New Children’s Book and Giveaway

KF_TSITP_ebook_smallHaving a baby, lack of sleep, running around after a toddler, writing a novel and publishing two books this year alone are just a few of the reasons why I haven’t blogged in a very long time. Life as a mum is busy and my time and attention over the past couple of years has firmly been on my son first and then kickstarting my writing career second.

So, with Leo happily at nursery this morning, I’m concentrating on the release of my third novel, Time Shifters: Into the Past. The first in an exciting time travel adventure series for 9-12 year-olds (although hopefully it can be enjoyed by adults too) it follows twelve year-old Maisie, along with her best friend Danny and school bully Lizzie, on an adventure when they’re time-shifted to the past during a school trip to Warwick Castle.

It’s been an incredibly long time getting to this point. I first had the idea for Time Shifters during a visit to Warwick Castle in the summer of 2004, then when we were asked to write the first chapter of a completely new novel during the Experimentation and Exploration class during my Creative Writing MA at Bath Spa University, I wrote the opening of Time Shifters: Into the Past – at least it was a variation of what is now the first chapter. The book’s been on quite a journey since then getting snapped up by a literary agent only for it to all fall through due to bad luck and bad timing. As life does, it got in the way and Time Shifters lay dormant on my laptop for a good few years before the idea of publishing it myself became a possibility following the successful launch of my debut novel, The Butterfly Storm in 2013.

The Medieval Castle

So finally, here it is, launch day for Time Shifters: Into the Past. The last few months have been hard work getting it publication ready but I’m proud of the result and after twelve years, yes, twelve years, it’s been sent off into the big wide world. It’s available in paperback, and for a limited time only it’s just 99p/99c on Kindle. To celebrate I’m doing a giveaway. Considering the book starts at Warwick Castle and a big chunk of the novel is set in the fifteenth century, it’s only fitting that I have a fabulous Medieval Castle slot-together model as one of the prizes. Donated by my Dad who designed it (along with others in the range including a Tudor House, Windmill and Victorian Farm which you can see here), it would make a great Christmas present for a youngster, or you could simply keep it for yourself. The second prize is a Time Shifters goodie bag including a signed paperback and a notebook. Please do enter and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blogger Award and My Last WIPpet Wednesday (for a While)

sisterhood-of-world-blogger-awardIt’s true, this is going to be my last WIPpet Wednesday, in fact my last blog post for a while. How long a while is all depends on when our baby decides to arrive and when I’m next awake enough/have any time (you get the idea) to even think about blogging. Apart from taking the time to relax over these next couple of weeks I also want to concentrate on writing A Long Way From Home while I have the chance. It has stalled at around a third of the way in and I’d like to get a good chunk written before our baby arrives. A little scare over the weekend when I was admitted to hospital for 24 hours to be monitored made me realise how soon our little baby could actually make an appearance. All is fine and baby’s heart was monitored and he/she was moving around like a crazy thing so I was discharged on Monday. Feet up, laptop and writing – that’s my plan.

I’ve also been meaning to do a post about a blogger award I received way back in November from my friend and fellow author, Jade Reyner, who’s not only a prolific blogger but about to launch her second novel in the coming weeks. She nominated me for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award! and so I thought it was about time that I officially thanked her and passed the award on. As blogger awards go this is a simple one:

Rules:

  1. Provide a link and thank the blogger who nominated you for this award.
  2. Answer 10 questions.
  3. Nominate 10-12 blogs that you find a joy to read.
  4. Provide links to these nominated blogs and kindly let the recipients know that they have been nominated.
  5. Include the award logo within your blog post.

Questions:

  1. Your favourite colour? – Blue
  2. Your favourite animal? – Dog, specifically our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.
  3. Your favourite non-alcoholic drink? – Rhubarb & Custard drink from M&S that tastes just like the sweets I had when I was a kid.
  4. Facebook or Twitter? – Twitter, although I’m getting in to Facebook more now.
  5. Your favourite pattern? – Stripes
  6. Do you prefer getting or giving presents? – Giving, particularly when you know you’ve got something that person will really love.
  7. Your favourite number? – 2 and 7
  8. Your favourite day of the week? – Sunday
  9. Your favourite flower? – Colourful, sweet smelling ones!
  10. What is your passion? – Writing stories of course.

There’s absolutely no pressure to take part but I’d like to pass the award on to all my fellow WIPpeteers as I love reading your novel extracts each week and receiving your comments on mine. You’re a great and supportive bunch, so thank you.

