Writing is my personal bliss, greatest joy, hardest work. I love nothing more than sitting in my 'plotting shed' getting to grips with a work-in-progress and being transported to somewhere quite different in my imagination. I call my working space my 'plotting shed' because I helped build a wooden shed at the bottom of my old garden and once installed, my writing really took off. Another major breakthrough for me came when I realised I don't write at all; I become the character on the page and live through them. It's almost like watching a film and letting it flow through my fingers onto the keyboard. I'm lucky enough, these days, to split my time between France and Wales so my physical space in The Plotting Shed has learned to become flexible but I know it's working when I look up from the screen and find hours have passed without me noticing. It's amazing how time flies when you're inhabiting a world you have created with characters you have come to love - or hate - who are as real as those in real life. It is listening to them that is the greatest joy.
Hello dear Readers, I hope this finds you well. Today is a special, historic day that will be felt around the world. Life goes on even after a bereavement, and living in the UK at this momentous time it’s impossible to be unaware of the sudden, though not unexpected, death of our monarch, Queen Elizabeth the Second. After such a long and dedicated reign of service, her absence is marked by everyone, including those who do not call themselves Royalists. Elizabeth II was a symbol of stability who gave a lifetime of service, incredibly right up to the day before she died at the age of 96, and who was an example of someone who genuinely cared about others, no matter their background. Today brings the state funeral and a rite of passage for our new king, Charles III. The monarchy can look anachronistic in our fast, digital, connected world but it stands for something I can’t identify or name, and the Queen’s demise has touched people’s hearts. The future is more uncertain now than it ever was and climate change threatens us all. The war in Ukraine has pressurised the entire world to think again, and quickly, about how to use energy wisely. It is certainly a time of change as a new era awaits. The Katherine Wheel Series spans another time of change over the two World Wars. Book One, Daffodils, is currently #free, so grab a copy while you can. It has also received over 3000 reviews and ratings now and I’m grateful to everyone who took the time and trouble to write and let me know their experience of reading my story. I hope you go on to read the five sequels in the saga too.
Meanwhile, I’m working on a new project. Quite a different one and set in the first Elizabethan age, a time of great discoveries and daring adventures. The research is daunting but absolutely fascinating. I’ll post updates on my progress as it goes along here at The Plotting Shed. And in the meantime, good luck with all your endeavours, with love, Alexxx
The answer is – South Devon, England, where research for two new projects took me last week. My grandfather’s family hail from this area and I felt real empathy for its beauty, perhaps because of my heritage. Alas, the family home (once perhaps a smuggling den that might make an appearance in the second project) has long been sold. Nothing daunted, my dear husband and I drove down the tiny lanes exploring the legend that sparked my latest story idea. The hedges towered above us on either side and the roads were so untravelled, grass grew down their centre. Villages snuggled into hidden valleys and dells, their houses often ancient and thatched, revealing secret worlds with tales to tell.
Something shocking happened 1000 years ago in one of these villages and I felt Fay and Percy (of the Spirit Level series) should investigate. With a working title of Devon Cream, this story centres around three hard-pressed women of today who each struggle with their modern lives. The ancient women of this picture-postcard village did something very brave in their lifetimes and it is their whispers that galvanize each of their contemporary sisters into action, with the help of our psychic detectives, of course.
I’m excited that my writing mojo has returned after its absence. A short one perhaps, but the lack of any creative spark felt dismal! And I have some other ideas that may spawn a whole new series. This one is about pirates, linking South Devon (and that smuggler’s haunt) with the Gower Peninsula where I live now. It will be set in Elizabethan times so I was tickled pink when I discovered that the hotel we stayed in last week had been honoured with a visit by not only Elizabeth the 1st but also her ‘sea hawk’ Sir Francis Drake. Now if that’s not a green light to write a story, I don’t know what is.
What I’d like you lovely readers to tell me is, which story would you fancy reading first, and why? A signed paperback copy of ‘The Rose Trail’ will be awarded and posted out (for free) to the best answer!
I hope this finds you well in these strangest of times with wave after wave of changes and negativity for us all to cope with. I know I have really struggled over this winter and my muse has sadly left me. I’m hoping this will be a temporary absence from creativity as nothing makes me happier than writing a new story. Even as I write this, I can feel the spring sunshine prompting me to dig a little deeper into my subconscious and see what might be lurking there.
