Saturday, 15 December 2012

My Lucky Number ...

Just in case you think there are a strange number of occurrences of a certain number, a very lovely lady Jasmin Petricola is running a competition to promote my books, based in the States, but anyone can enter - click on the following link for more details. Lucky Number Competition. The gold star is a bit of a clue - there are further occurrences on my web page and my brand new facebook page
You'll have to do a bit of work to find some of them - it involves counting ...

The first one is on this page - spotted by Rachael Rivera.

Sunday, 9 December 2012

The next generation Book Trailer

Can you spot that I'm a bit of a Trekkie?
Well this one is kind of a temporary meld of the best bits of mine and Anthony's - the quality is not so hot, but hopefully that won't matter so much on this small screen. Any comments gratefully received.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Archer - the book trailer

Phew. What an intensely busy couple of weeks, trying to sort everything out for the auction and create a book trailer for Archer. Good fun though. I now have the first attempt at the trailer - hopefully you can watch it here. It's by no means the finished version, just something quick and dirty to see how it all works.

Check it out and leave any comments/suggestions.


Sunday, 18 November 2012

Amazing Authors Auction

Huge thanks to  Dawn White, Brandy Schaefer Dull and Catherine Mahoney for all their amazing efforts in support of the victims of hurricane Sandy.

I hope that people will respond by bidding for these book bundles. Find out more about it at the following sites: 



Friday, 16 November 2012

Virginia Lori Jennings - Guest Writer

Who's in the chair today?

I'm really hoping this will take off and I'll be able to interview more and more talented authors about their methods and what motivates them.

Virginia has written a thought-provoking sci-fi book "The Alien Mind" (as mentioned in my last post) - to find out more about how she writes, click here.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

A trio of talented ladies

One of the things I love most about my new life is how I get to meet so many amazingly talented and creative people. On my adventures around the UK, I meet them in person, but I also have a bunch of virtual friends - we just seem to connect and pick up where we left off a lifetime or two ago. These three ladies cover some of my favourite genres - check out the links and see what you think.

First for the sci-fi (with a twist) fans and younger readers, there is the exciting Alien Mind by Virginia Lori Jennings. 

Aimed primarily at middle graders (junior school), her books are enjoyed by all ages and her writing is described by one reviewer as a   "Spielberg movie in print."

Then for the young adults and young-at-heart who like their romance with a spice of magic and ritual, Wendy Steele writes with sensitivity and passion - check out the beautiful Destiny of Angels.

One of the reviewers said "Destiny of Angels is unique. Wendy Steel writes without flaw."

I'm not sure what the lower age limit is, but Ella writes with a lean, almost masculine voice that lends itself equally to action adventure and quirky humour. I finally found an author who's style and subject matter seems to match my own.

Don't just take my word about what a cool hero Nick Hunter is - or the reviewer that said he is a "likeable, strong male lead you will be rooting for" - take a look for yourself.

Universal Lessons

What a crazy few weeks! First the loss of all the latest versions of all my books and 8,000 brand new words (that I hadn't backed up on a memory stick). Basically, to write Aurora, I was referring to stuff that went on the other five books so they were all open while I made minor tweaks to assure continuity. So even though I saved each file individually, word reached a limit with it's little temporary files and decided to take a walk all over my lap-top's operating system, bringing everything to its knees. When I finally restored it, all of the files in that directory had been well and truly splattered - I tried to knife-and-fork the data from the tmp files into the previous backups (from July) but it was comparative small beer.

     Green Goddess                          Midnight Blue
So methinks, I will repair to a quiet hostelry on the bank of a beautiful Welsh lake and spend 5 days trying to remember the new stuff. Except that I spent 60% of the time trying to recover from the killing blow dealt to my trusty steed by two Welsh ladies who were in too much of a hurry to get home to bother looking round blind bends in the pouring rain. So I had to let go of my faithful companion of 10 years and 72,000 miles - my Green Goddess drove me to Paris and Edinburgh, and shared hundreds of adventures all over England and Wales. Her replacement, Midnight Blue had spent many years being mistreated and neglected by many previous owners, but thanks to the wonderful mechanics at KNS is now starting to respond to some TLC.

