Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Return of the Gulls - mystery, suspense, romance, paranormal

My novel, Return of the Gulls, is out now! Here's a bit about it:

RETURN OF THE GULLS, Book 1 of Stacey Christian and Peter Mansfield paranormal super sleuths series by Maureen McMahon:

Stacey Christian unexpectedly runs into her ex-boyfriend, Peter Mansfield, while touring Ireland. They join forces to help solve the puzzles surrounding Faoilenn Màrrach – Gull Castle.

Stacy travels to County Mayo – to Belderrig, a little fishing village on the coast. Peter joins her, and together they confront Peter's formidable great-aunt Katherine O'Flannery, a reclusive woman feared by the locals.

Return of the Gulls, the first novel of the trilogy that introduces paranormal sleuths, Stacey Christian and Peter Mansfield.

In Return of the Gulls Stacey Christian unexpectedly runs into her ex-boyfriend, Peter Mansfield, while touring Ireland. They join forces to help solve the puzzles surrounding Lady Katherine O'Flannery, Peter's formidable great-aunt. 

Finding herself implacably installed in Katherine's eerie castle, referred to by the locals as Faoilenn Màrrach, or Gull Castle, Stacey quickly becomes obsessed with the castle's disturbing legends – legends of suicide, desertion, embezzlement and revenge culminating in dark mysteries and ghostly hauntings.

Skepticism quickly turns to incredulity and finally terror as Stacey and Peter come face to face with a reality that neither could ever have imagined..

Amazon paperback copy:

Monday, January 07, 2013

The Life of Pi Review

Went to see The Life of Pi yesterday. Have had one fun time trying to see it. The first day we went, All the features were sold out because of the heat. The second time (yesterday) we got there and just prior to buying our tickets I realized I'd forgotten my glasses. Great! So, back home to fetch glasses and then back to go to the later showing. Finally!

Really enjoyed the movie. Ang Lee did a wonderful job. I was really concerned as to how any film would be able to get across the depth of symbolism or story dichotomy that made the book so good. But I was surprised and pretty well pleased.

The visual affects are stunning. I do believe the 'second story' should not have just been spoken (it was a bit difficult to hear what the boy was saying and it was SO important!). I believe it should've been depicted (perhaps in shorter sequence). That's how you experience it in the book and the rawness of reality is chilling compared to the beauty of symbolism. This becomes a key factor for every reader.

But unfortunately films are limited to time and for the time Ang Lee had to work with he did an very good job. That said, I would recommend that anyone read the book before seeing the movie - or at the very least, after seeing the movie. It is an extremely thought provoking journey.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Excerpt from "Joey"

This week I'd like to share an excerpt from one of the stories included in my anthology of short fiction. I hope you enjoy it - and if you wish to read the rest, pick up a copy in either paperback or digital download by clicking here.

