Sunday, 25 August 2013

The Independent Author Network ( #IAN1 )

As indie authors we are always looking for ways to promote our work, that's why we're tweeting like sparrows every spare minute we get. Therefore I think it's good for everyone if we share any new opportunities we learn of.
Lots of you will have heard of The Independent Author Network (IAN) from various different sources. I came across it through one of H.E. Joyce's @HEJoyce1 tweets with the link to his IAN page. I was very impressed with the way it was presented and after a tweet to Mr Joyce to see if he was happy with the service I decided to pay my £16 and sign up. I'm glad that I did. So far, one day after my page went live, I've already had some sales, which pleases me greatly!
It was a very easy process to add all my links then to list the books and copy and paste the book cover blurb from wherever it was saved. After it had been looked at by IAN and screened for its content they emailed and asked for jpegs of the book covers and an avatar. A very simple process.
The following day I received an email to say that my page was live and I could hardly wait to look at it. When I did I was really pleased with its presentation. Have a look and see what you think. Maybe you'd like to try it yourself!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

A Lapse of Sanity

Willow's Dip Book One

The ambience of the woods was all around her, serene and calming. She drank it in, absorbing its cool, fresh quality. She walked on and came to a large clearing. There, nestled cosily among the trees, was an ornate, anachronistic gypsy caravan. Parked alongside it, in complete contrast, was an old, red, Ford van. The caravan was beautiful. Dome shaped, red and gold, with wooden steps leading to a door in the front; a door which was closed. A thin wisp of grey smoke twirled upward from a chimney in its roof, signifying habitation, yet there seemed no sign of life. Curiosity began to gnaw at her but she fought it, remembering what had happened last time she’d given in to it. She turned and continued her walk, deeper into the woods.
There were more bramble bushes and she managed to find enough ripe berries to fill a pie. Peering into the carrier bag, she wondered whether she ought to pick any more. Maybe just a few, then she’d head home. She’d come to the edge of the woods, bordering onto some fields, when she noticed a bushy plant bearing shiny, black, cherry-sized berries. They looked so attractive she wanted to reach out and touch them, but she wouldn’t because she didn’t know what they were. However, it didn’t stop her stooping down to get a closer look.
“You don’t want to be touching those, they’re highly poisonous.”
The voice behind her made her jump out of her skin. She leapt to her feet and whirled round to face the most attractive man she’d ever seen. A shock of unruly black hair framed a sensitive face with dark brown eyes like bottomless pools, that seemed to bore right into her. He put her in mind of her favourite Hollywood star. At his side was a black dog of uncertain parentage, and a young fox.
“I.. I.. wasn’t,” she stammered, feeling a need to apologise for her actions. “I was just taking a closer look because they looked so tempting.”
“Don’t ever be tempted by them,” advised the mellow voiced stranger. “That’s deadly nightshade.”
Even the name had an evil ring to it and she shuddered involuntarily. Of course she’d heard of it, but never come across it before.
“I wasn’t going to touch them because I didn’t know what they were and you can’t be too careful can you. I’ve just been picking blackberries. Would you like one?” She opened the bag and held it out. (Why on earth was she offering this man the fruits of her labours?)
“Thanks.” The stranger took one and popped it in his mouth. A hint of a smile touched the firm line of his lips. “So I wasn’t saving you from a very nasty death then?”
She shook her head returning the smile. “’Fraid not.”
He extended a hand to her. “Nathaniel O’Keefe.”
She took it. “Chloe Hetherington.”
Her heart was beating like the wings of a trapped and frightened bird. The cool touch of his fingers sent a current of electricity right along her arm and up into her brain, triggering a chemical reaction over which she had no control. Why on earth was this man having this effect on her? She felt like an adolescent schoolgirl in his company.
“Well I.. I.. must be getting back,” she muttered. “I only came for the blackberries and I’ve been out longer than I intended.”
She moved on and he fell into step beside her, his animals gamboling on ahead.
“I haven’t seen you in the woods before.”
“No,” she answered. “I don’t usually come this far. I got a bit carried away today. Everywhere looked so beautiful with the approach of autumn.”
“Just like the poem.”
Chloe’s head whipped round to look straight into his eyes. His reference to the poem touched a chord deep within her soul; a feeling she’d never shared with Adam. “Do you like poetry?”
“Yes, I must confess to a weakness for it.”
“Me too.” She shook herself mentally to break the spell. “Do you visit the woods often?”
“I live here.”
“You live here?” She looked back into his face. “Oh, the gypsy caravan.”
“You’ve seen my humble abode then?”
She nodded. “It’s very beautiful.”
“Belonged to my grandmother. She brought six children up in it.”
“Hmm, hard to imagine isn’t it.”
“It is rather. How long have you been living here?”
“Couple of years. I move around.”
She cast a sidelong glance at him from under her lashes. He really was very handsome. He had a presence that was disturbing, magnetic. His clothes; jeans and checked shirt, had a careworn appearance. She could picture him in a neckerchief like a true gypsy but it was absent. Instead, round his neck, he wore an amulet. He was the complete antithesis of Adam.
What was she thinking? Why was she suddenly comparing this stranger to her husband whom she adored and had never so much as looked at another man since she’d met him? Why that breathless, heady feeling after a chance meeting with a good looking stranger?
She couldn’t understand the power of her feelings. A part of her, the sane part, wanted to dash home, get away from him, back to normality, but the other part, the decadent part, wanted to run back with him to that beautiful caravan and have him make mad, passionate love to her.
How could she! Her cheeks blushed scarlet at the unbidden thoughts that had invaded her mind. The sane part won.
“I must go,” she said hastily, trying to hide the confusion that was fuddling her brain, and ran on, praying that he wouldn’t follow her.
“Jet. Tag. Come on.”
She heard him call the animals but not daring to turn, she ran on her way. Her heart had wings. It fluttered and danced and she felt very young and carefree. His face filled her mind, her senses. Nathaniel O’Keefe. No matter how hard she tried to force his image away, it remained, stubbornly, refusing to be erased.

