In The Plotting Shed

In The Plotting Shed

Friday, 6 May 2016

Rosy nails

It has begun. My trusted spouse, my first beta reader (always) is now, as I type, reading The Rose Trail. My nails are already looking a tad tatty. It'll get worse.
Every book I write, I become his slave. I'll do anything, yes anything, so he will carry on reading until he's done. I pace, I swear quite a bit too, I do all the chores, I am sweetness and light - my opposite of norm - and say yes in all the right places instead of offering a counter argument, whatever the discussion.
The Rose Trail is quite a departure from my other novels. Will it ring true?
Watch this space....

Monday, 14 March 2016

The Rose Trail is on its way

Just typed The End for my latest book, The Rose Trail. Such a satisfying moment. I always say the first draft, which is the hardest work but probably the most fun, is like putting empty hangers in the wardrobe. The second draft is when you put the clothes on them and is equally satisfying.

Hoping to publish later this year

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Daffodils, first book in The Katherine Wheel Series, only 99p

Spring's here! Yes, it's the season of daffodils and what better way to celebrate than to offer the first book in The Katherine Wheel Series at a discount.
For a limited time only, Daffodils is at 99pence/99cents.
With over 100 reviews between the US and the UK and averaging 4.5*s overall, this is  your chance to read about Katy Beagle and her journey through war torn Europe during the time of the cataclysmic first world war.
English country life was self absorbed and insular before this global conflict and Katy's problems, though huge to her, were actually tiny. She found this out for herself when war took her husband from her and she followed him to France by working as a mechanic in the WAAC.

What was life like for ordinary people then?
Life changing is the answer.
Find out why for less than a quid.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

A warm welcome to Tom Winton in the Plotting Shed

Hi Tom, and welcome to the Plotting Shed.  Thanks for coming all the way from Georgia, in America. How do my Welsh hills compare for scenery?
"I live in the mountains so I love your outlook from The Plotting Shed."
        It's a nice day, fancy a beer on the decking? I hope you are comfortable. Let's begin.
"I'd love one, thanks."

1.                      Would you say you are a country mouse or a town mouse, Tom?
"I’d tell either one of them to stop mousing around and loading up on cheese. Then I’d tell those “meeces” to read my books.  LOL"
2.                       Haha, nice one. What's your working routine like for an average writing day. Or do you just write when you can?
"When I’m finished doing what needs to be done around the homestead, and jerking around online with networking and marketing, I usually start tapping keys at about 3 PM. Some authors can write for 14 hours straight, but I’m not one of them. If I get two hours in every day, and 500 to 1,000 words, I’m satisfied with myself. If I miss one day, though, it affects me. I can really come down on myself. "    
3.                      How many books have you written so far, Tom?
"In the past five years I’ve had seven novels published, one collection of short stories, and four individual shorts. I also have all my full-length books out in audio now, and some have been translated in various languages."
4.                        Wow, good going. Would you describe your genre? I know you write romance, so would you say that was different for a guy?
"Yes, Alex, romance has a way of finding itself into all my books. Is that different than what most guys write? Maybe so, but I think romance is an essential element of the human condition, just like the many lessons the characters in my books learn while trying to overcome seemingly impossible obstacles.
As far as my genre is concerned, I’m a self-admitted first-degree “genre jumper and mixer.” Just as readers will find romance in my stories, they’ll also find plenty of suspense and quite often a considerable amount of travel."    
5.                      Have you got your own special writing station at home? What do you consider to be essential equipment?
"For the first time in my life, I now have my own “office” to write in. We moved from Florida to the North Georgia Mountains 18 months ago, and we’ve turned the third bedroom of our new place into my writing station.
As for tools, I still have in a bookcase behind me here the well-worn red dictionary and blue thesaurus I used for years. But I rarely pick them up anymore. Now all I do is click my cursor on a word I want to research and it takes me right to either the dictionary or thesaurus. My other tools are my computer, a used desk, a $5.00 second-hand office chair, a copier, calendar, pens and a pad or two. Those things along with the pen and pad on my nightstand, and a little inspiration, are all I need. When my muse shows up for duty I’m always good to go. "
6.                      Do you enjoy research?
"I don’t mind a little research here and there, like an occasional Google search. But when more than that is required I absolutely hate it. If I need to break away from my writing for too long, it sometimes screws up my continuity. Let’s face it, when you have to tear yourself away from a single paragraph to look up four different things, it makes it harder to get back into the rhythm of the prose.
But nowadays there is an upside to researching. I’ve got more information available at my fingertips (accessible with my computer) than there is in any library in the entire world. And I can almost always find out what I need to know in just seconds."
7.                      What keeps you motivated and how long have you been writing?
"What motivates me more than anything else are the fine folks who read my books. I certainly don’t enjoy the fame of a Stephen King or James Patterson, but I do have a following now. And believe me, despite my considerable number of modest writing successes, there have been many times I felt like running a garage sale and selling those writing tools I mentioned earlier. But I haven’t done that yet. And it’s because I know there are loyal readers out there who are waiting for my next book. Then again, my gold-gilded dreams of someday signing with a big publisher have a bit to do with why I keep tapping keys, too."   
8.                      What jobs did you do before you became a writer, or do you still work as well as write?
"I’m, retired now (ha, I put in more hours than I ever did). But during my working years I did everything from driving a taxi cab in some of New York’s most dangerous neighborhoods to driving railroad spikes in the Colorado Rockies. I’ve also dug ditches, been a sales executive in N.Y.C., and done most everything in between. The problem is I’ve always had a short attention span—once I “mastered” something it bored me to tears. I guess I should have realized much earlier in life that I was destined to become an author."
9.                      What's your current project (s)?
"Right now I’m putting the finishing touches on a short book about the adventures and misadventures my wife and I have had in the Florida Keys. You see, we’ve been going down there for more than 40 years now. Although I’d been to that magical string of islands once before Blanche ever had, we first went together in 1974. That time we had driven her canary yellow Chevy Vega through New York City in the cold predawn darkness, trying to beat an oncoming blizzard that was bearing down on the Big Apple. We were on our way to Key West to get married down there. Heck, that 1400 mile trip was a story in itself."       
10.       What are the high's and low's of a writing life for you?
"Believe it or not, the high point of my writing career ended up being the low point as well. It happened in the summer of 2011, after I had sent out a batch query letters to literary agents for my first novel—Beyond Nostalgia. Within a period of just 30 days, I actually had ten agents ask to see the manuscript. That’s right ten of them! Ask any writer you know and they’ll tell you that’s almost unheard of. At any rate, I struggled to keep myself from getting my hopes too high. And it’s a good thing I did, although the outcome still hurt like hell. Every one of those goofy agents decided not to represent me. Sure, half of them said that the book just wasn’t quite right for them, and that they were “sure” I’d find a willing agent. But in the end there was no cigar.
Nevertheless, a short time later a small publisher offered to publish the book, I signed with them, and Beyond Nostalgia went on to become a bestseller. For about four months Amazon featured the book on their Kindle home page. It sold thousands of copies and it was continually ranked near the very top of the Contemporary Romance category. It also hit the Barnes & Noble “Top 100”. But I’m still not over the disappointment I suffered, because I truly believe that had I lassoed a good agent and bigger publisher Beyond Nostalgia could have been a huge seller. On the bright side, though, I have since self-published six more novels and every one of them has become a bestseller as well.

