In The Plotting Shed

In The Plotting Shed
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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

Wednesday, 17 July 2019

Great to chat with book blogger, Fiona Mcvie today

Fiona is a Mum and a Granny, though she doesn't look anywhere near old enough, and loves to get to know authors whose books she has enjoyed. Obviously, she loves to read but also enjoys baking. You can read interviews with lots of other authors on her website - see link above.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019


I have just completed the first draft of Woodbine - remember I've been banging on about Woodbine and Ivy for a very long time? Well, it really is going to be Woodbine...and...Ivy. Two books, instead of one, will complete the Katherine Wheel Series.
Why? It's such a huge story. I thought the research for World War One was immense but that for World War Two dwarfs it. I've found it equally fascinating but the era is so very different. What is clear though, is that WW2 was in effect part two of the same conflict - unfinished business, you might say.
My poor characters, the children of Jem and Katy, Cassandra and Douglas, whom you may have met in the sequels to Daffodils, are really put through the wringer in this second global conflict.
I have begun to write Ivy, the fifth and final book in the series, when I hope to bring the whole saga full circle.
I daren't say more at this stage but will wait, on pins, for my editor's verdict.
Did you know that woodbine is another, country, name for honeysuckle?

Friday, 26 April 2019

Research trip

The writing life is a wonderfully varied one. Not always, of course. A great deal of time is necessarily spent alone, tapping the keyboard (on a good day) or staring out of the window, hoping for inspiration and focus to miraculously move the story onward. Done a lot of that lately!
However, there is fun to be had.
Yesterday took me to The Heritage Centre, Maidenhead. There, I 'flew' a simulated World War Two Spitfire plane. At last, I could understand why one female pilot of the Air Transport Auxiliary service (who have their museum house at the centre) felt that the little fighter plane had been designed for a woman, so responsive was it to her touch.
I only had fifteen minutes and no danger to sharpen my wits but I managed to lift off, loop the loop and attempt to fly (unsuccessfully) through and under London's Tower Bridge. The landscape, as you can see from the photo below, was simulated on three computer screens and very realistic, especially when the simulator banked dramatically! The instructor was endlessly patient and managed to convey a lot of detail in a few minutes.
I was surprised to find two pedals, one for each foot, which acted as rudders during take-off. The steering mechanism, or joystick, is circular and so easy to manoeuvre it only takes one hand, the right, while the left hand is deployed on the forwards and backwards motion of the throttle.
Other exhibits included the uniforms, log books and anecdotes of over 1200 pilots plus ancillary staff who made up this essential service during the second world war.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

I've just had my 2000th rating on #Goodreads - an enormous book club used all over the world.
My batting average is 4.09*stars out of a maximum 5*. This was achieved over six books - the same number as Jane Austen published in her short lifetime. Her average is 4.01* stars so I'm very happy with my score.
Goodreads is a website well worth getting to know if you are a bookworm. It covers all genres and tastes and has a reputation for harsh critiques, no holds barred.
At first, I found it hard to navigate but it's worth pursuing. You can connect with other avid readers and discover books through their recommendations that you might not find elsewhere and delve into genres that tempt you out of your comfort zone.
There are groups and friendships you can join and you can chat in forums to your heart's content.
Check it out if you haven't already found it!

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Peace Lily on #Kindle Daily Deal TODAY!

I'm beyond excited that Amazon chose the sequel to Daffodils, PEACE LILY, to be on the Kindle Daily Deal today.
At only 99p and with Daffodils #Free, you can get two novels for under a quid - but only for today.
And it's already reached No 3 in the Daily Deal charts this morning and placed Daffodils nicely within the top 100 #Free books!

Ending the day with a #bestseller flag! It's the achievement of a dream:

Friday, 5 April 2019

Audio book for Daffodils now published!

