In The Plotting Shed

In The Plotting Shed
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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.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

My tribute to the fallen of any war

Today is Remembrance Sunday and all the wonderful tributes that have taken place are both uplifting and sobering. Daffodils is my tribute to the fallen of WW1 but in a way, it's a homage to any person who died trying to save their country and loved ones from oppressors. The world is less certain than it has ever been in my lifetime and so I'm honouring those generations who gave their lives so that we might live in freedom.
Daffodils is currently #free and anyone is welcome to download my take on the war that was supposed to end all wars. Daffodils

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Daffodils hits #1! in FREE

Thanks to Bookbub and the advert I placed with them weeks ago, Daffodils hit the No 1 position in the UK and No 2 in the US for overall free books. I was stunned when I found out on the 8th September in a snatched internet moment at a cafe. I'm abroad in France at the moment so didn't even witness this awesome event in my career but I'm still as chuffed as could be.
Daffodils is still free so grab a copy. Pleased to report lots of reviews have also come through with many readers going on to read the rest of the series.
I'm currently working on The Rose Trail, which isn't connected to The Katherine Wheel Series, but I still plan to write the fourth and final book in Katy and Jem's story next year, if I can get all the massive amount of research completed by then. Woodbine and Ivy will complete their story and bring a conclusion that I hope will satisfy all the questions I've deliberately left unanswered in Peace Lily and Speedwell.
Thanks to all the 50,000 people who have downloaded Daffodils this week. I hope that each and every one of you will enjoy the story and come back for more.

Here's some of the new reviews of Daffodils that have gladdened my heart: 

5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful read12 Sept. 2016
"5 *s This was an enchanting story full of love and adventure. It started before the first world war, when everyone knew their place in the scheme of things, although not everyone was happy with their place, then it covered the horrible war and the death and destruction and the firm friendships made during this war. I was really sorry when I finished the book. I shall buy the next two in the series as I enjoyed this book so much!"

on 9 September 2016
"Thoroughly enjoyable read that bought home some of the realties of WW1 from a woman's point of view. Although there is a romantic thread this book is head and shoulders above the usual offerings in the genre. It bought to mind the photographs I've seen of my grandmother and other members of family in WW1 uniform and gave some meaning to little WW1 keepsakes I inherited. I look forward to reading other books in the series."

on September 11, 2016
"I've rated this book 5 star because I only had to neglect my housework for 2.5 days. The story is so real life with authentic characters and gripping struggles that made it difficult to set the book down. I will recommend it to my Book Club this month. I can't wait to read the next two books in this series!"

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The male perspective on Speedwell

5.0 out of 5 stars Not a Flowery “Women’s Only” StoryAugust 15, 2016
Verified Purchase
This review is from: Speedwell (The Katherine Wheel Book 3) (Kindle Edition)
"This book caught my attention by the title and the race car on the cover. And even though I hadn’t read the first two books of the series, I checked out the description, then a portion of the sample and bought it. Auto mechanic Katy (Katherine) Phipps, proprietor of Katherine Wheel Garage, is struggling to eke out a living in 1920s England, having apparently learned her trade in World War I. Her husband Jem (short for Jeremy) handles many of the building maintenance and household duties, including growing vegetables for themselves and for sale. Jem lost half an arm during the war, but doesn’t whine about it. Their humble home and workshop are a short distance from the manor of their unlikely friends Cass (Cassandra) and Douglas, who is an American who met his wife during the war. Cass, a daughter of wealth, privilege, and minor nobility, drove an ambulance during the war, which was probably when she and Katy became friends. Katy and her family were once servants at the manor, though, so they must have been acquainted. Anyway, Since Doug and Cass helped fund Katy and Jem to get the garage up and running, and since there isn’t much for Doug to do at the manor, coupled with the fact that he and the in-laws aren’t too fond of each other and it’s actually their place, Doug periodically stops by the garage to help out. The problem is, he isn’t much help. But he is amiable and charming, and by mutual agreement he begins selling new cars out of Katy’s shop. Doug is a car guy who loves to drive, so it’s a perfect fit. Soon Doug and Katy end up concocting a scheme to go racing, promote business for both of them. This story is heartwarming, heart-wrenching, and thought provoking. And although it isn’t a fast read, like many sagas, and isn’t of the genre I read often, it’s a compelling tale."

I feel that Speedwell has passed some severe masculine test with this review!

Monday, 25 July 2016

5*s for the whole Katherine Wheel Series ***** #amreading #amwriting

Format: Kindle Edition
"I became caught up in this series. A few very late nights still up and reading. All characters were very well developed.
I need Kleenex at times,but that's what tells you you're in love with these characters. 
I would have liked to know more about the manor and the children. What happened with the other dear ones.
Do you think another book might let us know the answers ? Will definitely recommend to friends."

So pleased with this review of the whole series posted in the US. Really motivated now to write Woodbine and Ivy which 
will take the characters from The Katherine Wheel Series into the arena of the second World War - as if they
haven't suffered enough! Now the children of Katy and Cassandra have to face their life-changing challenges as
they deal with another global drama and readers will find out exactly how the two families' destinies finally collide.
Lots of research for this one, so it will take some digging for that, but I'm hoping to get it out next year, 2017. I'm just
polishing off the very different new book, The Rose Trail, which should be published this autumn, 2016.
Watch this space!

