried the tray over to the table and set about making the tea.


‘Just a drop please.’

She pushed the sugar bowl over to his side of the table and then sat down carefully, arranging her limbs so as not to brush against Zack’s outstretched jean-clad legs. Did vicars wear jeans? He was sure challenging her stereotypical image of a minister of the church.

For once she found herself tongue-tied, so it was a good job Zack was bursting with questions about the village. He told her he’d already met Vera and been subject to an extensive interrogation about his credentials to take over at the church. Harriet became mesmerised by the flashes in his grey eyes and her tea went cold, as she filled him in about the movers and shakers in Thistlethorpe.

‘You’ve been so helpful, thank you. The problem with moving to a new parish is the immense possibility of putting your foot in things and upsetting parishioners before you’ve even taken a service. Vera terrified me. Shall I see you on Sunday?’

‘Erm …’ Harriett wasn’t a regular churchgoer, more a christening, wedding and funeral type of girl, apart from the annual carol service, although intense staring at the new blond vicar in action might make sitting on the hard, wooden pews more appealing.

She was trying to decide how to reply, whilst simultaneously indulging in a fantasy about joining the flower arranging committee to have Zack admiring her flowers, when the café door bell sounded and her friend, Tammy bounded in accompanied by Paul.

‘Harriet, you’ll never guess … Oh … Ooooh.’

Harriet found herself blushing at her friend’s obvious excitement at finding a new attractive man in the café. She needn’t have worried. Zack was staring at Tammy open-mouthed, desire dripping from every pore. He appeared to be instantly besotted with her friend. Maybe there wasn’t a Mrs Vicar after all.

Harriet sighed. Another man off the list. What with Tony bringing unknown Jamie to the Valentine’s Ball and Zack only having eyes for Tammy, her sister’s promise of a blind date was looking like her only chance of a slow dance on her birthday.

‘What’s this I hear about a Valentine’s Ball?’ She’d forgotten Paul was even there as she’d been too busy watching the interaction between Tammy and Zack. ‘Put me down for a ticket, oh and at least one dance, of course.’ Paul winked. He’d been at school with Tammy and Harriet. It was almost like your brother asking you to dance. Great! Why Paul? Why was it always the ones you didn’t fancy who came on to you?

Paul had recently taken over his father’s business. He was an optician and wore designer specs on his aquiline nose. She realised she’d never seen him without glasses, as he’d worn them even at junior school. In fact, she hadn’t ever studied him at all, he’d just always been around.

Zack stood up and was talking animatedly to Tammy. She introduced the two men as they made their goodbyes and left Harriet sitting alone in the café. Tammy hadn’t even told her why she’d come in and Zack had left his chocolate cake uneaten.

She picked up the plate and tucked into the delicious gooiness, knowing that if she was going to look sylph-like in her dress for the ball, it wasn’t a good idea. In fact, the ball didn’t feel like such a good idea any more. She’d have to watch Tony dancing with Jamie, Tammy with Zack and make do with jiving with Paul or the unknown blind date her sister was supplying, not quite how she imagined the evening going at all.

What could she do to make the Valentine’s Ball her dream event?

Aww, poor Harriet. We really thought Zack might be the one. But anything could happen on the night – and there’s always that blind date! Looking forward to the next instalment by Rhoda Baxetr tomorrow. 


If you enjoyed Morton’s writing in today’s extract make sure you check out her stunning debut novel, The Girl on the Beach. Click the image above for purchasing information. 


To be in with a chance of winning a Choc Lit book and some chocolate simply answer this question:

What slightly ‘unvicarly’ item of clothing is Zack wearing?

To enter, send your answer to with the subject heading ‘Round Robin Morton Gray comp’ by Friday 17th February. The winner will be picked at random and announced on Monday 20th February.

Part Four by Rhoda Baxter is now available to read HERE