Alex Martin – In The Plotting Shed: New Virtual Literary Festival

New Virtual Literary Festival

Happy New Year to you all!

And hopefully, it really will be once the vaccination programme is fully rolled out. Regaining our freedom will be amazing, won\’t it?

In the meantime, as we can\’t meet readers in person, who are based in Pembrokeshire, Wales, are putting on a virtual Literary Festival online. You can join in for #free on Saturday next, the 16th January 2021 at:

where you can \’meet\’ about 20 authors who will be chatting to another one, the empathetic and gifted Judith Barrow, whose work can be found via her blog at

I\’m on at 14.50 but there are many other authors of different genres who\’ll be sharing their work. So, if you are interested in children\’s books, mystery thrillers, domestic noir or gritty sagas you will find something to your taste, I\’m sure. After each interview, the author will be available for questions from views and all the authors will come together at the end, at around 1600 hours to answer questions from the public together.

This live event can be attended for free for as long as you want, but if you\’d like more you can listen to archive interviews for the paltry sum of £1.99 by subscribing to This is a monthly fee and there is no contract, so you can cancel at any time. It\’s incredible value as there are many other programmes to be enjoyed, not just literary ones, but music, drama, sport and festivals, in fact, all the other forms of entertainment you could wish for.

Here\’s the link to a previous interview I did on their \’Cover to Cover\’ feature.

I do hope you can join in with this #free celebration of Welsh authors – we\’re a diverse and interesting bunch!

Author of the day interview

 I had great fun being interviewed by Naomi Bolton of


Alex Martin – Love and Loss and the Perils of War
FEATURED AUTHOR – \’The Plotting Shed\’ (see her blog was Alex Martin\’s first writing space at the bottom of her Welsh garden. Now she splits her time between Wales and France and plots wherever she is. She still wanders aimlessly in the countryside with her dog and her dreams and she can still be found typing away with imaginary friends whispering in her ear, but these days she has the joy of seeing her stories published and the treasured feedback from readers who\’ve enjoyed them.
Read more via this link to the interview:


 Having Daffodils listed fourth on the massive website makes me happy.

We are all distanced from loved ones in some way in this ghastly Covid pandemic, but The Katherine Wheel Series is all about families who stick together through thick and thin. Two generations suffer the tragedy and tumult of two World Wars – but they survive – and so does the love they share.

Book One, Daffodils, is free at the moment. Grab your copy today and get stuck into a six-book series which begins just before World War One and ends after World War Two. Read about all the dramas affecting two different families through the trials and tribulations that ensue and see how it brings them closer together than they could have imagined.

 I’m delighted to take part in the Wild Sage autumnal festival with Denise Birt of the Wild Sage Book Blog. I have just completed a six-book saga called ‘The Katherine Wheel Series’, based on two families, one rich, one poor, living in deepest rural England. Book One, ‘Daffodils’, sees Katherine Beagle as a humble, frustrated house servant and her employer’s daughter, Cassandra Flintock-Smythe, barely notices her – until scandal hits. By Book Six (the recently published ‘Ivy’) these two women are both heads of different dynasties and firm friends. In between, they go through many trials and two World Wars with changing fortunes, including heart-rending tragedies and hard-won triumphs.


As ‘Daffodils’ is currently #FREE, I’m adding the second book ‘Peace Lily’ to my giveaway, so the lucky winner will receive two ebooks instead of one! All six books have hundreds of reviews with an average star rating of more than 4.5*s!

Winner of the New Apple Literary Award for Excellence in Independent Publishing 2019 Medallist Winner E-Book.
Daffodils is a love story, whose tender heart is almost torn apart through the tumultuous challenge of World War One.
\”A profound meditation on love and loss and the perils of war\”: Bookbub
\”Absorbing, involving, unputdownable, honest, great characterisation\”. Indie Book Bargains Featured Author Book of the day June 25th 2013 and was chosen to be in the first edition of the Fussy Librarian\’s selection.