It's been a tad fraught, but the lessons have been painfully learnt and clearly understood. And there was me thinking that when Saturn moved out of Libra (taking all his restrictions and limitations with him), it would all be plain sailing. Ho hum. Thanks to the ministrations of family and friends, I am almost whole again, but the green goddess lives on - I have taken her registration plate (with the powerful numbers 813) and put that on Midnight Blue so he can learn from her courage and spirit.

RIP Green Goddess - your spirit lives on and you will never be forgotten.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Whatever happened to this year?

Spent most of it travelling (yet again)! Still hoping for one more mini-break this month, but these are a couple of montages of the last 2 Welsh trips. Still with the water ...
August 13th-17th with Bri

September 5th-7th with Steph

Mercian Gathering 2012

This was the best one yet for me - third time lucky. 1000 pagans in a field: sunshine, fire, magical ceremonies, oodles of good food in even better company, music, dancing, lots of things to do and learn - and Oh! those Vikings ... what's not to like?
Best of Mercian pix from 2010, 2011, 2012

Monday, 20 August 2012

Lazin' on a sunny afternoon ...

Lake Cau
Cadair Idris
On the third go at climbing Cader Idris, I finally got down to Lake Cau. A perfect day - pure magic from the Italian seasoned mushroom, ham and eggs through to the divine cuisine at Cross Foxes. My waterfall seems to have changed from an elephant into a bear - or is it just my obsession with seeing the faces of spirits in nature?

The fact that it rained every day didn't stop us from climbing a mountain, going to the beach twice or viewing any number of lakes, castles & waterfalls - not to mention an Italian village (Portmeirion) -  you gotta love Wet, Windy, Wales, no matter the weather. Funny thing is, the water just soaks away into the ground without making all that nasty 'orrible mud we get in the midlands ...

This blog is looking more and more like a travelogue - I did write a few thousand words and resolve a whole host of tricky plotting issues in the 6th book, honest!!

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

We Love Jaime Black ♥x♥x♥

Jaime's fundraising appeal for the new CD just launched - have a look at her amazing video and listen to some of her hauntingly ethereal music. If you would like to hear more, you can visit her website.
Good luck Jaime - if you get to record the new CD here it will have extra magic!!!

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Midsummer Madness

Five Frivolous Faeries
I always paid lip-service to the idea that I was a bit OCD - aren't we all? But now my obsessive side is totally taking over. Not content with two wonderful weekends camping in damp, muddy fields with a bunch of the nicest, most dedicated, resilient and fearsomely fun-loving critters you could ever wish to meet, I am scouring more weighty tomes to get to the bottom (pun intended) of these magical folk.
Ably aided and abetted by Brian Froud's enchanting Faery Oracle Cards, I am discovering just how deeply my soul resonates with the joyous energy of these nature-based spirits. And my sorely-neglected garden is delighted by the sudden burst of TLC it's been missing all year. Even the mid-summer gatheration took on a naughtily nice tone as we giggled our way through Nikki's excellent elderflower wine - well at least I did. 
A huge thank you to Karen Kay and her hard-working team for making my second Faery Festival a wonderful experience - despite tent-destroying gales and at least a year's worth of mud, I never saw a frown or heard a cross word from anyone the whole four days. Here is a triflingly infinitesimal flavour of the fantastic fun:

A special mention has to go to Brian and Wendy Froud's tremendous Troll tales, Laura Daligan's beautifully bodacious belly dancing, Unicorn Faery's captivating costume (and dynamic dancing), Tinker Fae's fabulous fire-work, Trixie Belle's stunning (and ever-present) smile and most especially Lynne's lovely laughter, Jaime's ethereal entertainment and Tara Fae's phenomenal face (and body) painting. Totally AWESOME!!
Busy planning how I can get to the next one ...
P.S. Beware the Chris Evan's show - Moira and Vassos's annoyingly aggravating alliteration is contagiously catching!!

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Matthew's Faery Festival

What a wonderful experience. Jaime and I got to dress up as Faeries, have our faces painted by the incredibly talented Tara Fae and meet a whole bunch of wonderful people.

Faery folk are so friendly and welcoming and they really know how to have a good time. I made a lot of new friends and am looking forward to seeing them at some of the future events.