Buy New

If you enjoyed that excerpt please read on to the following post for a taster of the sequel.

After the Solstice

The Sequel
Willow's Dip Book Two

            “Hi darling! Guess who?”
“Ja… er, Gervais!”
“Darling, you remembered!”
“Of course! You’ll always be Jamie to me but I know you prefer to be known as Gervais.”
“You’re so sweet. Listen, what are you doing?”
“What now?”
“Nothing. Why?”
“I was going to come and see you.”
“What now? Are you here? Aren’t you in London?”
“Yes, yes and no. I’ll tell you all about it when I come over darling.”
“All right then. I’ll dig out a bottle of wine. What time will you be?”
About eight OK?”
“Yes, that’ll give me time to put the boys in bed.”
“Fine babes, and don’t bother about the wine, I’ll get one from the offie on my way. See you later ducky.”
“Right then. Look forward to it.”

What was Gervais doing back here? Everything had been going so well for him in London. He’d been working in a top class hairdressing salon, had a swish apartment and a social life to match. Something must be wrong for him to have given it all up. Maybe he was just here visiting his mother. He hadn’t said he was here permanently, that was just the conclusion she’d jumped to, possibly due to the tone of his voice when he’d said, ‘I’ll tell you all about it later.’
On the dot of eight the doorbell rang. Just like Gervais, always punctual. She went to open it and there he was, flamboyant as ever: frilly shirt cuffs, tight, black leather trousers, just reaching the black stilettos, heavily made up eyes as artistically done as ever, and the peroxided, spiky hair.
“Darling!” He held his arms wide and she went into them, returning his hug.
“You look really well, make up’s perfect as usual, better than mine.
“Well you have to make an effort don’t you ducky.”
She looked past him to the sleek, black Porsche parked on the drive. “Snazzy motor. When did you get that?”
“My little extravagance darling. Got it last year. It is a beauty isn’t it. I’ll take you for a spin one day, show you what it can do. Now then,” he waved the bottle of wine at her, “where’s the corkscrew?”
Fifteen minutes later they were ensconced in the lounge, slippers and stilettos kicked off, feet tucked up on the settee. The log fire crackled and the wine flowed. Chloe looked across at her friend. It’d been years since she’d seen him; her wedding day was the last time, and he hadn’t changed at all. Well, perhaps he was a bit more flamboyant. She wanted to know all his news.
“So, is this just a holiday, or are you back for good?”
He looked suddenly serious. “Probably for good. It’s Mum. She’s been diagnosed with breast cancer.”
“Oh Gervais I’m so sorry.”
“Mmm. It came as a shock. She’s always been so fit and healthy. She’s got to go in for surgery to remove the lump. They hope to just do a lumpectomy as opposed to a full mastectomy, but if they can’t, well….” He raised his shoulders and twisted his mouth. “Then she’ll have to have chemo, so she’ll need someone to look after her, and since Dad died, that means me.”
Chloe just stopped herself from saying, ‘Will you go back to London after…’ but chose different words just in time. After all, breast cancer wasn’t the death sentence it used to be. Lots of women survived, or at least today’s treatment bought them several more years. “Were you gutted to leave London?”
He shook his head looking subdued. “No, the time had come. I suppose I’m running away. Broken relationship.”
“You poor thing. You are having a rough time aren’t you. Anything you want to talk about?”
He shrugged. “Nothing much to say. He found someone else.”