In the meantime, I’m offering not one but two free gifts! Both the first book and the last in The Katherine Wheel Series are #free for a few days. JUST CLICK ON THE TITLES TO GO TO THE PURCHASE PAGE
It all began with Daffodils at the start of World War One when the three families, the Beagles, Phipps and Smythes, lived near to each other but were socially poles apart. Their story spanned six books altogether, with Ivy bringing all the love they had exchanged through the intervening years to a positive conclusion. Daffodils symbolised the hope that WW1 would bring the end of all wars. Their yellow trumpets form a contrast to the traditional poppies which emerged post-war on the battlefields where so many young men had spilled their red blood. I chose these harbingers of spring because Book One of The Katherine Series focuses instead on the women who were the backbone of the war effort behind the scenes and, like Katy, were emancipated by stepping outside the rigid social circles that had previously confined them. By the time we reach WW11, women played a far bigger role and were often seen as the equal of their male counterparts, and recognised for it too. By then, Katy had a family of her own, as did her old boss and friend, Cassandra, and it is this generation we follow in Ivy as they face different challenges in the conflict of their time. You can catch up with all the dramas in between by reading the other four books in the series, Peace Lily, Speedwell,Willow, and Woodbine.
Now we watch with anxiety as the world is plunged into another black moment of history whose outcome no one can predict.
Books, however, are always reliable! Please spread the word about these two books going free for a little while and if you haven’t read them yet, now’s your chance to get them for absolutely nothing! If you have (and hopefully liked them), it would be so lovely to have a positive review.
Welcome to Triton, the largest moon of Neptune. Or, welcome to Triton again, if you have already read INSIDE OUT. It’s a little bit chilly, and it’s a little bit distant (only about 4.5 billion kilometres away, give or take). But it’s a freedom-loving place, especially if you’re a corporation keen to maximise your profits without having to pay lip service to all those niggly little regulations like human rights. Because the great thing about the Outer Circles, beyond Jupiter, is that there’s no fussing about with law to tie you down.
So why not give Triton a try. If you’re willing to put your back into it, it’s a place to make an eye-watering fortune. Because, as you know, work makes you free. Of course it doesn’t live up to everyone’s expectations. If you want it easy, or you’re over-sensitive, or your reactions are a little bit…
Despite what I consider a poor title, this is an historical fiction story that I had trouble putting down. The characters are realistic. The depictions of war , death and the social system In England at the start of the war make for a great story.”
No-one has remarked on this in a negative way before so I, perhaps complacently, thought readers understood it was a play on the theme of the red poppies usually associated with the slaughter of young men in WW1. Daffodils shows the valiant role that women played during that awful time and how their emancipation shaped the way women live today. I admired them all.
But there is a deeper, more personal reason for my choice of title. Whilst writing Daffodils, which took me years, my mother died. I nursed her through her illness, complicated by dementia, and it wasn’t without serious challenges. My Mum was a complicated woman but I loved her dearly and miss her much more than I expected. I chose the title of Daffodils because we laid fresh ones on her chest after she passed on. Mum was born on the first day of spring and died within a week of her birthday. She loved flowers, as do I, and choosing one our favourite ones, the symbol of spring and the emblem of Wales where she was born and I now live, seemed a fitting testament to her vivid, courageous life.
To celebrate the publication of Book Two in the Spirit Level Series, Triskelion, and to mark #Black Friday, The Rose Trail is #FREE for a few days, starting today!
Fancy delving into a spooky story set in the English Civil War? Roundheads and Cavaliers fought each other at that turbulent time – even if they were brothers. Rose, thwarted in love, seeks revenge and leaves a trail of rose scent when she visits Meadowsweet Manor, causing all sorts of mayhem. Can Fay and Percy, two mismatched psychic detectives, help Rose find eternal peace, or will this unhappy ghost cause them more harm than good?
Having researched this era in some detail I remain in awe of the sacrifice given through two world wars and can never forget those who died for us. Daffodils is #free as a mark of my respect. In fact, The whole Katherine Wheel Series made me realise that WW2 was the unfinished business left over from WW1. Two generations decimated by conflict. We owe them so much.
I’m both thrilled and (over)excited to announce the publication of my latest book, Triskelion, which is available in both kindle and paperback formats here: https://amzn.to/3qbwMSF. Triskelion is Book Two of The Spirit Level Series and again features Fay and Percy, two mismatched psychic detectives drawn together in Book One, The Rose Trail.
After setting up their website, ‘Spirit Level’, in an abandoned moment of hubris, the two amateur sleuths are astonished to find a rock star requesting their services on a professional basis. Rick O’Shea claims he is unable to record a new album on the island of Anglesey, just off the coast of North Wales, due to inexplicable mayhem in his music studio. Throwing caution to the wind, they answer his plea and embark on an adventure that takes them back 2000 years to when the Druids and Romans faced each other in battle. Can Fay and Percy communicate across such an enormous length of time with the determined spirit who is causing so much disruption? Only slowly do they realise the significance of the triskelion symbol that keeps appearing as they uncover its mystery, and hear the message this ancient soul is so desperate to convey to the entire world.
Very excited to report that Peace Lily has reached #1 in the US Freebie charts and #3 in the UK Freebie charts. Thanks to www.bookbub.com and everyone who downloaded it. I hope you get hooked and read the rest of the series!