Matthew Callow worked so hard to create a magical experience for everyone - his performance on Saturday night was totally inspiring - I am playing his entrancing CD Eden as I write this. He also sorted the sound for Jaime's show on Friday night and we were lucky enough not to have the rain so people could enjoy the freedom and space to really have a good dance. Check out more pix on Jaime's Facebook page.

The pix below are a celebration of the creativity of a bunch of talented, slightly off-the-wall people. Many thanks to all the wonderful photographers, especially Oz (aka Wolfram Bear) and Louise Worthy.
Hopefully you will get a sense of the joy. If you want to find out more about these delightful faery folk, many of them are named on my facebook piccie.

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Onwards and Upwards

Ok, So I didn't make it through to even the sub's bench on the Voice, but just like ABNA, I made some excellent friends and learnt so much. To cheer myself up, I thought I'd dig up a bit of history. Like the great quote from an ABNA expert reviewer:
"This read perfectly, as a action adventure story should. The plot pacing moved quickly, and the excitement of tournament was written so realistically that I could hear the hush and roar of the crowds as if I was there too.  I also enjoyed the main character, Archer, he was likable and very much the classic story hero."
And some of the stunning pix from booksignings I've done:
With Paul and Cara Lawrence at Happy Glastonbury (formerly Growing Needs)

Alex Rebecca doing their their crowd-pleasing, choregraphed fighting at Kenilworth Books
Good times!

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Writer's Voice contest entry #130

Really pleased to have made it - my lucky number really is 13! Kudos to everyone who got in (Glad I don't have to do that every day/week) and commiserations to those who didn't.

Middle grade historical fantasy

Plot summary from query

Archer doesn’t belong. In case he has any doubts, Edlyn will go to any lengths to show him that he never could.

At fourteen, Edlyn’s gang jump Archer in the woods, tie him to a tree and try to teach him some respect. It nearly costs Archer the affection of his only friend Patricia, but no one likes being called treacherous, do they? On the plus side, he gains a couple of loyal friends. During the trio’s first road trip, a band of fierce renegades learn a thing or two about courage and audacity, and a charismatic Celtic drummer band turns the incident into a song.

At sixteen, Archer competes with his friends
in a graduation competition to see who is worthy of being crowned May King and Queen. Although Edlyn tries hard to sabotage Archer’s chances, they both get through to the final round. There’s a gleeful moment when Archer takes to the stage as Robin Hood, attracting plenty of female admirers, but it’s Patricia he wants to kiss.

When Archer carved the yew stave given to him by Oxford’s master bowman, drops of his blood awoke the powerful tree spirit. The stave was from the same tree Edlyn tied Archer to years earlier, and the enchantress wants revenge for Edlyn’s thoughtless cruelty. While everyone else enjoys the Beltane feast, she entices him into the ceremonial bonfire. Archer is faced with the ultimate dilemma - does he defy her and risk his life to save his nemesis, or simply walk away?

Although it has a distinctly medieval feel, ‘ARCHER’ is set in a modern-day, alternate England where teenagers enjoy archery and jousting instead of football and Facebook. With echoes of the film ‘A Knight’s Tale’ and the series ‘Merlin,’ this story will appeal to young teens, fans of Philip Pullman/Rick Riordan, and adults who enjoy historical adventures laced with humour and a dash of romance.

250 word extract

‘C’mon Archer, you can do it!’
‘Go for it Finn!’ 

Sitting astride his stallion Apollo, Archer grinned as people in the crowd shouted encouragement. He spotted his friends; they were Finn’s friends too and obviously didn’t know who to support. Some of them looked worried, but Fletch didn’t care, holding up victory fists to both contenders in turn. The buzz of excitement was affecting everyone and Archer felt the familiar thrill of blood pumping through his veins. Months of effort had gone into the preparations and people had travelled from miles around to celebrate Beltane, the Festival of the May.

‘Good luck, mate.’ Tybalt, Archer’s Second, held up his shield. ‘May the best man win.’
‘Man? Don’t you mean Junior?’ Archer was secretly delighted by the idea, as he slipped his gauntlet through the shield straps and took the reins.
‘No, Archer. Today, you and Finn are men.’ Tybalt handed over the lance, then, with an anxious look in Finn’s direction, walked to the dais to prepare for the tributes.