Monday, 29 July 2013

Researching Free Flight

"I'd love to hold a bird of prey," I said to my son and his girlfriend as we chatted in his room about all things feathered.
"Oh no," said his girlfriend in horror, "I've got a thing about birds; they make me shudder."

The chances of me holding a bird of prey were remote to non existent but I was in that mindset at the time because I was writing Free Flight, which was set in a bird sanctuary. How I envied my main character Constanze (Connie) with every word that I wrote. (I must confess I wouldn't have liked to have cleaned up after the birds though, I don't do mess of any kind, I'd only have wanted the nice bits.)
She adopted a snowy owl, then a mate for it and hoped that they might breed. She did displays in schools and at the village fete and I'd been with her every step of the way. My research had mainly been via the Internet as I struggle to get out because of my health - I run my world from my armchair - but I'd have liked some actual input. How to go about that was another matter. Then one Saturday morning I got a phone call from my sister.
"I've just stroked an owl," she said.
I was green with envy. "Where?"
"In Hanley Market Square. There's a man there showing them. I told him about you writing the book."
"How long will he be there?"
"Until about half past four. I'll come back with you if you want to go."
Did I!
I picked her and my niece up at 4 p.m. and I couldn't get there fast enough. My eyes scanned the town as we approached the display and our footsteps quickened. There was a small crowd gathered round the man holding the owl and although I'm not normally one for muscling in we managed to squeeze our way to the front. The owl he held was gorgeous, quite large with wide amber eyes, which he told us was a Bengal Eagle Owl and his name was Muggle. I told him about writing the book and he recognized my sister from the morning. I had loads of questions for him about care of the birds and I tried to remember all of his answers - I'd never thought to take a notepad I was too eager to see the owl. I was dying to hold him and asked if I could. He gave me a glove and as I put it on he transferred Muggle to my hand.
I couldn't take my eyes off the beautiful creature perched regally on my hand. He was quite unperturbed by everything that was going on around him and seemed very accepting and comfortable with it. He wasn't the only bird there with the man, who'd told us his name was Dave. There was a barn owl, a little owl and a red tailed hawk - Dave said that the little owl was the most awkward! They were tethered to perches inside a trailer to shelter them from whatever the elements were doing until it was their turn to go onto Dave's glove. On the walls of the trailer was information about the birds' natural habitat.
As the crowd thinned out we got more of a chance to speak to Dave who said he collected donations on behalf of Gentleshaw Wildlife Centre in Eccleshall Staffordshire
When I got back home I wrote down everything he'd told me and put the card that he'd given me in case I needed to contact him for more information safely with my notes. My next thought was how to get to Gentleshaw. Although I drive my health isn't good enough to drive that far so I was thrilled when my sister said that my brother-in-law would take us.
This time I was more prepared and wrote my questions down to take with me and I couldn't have been more excited as we all piled into their Volvo. We had a lovely time looking round the wildlife centre and the staff very kindly took time out of their busy day to answer my questions. A couple of anecdotes I used for the book went thus.
The lady at Gentleshaw told me of a kestrel being hit by a lorry and the driver rushing in with it. Thankfully they were able to save it and return it to the wild. For the book I made it a sparrowhawk being hit by a farmer's tractor and the farmer rushed it in to Connie.
The other little touch that I liked was at Dave's display. When there were children there he got the owl to wave to them by adjusting his hand so that the owl raised one wing slightly to keep its balance. The children loved it! I used that for Connie's display in the school with her owl.
The love interest came from an experience of my own; I once met someone on a car park but it had a different outcome to Connie's.
Dave now runs a pet hotel in the Staffordshire Moorlands where he has all manner of usual and unusual guests.
If you are interested in reading the book it can be downloaded from Amazon
or ordered in paperback from

Free Flight is the third book in the Willow's Dip series but it will stand alone, or you might want to find out about the characters who appear in it from the first two books, A Lapse of Sanity and its sequel After the Solstice. Both can be purchased from Amazon and FeedARead.