Peace Lily is the sequel to DAFFODILS and book two of the \’Katherine Wheel\’ saga.
After the appalling losses suffered during the First World War, three of its survivors long for peace, unaware that its aftermath will bring different, but still daunting, challenges.
Katy trained as a mechanic during the war and cannot bear to return to the life of drudgery she left behind. A trip to America provides the dream ticket she has always craved and an opportunity to escape the strait-jacket of her working-class roots. She jumps at the chance, little realising that it will change her life forever, but not in the way she’d hoped.
Jem lost not only an arm in the war, but also his livelihood, and with it, his self-esteem. How can he keep restless Katy at home and provide for his wife? He puts his life at risk a second time, attempting to secure their future and prove his love for her.
Cassandra has fallen deeply in love with Douglas Flintock, an American officer she met while driving ambulances at the Front. How can she persuade this modern American to adapt to her English country life and all the duties that come with inheriting Cheadle Manor? When Douglas returns to Boston, unsure of his feelings, Cassandra crosses the ocean, determined to lure him back.
As they each try to carve out new lives, their struggles impact on each other in unforeseen ways in this heartbreaking romance.
Peace Lily is about the boundaries between traditional values and the modern age of the 20th century, between men and women, young and old and, in post-war 1919, these are tested as never before.
A third book, SPEEDWELL, takes the characters into the daring arena of motor racing in the 1920s and Katy\’s defiant bid for independence. Book Four, WILLOW, (novella-sized) bridges the gap between the generations as the children of Cassandra and Douglas, Jem and Katy embark on a summer adventure that goes disastrously wrong with dire consequences. The four children, Lottie and Isobel, Al and Lily, are on the brink of adulthood and the outbreak of the Second World War in Book Five, WOODBINE. Their lives separate as they are each forced to follow different paths through the war. Lottie is stranded in occupied France after a bitter family feud and gets drawn into the French Resistance; Al faces many dangers as he flies planes for the ATA, and Isobel, torn between duty and love, becomes a Land Girl. Can they come back together in Book Six, IVY? You must read the final book in The Katherine Wheel Series to find out how the whole saga reaches its dramatic and satisfying conclusion.

#VJ Day – 75 years of peace

 #VJDay today – when peace broke out across the world after Japan surrendered 75 years ago. Now that is something to celebrate. Many times I felt overwhelmed with the challenge of writing about #WW2 from so many viewpoints but it was an era, a conflict, that had informed my childhood and always fascinated me. Many members of my generation grew up on a diet of war films, bomb-damaged streets and personal histories of veterans and civilians who had lived through those crucial years between 1939 and 1945. Woodbine and Ivy cover those years, and a little bit more. Living vicariously through the experiences of my characters I learned so much about human nature, the insidious creeping evil of occupation by the Nazis in France: the hunger, the fear, and terror of the carpet bombing of Caen in particular where a lot of the story is set. The hardship and the grinding work that went into battling life out on the Home Front was just as enlightening, especially while we are living through the restrictions that Covid-19 has imposed upon our contemporary world. Reviews have been heartening so far and I thank each and every reader who has taken the time and trouble to write one. The Katherine Wheel Series is complete with the publication of Ivy and is my homage to the fallen of #WW2.I can\’t ever hope to do them justice, no-one could, but I\’ve done my best.

Woodbine, #FREE today!

Since completing The Katherine Wheel Series with the publication of the sixth and final book, Ivy, I am very pleased with the feedback I\’ve received. Thank you each and everyone who has taken the time and trouble to leave such positive reviews. It means so much when a book like the ones that comprise The Katherine Wheel Series, but especially the latest two, Woodbine and Ivy, involve such vast quantities of research to make the stories authentic. 

\”Well held!\”

My method of writing is to \’live\’ within the narrative; to \’be\’ the characters and to vicariously \’experience\’ the challenges I put them through. While this is truly great fun, like being inside a film, it\’s pretty tiring too! I don\’t mind, I love it, don\’t get me wrong, but it takes some effort. All this makes me appreciate reviews even more and readers might not realise that reviews open doors to competitions, awards and marketing opportunities that would otherwise remain shut so, please, keep them coming!
Today and tomorrow, Woodbine is going out into the world with NO price tag! If you\’ve read it and enjoyed it, please spread the word about this one-off opportunity. 


***** \”Another brilliant instalment of this wonderful series, but what a place to leave it! Looking forward to the next book already!\”
Hopefully, other readers will also go on to read the conclusion in Ivy.

\'The Katherine Wheel Series\' is completed with the publication of \'Ivy\'

I\’m really excited (and a bit exhausted!)  to announce that \’The Katherine Wheel Series\’ is now completed by the publication of its sixth and final book, \’Ivy\’.

This series about Katy and Jem Phipps and Cassandra and Douglas Flintock-Smythe has taken me years to write. When I began with Daffodils, way back in about the year 2000, I never expected (or dreamed) that it would generate a six-book saga! But these characters wormed their way into my heart and mind and would not leave me alone and they took me through the interesting aftermath of the \’Great War\’ in Peace Lily and Speedwell. In Willow, Woodbine and Ivy their children took centre stage as they evolved into adults and combatants in the Second World War. Like their parents, their generation became swept up in a global conflict that transcended normal life and put theirs into sharp focus. 
Woodbine and Ivy were originally intended to be one book but, like Topsy, the story grew and grew and had to be split over two volumes. Many readers have written to me after finishing Woodbine, which ends on a cliffhanger, desperate to find out what happens next. Well, I\’m proud to say, you can now!
Ivy completes the series. It\’s a big book, over 500 pages long, and spans the whole of the European theatre of war. The research entailed was an enormous task and, at times, overwhelmed me. However it was also fascinating and, as with World War One, the heroism of its victims was humbling and inspiring. War brings out the worst and the best in people and I hope that none of us is ever tested in that way again. I think that\’s why I find history so interesting. There are many lessons to be learned from the mistakes and adventures of our forebears. One of the main realisations for me was how the Second World War was an inevitable conclusion of the First one. And so it was with Woodbine. I just couldn\’t squeeze in all the drama that unfolds in Ivy into one volume. 
It is my sincere hope that readers will enjoy the surprising conclusion to The Katherine Wheel Series in its final book, Ivy.