Maureen McMahon

                I first met Joey Conroy two years ago. I was taking the only official holiday I’d allowed myself since Brad’s death. Matt, my editor, insisted I use some of my vacation leave, complaining that the union would be on his back if I didn’t do it soon. So I packed a bag, tossed it into my old Ford Mustang and drove out of LA with no definite destination in mind.
I still wasn’t sure how I’d cope with traveling on my own. I’d shared every other holiday with Brad and it seemed there were few places I could go that didn’t hold memories.
Since his death, my work at the newspaper had kept me so blissfully busy that I’d been spared the excesses of grief. Now, as my car sped along the straight, unbroken Arizona highway, I began to worry that all that mind-numbing work had merely postponed the inevitable. Already I felt a hard black ball of misery well up inside as though just waiting for the right moment to envelope me.
I’d been on the road for only six hours when the fan belt broke and I had to pull up in a little one-horse town called Dry Bark. The mechanic at the cluttered little gas station informed me that the fan belt was not the only problem. My radiator had sprung a leak and needed welding. Of course, the fellow who did that type of work wouldn’t be in until Wednesday.
I ran a hand through my hair, stared at the steaming automobile, then turned to look up the street of the dusty town.
“There’s a pay phone at the Post Office.” Jim, the mechanic, said. “You might wanna call triple-A or something.”
I grimaced. My roadside cover had lapsed two months ago and I hadn’t bothered to renew it.
Seeing my chagrin, Jim added, “There’s always Ginny O’Dwyer’s rooming house. She could put you up for a while, I reckon.”
I smiled at him wearily. “Yes. Perhaps I’ll get a room. I’m in no hurry.”
He told me how to find the place and I trudged off through the shimmering heat with my suitcase in one hand and my purse slung over the opposite shoulder. At least Brad and I had not ambled this road hand in hand, I thought ruefully.
Besides the garage, post office and rooming house, the town consisted of a diner called Lulu’s, a two-lane bowling alley, a bar, a combination grocer-drugstore and a white weatherboard, single story building with a gold plaque on the front that said, Town Hall. There were a number of scraggly houses ranging down either side of the main street, all with sagging front porches and tin roofs. There was probably a school somewhere, since I noticed a number of children playing marbles in the dirt and I wondered why they weren’t in it on a Monday.
I wiped perspiration off my top lip and adjusted my sunglasses. I could see Ginny O’Dwyer’s ahead, a two-story house with a large sweeping veranda and a picket fence that badly needed painting. There was a wooden sign swinging from a post that said, Rooms to Rent. It did not pretend to offer too much in the way of comfort or congeniality, but I didn’t mind. I’d only be here two days.
I was just about to hoist my bag again when the door to the bar opened and a stooped old man stepped out. The sounds of clinking glasses, a baseball commentator, and raucous laughter spilled out after him. He stood there for some moments as though getting his bearings, then shuffled forward. He must not have seen the step, for the next thing I knew he was falling, grabbing weakly at the handrail as he went down.
I ran over and squatted down beside him.” Are you all right?”
He looked up at me, squinting against the bright sun. “’Becca?” he asked. His voice quavered.
“No. Not ‘Becca. I’m Stephanie – Stephanie Gilbert. Are you hurt?”
 He continued to stare at me for a few moments, then finally shook his head. “Becca’s gone, Joey.” he said. He tried to struggle to his feet and I put a hand under his arm to help him.
Just then the door of the bar opened again and another man came out. He was younger, with sandy hair and brown overalls. He took in the situation at a glance and hurried down the steps.
“Is he all right?” he asked me.
“I think so.” I said,  “He managed to catch the rail as he fell.”
“There, Joey, let’s get you up. How do you feel?” the young man pulled Joey to his feet and began to dust him down.
“Joey feels great!” the old man thumped his barrel chest exuberantly, then he looked at me and nodded solemnly, “But Joey got hurt, once.” he said.
I realized at that moment that he was probably not as old as I’d first thought – perhaps in his early sixties. He had a large, round head sparsely covered with strands of white-gray hair. His face resembled an irregular bread-loaf – full of pouches and sags, drooping jowls and thick lips, with a huge bulbous nose, splat in the middle that looked to have been flattened on more than one occasion. There was a white scar over his left eye and his ears jutted from his head like doorknobs. But, despite this battered, misshapen countenance, Joey had a pair of beautiful, sapphire-blue eyes that made the rest of him retreat in a blur once you were caught in their mesmerizing glow.

Friday, April 22, 2011


I don’t know if I fully believe in Karma, but I'm not about to take any chances. If we get back everything we give, then it’s best to avoid causing pain, death or injury to any living things. Does killing insects count, too?  And what about germs and micro-organisms? Algae on the pool? I’ll try not to worry about the death of germs, micro-organisms and algae, but insects surely must have feelings and therefore register somewhere on the Karma Meter. Why take the chance of becoming a stain on someone’s ceiling in my next life? So, I've made a pact. No personal and intentional killing – and that includes everything as far down the food chain as insects. I've been known to capture mosquitoes, moths, daddy-longlegs, spiders, beetles and flies to release them unscathed.

The other night my husband brought in wood for our wood-burning heater. He brought in some extra logs for later and left them in the wood box next to the heater. We were happily watching our Richmond Tigers get trounced by Collingwood Magpies in Aussie Rules Footie, when I heard a thumping noise.

Upon inspection, we discovered our two Labradors merrily jumping on and eating a couple spiders. Now I’m not particularly afraid of spiders. I just avoid them, or move them if they’re in the wrong place. But this time I was concerned because Bryndal, our yellow lab, is pregnant and I don’t expect that eating spiders could be good for her health.

Then my husband made the offhand comment from the entry hall nearby, “Look at this.”  To my shock there were at least twenty spiders on the wall. Not cute little ones, but long-legged nasty ones that could run like the wind.