Now, for my WIPpet. What to give you today… hum, it’s really getting tricky now without having written any new stuff recently. I think, because it’s my last WIPpet for a while, I will give you five paragraphs for the 5th February 2014 from the last chapter I’ve written, which just so happens to be chapter 14. For those of you who didn’t beta read book one this extract will probably be quite confusing. All I will say is by this point in the book Lizzie has been found and she’s with Maisie in a house in 1940s London with a future version of Danny. Oh, and to be really mean I’ve cut the last paragraph short because it gives away a huge plot spoiler.

“What are we not going to like?” I asked.

“My suggestion of what I think you should do.” Future Danny looked directly at me.

I pointed to the top of my chest. “What I should do?”

“Why Maisie?” Lizzie asked, folding her arms and huffing.

“Because,” future Danny said. “Maisie is the only one of us that can time-shift to…”

Make of that what you will! We’re a very welcoming bunch headed up by the fabulous KL Schwengel, so if you fancy joining in with WIPpet Wednesday simply choose an extract from your WIP that corresponds with the date (creativity is encouraged) and add your link here over on My Random Muse. Take the time to read the other WIPpet offerings too – we’re a diverse bunch.

I don’t know when I’ll be blogging again, but I will be back, that’s a promise. Until then happy writing and reading everyone!

Get Your Head Around This – WIPpet Wednesday

Words from page 29I managed to find the extract I’ve chosen for today in less than a minute – result! Recently it’s taken ages to find a suitable snippet that doesn’t give too much of the story away, and then of course there’s the time spent working out WIPpet maths, which always leaves me scratching my head… Today’s WIPpet maths is lovely and simple. One paragraph – to celebrate it being the last Wednesday of the first month of the year – from page 29 for the 29th January.

I briefly introduced a new character, Lucia, in a previous WIPpet and in this scene she’s with Maisie and Danny in ancient Rome. Maisie has just questioned why Lucia isn’t shocked by her and Danny turning up at her door (to explain anymore or who Lucia is will give way too much away I’m afraid). Here’s her answer.

Lucia laughed, a long throaty chuckle. “There’s very little that surprises me anymore. I’ve known you two and Lizzie since you were in your late teens and of course I recognise you even though you’re children. I always knew this was a possibility to meet you when you were much younger. So no, I’m not surprised, but I am concerned why you’re here and why Lizzie isn’t with you.”

That’s it for today. To join in simply post an extract of your current WIP that has some kind of connection to the date and add the link here. Thanks as always to K L Schwengel over on My Random Muse for hosting.

A Man With a Tattoo – WIPpet Wednesday

Swollen feetI’ve been putting my poor swollen feet up this week but instead of being idle I took the opportunity to catch up on emails and lots of blog posts that I’d missed. Elaine Jeremiah interviewed debut indie author, Chloe Corin on her blog, while queen of the WIPpeteers, K L Schwengel continued her fabulous WIPterviews with Ruth Nestvold and Adrian J. Smith. Jade Reyner wrote an interesting post asking the question ‘Should we speculate to accumulate?‘ and Joanne Phillips shared news on her blog about a brand new service from Kim Nash helping authors market their book. Last but not least I loved L. Marie’s ‘If I lived in Middle-Earth…’ post – go check it out and decide who you’d be: hobbit, wizard, human, dwarf or elf?

In recent weeks I’ve been jumping around all over the place trying to find suitable extracts from my WIP for WIPpet Wednesday and today is no exception. This scene takes place much earlier on in A Long Way From Home than recent WIPpets but it’s one that I’m happy to share and the WIPpet maths works out nicely. So for the 22/01/14 I give you 22 sentences from page 22. Simple. Maisie and Danny are in ancient Rome after time-shifting from Danny’s bedroom (they initially ended up in the Coliseum watching Gladiators fight). They’re trying to find somewhere safe when this happens…

“Which way do you think we need to go?” Streets on either side of the Forum bustled with people. I glanced to the left and caught the eye of a man watching us. I turned away but there was something about him. I looked back but he’d disappeared, probably into the crowd of people that streamed between the square and the street.

“That was odd.”

“What was?” Danny turned to me.

“Nothing. Probably just my imagination.” I scanned the mass of people behind us in the square. There he was again. A big-built man wearing a loose toga, no different to the majority of people we’d seen so far. Except this man’s head was shaved and as he turned to say something to another man I noticed what looked like a tattoo on the side of his neck. Much like the one I’d half seen on the rider who’d tried to capture us on London Bridge in 1730.

I grabbed Danny’s arm. “I’m not imagining things. We’re being followed.”

“Seriously? You’re sounding just like a paranoid Lizzie in 1730.”

“Yeah but Lizzie wasn’t being paranoid, was she.” I looked back to where I’d seen the two men but they’d disappeared again. “We need to keep moving.”

