Where does the time go? An apology…

I’ve realised I’ve been neglecting you guys of late, and for that I am really sorry.  There’s no real excuse for it either, other than the pressures of the real world…

Life has been pretty hectic lately, with work and family life conspiring to keep me distracted from this blog, and my writing.

However, I thought it was time to share the news I’ve been harbouring for a few weeks now…

My book, Leah, Book One of the Worlds Apart Series, is no longer published by Taylor Street Books.  Instead, as of later today, it is published by Rose Wall Publications :)

The Kindle version will be available to download later today, but as it has had a major new redesign, and a fantastic cover (which I’m giving you a sneak peak of below), it could be a few weeks before the new paperback is out.

I’m offering signed copies to advance orders though, so if you’d like one, send me a message through my webpage and I’ll let you know the details.

This is a hugely exciting time for us, and I hope you’ll enjoy what is to come.

Here’s the new cover image – what do you think?


On the wings of dragons

I’m not really classed as young anymore, yet I still feel far too young to be writing a blog post like this.

There’s often a debate about those friends that we don’t “see” are really friends.  If most of your contact is online, how can you really be close to someone?

My answer to that, for what it is worth, is it depends how you view friendship.  If it is simply someone to go for a drink with and gossip with, never talking about anything more serious then whether the latest film has the right lead male, then I guess online friends aren’t so good.  But if friendship is having someone you know you can talk to, rely on to be truthful even when the truth hurts, and to support and encourage, then often someone at the other end of a message is just, if not more valuable.

Me?  I value people who take me as I am.  People that I can chat too, about daft things and serious things, and that understand that I’m there for them if they need me, and when they need me.  I need to know that they offer the same for me, but understand that sometimes I need to be quiet, because what I’m going through needs to be processed before I can talk about it.  Whether we speak daily or occasionally, that friendship never changes.  Does that make me selfish?  I don’t know, but that’s what friendship means to me.

Why I am raising this today?

On Wednesday evening I glanced briefly at my Facebook author page.  My daughter was happily playing with her Dad, building one of the many presents she had a Christmas, so I had a rare five minute to myself.  What I saw changed everything.  The rest of this week has been a blur, and led to a lot of soul searching; and yes, a few tears too.

You see I saw a simple message on my wall reading “RIP Lindsey”.  My heart fluttered, that awful stone sinking feeling you get at the thought of bad news.  I clicked on the page the post was made to, thinking, or rather hoping, that it was some joke, maybe someone had beaten her at archery…

What I saw there my brain failed to process.  A few, and only a few, posts expressing grief.  Still, hoping for a miraculous mistake, I posted a message to The Alliance of Worldbuilders, had anyone heard off Lindsey since New Year’s Eve, the last time I had heard off her?  Then I cautiously, hopefully posted a comment within one of the posts – could someone pm me and let me know what happened…


Despite the sharp grief that came with it I will be eternally grateful to Lindsey’s friends Charlie Upton and Martine Barons, who both responded quickly, and privately with the news I’d been dreading.  Lindsey had died on Sunday 5th January.

Always upbeat, always seemingly positive, this dragon-loving, warm hearted author was gone. Losing someone you love is never easy, but somehow I always feel worse for those that have lost at Christmas and New Year.  For Lindsey this means though that she’d had one last wonderful day with her children, walking on New Year’s Day.  Suffering a ruptured aneurism later that day she was admitted to Walsgrave Hospital, and seemed to respond well to surgery at first.  She died, five days later with her family by her side.

That’s important to many people, but for Lindsey I know it would matter most.  You see one of the strongest things we had in common, was our love of our families.  I remember when Lindsey lost her own Mum, how she coped with it, and how her foremost thought was to support her own children through it.  The last thing on earth she would have wanted to do was cause them any pain, but they will also know that throughout their lives she gave them her all, and loved them eternally.

Who is Lindsey? Picture

Lindsey J Parsons, author of The Return of the Effra series.  Talented author, artist, archer (even winning medals for the Stratford Archers), loving mother and friend.  To read just a little of her enviable talent, take a look at Week Four of my Castle of Dreams series.  She was all of these things and more, and I’m proud to have known her and been able to call her my friend.

