In The Plotting Shed

In The Plotting Shed
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Thursday, 23 January 2020

Cooking a book #

Writing HQ has temporarily decamped to the dining room. So many notes and files have been accumulated for Ivy now that it became necessary to spread them all out and reorganise. In researching anything to do with the Second World War, it's impossible to avoid plumbing the shocking depths of man's inhumanity to man (particularly in viewing the scenes of the Nazi death camps) but also total heroism in the sacrifice of so many lives to win the peace for future generations. We are very lucky. However, it's been fascinating piecing the drama together and, even though the outcome, seen in hindsight, wasn't in doubt, there were moments of high tension in its replay during crucial times when you can see no-one knew how things would turn out. It is truly humbling to learn what the combatants of that fierce conflict went through and only hope I can do them justice in my next two books.
Lottie, Cassandra Flintock-Smythe's eldest daughter, is deeply embroiled in this war but her story is emerging through the chaos. She's impressing me as a character, and hopefully, readers will love her too, when the story is finished. The other characters in 'Willow', Isobel, Al and young Lily, all have their own parts to play in this epic battle and I'm enjoying listening to them as I guide them, not always willingly, towards the destiny already carved out for them. Ah, the power of the pen!
 Hopefully, publishing will happen later this year, when 'Woodbine' will probably be released at the same time as 'Ivy'. In essence, they are two parts of the same whole and should be read together. It's a little strange, as a writer, not to publish when a book is completed, as Woodbine is, but the details may change a little as Ivy develops, and further fact-checking may need retrospective correction.
'Willow'  (only 99p for the kindle copy) is out now. It's only a little book but it introduces the characters of Woodbine and Ivy as children and bridges the gap between the generations of the first three books in 'The Katherine Wheel Series' and the two to come, 'Woodbine' and 'Ivy', which will conclude it.

Friday, 13 December 2019

1,110 ratings and reviews gained for #Daffodils!

Woke up this morning to find that, as well as the previous 547 reviews for Daffodils, nearly five hundred more ratings have been added to the mix in both the US and the UK. The average score remains at 4.4 out of 5 stars overall - not bad out of 1,110 verdicts!
Willow, a short novella and book four of The Katherine Wheel Series, has recently been published with both Woodbine and Ivy to follow in the new year. This will bring the total of books in the saga to six.
Daffodils is currently #free.

Daffodils #FREE for now!Daffodils

Friday, 22 November 2019

Willow Published Today!

I'm proud (and nervous) to announce that Willow, the fourth book in The Katherine Wheel Series has been published today.
Here is the link to the product page: Willow

The stifling heat of a summer’s day lures four children to the cool green waters of the river running between Cheadle Manor and The Katherine Wheel Garage.
Al captains the little band of pirates as they blithely board the wooden dinghy. Headstrong Lottie vies with him to be in charge while Isobel tries to keep the peace and look after little Lily.
But it is the river that is really in control.
Lost and alone, the four children must face many dangers, but it is the unforeseen consequences of their innocent adventure that will shape their futures for years to come.

Book Four of The Katherine Wheel Series may be small in size but it packs in many surprises for the children of Katy and Jem and Douglas and Cassandra. Willow bridges the generation gap between the last three books, Daffodils, Peace Lily and Speedwell, and Book Five, Woodbine, when the four children are on the brink of both adulthood and the outbreak of the Second World War. The series will conclude with the sixth book, Ivy, in the most surprising way, as the war draws to its agonising conclusion.
For fans of historical fiction and Alex Martin's work in particular, Willow makes the most perfect stocking filler!

Willow is novella sized and is a story about children so it could be read by any age group but it sets up the group dynamic for Woodbine despite its simplicity and length. Woodbine will be published early in the new year but I've yet to complete Ivy, which is as complex as Willow is simple, due to the immense amount of research involved. By contrast, Willow was a joy and delight to write this summer in the same hot, sunny weather as Al, Lottie, Isobel and Lily enjoy on the river Cheadle. I hope readers will enjoy the innocent adventure in the long-forgotten era of the 1930s in the English countryside.

Friday, 18 October 2019


Absolutely thrilled to be able to display the award given by the New Apple Literary Services to Daffodils

Winning Category: 2016 and Older – solo ‘Medalist Winner’ Daffodils Click on this link if you want to read Daffodils for #FREE!

I'm working hard on three more sequels to the Katherine Wheel Series, of which Daffodils is the first book. Two - Willow and Woodbine - are finished but I want to complete the final book, Ivy, before I release them. That's why it's taking so long for me to publish anything since I wrote The Rose Trail. Ivy will bring the whole saga to a surprising and satisfying conclusion. Like the first book in the series, Daffodils, it involves a worldwide war and therefore a truly daunting amount of research, something that is impossible to rush. Progress is being made and hopefully, it won't be too long before I can release it.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Narberth Book Fair

Had a great time at the Narberth Book Fair  (  ) last weekend. Sold lots of books, met fabulous readers and other authors who inspired me. The event was well attended, despite the Welsh rain, or maybe because of it! Perfect reading weather, after all. Who wouldn't want to curl up with a new book on a wet afternoon at the end of September? Lots of people bought books as Christmas presents, which was especially satisfying.
I had no new books to sell as they are all still waiting in the wings, but I can announce that Willow and Woodbine are finished and Ivy is well on the way - although it's a massive challenge.
I hope the new book cover for Willow will whet your appetite. (No pun intended!)

Willow is novella sized but will still be printed as a paperback, and will bridge the generation gap between Speedwell and Woodbine.
Katy and Cassandra's children have an adventure on a river lined with willow trees. They set off in high spirits, never realising the consequences that will unfold from their spree. The repercussions will ripple on for years and influence events in Woodbine too.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Daffodils has won an AWARD!

Just received this astonishing email from Apple Literary Awards!

"Your book 'Daffodils' was chosen as the solo "Medalist Winner" in the 2016 and Older category of our Summer eBook Awards!

Throughout the coming months, New Apple will roll out the prizes associated with the awards including social media announcements, digital awards certificates, press releases and digital medallions to place on your ebook covers.

We'll be sending you a winner's questionnaire in the next couple weeks.  Once we have gathered all of that information, we'll post the complete list of Medalist Winners and Official Selections on our website and begin the coming year of online promotion.  Congratulations!"

Awards Coordinator
New Apple Literary Services for Independent Authors

Helping independent authors find success

Monday, 12 August 2019

Youtube - what a resource

I'm deeply embroiled in finishing, yes finishing, Woodbine. Remember me discussing Woodbine and Ivy? Well, it's definitely going to be two books, possibly even three, to round off the Katherine Wheel Saga. I've had my head down all summer, writing and, inevitably, researching. I do pop up occasionally to greet friends and family and share a glass or two but mostly, I've been back in the 1930s.
Here's a wonderful newsreel from the pivotal year of 1939.
Luckily for me, it's a review of the entire year and is an atmospheric reminder of the build-up to World War Two. You really get a sense of propaganda in the tone of the announcer's voice, trying to make out that the impending disaster is somehow thrilling instead of terrifying, as it must have been - especially to those who had already lived through the previous great conflict.
Woodbine involves the children of Katy Phipps and Cassandra Flintock-Smythe as they face the danger and impending threat of Nazism spreading across the globe.
I've yet to pen Ivy, the final book, and it's a daunting challenge but it's a good feeling to have got halfway through this ambitious project.
Here's the newsreel:

Review of the year 1939Britain prepares for war in autumn of 1939