Buy New

Saturday, 15 June 2013


I have recently taken part in two Indie Spotlights organised by Ricki Wilson  

and Nicole Hill  

I would like to send them both my unending gratitude for helping to promote my work and to wish them well with theirs.

Here are the links to both Spotlights.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013


The Liebster Blog Award

My thanks go to Bev Spicer, talented author of Bunny On A Bike and One Summer In France, for getting me involved with this award (no idea what it is but I'm game!) If you want a look at Bev's blog here is the link
I copied this bit from Bev, who copied it from Terry Tyler.
The purpose of the Liebster Blog Award is to recognize blogs with fewer than 200 followers that deserve a look. My job is to list 11 random facts about me, answer the 11 questions Bev Spicer has set me, then to nominate 11 new bloggers, who should bask in the Liebster glow - which means doing the same as I am doing here! ie, post a blog linking back here, with 11 random facts about you, answer my 11 questions and nominate 11 new bloggers (and think of 11 questions to ask them - can be anything!). Here we go... 

11 Random Facts about me
1) I talk to the angels (mentally not outloud!)
2) I can't think on the computer - I've done all this with pen and paper first!
3) My hot water bottle is like a fifth limb
4) I love fuchsias and the weeping cherry tree in my front garden, especially in spring when it is in flower and looks as though it is adorned with frothy pink marshmallows
5) I can be silly without alcohol
6) I HATE multistorey car parks! They should all be banished to Room 101 with their barriers to trap you, their cameras and ticket machines that you need a degree in technology to operate!
7) I hate woodpigeons who come and scoff the nuts I put out for the squirrel and the little birds and I get cross with the squirrel for raiding the birdfeeders. I just wish they could connect with me telepathically and know what was for each of them
8) I'd love an Audi TT Roadster, white
9) I HATE being controlled and would never willingly put myself in that position
10) I hate driving in the snow
11) When I go to angel world I want to find my soulmate and spend eternity with him

Now we come to the 11 questions that Bev set me :-
1) What's the most beautiful place you've visited and why?
The Channel Island of Guernsey. I had a fantastic holiday there in 1974 when I was 19, complete with holiday romance with a gorgeous boy called Steve. We wrote for a few weeks after but it fizzled out as these things do.
2) Do you ever read/write poetry? Why/why not?
My first attempts at writing were poetry, mainly because the autobiography I had in mind seemed such a huge task. Here's the link to some of my poems on
3) Who would be the perfect dinner date and why?
Rupert Penry Jones or maybe Richard Armitage because they are both gorgeous! Their personalities would have to match their looks though, I can't do with pretentious people.
4) If you could become someone else for a day who would it be and why?
An athlete, say someone like Jessica Ennis who has loads of energy as I have none, but then I wouldn't want to give that energy back!
5) Would you prefer to go into space or explore the ocean floor? Why?
Both would fill me with horror! I like my feet on terra firma! Perhaps a little snorkeling on a coral reef would be nice though.
6) Describe the view from  one of your windows
I live on a modern housing estate so it isn't an area of outstanding natural beauty although we do have some countryside round about but I am near the top of a bank so the view from my back bedroom window stretches for miles. In the far distance I can see the trees at Trentham Gardens which is about ten miles away. In spring I like to watch the sun setting (when we have any!) as it creeps further and further west behind the rooftops with the longer days.
7) Can you remember your first kiss - keep  it clean!
I'll never forget it for all the wrong reasons! My first crush and adolescent daydreams were of a boy in my class at school. Oh to kiss him... What actually happened was that I got lumbered with a boy at a disco on teenyboppers night whilst my friend had gone off with his brother. I was counting the minutes until I could go and get my coat. When I did, being a gentleman he held it for me and when I turned he kissed me! It was gross!!! All wet, rubbery lips! I was so angry that he'd robbed me of a first beautiful, romantic kiss with the boy of my dreams. Urgh!!!
8) Do you do anything to keep fit? What/Why not?
I'd love to but can't, as a result there is rather more of me than I'd like and than there used to be. As I have ME/CFS five minutes gentle exercise wipes me out for days - I've tried numerous times. I'd love to be able to go to the gym though, or better still a long, lovely walk in the countryside on a beautiful summer evening or crisp snowy day. Ah dreams...
9) Describe yourself when you were about 18
Like an oyster shell beginning to open. I'd just started to gain confidence having always been quiet and shy (a bit of a madam at home though - or so I was always being told!) I was wanting to find that special boy to love who'd love me back.
10) Where do you stand on football (try not to be silly now!)
On the fence ha! When my sons lived at home one was a Manchester United supporter, one Arsenal (armchair of course, we lived too far and it cost too much for them to actually go to games, but they have been to a few) I dreaded matches where they played each other because I'd have one lad crowing victory and the other sulking. It never quite came to blows but I always held my breath...
11) What kind of music do you listen to?
All kinds: Take That, Alice Cooper, certain classical pieces. 'Our tune' when my now ex husband and I were young and in love was Pachelbel's Cannon in D. I love New Age music, particularly that of Chris Kimber Check out his video on youtube It is the most beautiful, ethereal music ever and he very kindly let me use part of a track for my Angel Breaths trailer 