5* review of Woodbine by #AnneWilliams, Book Reviewer extraordinaire!

Thrilled with this magnificent review – and comprehensive article on the whole of The Katherine Wheel Series – by the wonderful #AnneWilliams, book reviewer extraordinaire.

In this post, Anne discusses Woodbine, the fifth book in the saga, on the very day I\’m launching the final one, Ivy! More on that later…
In the meantime, I\’m enormously proud to share Anne\’s review of Woodbine here:

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 7 July 2020

Verified Purchase
I was initially a little worried by launching myself into a series with the fifth book: but while I’d obviously missed out on the earlier story and some of the background to the characters (particularly the older ones) and their relationships, I had no difficulty picking up enough of the context and moving on into the story of the next generation. And what a story – it totally swept me away, enthralling in every way with the most wonderful story-telling and the very finest of writing. This is a pretty substantial book at over 400 pages, but other than comfort breaks (when I took my kindle with me!) I didn’t surface for air until I’d read the very last page.

There were a number of elements that made this book one I really loved. I’m often a bit of a pushover for a WW2 setting, but the research that went into this book – the British home front (particularly, but not exclusively, for those used to living more comfortable lives), and the realities for the French population – must have been incredibly extensive, and it’s all wonderfully woven to bring the era so vividly to life. The sense of place throughout is exceptional – Cheadle Manor and its surroundings, the Welsh farming community where Isobel spends time as a land girl, war-torn Paris and the rural community where Lottie finds refuge. The book’s canvas is enormous – but sometimes it’s extraordinarily intimate through your degree of involvement with the fortunes of the three main characters, every one of whom you grow to really care about. And the pacing of the story is perfectly handled – quiet moments alternating with gripping sections when you really can’t read and turn the pages fast enough.

I will mention though that while the book does have an ending, the story doesn’t conclude in this book – we’re still in the midst of wartime, and there’s another book to come, drawing their individual stories and the whole series to a conclusion. I really didn’t mind that – it just made me want to read the next book even more, as I’d become totally invested in these wonderful characters. I’m not a regular reader of “sagas”, and don’t read historical fiction that often either – but from my reading of this single book I could tell that this series was something very special indeed.

(While I might have been just a tad frustrated that I couldn’t read the story through to its conclusion, no-one else will have the same problem – I see that Ivy was published on 1st July and is now available for kindle and in paperback. I’m just trying to carve out some more reading time, because I’m desperate to read on…)

Cover reveal! Ivy is the sixth and final book in The Katherine Wheel Series – out soon!

Ivy concludes The Katherine Wheel Series and in fact, is a continuation of the story begun in Woodbine. Woodbine and Ivy were originally intended to be one book. The title comes from an old country folk song and the lyrics are quoted at the beginning of Woodbine. However, this epic tale grew so large I had to split it into two parts. Lots of readers have contacted me after finishing Woodbine and in search of its partner, Ivy, so I\’m excited to announce that it will be published very soon. 
In the meantime, I\’m proud to reveal the cover, created with the very professional help of  Jane Dixon-Smith of Jane worked with me very patiently over many subtle changes and tweaks to the images until we arrived at the final product to our mutual satisfaction. 
The house depicts Cheadle Manor, in Wiltshire, the frequent backdrop to all six books in The Katherine Wheel Series. I always had a very clear vision of the manor as I wrote the books. It isn\’t based on any one particular house that I\’ve seen, more an amalgam of some very beautiful ones I\’ve encountered in Wiltshire over the years I lived there. In my mind\’s eye, it was always clearly like this one on the cover of Ivy, with three stone gables pointing up to the sky and the graceful steps descending from the front door. 
Here is the paperback version with the description of the contents on the back page as a teaser!
Watch this space for an announcement about the publication date.

radio interview

I sound like I have a peg on my nose in this radio chat show! It was a great opportunity and I really enjoyed (most of) the 80s music. Ron and Ian made the whole experience fun and professional. What I hadn\’t reckoned on was talking over my own voice after an eight-second delay. That was truly bizarre. I couldn\’t hear what I was saying currently, only what I had said previously!

Anyway, for those of you interested here\’s the clip. It\’s well over an hour-long, which is great if you want to listen to the music but if you want to catch me spouting about my books I\’m on at 1.23 hours into the clip.

If there are any other authors wanting to go on the show just apply at

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