Alex, I really enjoyed answering the questions and appreciate you asking me to be on your site."
Great talking to you Tom. What an interesting life you've lead while you went around the houses before caving into your destiny.
Tom's brand new book – A New Dawn in Deer Isle. Released just over a month ago, it too has already been an Amazon bestseller and “Hot New Release”.
Here's the link for  A NEW DAWN IN DEER ISLE

Tom’s Author page on Amazon -
Tom’s Website -
Facebook -
Twitter -

Tom Winton's Book Links:
          A New Dawn in Deer Isle -
          Forever Three -
          A Second Chance in Paradise -
          Four Days with Hemingway’s Ghost -
          The Last American Martyr -
          Beyond Nostalgia -
          Within A Man’s Heart -




Friday, 4 March 2016

New pictures in The Plotting Shed

As my profile picture is ancient (a birthday rather longer ago than I like to think) I got my dear spouse to take some of me plotting in the shed. A rare sunny day in this endless winter. You can just make out my dog, Sky, hoping for a game with the ball in the right bottom corner and the peeling paint. Have to get the first draft of The Rose Trail finished before I tackle that.

And of course - I caved in and played ball - I always do!

whereas this is what I should have been doing:

Tuesday, 16 February 2016

My guest in the Plotting Shed this month is #Judith Barrow



Meet Judith Barrow, best-selling author of family sagas, creative writing teacher, social networker with the best jokes and someone I'm proud to call my friend.