Since Wednesday, the news has spread amongst the Alliance of Worldbuilders, the online group of authors from across the world that we belong to.  The grief has been strong, fresh and raw.  Some only knew her through our common love of all things fantasy, others were much closer to her than I.  But one thing is common, our sense of needing to do something.

For now, we’ve all changed our profile photos to an image that Lindsey created for the alliance.  So appropriate to who we are, it also seemed a small, but fitting tribute for the immediate.

For the future, who knows, we’ve got ideas, and when the time is right I’ll share them here.  But in the meantime, take a look at the work of this wonderful woman.  You won’t regret it.

If you’re still reading this, by now you will be wondering why the title to this post?  Fantasy lovers are all different, we have a lot in common, but there are things about fantasy that some love and others less so.  My own passion is magic and castles, the two are inseperable, as you’ll know if you’ve read Leah.  Lindsey loved all things dragon – even having a stone dragon on the cornice of her roof at home!  I’ve had this quiet thought in my head ever since I started to come to terms with her loss, which is a journey I’ve yet to complete.

Lindsey, I hope you are now flying on the wings of dragons.  Rest in peace my friend, and know that you were loved.

Do you love paranormal books?

If you do, then Ilovevampirenovels.com is the site for you. Despite their name, they feature a huge range of the best paranormal fiction on the market.

Today, they’re featuring “Worlds Apart: Leah”, and have an exclusive interview both with the author (yes, me :) ), as well as Leah herself.

Take a look here


A Legend Passes…

Andrea Baker Author:

Rest in Peace Nelson Mandela. I wish others would follow your example…

Originally posted on Sophie E Tallis:

English: Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, Gaute...

The sad news has just broken that the gentle giant of peace and freedom, a bastion of hope and courage and a symbol of the strength of the human soul, Nelson Mandela, has passed away at the age of 95.


It doesn’t matter who you are or where you live, Nelson Mandela had an indelible spirit that couldn’t help but inspire you. A man of such dignity, eloquence and strength, he symbolised for a whole nation and in fact the whole world, how peace can overcome the worst situations. Every challenge he endured, he faced with tremendous grace. He has influenced millions, by his words and his actions. An idealist, a freedom fighter, a man of great power and humanity. President Bill Clinton with Nelson Mandela, Ju...

Nelson Mandela on Day After Release

More than anything, Nelson Mandela, showed in the aftermath of the hideous apartheid regime, how forgiveness can bridge the gap between peoples. At a time when black South Africans had at…

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Castle of Dreams – my own dream…

I use Grammarly for proofreading because… the grammar police can be vicious, especially where “errorists” are concerned;) …

Now I’ve posted that, of course, there will be oodles of grammatical errors in this post!

So, my Castle of Dreams series has had an impromptu hiatus of late, partly due to lack of willing victims, er…, sorry volunteers, but also down to my own lack of time.

You see, I’ve been in a bit of a dream-like state myself recently.

Those (few) of you that have read it will know that my book features one of my own favourite castles, which is just a few short miles from our family home.  The book features dreams, nightmares, magic, and a young girl on the brink of adulthood facing a reality that no-one would ever expect.  Kenilworth is a stunning castle, one of the best of the era that are left, but again I digress.

As any author will tell you, we write stories from our dreams, waking or sleeping, from wherever our minds wander to.  It’s a long journey, and the writing is the easy part.  Once that is done, and you’re at a stage where you’re prepared to admit to it, then you face the arduous, never ending journey of submissions, rejections, picking yourself up again to resubmit, until eventually you are fortunate enough to be accepted for publication, or you decide to self-publish.  The journey doesn’t stop there though, once it is published you have to do the most difficult part – market your work, and by doing so, making yourself a commodity as well, as readers want to know who you are..

Since the last post I’ve been doing just that – posting on various forums, and even giving my first talk at a library, as well as trying to focus on writing Book Two (no spoilers here though!).

But, as I think many of my fellow authors would admit, the thing we desire most from this journey is the feedback that someone, other than friends and family, has bought, read and most importantly, enjoyed, our book. After all, as J K Rowling said in 2012, “no story lives unless someone is prepared to listen”.

Then, in August, I got some incredible news.  “Leah” had been selected to be part of the autumn showcase for The People’s Book Prize.  Now this is just the first step for this prize, and being selected for Fiction in a quarter that also features the prize’s patron, Frederick Forsythe, is a tough group.  The winner of each category for each quarter goes through to become a finalist for the annual People’s Book Prize – and the votes are purely down to members of the public that vote for the books online.