It was like a bad horror movie come true. The spiders were all near the front door and moving rapidly into the house. It crossed my mind that the spiders might be seeking shelter from some natural disaster that was about take place. I’d heard insects, birds and animals can sense these things. Was a tsunami on the way? An earthquake? An asteroid about to crash into our backyard, or a volcano erupt nearby? I looked at the crack under the door expecting to see them pouring in, but no, they weren’t coming from there.

There were no lights on in the living room but I could see the carpet moving – shadows running hither and yon. Then I felt something in my hair and brushed out a spider so large it made a resounding thump when it hit the wall.

I think that’s when the panic hit and I started to believe it was an invasion. Karma be damned. This was war.

“Get the swat!” I yelled. “I'll get the spray.”

Together my husband and I went to work. I was even more shocked when I looked at the ceiling. It was covered. They were hanging there – just waiting to fall in my hair again.

It took several minutes and almost a can of spray before the bulk of the killing was done. Dead spider bodies lay shriveled or twitching on the carpet and on the wood of the hall floor. Spider remains were splattered on walls, furniture and ceilings. And just when we thought it was safe to put our weapons away, another would run out from behind a bookcase or the curtains. For hours we were yelling: “Over here!” “Here's one quick!”

At some point it occurred to me that the spiders must be coming from the logs my husband had brought in that day so we removed said logs to the front verandah.

Finally, with our hearts barely beginning to return to a normal rhythm, we collapsed into our lounge chairs and put down our weapons. This was not a movie set and there were no special effects. The death toll was high and we had the bodies to prove it.

Later that night, after cleaning up the carnage, my husband went through the logs we’d taken outdoors and found that one was hollow. After dropping it hard on the ground to break it open and watching dozens more spiders come pouring out, we were relieved to at least know the source of the plague and be grateful we were safe – at least for the night.

Now, however, in the cold light of day, I realize we’ll have to atone for our lapse in caring for other living creatures for at least eighty more lifetimes. I wonder if there’s some Karmic score keeper up there who might understand and give us a break?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Sinking Into The Murky Blog

Blog, blog, blog…Okay, so sue me, I’m not all that sure about blogs. Who knows whose going to read them? What if your blog attracts a cult of crazed mass-murderers? Or suicide prone individuals who need just that one word to push them over the edge? It’s dangerous, in my opinion. That said, I’ll do my best… and with determination not to encourage murder or personal mutilation.

It’s not easy being a writer. People seem to think if you get paid to write you’re the luckiest person alive. But it’s not easy. Of course we have our days when it just flows – when the words just tumble out one on top of the other and it becomes like a stream then a river and you simply can’t stop. But those days are most often surrounded by days when the words just won’t come and we have to pry them one by one from the dark, tight recesses of our creative minds. And then they don’t often fit properly. A hodge-podge of words that just don’t work together the way we want them to. “But,” we say, “never mind. Tomorrow might be better.” It rarely is.

Then of course we have editors waiting and tapping their feet. Will we have the story finished in time? Will it be any good? So on top of our own pressure to perform, we have the added responsibility of a deadline. After all, it’s not just our story anymore, it’s meant to bring income to a great many people. No dilly-dallying! Evolving creativity can’t hold a candle to the push and shove of the giant publishing machine.

But, okay, let’s face it, making money from our thoughts is one of the best ego-trips around. IF you make money, that is. Gone are the days when publishing a novel will put you on Easy Street. Publishing a novel every six months might make life a little more comfortable, but it’s not a ticket to the limo and prime seats at the opera.

This is not meant to put anyone off writing. On the contrary, if anything it’s meant to encourage writers to follow their hearts. Don’t get caught up in the glamour or glitz you may think goes along with writing. Stick to your personal voice and style. Keep learning. Like what you write. When those days come along where the words simply don’t want to come, keep writing anyway and know it’s natural. And if your work is accepted by a publisher, enjoy it - but don’t lose track of the real reason you started writing in the first place. Most of you will realize in the end that you write because you love it. It’s part of you. And without it, you simply wouldn’t be the same.

And if you’re a mass murderer, or suicide prone, please take up knitting instead of reading blogs. G’day.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007


We all have holiday traditions, some universal, some personal. Some years ago I started a tradition of painting an egg each Christmas – to give a picture-image of what happened in that particular year. Some are more creative than others – like the one with all eight of our very first chickens, or the one with our first protea bush.