Best-selling author Judith Barrow
"Hi, Judith, and welcome to the Plotting Shed."
"Thanks Alex, great to be here and fabulous garden, by the way."
I love Judith's broad northern accent. It's warm, friendly and inclusive and matches the twinkle in her blue eyes. "Thank you, it looks alright, if you ignore the weeds! Pull up a chair."
Judith sits down on my thinking couch. "Will do, cheers."
"Fancy a cuppa from my trusty thermos?"
Knowing my other job is in plant medicine, Judith replies, "Is it Fennel today… or Peppermint? Or a surprise?"
"My very ow Wake-Up tea is today's tipple; equal parts of Peppermint, Nettle and Green Tea. Are you warm enough? I'll turn up the heater."
"No, thanks, I’m fine; it’s lovely and cosy in here."
"Yep, The Plotting Shed is fully insulated. We'll be snug as bugs; in fact you might find a few under the settee, but don't worry about it. Now, let me ask you a few questions about your writing, Judith."
"Fire away."
 1.                      " Why do you write, Judith?"
"I suppose the answer is because I can’t not write. I don’t think that's
grammatically correct but I hope you know what I mean. I’ve been writing forever. I’m not saying I’ve always been good at writing but I hope I’ve become better at it as the years have gone on. I do know I get very irritable if I go a couple of days without putting pen to paper of fingers to keyboard. Sorry, a bit of a long- winded answer; my husband says I write as I talk – too much!"
2.                       "Which is the best part of the process for you?"
"The start of any novel is exciting, and the research; that’s when I know that what I want to write will work. And that’s when the slog starts."
3.                       "Do you draw on personal experiences for your stories or do they need a lot of        research?"
"I think it’s a third of the first and two thirds of the second. I’m a people –watcher, always have been. When I was a child I always tried to blend into the background. It was a rather turbulent time and I sometimes wish I didn’t have such a good memory. But it helps with the gritty parts of my books.  As for the research; I love it. So much so that sometimes I lose hours going from one thing to another before I realise hours have passed. In the end it all comes in useful whether it’s giving the book a sense of place or a sense of the era that I’m writing about."
4.                      "Are all your books set in places you know personally?"
"Some; not all. The trilogy certainly is, although I’ve changed the names. All three books are set around a Lancashire town and a Welsh village; both of which I know well – but in earlier decades.
5.                       "Have you a preferred genre or do you write in more than one?"
"I write family sagas which are a cross genre with historical fiction, mystery  and crime. Hmm! Saying that I’m not quite sure now what genre I write in."
6.                       "What do you enjoy reading?"
"I love reading sagas. And historical books. And crime fiction. And mysteries. Oh, think there’s a theme emerging here. I also review books on Rosie Amber’s team #RBRT and try there to get out of my comfort zone, so I have read cosy romance, fantasy and one, just the one, book that had vampires and suchlike in it. Not my thing at all!"
7.                       "How much time do you spending writing as opposed to social media and networking? You post the best jokes on Facebook, by the way."
"Too much time on social media. I promise myself I’ll write and then, before I know it, I’ve spent the last hour on social media. But I also go to craft fairs with my books,  carry out book signings and give talks on research etc. to all sorts of groups (hint, hint here, just in case any of your readers belong to groups. Sorry, is that cheeky?). These are lovely because I get to meet actual readers and chat to them; find out what they like to read… and, of course whether they enjoyed my books. Or, if they didn’t, why not; it’s always useful to know and learn from people."
8.                     "I met you through the Tenby Book Fair you created about four years ago. What was it that motivated you to start this annual event?"
"I’d wanted to be part of a book fair ever since the first of the trilogy came out but hadn’t found one I was confident enough to join in on. So I decided to organize one for local and Welsh authors and it was accepted as part of the Tenby Arts Festival. At that time there weren’t many authors I knew; in fact the only one was a friend who writes children’s books, Sharon Tregenza. But I cast around and found you and Thorne Moore. Fortunately for me I was able to coerce… er …  persuade you to help with the following year’s Fair and, as you know, it’s grown in popularity ever since.  Your input has been brilliant; I can’t thank you both enough, and I think this last year’s Fair was our best ever. And we’ve also been lucky with being the first on the programme. This year it will be on Saturday the 24th September."
9.                   "Have you always wanted to be a writer? Have you worked in other roles along the way? Which was your best/worst job?"
"Yes, as a child I always thought I would be a famous author one day. I’ve settled for being moderately well known and enjoying what I do.  In a former life I was always in the Civil Service. Grotty jobs? Well, since we moved to Pembrokeshire, I’ve cleaned caravans in the holiday season (which wasn’t that bad actually as I worked alongside some wonderful characters, hmm, people!) I’ve stitched suede slippers and bled all over them (that only lasted a day, my husband couldn’t stand the cries of pain!) Best job? Jobs really.  First, of course, is being a wife and mother to three children and now a grandmother  (a Nanna).  A long time ago I qualified and taught swimming, which I loved. And I made novelty cakes for a long time which started out as a hobby and then I began to be commissioned for them. I still like to make the odd one for the family if it’s an occasion."
10.                   "Tell me about your current project."
"I’m writing the prequel to the trilogy; working title ‘Foreshadowing’. And I’ve finished the first draft of a book called The Memory, which is slightly different from the trilogy but still has a saga feel, I think."
11.          "Where do you get your ideas from?"
"I don’t know. Things just occur to me. Then I remember something that happened and before I realise, it becomes an idea for a book."
12.          "You also teach several creative writing classes, Judith. What do you tell your students are the golden rules of writing?"
"Write, write write. Practice, practice, practise. Then listen to me and learn from my mistakes. Hah!"

"Thank you for answering these questions, Judith."
"No, thank you for letting me into your wonderful Plotting Shed; I’m honoured and I’ve had a great time.  Any more of that lovely tea?"
Judith's blog site:

Judith's sequel of books in the Shadows and Patterns Saga:

Amazon. - Pattern of Shadows:
                            Changing Patterns:
                            Living in the Shadows: -    Pattern of Shadows:
                            Changing Patterns:
                            Living in the Shadows: au - Pattern of Shadows:
                            Changing Patterns:
                            Living in the Shadows: -       Pattern of Shadows:
                           Changing Patterns:
                           Living in the Shadows: -      Pattern of Shadows:
                           Changing Patterns:
                           Living in the Shadows:

Judith is published by :
Honno (publishers):