Looking down the tilt at his opponent, Archer felt the warmth of brotherhood. No, Finn was more than a brother, they did not argue as siblings did. Professor Niall had pronounced them the only pair ready for the joust – all the other boys had settled for the rings.

Archer shivered, despite the sunshine. This wasn’t the same as an ordinary practice. The enthusiasm of the crowd made it more exciting than anything he had ever done in his life.

Details for the Writer's Voice

Whoops - accidentally deleted this post. Basically it was telling people about the amazing Writer's Voice contest.
These are the details:

“The Writer’s Voice” is a multi-blog, multi-agent contest hosted by Cupid of  Cupid’s Literary Connection,  Brenda Drake of Brenda Drake Writes, Monica B.W. of Love YA, and Krista Van Dolzer of Mother. Write. (Repeat.). They’re basing it on NBC’s singing reality show The Voice, so the four of them will serve as coaches and select projects for their teams based on their queries and first pages.

Here’s the timeline:

May 3
Everyone submits their entries
May 3-10
We select our team members from “The Writer’s Voice” Blogfest
May 10-17
We coach our team members, helping them polish their entries
May 17
We post our team members’ entries on our blogs
May 21
Agents vote for their favorites

The Genres

To enter “The Writer’s Voice,” your manuscript must meet two conditions: First, it must be COMPLETE, POLISHED, AND READY TO QUERY, and second, it must be in one of the following genres:

Adult Fantasy
Adult Science Fiction
Adult Romance
YA fiction (all subgenres)
MG fiction (all subgenres)

Monday, 30 April 2012

Beltane Eve

Glastonbury Tor - Magical and Mythical
Exactly three years ago today, I climbed to the top of this magical mound, at 9am and 9pm. At the time I had little idea of the significance, I just knew that I needed to be there on that day. In the morning it was a truly humbling experience with few people around, just a glorious, fresh Spring morning - England at her very best.
The lack of cell-phone signal at the farmhouse I was staying in drew me back in the evening (twice in 1 day is no mean feat for a 49-year-old). My efforts were rewarded with a wonderful celebration with drums, candles, singing and happy, generous people sharing an enchanted moment.
Since then I have learnt an awful lot and tonight I will be sharing my chilli-cheese baked spuds and honey, seed and strawberry cakes with some wonderful friends, leaving a small offering for the Fae.

Happy Beltane

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Deadlines and Desperate Housewives

Phew! I know it's not a real deadline, but every little discount helps. The first draft of the fairy tale coursebook is ready - it looks really cute with little pixies, goblins and dragons crawling all over the pages. The idea is that it will help to teach children (and big kids) how to structure a story and work with magical characters. I'm hoping to trial it at a couple of Faery festivals in June where Jaime is performing.
So now I get to catch up with a month's worth of soaps - DH, Corrie, even a couple of episodes of the Voice. Yay.

Does it get any better than this?

It's always nice to get emails from people who have read and enjoyed your books, but in the past week I have had two people ask me where they can get copies of the fourth book in the series, Slater. I really need to get my finger out - the poor boy has been waiting in the wings for a very long time now. I finished telling his tale in January 2010 and printed the proof copy in April 2011, but he kind of took a back seat while I spent most of the year in Wonderful, Wet, Windy Wales. I could no longer resist the call from the Preselli mountains, but on balance I think I'll blame Aurora - in order to tell her story, I had to climb to the top of Cader Idris (third time lucky), see an Italian village overlooking a Welsh bay, take the boat to Arthur's Labyrinth and connect with the spirits when a Welsh Castle was sacked.

Jaime @ Avebury Sunrise 2/10/11
The Dragon called to me even louder than my previous second home Glastonbury, and poor old Avebury hardly got a look in (although I did watch the Mid-Summer sun rise from the top of Silbury Hill and took my beautiful American songbird Jaime Black there to watch the sun rise over the Stone circle on a balmy morning in early October). Good times!
So now I have yet another task to add to my gi-normous list of creative things to to. Life is just being so good to me so far this year and I really do appreciate it.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

If you want something doing ...