The tradition of making a New Year’s resolution is universal. Don’t we all see many more joggers, bike riders and gym attendees after New Year? Cigarette companies probably see a massive drop in sales for the two weeks after New Year. Of course, resolutions rarely succeed, but it’s a nice tradition.

This year, a couple days after New Year’s Day, my husband and I went to a house-warming for new neighbours. It’s one of those events you automatically think: “How can I get out of this?” Since it was an unexpected invitation, and since it was delivered in person, and I had no immediate excuse on hand. So we went. It was wonderful. We spent a great evening communing with many neighbours we’d previously only waved and smiled to in passing.

Unfortunately, as always, I managed to do a bit of entertaining I hadn’t intended to do. This time it was taking a nosedive off the small step from our neighbor’s entry hall into their living room. Thankfully, I wasn’t carrying a glass of red wine or strawberry punch to stain their brand new, light-blue carpet. But I did manage to badly sprain one wrist, bruise the opposite hand and wrench a knee.

Not wanting to embarrass the hostess, however, I leapt up and assure her I was “…just fine!”, hoping blood wasn’t spurting from severed arteries to stain their couch. Every part of my body throbbed and I felt as if I’d need a gurney to get me out to my car. But I smiled, and chatted and nodded inanely for another ten minutes before I was able to make my escape.

While I couldn’t use my right hand and was hobbling on my left knee, I was happy enough and certain everything would be fine by morning.

Unfortunately, in the morning, the previous evening’s ‘anaesthetic’ (read: wine) had worn off and I could barely move. I couldn’t use my right hand at all. This is not good news for an author and online instructor with a slew of 10,000 word assignments coming in for critique. We managed to get in to the doctor, and he sent me for x-rays of my wrist. While the hand wasn’t apparently broken, I was to wear a splint for at least two weeks. So much for my New Year’s resolution to swim daily.

Last year at this time, I fell and broke my left elbow. I’m thinking perhaps I’ve inadvertently started a new ‘holiday tradition’.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Skinker, Slinker, Shrinker and King

My favourite cat, Sibyl, is a skinker. That’s right, skinker. Unlike our other three cats, she doesn’t stalk birds or rabbits or mice or rats. No, she spends her entire day with her nose firmly embedded in the dirt searching for skinks. I’m forever finding skink tails here and there – minus the skink. Sometimes we find the skink under the mat in the laundry – of course, by then, it’s too late. Today she brought one in, and as usual, let me know in no uncertain terms. “Mffflllrow!” The sound of a cat crying with a mouthful. She lets it go in the laundry and it promptly runs under the washer. Great! With some well-appreciated help from my daughter’s boyfriend, we managed to capture the poor thing and release it – still with tail intact. I have no idea what makes Sibyl a skinker. Her nose is forever dirty from snuffling in the dirt, so I have to clean it. But she seems very proud of her achievements, so I won't complain.

It never fails to amaze me how different one cat can be from another. They all have their own little personalities. Another weird thing about Sibyl is she hasn’t quite figured out that our labrador, Jasper, can’t feed her. She’ll come in and head-butt him continually to try to get him to get up and go to the refrigerator. He’s a bit worried about this, since our other cat, Percy, will come in and lick him as though cleaning him, then unexpectedly take a bite out of him. Sibyl’s sister, Piper, has her own little oddities. She's a slinker. She doesn’t like her head touched by anyone but my daughter and her boyfriend – her true owners. This despite the fact she’s lived with us for almost all her adult life. Once she went missing for over 9 days. We were sure she was gone for good – even had a small funeral service for her. Then one evening there she was, up on her perch looking for food. We still have no idea where she was for all that time, but aside from looking slightly skinnier, she’d come to no harm.

Jessica, our long-haired tabby, is a shrinker - overly skittish. If there’s the slightest sound while she’s on someone’s lap, she’s off like lightening; usually leaving welts and screams of pain behind.

Percy is the king of the house – though I’ve never seen him swipe at, bully or abuse any of the females. He must have some secret code that keeps them all subservient. But I do believe he teaches them bad habits. As a kitten, Percy brought in frogs and crickets and moths. He quickly advanced to mice, then rats and finally large rabbits. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find the remains of a cow in our living room one morning.

Daily I’m bemused by the foibles of all our felines. I don’t think I could ever live without a furry four-legged friend in my life.