I'm genuinely excited to announce that the audiobook for Daffodils is now available on 

Audible, iTunes and Amazon 

via these links:

It is for you, dear reader, to judge whether I made the right decision to narrate Daffodils myself.
Listen to a free sample via these links and see what you think!
With my fear of public speaking, it was a real surprise to find I really enjoyed the experience. Bringing the characters from the Cheadle Manor villages to life was exhilarating. Speaking their words made them more real than ever to me as I lived through their emotional ups and downs all over again.
Editing was a steep learning curve and curiously addictive, but incredibly time-consuming.
It's amazing how you can actually read the morphology of certain sounds through the audio programme. Familiar words like 'the', 'and', etc can, with repetition, be recognised by their shape, almost like a musical score. As can certain consonants - the plosive 'p' and the sharp cutting sound of a 'k' or a 't', the sibilance of an 's' or 'sh'. Fascinating. I soon learned to recognise 'Katy'.
It took three months to complete the project and I can't wait to start another, so I'm hoping to narrate the sequels Peace Lily and Speedwell shortly.
All this audio work has distracted me from writing Woodbine and Ivy but I'm longing to return to it. The first draft of Book One (Woodbine) is now roughly complete and work has begun on Book Two (Ivy) where things are really hotting up, but I won't reveal any spoilers just yet.
My plan is to publish both books before the end of this year (2019) but progress is slow while I make some big changes to my life - all positive ones, I'm happy to say.


Sunday, 10 March 2019

Audiobook on its way!

I'm excited (and very relieved - although those emotions may be premature) to announce that I have just submitted Daffodils as an audiobook to ACX, the Amazonian provider of Audible.
It's been a bit of a diversion from writing Woodbine and Ivy and has taken far more time than I ever imagined but I'm deeply indebted to Grant Eden of for his encouragement to complete the project. Grant was unfailingly supportive during the narration process recorded on Mumbles Pier.
It remains to be seen whether the noises off by the odd dog barking or people passing by enjoying the salty air gets past the strict quality control of ACX. Apparently, I have to wait about two weeks to find out and I'll be on pins until then. It's taken me about 2 months of working 7 days a week to skill up with the audio production. Editing took the longest time and there was much to learn but it was oddly satisfying to pore over the minutia of tiny sounds that could distract the listener from the story. I learned how the smallest of dots on the audio-file could mean a very unattractive swallowing sound, how a long vertical line meant I'd done an unlovely plosive noise and to be able to see, at a glance, how different a 'cleaned' audio file would look to one littered with extraneous noise.
I hope to repeat the process if Daffodils sells well as an audiobook and I'm sure it will take me far less time to edit another, as I have learned so much.
In the meantime, it will be wonderful to return to the challenging first draft of Woodbine and Ivy and take up the story again with the children - now adults of course - of the characters I've been revisiting in Daffodils. It was a really interesting, if surreal, experience to actually inhabit the characters created in Daffodils and to voice the words I'd written. In speaking the dialogue, I forgot completely that I'd invented them. They became more real to me than ever and I found myself thinking in their heads and feeling the emotions underpinning the conversations as if I was living it in that time and place. I found myself disagreeing with opposing views, getting angry and upset and ultimately joyful as the story played out. I, too, was back in the 20th century, with the characters I have come to love (or hate) and the whole experience provided me with new insights and perspective on the fictional world of Cheadle Manor and the two villages who depend upon its patronage.

Thursday, 24 January 2019

Daffodils as an audiobook - coming soon!

I'm busy narrating Daffodils into an audio book at the moment. Hard work it is too! The worst of it being cringing to the sound of my own voice. As I wrote Daffodils so many years ago, it's also made me take the big bad red editing pen to it! But it's a wonderful opportunity and I'm really enjoying the experience. A mic and a very sympathetic sound engineer aren't nearly as intimidating as a live audience, I've discovered.
It's come about as a result of my interview with the delightful Leanna Broom on Oystermouth Radio. Grant Eden, the engineer at the radio station, is the most patient and generous person. He is helping me download the book on to an audio version and I'm indebted to him for his kind expertise.
It takes a surprisingly long time to dictate a whole book and the sound editing seems to need an equal amount of time.
Watch this space for Daffodils to be uploaded onto Amazon, Audible and iTunes. Meanwhile, Daffodils is still free as an ebook!