...ask a busy person. Two days back at school and it feels like I never had two weeks off. 
 I put off the writing/publishing of the Hengist series in January to help two of my friends edit/publish their amazing coursebooks about Tarot and Crystals. February was all about competitions - made it to the last 1000 of the ABNA competition run by Amazon and Pengiun and I judged 37 entries (aged up to 9) from Chris Evan's 500words contest - huge fun. 
March saw a coursebook about how to write fiction and an accompanying workshop which went down well with some of the language teachers from school. The lastest is a workshop for people who want to write fairy tales.  All good so far, then today there's a request for help editing a coursebook for an Angel workshop and accompanying meditation CD's.
Life is good. Busy, but good.

Monday, 23 April 2012

Love, Love and more Love

Mmmmm – bit by bit, this blog thing is starting to take shape. You’d think after 23 years writing software, a new platform would be a breeze. As usual, I am quaking in my woefully inadequate boots, wondering how to make this thing not look to cringingly shabby compared to the ones I have trawled for inspiration. Boy are there some talented people out there? – not to mention generous. I just looked at a previous blog-run competition for some hints about presentation – writers really are a wonderful bunch of people. All that creative energy just inspires them to give of their time, effort and talent in a blogfest of caring, sharing, loving selflessness. Makes a little math geek like me feel all warm, squidgy, humble and did I mention loved? Kudos, guys – share the lovin’ vibes.
Awesome Avebury - where magic begins

Glorious Glastonbury Tor

Wonderful Welsh Waterfalls
The text wrapping is gonna take a bit of furtling - still what else have I to do? 

Can anyone else see the elephant in the room?

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Earth Day 2012

Just looking in my diary for the new moon (it was yesterday, when I started creating this Blog!) and I spotted that today was the 42nd Earth Day. I wanted to see how links worked in the blog - everyone seems to spell out the dot and I'm not sure why, so I thought I'd experiment with posting this link:

Thank You

After love, it seems to me that you cannot give enough gratitude in this world.
Although words speak to me the loudest (pun intended), numbers come a pretty close second (I still teach maths two days a week in an English High School), tying with any kind of creative/artistic endeavour (although if you are doing it right, you don't have to try and it isn't hard). That's pretty cool - three sets of braces in one sentence - a record even for me. Hope the grammar police aren't watching, they'd be pretty apoplectic by now, white spittle at the corners of their mouths.
Back to the original intent, which is to express my deep and enduring gratitude to the many people who have helped me along the way with their expertise, creative or otherwise. As this unfamiliar animal (the blog) takes shape, I will re-consider, but right now, it just feels right to brighten it up with stunning artwork, provided with the help of many talented people. I would like to give them credit and publicise their creative endeavours with links to their web-sites. Please feel free to check out these wonderful people whose expertise in the fields of archery, jousting and artwork have enriched my life.
P.S. The stunning artwork for the posters and book covers (and especially my very own White Horse, Blaise) is all the work of the extremely talented Anthony Askew.
P.P.S. Although American is my second language, I can't quite bring myself to set the language to US English - you will just have to ignore the extra u's, s instead of z, etc.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Hello World

Dear Reader,
Is it possible to write a first Blog that isn't entirely lame? {squirms nervously}
Just not cool enough to feel comfortable with these new-fangled, talk-about-trivia gadgets. Back in the eighties when I was learning lots of different programming languages on different platforms, we always started with something simple that just outputted a short message to the screen. Those of us lacking in imagination had messages saying really lame stuff - guess I just haven't moved on from then. I have learnt however, that one man's wit is another woman's gross-out, so maybe I'll make one person grimace in a fashion almost resembling a smile - I'll be happy with that.
Thanks to the expert tutelage of some very experienced writers, my offering has fewer poor tense choices, End Of Sentence Prepositions and other grammatical sloppiness that infects the speech of your average Brit (hope you are still with me) than normal. As for the adverb police - squirm is a sufficiently strong verb to do it on its own, it just got terribly lonely there in those curly brackets, so I gave it a friend. But enough weirdness for now.
See I don't even know how to sign off, so I'll use my normal one:
The kisses are very important because there just isn't enough love in the world.