Ancient Rome really hasn’t been much fun for Maisie and Danny so far…

Anyone can join in with WIPpet Wednesday. All you need to do is choose an extract from your WIP that has a connection to the date and add your link here. Many thanks to K L Schwengel for hosting!

A Blast From the Past – WIPpet Wednesday

Christmas presentsWith just one week to go until Christmas, festive fever has well and truely hit the UK. Everywhere you go Christmas songs are playing; the German market in the centre of Bristol is in full swing; and the shops are heaving with people frantically buying presents for their loved ones. I’ve written my Christmas cards and sent them off and all the presents are wrapped and looking very lovely under the tree. This lunchtime I’m off out for my first roast turkey dinner with friends from work. I may not be able to move this afternoon so that will be the perfect excuse to make the rounds and read everyone’s WIPpets.

My WIPpet maths is simple today – 18 (nice and short) paragraphs for the 18th December from Time Shifters – A Long Way From Home. Be warned it is a completely unedited first draft! In this extract Maisie and Danny are time-shifting again after finding themselves in yet more trouble in ancient Rome. They’re in a horse-drawn covered coach escaping Rome when they’re attacked. Maisie has very little time to decide about where and when they should attempt to time-shift to…

There was another shudder. I didn’t know if it was Hunters attacking the coach or us about to time shift. I kept my eyes tightly shut and concentrated on the warmth of the fire in the Great Hall and the feel of the well-worn wood of the table.

Another shudder. And then the cushions we’d been sitting on fell away from beneath us and we were left spinning. My legs kicked nothing but air and my arms gripped Danny tighter and tighter. I didn’t dare open my eyes, not just because I’d be able to see ourselves falling but also because I was terrified about where we’d actually end up.

Still with linked arms we thudded on to a stone floor and ended up sprawled on the ground. I opened my eyes and untangled myself from Danny. It was definitely Robbie’s Great Hall, except there was no roaring fire and the room was cold and unwelcoming with grey light streaming through the windows.

“Where are we?” Danny brushed dirt from off his makeshift toga.

“Robbie’s house. The guy me and Lizzie met in 1471.”

The door creaked open and a servant walked in with a bundle of wood in her arms. She stopped when she saw us, let out a seriously loud scream and dropped the wood on the floor.

“It’s okay,” I said, holding my hands out and taking a step towards her. “We’re friends of Lord Robert’s.”

She screamed again, turned and ran from the room.

“That went well,” Danny said. “You do realise how ridiculous we look dressed like this.” He pointed at himself.

“At least we both made it here.”

There were voices out in the main hallway and a boy, a little bit older than us, charged into the Great Hall with a sword pointing towards us.

Both Danny and me held up our hands and took a step backwards towards the fireplace.

“Who are you?” he asked, stepping further into the room.

“We’re friends of Lord Roberts,” I said again. The boy was tall and muscular but with a boyish face and dark blonde curly hair.

“Why are you dressed like that?”

I could see a couple of servants hovering out in the hallway. “You wouldn’t believe us if we told you.”

“Try me.”

I met his eyes and slowly it dawned on me that I might have met him before. “Who are you?”

I may or may not reveal who he is in a future WIPpet, although my lovely beta readers who read the first Time Shifters book might be able to work it out.

K L Schwengel hosts WIPpet Wednesday over on her fabulous blog, My Random Muse. You can check out the rest of the WIPpeteers offerings over there or even join in yourself by simply posting an extract of your work in progress here that relates to the day. 18 lines, paragraphs or even words for the 18th December – you get the idea…

This time next week it’ll be Christmas Day! I hope everyone’s feeling festive and are all ready for the celebrations. Only seven more sleeps. :-)

In Trouble Yet Again – WIPpet Wednesday

venice3It’s good to be back and joining in with WIPpet Wednesday again – I’ve missed you guys! November was spent working on Time Shifters – A Long Way From Home and I have to say after months and months spent editing, first The Butterfly Storm and then Time Shifters, it was so good to actually start writing again. Getting approximately 20,000 words written during NaNo also means that I have a whole new WIP that I can post extracts from. It’s rough, and I mean really rough, but that’s what WIPpet Wednesday is all about isn’t it? Sharing our work in progress in all its first-drafty glory.

So, for the 4th December I’m giving you 12 sentences from chapter 4 of Time Shifters – A Long Way From Home. This extract features Maisie and Danny who have – unsurprisingly – managed to get themselves into a bit of trouble in ancient Rome.

We tumbled inside, practically pushing the woman out of the way, and shut the heavy door firmly behind us. A great wooden bar fell into place and it was only seconds later that the weight of the two men landed against the door. It didn’t budge. We took a step back and turned to the woman.