Tuesday, 12 July 2016


Doing a free promotion is an odd feeling, giving away something you've slogged so hard at for nothing but not only have Peace Lily and Speedwell benefited, my writer's heart was completely uplifted by the following review. Maybe I would never have reached this reader, had I not done the giveaway and I feel truly rewarded now.

"5.0 out of 5 stars
Daffodils (The Katherine Wheel Book 1) 

Rarely do I read a book this good. Told from the point of view of Katy, a young English woman 

of working class roots, who moves from service as a maid in a manor house to marriage
 to working as a mechanic in France during WW1. The world changes incredibly during
 those years and this is an excellent recounting of those changes from a woman's point of view. 
Primary in the story is the love and marriage of Katy and Jem with strong secondary characters 
being brought in throughout the story. I bought the next book in the series within 5 minutes of 
finishing this one. The writing is excellent, emotional and descriptive, with well developed characters.
It is well edited, with no profanity or descriptive sexual scenes."

Sunday, 10 July 2016

#FREE Daffodils for a short time only

Having completely revised Daffodils, I'm letting her go free today and tomorrow.
Book One of The Katherine Wheel Series drags Katy and Jem into the global arena of World War One and changes their lives forever.
Cheadle is a sleepy village in rural Wiltshire, England. Nothing much changes and little family dramas provide the only food for scandal and gossip. Then WW1 erupts into the lives of these country people, leaving no-one unscathed.
We meet Katy as a young maidservant, restless for more than domestic service can offer and reckless to a fault. We see her develop and mature, as life throws joys and tragedies across her path and the war lures Jem away. Another man tempts her to stay home but in the end she too signs up for the war and in doing so, finds her true self, and discovers that the only thing that really matters is, after all, simply love.


Book One of The Katherine Wheel Series
Click this link to get free copy

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Peace - at least in the Plotting Shed #amwriting

Peace reigns, temporarily at least, in The Plotting Shed, as I begin the re-write of The Rose Trail, after my editor, Tomas Martin's, insightful comments on the first draft.
His energy, acute observations and pithy criticism always energise and inspire me. I've learnt to take the brutal truth on the chin, knowing it always bears luscious fruit.
Amongst these comments was one I treasure: It's the best first draft you've ever written.
As I begin weaving some threads, some depth and a few red herrings into the story, I am astonished to find the seeds have already been sown when I wrote the first draft. This happens every time and never ceases to amaze me. It's as if my subconscious knew all along where those threads and strands should be and planted their genesis within the race to the finish that getting the story down entails. You have to keep up the momentum in the first draft. Yes, there is an outline, but that doesn't allow for the characters to run away with your carefully worked out plot and embellish it. Which makes for a rollercoaster ride as you commit their actions, words and deeds onto the document.
Returning to the story the second time around, imbued with the refreshing ideas of Beta No 1 and Editor, is quite a different experience. It's more relaxed for a start; there is no rush to see if all the plot lines will work out the way you hoped they would. It is more careful, not calculated as such, but thoughtful. It is craft.
I love this stage! And especially when I find that the original script has the space and the intention ready and willing to be reworked.
As I write more books, I find I panic less. The pattern of how I put a book together seems to have evolved now. It feels more creative, less stressful, more manageable and infinitely more rewarding.
It'll be up to you readers to tell me if you feel the same.
Life is busy for me at the moment and writing time under pressure but I'm still on target to publish by the autumn.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

Thorny matters: Alex Martin spinning Katherine Wheels

Thorny matters: Alex Martin spinning Katherine Wheels: I am continuing my cunning plan to interview other authors (i.e. let them do the work), with an interview with Alex Martin, author of the Ka...

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Building a book

The long road to finishing a book is can be a tortuous, slow one. I'm on The Rose Trail still and spent the weekend chatting with my editor, my son Tom, as he read the first draft and I paced and made notes while he voiced his thoughts.
The upside is he thinks it's the strongest first draft I've ever written and has come up with some great ideas for twists and layered complexity, which, after all, is what the second draft is all about. 
So, it's back to the drawing board for me and on such a wet, stormy day, it's not such a bad idea.
Meanwhile, here are some pictures I've been playing around with for the cover - not that I'm procrastinating or anything.

 I would love some feedback on these as to which appeals most for this ghost story set in dual time, modern day and the English Civil War.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

My turn for an author interview with #Judith Barrow, book blogger extraordinaire

Judith Barrow

I had a lot of fun the other day, chatting with my lovely friend and fellow author, Judith Barrow. Judith writes gritty sagas (see below) and is the instigator and founder of The Tenby Book Fair. She is also a creative writing tutor and I'm privileged to enjoy regular writing workshops with Judith and an equally gifted writer, Thorne Moore, on a regular basis. We share whatever we are working on by reading it out loud and critiquing each others' work - much to the amusement of the other diners in the cafe where we meet. We tend to get a bit loud. Luckily we also share a dark sense of humour and the time flies by as we exchange jokes and our work.
I always know when my work-in-progress is on track when a quiet hush descends from the nearby tables when I'm reading my stuff out. Happy days.

Anyway, here's our chat:

Judith Barrows books include:

Changing Patterns
Pattern of Shadows
Living in the Shadows

Monday, 13 June 2016

Giving back the love:

Just click here or on the title to get your free copy of TRIO

 This EXCLUSIVE collection of three short stories is available
"A trio of entertaining short stories. Perfect for holiday reading. Written in the same excellent style that this author always brings to the page. Would recommend. 5*s"
Containing: The Pond, A Tidy Wife, The Wedding Cake

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: