In The Plotting Shed

In The Plotting Shed
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Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Harriet Steel's Blog: Meet Alex Martin

Harriet Steel's Blog: Meet Alex Martin: I'm delighted to welcome historical novelist,  Alex Martin, to the blog today. Alex, thank you so much for accepting the invitation. Wo...

Saturday, 28 January 2017


I left The Plotting Shed the other day and went to chat with other authors at the exciting new studios of Pembrokeshire's own tv station,Showboat TV. They have a new series starting up, hosted by the ever generous and lovely Judith Barrow, writer, book-blogger and creative writing tutor, called 'Cover to Cover'.
Twice a week on a Tuesday and Thursday evening at 8.30 pm authors from south Wales will be talking about their work with other authors on a friendly panel of four. John Rolls, the driving force of Showboat TV, introduced the very first programme and it was an honour to be his first guest.
So, here I am, talking about my books, with Judith, John and Leah Jenkins who organised the day beautifully.
Just click on the link below to go straight to the interview.

To celebrate the event, I'm discounting my new book, The Rose Trail,
for a very limited time period to 99p. Reviews are coming in and I'm thrilled with the feedback so far:

"A combination of love, tragedies, friendships, past and present, lashings of historical aspects, religious bias, controlling natures all combined with the supernatural give this novel a wonderful page-turning quality."
"Couldn't put it down found it spooky romantic chapter after chapter you never knew what was coming next. With a fantastic ending hopefully will be more."
"I loved The Rose Trail, the humour, sadness, history, mystery and romance not to mention ghosts keep it fascinating from the first page to the last. I couldn’t put it down."
" love the cracking pace, with surprising jolts. It's a great gripping read!"

 Only 99p for limited time

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

A #bookish sort of day

I've had a lovely literary sort of day today. I was lucky enough to be included with a bunch of other Welsh authors to at Pembroke Dock. The ever lovely and generous Judith Barrow was in the chair for a new series of programmes called 'Cover to Cover' that will shortly be on the Showboat channel. A panel of authors chatted together about their favourite topic, writing - of course! with one author showcasing their latest production number, mine being the ghost story of The Rose Trail.
It was great fun to meet up with old and new faces on the literary scene and John, the producer at Showboat TV, was a fantastic host. Leah Smith held it altogether seamlessly - not an easy task with a random bunch of creative talent!
Pembroke Dock is a fascinating mix of industry, docks and old town. I sat for a while on the estuary to take in the scene.

You can just make out the Irish Ferry waiting at the dockside. Although it is early January and the weather forecasters are predicting snow, the day felt more like early spring with blustery winds and bright sunshine. The water rushed into the estuary, roughed up by the stiff breeze. I was glad I wasn't boarding that boat.
After that,I grabbed the opportunity to visit Laugharne, one of my favourite haunts for quiet inspiration. Dylan Thomas has his famous boathouse there but I prefer the garage he commandeered for his writing space. The view is incredibly beautiful and the winter sun held out through the afternoon and streamed through the shed windows, as it does every sunny morning into my very own Plotting Shed. Although I can only aspire to Dylan's lyricism, at least I can identify with his office. My view isn't bad but the peace and serenity of Laugharne Bay is superlative; otherworldly.
 I walked back along the top lane, imagining him wrestling with his conscience as he walked from his house along the path. How many times, I wondered, did the promise of a pint of bitter sway him from the discipline of poetry and make him pass by the door of the little shed over the water. I pictured him, salivating in anticipation of that first bitter sip, before yielding to the lure of Brown's pub and felt I was eavesdropping on the promises he made to himself to 'just have one' to oil the wheels before returning to work. 

The winter sun streamed in through the window, catching Dylan Thomas's old tweed jacket
This doesn't do justice to the view, which is quite extraordinary, but the most significant aspect of this place is the utter peace. How many places can we escape the drone of traffic these days? All I could hear were the gulls and the curlews and the ceaseless tide.

The timeless view, made dynamic by the constant ebb and flow of the sea

The sample of Dylan Thomas' work displayed by the shed

Monday, 12 December 2016

First reviews of The Rose Trail - 3 x 5*s

The launch party of The Rose Trail was great. I had a thoroughly good time and met some great people. My reward came later in the day as I totalled three reviews (The Rose Trail went live a week or so ago). So here are the first impressions:

 The Rose Trail
The Rose Trail is a great mixture of amateur detection and supernatural riddles, with dramas of the present day crashing painfully into dramas of the seventeenth century. A time when the country was riven by civil war, religious bigotry, totalitarian rulers, rebellious subjects wanting liberty, and families divided - not so very different from some events today. I love the story of the past, with two brothers at war over politics and love, but I also adore the two present-day protagonists, Fay and Persephone, so very different, but linked by an uncomfortable way with the desperate touch of the past. Ghosts need to find peace – those of the distant and the more recent past. Fay and Percy make a great team of detectives and I suspect (hope) there will be many more investigations to come.
This is a fascinating and sometimes spooky story, which has us following a ribbon through time, back and forth to the 17th century.
However this ribbon has a disturbing and rather scary kink in it, which our story-teller and heroine - Fay - is determined to unravel. She is so down to earth and yet courageous 
with her gift of being able to sense another reality which most of us are blind to. She carries us along
 through time with a big love as her guide ... her passion. But with this love, comes conflict. Fay has to
make heart-breaking decisions which will impact on her life - and the lives of others - in a hugely dramatic way.
I love the cracking pace, with surprising jolts. It's a great gripping read!

I loved The Rose Trail, the humour, sadness, history, mystery and romance not to mention ghosts keep it
 fascinating from the first page to the last. I couldn’t put it down.

Friday, 9 December 2016

On-line Launch Party for The Rose Trail

You are welcome to join the on-line launch party for The Rose Trail this Sunday morning, 11th December between 10 and 12 am. There will be coffee and croissants and the odd glass of Buck's Fizz for your virtual breakfast.
There'll be lots of information about the background and research for the book and lots of lovely authors to meet who are also donating some great prizes..
Join in and answer some simple quiz questions and you could win a free copy of The Rose Trail ebook. It's a timeslip novel set both in the present day and the English Civil War, woven together with a supernatural thread.

Just click on the link below on Sunday morning!

The Rose Trail Book Launch Party

Thursday, 8 December 2016

The Rose Trail is published!

I'm very excited to announce that my new book, The Rose Trail, is now published!
The Rose Trail is a timeslip novel set in both the present day and during the English Civil War. The complex story weaves through both eras with a supernatural thread. 

I do love a challenge and this book presented me with several. Not only was there a great deal of research for the historical section, there were five voices to convey. Fay is the narrator of the piece and a flawed and troubled character. Definitely not your average heroine.
 The Rose Trail
Click on the book cover to go straight to the Amazon page where YOU live

The germ of the idea for this story was born many years ago. I was working as a secretary in a legal firm and had to deliver a will to a house on the Wiltshire downs. With the errand achieved, I looked around the tiny village and felt drawn to one particular dwelling. It was a beautiful house, larger than a cottage, but nothing grand. It was ancient but still stood, square and sturdy, basking in the sunshine and smiling across to the other houses skirting the village green. 
As I approached its whitewashed walls, I noticed it was empty. I peered in through the warped old glass windows, tucked deep under the thatched roof. Inside was a large room with a massive fireplace at one end. The floor was uneven, made of large limestone flagstones, glossy from the hundreds of feet that had worn it smooth over time. The ground floor was only one room deep and I could see straight through into the walled garden through the window opposite. 
Although the house was much humbler than the Meadowsweet Manor featured in The Rose Trail, it spoke to me of the era in which half the book is set, the English Civil War. I sensed a family at war with each other; conflicted and arguing, heard the clash of swords and the clang of armour. I remember vividly the chilling sensation that crept up my arms, making them spring goosepumps all the way up to my thumping heart. 
I knew then that I would never forget the place. I wondered if I had lived there before, in that war torn age, or perhaps I would live there in the future, with a family of my own. 
Neither scenario has happened, as far as I know, but the memory remains crystal clear in my mind. Instead of giving birth to children, the moment of seeing into the past has created a story.
It is my fervent wish that I have done justice to the house that spoke to me that day so many years ago and that readers will enjoy the result.

You can find the book here

The paperback will be available very shortly - just in time for Christmas!

Monday, 28 November 2016

Cover Reveal for #TheRoseTrail

I'm so excited to reveal the cover for my new book, The Rose Trail.
This story is a time-slip novel with both a modern and historical narrative.
The Rose Trail is coming out very soon and its publication will be announced here.

Here's the blurb:

Is it chance that brings Fay and Persephone together?
Or is it the restless and malevolent spirit who stalks them both?
Once rivals, they must now unite if they are to survive the mysterious trail of roses they are forced to follow into a dangerous, war-torn past.