But, to have been selected as part of the showcase of new and undiscovered works is, for me, huge.  Just the concept that someone thinks it is worthy of being featured sends goose-bumps down my arms, and having read the comments from votes I’ve already received, well that really is the stuff dreams are made of.

People have read, and enjoyed my book – if that doesn’t motivate me to write more, then nothing will!

To see the other wonderful books in this quarter’s showcase, and vote, please follow this link

And now for something completely different….

Over the last few months I’ve only really posted the Castle of Dreams series to this blog – I have found reading about others’ dreams, and what castles mean to them really interesting.

It became a bit of a guilty pleasure, as I would read it when it was submitted, and then get to see it through other people’s eyes when it posted and I received all of your lovely comments.

The last few weeks have been particularly frantic – I finished a postgraduate course I was studying (and passed), work has been busy, and my family life is as full as ever, so nothing has been posted for a while.

Imagine my surprise this morning to find that I’ve been nominated for an award for this blog series!

The fabulous Sophie E Tallis, who submitted entries for Week Nine AND Ten, has nominated me for … The Versatile Blogger 

So, here are the rules:

I have to say seven things about myself (if I can think of seven that is) and then nominate fifteen others for the award..

So, let’s get the boring bit over with first, here’s my seven things:

  1. At one stage in my life, I would read more than fourteen books in a single week.  I’m not sure where I found the time, but I did.  I’ve never lost that ability to disappear into a story for hours though :)
  2. I once met Ken Dodd , a British comedian, with a love of Notty Ash and Tickling Sticks.  He gave me an award for raising money to safe a local landmark aged 10, and I also got an original Tickling Stick.
  3. If you ever visit Dudley Castle, there is a plaque on the wall bearing my name, and thanking me for raising money at school to help them restore it (we collected aluminium cans in the days when you used to get paid for returning them).  Of course, you’d have to know my maiden name to know it was me… ;)  I loved Castles, even at that young age.
  4. One of my favourite childhood memories is going to visit my Grandparents – Nan and Grandad – on a Sunday afternoon.  Nan would always sneak me a treat of some kind, and I would eventually fall asleep with my head on my Grandad’s tummy.  Wonderful days.
  5. Our first dog was named Lady, after the dog in “Lady & the Tramp” – she looked just like her, and I was four and a half years old.
  6. The first album I bought with my own money was paid for half and half with my older Sister.  It was Michael Jackson’s Thriller.
  7. Last, but by no means least, I chose my University because I fell in love with the Mountains, the Sea, the pebble beach, and its’ own version of a Castle..

I think that is quite enough about me – hey, wake up you there in the back, this is the best bit…

In no particular order (and avoiding fellow bloggers who I know have already been nominated where I can:

  1. Amy Metz – http://abluemillionbooks.blogspot.co.uk/
  2. Sarah Fae Graham – http://www.faebooks.co.uk/
  3. Andy Szpuk  – http://andyszpuk.wordpress.com
  4. Gerry McCullough – http://gerrymccullough.blogspot.co.uk
  5. George Polley – http://www.geogepolleyauthor.com/writers-blog
  6. Marj Macrae – http://mamcrae-author.blogspot.com.au/
  7. Hannah Warren – http://www.hannahwarrenauthor.com
  8. Will Macmillan Jones – http://willmacmillanjones.wordpress.com
  9. Megan McDade – http://readingawaythedays.blogspot.co.uk/
  10. Sienna Logan – http://losttobooks.blogspot.co.uk
  11. Sullivan McPig – http://mcpigpearls.blogspot.co.uk/
  12. Amy Sanders – http://www.readtomyhearts.blogspot.com
  13. E. B. Black – http://deathauthor.blogspot.co.uk/
  14. Jo Feliciani – http://writersandauthors.blogspot.it/
  15. RoseBuz – http://www.rosebuz.com/

There are many, many more I could list, but some I know have already been nominated, and I’m limited to fifteen…

But, as a sneaky cheat, I must mention the wonderful Alliance of Worldbuilders where Sophie and I first met.


And finally, Thank You Sophie :D


A review of Leah


Catching up with Andrea Baker

Re-blogging my interview from Kay’s wonderful Blog “Suddenly they all died” :)

Catching up with Andrea Baker.