She had a tanned face and looked Italian with dark golden hair braided on top of her head. She wore a floating cream dress that had an embroidered band above the waist. She stared at us with wide brown eyes.

“Hello Maisie. Hello Danny,” she said.

I frowned. “You know our names?”

“You speak English.” Danny took another step into the villa.

So there you have it. The WIPpeteers are a friendly bunch and if you fancy joining in simply post an extract of your WIP that relates in some way to the date and add your link here. WIPpet Wednesday is also a fabulous way of making writing friends from all round the world. Elaine and I were lucky enough to meet fellow WIPpeteer, Emily, during her recent visit to the UK. After spending time in London and Cardiff Emily was in Bath for a few days so we met one chilly evening in a cafe and had a lovely chat for a couple of hours before she headed off to Paris.

Many thanks as always to K L Schwengel for hosting WIPpet Wednesday.

Blood and Sand – WIPpet Wednesday

SandI haven’t done a lot of actual writing of Time Shifters – A Long Way From Home this past week but I did start to plot out the story. In many ways it’s easier to know where the story’s going with a second book of a series because there are certain things that need to happen and questions to be answered from book one. But just how those questions get answered is the tricky part.

I’ve had comments back from all my Time Shifters beta readers (thank you Elaine, Debbie, Emily, Judith, Alana and Eden) and they’ve proved to be incredibly helpful and insightful so I now can’t wait to go back through the book line by line improving it and doing a fine edit until I’m completely happy that it’s ready to first go off to the proofreader and then to be published. Having other people read your work is essential. It’s amazing what you end up missing in your own writing despite having read it for the 100th time. The pointing out of those little inconsistencies, elements of the plot that don’t quite work or fabulous suggestions that will improve a scene are the reasons why beta readers are invaluable.

Despite mainly focusing on the plot of A Long Way From Home this week I did manage to write a little bit more, enough at least to give you 19 words for the 9th October. My WIPpet maths goes: 9 + 10 (for the month of October) = 19.

Blood soaked into the sand forming large pools of red around the gladiators who were already dead or dying.

 

Short but not exactly sweet I will hopefully have written some more by next Wednesday. K L Schwengel hosts WIPpet Wednesday and anyone can join in at anytime. All you need to do is post an extract of your WIP that relates to the date and add your link to the linky over on My Random Muse. Simple!

Stupid Lizzie – WIPpet Wednesday

Peugeot 3008This past week has flown by and despite being busy working, sorting out cars (the new car is lovely by the way – see the photo!), insurance and lots of other bits and pieces I have managed to write some more of Time Shifters book two. I think I need to come up with a more imaginative title than Time Shifters book two. I’ve been toying with the idea of book one simply being called Time Shifters, book two Time Shifters – A Long Way From Home, and book three tentatively entitled Time Shifters – The Last Stand. That at least will do for the time being but I’d love to know your thoughts.

In last week’s WIPpet Maisie had just texted Danny to inform him that Lizzie had gone missing and was splashed all over the news. In this week’s extract Maisie has arrived at Danny’s house where she finds him in his bedroom reading about what’s happened to Lizzie on his computer. Here are a convenient two paragraphs from Time Shifters – A Long Way From Home for the 2nd October.

“Hey,” Danny said, without turning round. “I’m surprised no-one actually saw her time shift. One second she was in this villa looking at mosaics with her parents and sister, next thing she’s gone. The police think she’s been kidnapped by someone.”

I sat down on the bed and Danny swung around to face me. “Lizzie is stupid enough to have wandered about that place daydreaming about Roman times and got time shifted to actual Roman times,” he said.

That’s your lot for today. WIPpet Wednesday is hosted by the talented K L Schwengel over at My Random Muse. Anyone can join in so if you’ve got a work in progress that you’re happy to share then post an extract that relates in some way to the date and add it to the linky here. Have a good week everyone!

They’re Coming – WIPpet Wednesday

Autumn view TyntesfieldTime is running away with me today. I’ve spent most of my time this week submitting The Butterfly Storm to various sites to promote it when it goes free this coming Friday 9th – Sunday 11th but I just about have time to squeeze in a WIPpet. Amazingly I’ve managed to find an extract that fits in with the date and doesn’t have any major spoilers all within 5 minutes – that must be a record.

So, for today’s WIPpet we’re rewinding a fair few chapters in Time Shifters and Maisie and Lizzie are back in 1471, still without Danny, and have left an inn in the middle of the night when they realise that someone’s after them… The following 13 (shortish) paragraphs are from page 78, and the WIPpet maths behind that is quite simply that it’s the 07/08/13.