Right that's me done, now it's your turn to answer my questions. Here goes...

1) Where is your favourite place on earth? Why?
2) How did you get into writing?
3) Where and how do you write? e.g. pen and paper, computer, first thing in a morning etc
4) Of all the scientific achievements that we take for granted in our modern world, which do you wish you'd invented and why?
5) If you were Jesus (or a member of your family who died many years ago) and you came back now, what would you change about the world today and why?
6) If you were a flower or a tree, what would you be and why?
7) If you were an animal, fish, insect etc, what would you be and why?
8) Are you sporty? If yes, what in? If no, what do you hate most?
9) What sort of child were you? Good, naughty, easy going, hard to handle?
10) Are you still like that now?
11) If your books became million sellers and films how would you change your life?

That's it! Good luck.

The people I nominate for The Liebster Award are:-
Brooklyn Hudson
(more coming soon)


Welcome to The Next Big Thing

My writer friend, Jeff Joseph, recently tagged me for a ‘chain’ blog entitled ‘The Next Big Thing'. The deal is: I answer a few questions about my current work-in-progress, then I invite other authors to do the same. A bit like a chain letter, except it is only focused on an author’s work-in-progress. Jeff Joseph was tagged previously by Kathy Logan. I've included details of their blogs so you can explore their answers to the same questions. The authors I’ve chosen have been tagged below my answers. So here goes:

What is the working title of your next book?
Two Miracles

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Friends and family after reading the prequel Shadow Across the Sun, the memoir of my first twenty years said, 'You must write a sequel about what happened to you when you set off on your new life at the end of Shadow.'
The title came from what I ask the angels every night - everyone needs a miracle now and then; I need two. To find out what they are you'll have to read the book!

What genre does your book fall under?
Memoir, autobiography

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I'd like new people to play my characters, fresh faces that viewers won't associate with previous roles. I'd also like to help kick start actors' careers simultaneously to my own.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
 It is a story of love, marriage, family, birth, illness, death, experiences that everyone has had at least one of but which we all deal with differently.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Self published

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Due to my health it takes me nine months to a year to write a book, that's without the editing, where it takes 'normal' people a few months. I write it out by hand and work a chapter at a time, re reading and making alterations as I go on so that I don't have to do a complete rewrite at the end. Each chapter only goes onto the computer once I'm happy with it - or as happy as any author is, we can make amendments forever! There has to come a point where you say, 'That's it.'

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
This and its prequel Shadow Across the Sun, Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes and Tis - and maybe James Herriot's books but only in as much as they are memoirs. Frank McCourt says in his opening paragraphs 'The happy childhood is hardly worth your while.' My childhood was the happiest imaginable - but not for long. It was overshadowed by illness: my sister became ill in the bed next to me and would have died had she been in a room on her own, then the unthinkable happened and my mother died, shattering my childhood abruptly.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Shadow came first and what inspired that was sitting in the beautiful summer sunshine in the garden 32 years ago, with my eldest son a baby asleep in the pram beside me as I read Danielle Steele's Fine Things. As her character developed cancer it was as though the sun went in and I had the conscious thought 'I've lived this; I could write it.' Of course it took many years and a lot of practice plus three complete re writes until I was satisfied with it. I'd always had a notion to write a sequel but ideas for novels, which I'd thought would be more commercial, especially as the words 'The market for memoirs by non celebrities is appallingly bad.' came from an agent, took precedence.  

What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
Personally I've always loved reading the memoirs of ordinary, non celebrity, people since reading James Herriot's books in the 1970s. I find it interesting to read how they deal with the situations life deals them, their careers, relationships etc and I hope that others will enjoy mine for the same reason. I think that many people will relate to my life experiences and compare them to their own.

Here are the blog links for Jeff Joseph and Kathy Logan

The authors I’ve invited to join in the fun are:
Brooklyn Hudson
                    Bev Spicer