Author Spotlight no.231 – Andrea Baker

Andrea Baker Author:

Thank you to the wonderful Morgen Bailey for giving me her Author Spotlight number 231 :)

Originally posted on MorgEn Bailey's Writing Blog:

Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the two hundred and thirty-first, is of romantic fantasy novelist Andrea Baker.

1. AndreaAndrea Baker has had ideas for stories and poems all of her life – as a child she would live inside stories that grew from her favourite novels, playing with these characters for hours, inventing “what happened next” scenarios.  Her Mother had encouraged her love of stories, and she could read simple books before she started school, and this was further encouraged by one of her Primary School teachers, who, recognising her love of reading, challenged her to read all the “Famous Five” series in the second half of the school year.  A challenge she happily accepted, and achieved.  Her favourite childhood stories included “The Chronicles of Narnia” by CS Lewis, and as she grew older, she added the “Anne of the Island” series by Lucy Maude Montgomery, as well as…

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Castle of Dreams – Week Ten

Good evening, and welcome back to the Castle of Dreams blog series, I hope the change in weather has inspired your own dreams!

This week sees the return of the wonderful Sophie E Tallis, author and illustrator of The Darkling Chronicles. Sophie is one of my favourite debut authors, and another fellow member of the wonderful Alliance of Worldbuilders - regular readers of this blog will recall her submission last week, which was a factual piece about her own Castles of Dreams

This week however I am delighted to be able to give you a preview of Book One of the Darkling Chronicles, White Mountain.

Chapter Fifteen: The Silent Watch     (Author’s Original Text)

 Wendya had had another restless night and woke early. Her room was cold. The city lay silent and pensive. She peeled back the bed sheets and wrapping herself in a beautifully embroidered quilt, she stepped over to the window. Opening the shutters she could feel the icy air against her skin. Her eyes were sore. She instinctively touched her face, and realised that she had been crying in her sleep.

The olive light outside, not yet dawn, seemed more welcoming than the empty darkness inside. Listening carefully she could just hear the rumblings of Gralen down the hall, his snoring echoing through the heavyset walls, bringing her a measure of comfort, amidst the strange surroundings. She opened the heavy latch on the door, being careful not to make a sound, and left the chamber. Beyond the narrow hall, which stretched the length of the guest wing, lay a series of corridors and stairs. With little direction she headed toward one of them. Feeling the roughness of the hewn stone steps beneath her bare feet, she followed the staircase down until it hit its first opening, a small landing which led to a low arched door and out onto the battlements. She pushed at the door and was suddenly in the chill of the open air.

            The crenellations rose and fell in reassuring uniformity, but it was the view Wendya was drawn to. The hills and plains stretched out in an endless blur of blues, violets and greys. Everything looked ordered and peaceful as if the coming storm were just a fleeting nightmare that would vanish with the sun. Wendya strolled along the parapet watching the dark immovable line of the distant mountains, their tops shrouded in mist, their feet plunged in shadow, disappearing amongst the dusky dales and foothills. She found a sheltered spot out of the wind and nestled between the battlements, the cold stone feeling unusually smooth and polished beneath her toes. She sighed heavily. Her heart ached at the danger they all faced…

As she let her mind drift she was suddenly aware of hundreds of shadowy grey figures moving in endless and soundless streams along the city walls above and below her. The ‘Silent Watch’ continued their vigil, each cloaked and keen eyed soldier a member of the city guard, each pair of eyes relentless and fixed on the skies and lands around.

Photo of Mount Cook aka White Mountain - Copy1

Sophie that was wonderful, Thank You so much!

To find out more about Sophie and her writing and her artwork, follow these links:

Website: http://thedarklingchronicles.weebly.com/

Author Blog: http://www.sophieetallis.wordpress.com/

Book FB Page: http://www.facebook.com/FantasyEpic

Author FB page: http://www.facebook.com/sophie.e.tallis

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mountain-Darkling-Chronicles-Sophie-Tallis/dp/1908208090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351168547&sr=8-1

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Mountain-Darkling-Chronicles-Sophie-Tallis/dp/1908208090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1351168662&sr=8-1&keywords=White+Mountain+%28Darkling+Chronicles%29

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/SophieETallis

Online Artwork: http://tollam.deviantart.com/

See you next week!


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