We thundered along the road lined with skeletal trees but ahead was just darkness. My heart was thumping so hard against my ribs I could barely breathe. I didn’t dare look back. They were on horses and we were on ponies and eventually they would catch us up.

“We need to hide,” I said, glancing back. The flaming torches were getting closer, flickering through the trees. “We don’t have much time.”

The wood loomed against the moonlit sky. I turned Goliath towards the trees and tightened my grip on the rope attached to Zeus. “Hold on!” I said.

Branches whipped and tore at our clothes and skin as we entered the wood. We were forced to slow down. There was no clear path and the trees were dense. We headed away from the road, deeper into the wood. The only noise was the crunch of twigs under hooves, the ponies snorting and our breathing, loud in the darkness. I twisted in the saddle. I couldn’t see anything behind us. Could we be that lucky and have lost them? No, there was the familiar orange glow flickering through the trees moving parallel to us. Did that mean they were still on the road?

Goliath stopped and I was thrown forwards but I managed to grab hold of his mane to steady myself. Lizzie’s leading rope slipped from my hand and Zeus kept moving forwards.

“Maisie?”

“I’m here, don’t worry.”

There was a splash and Zeus walked into a stream shimmering in the moonlight. Now I understood why Goliath had stopped. I kicked him but he wouldn’t budge. His hooves were planted firmly at the edge of the stream.

“Maisie!” Lizzie’s voice was high-pitched and way too loud. She was on the other side of the stream now. “I can’t stop.”

“Turn Zeus away from the stream and into a tree.”

I dismounted, grabbed Goliath’s reins and splashed into the water, gasping at the cold. I pulled at his reins but he was stubborn and still wouldn’t move. Lizzie had come to a stop; I could see the gleam of Zeus’ grey coat not far away.

“Come on Goliath,” I said, stroking his soft nose. A crack of a branch somewhere in the wood made him look up. Maybe he could smell my fear because with another tug on his reins he joined me in the stream. Lizzie’s hands were shaking as she handed me the leading rope.

“They’re coming,” I whispered.

I will get round to reading everyone’s WIPpets but it might take me a couple of days to do so. The WIPpeteers are a fabulously supportive bunch and welcome new writers. Got a WIP to share then post an extract of your novel that relates in some way to the date, or write the beginning of a brand new novel and add your link to the linky over on My Random Muse. Many thanks to the talented K L Schwengel for hosting.

This is a Stupid Idea – WIPpet Wednesday

DSC00667My focus this month is going to be firmly on Time Shifters so it makes sense to choose a snippet from it for today’s WIPpet. As it’s the 3rd July I’ve opted for three paragraphs from page 23 (3 + 7 + 13 = 23). This takes us nearly all the way back to the beginning of the book when Maisie found herself time shifted at Warwick Castle to 1471 along with the class bully, Lizzie. The two girls have realised that Maisie’s best friend, Danny, has been caught up with the army that has just marched out of Warwick Castle’s imposing gates and the girls set off after the soldiers.

The view I’d seen yesterday from the top of the castle lay before us unchanged. Outside the castle walls Warwick was little more than a village. The kitchen girls headed down the dirt path towards a cluster of cottages. Home for us was two hours in the other direction by coach. By coach. How long would it take to walk – days and days – and what would we find when we got there? But the Kingmaker’s army was marching in the opposite direction, past Warwick and away from our home, their armour glinting in the early morning sunshine. In every direction there was an uncluttered landscape filled with green grass and trees. No pylons, no roads, no landmarks or signposts. I stopped just a few steps from the castle gates where the path to the car park had been.

“This is a stupid idea,” Lizzie said, stopping beside me.

“Have you got a better one? Like go back inside and wait to be rescued?”

The WIPpeteers are growing and if you’d like to join in then add your link to the linky over on host K L Schwengel’s blog and have a read of all the other great WIPpets too. Talking of the WIPpeteers in last week’s WIPpet post Raewyn asked the question what my WIPpeteer outfit would be and I replied in the comments that it would be the costume I wore when I was a drama student in Aberystwyth and I played King Charles II in an all female production of Stephen Jefferys’ fabulously bawdy play, The Libertine. I did say to Raewyn that I would dig the photo out, so as promised here I am, aged about 19 in full swing as King Charles II…

King Charles II

A very suitable WIPpeteer costume, don’t you think?

On Monday the very lovely Alison Strachan interviewed me for her Moment of Truth feature so if you’ve got the time please pop on over to her blog and have a read. And as Raewyn has already mentioned, this Friday she’s kindly featuring an interview she did with me about The Butterfly Storm. Have a great week everyone.