Rubbing shoulders with Thomas Hardy

Published December 10, 2016 by helenlaycock

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This week I was delighted to receive the Winter edition of The Caterpillar, a lovely publication for children full of stories, poems and art.

The Caterpillar is the offspring of the prestigious Moth  arts and literature magazine.

I sent off a selection of poems to one of the editors, Will Govan, back in September. Although they weren’t suitable, he asked for more…

‘Wind’ was one of the poems I submitted in the next batch, and Rebecca O’Connor, the second editor, said that they would love to publish it. I actually only added that one to make an even number of submissions; I thought it was the weakest of the lot. What do I know?!

Anyway, here it is, looking perfectly lovely on p.21:

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And, this will probably be the only time that my name appears on the same contents page as Thomas Hardy.

Secrets… we all have them.

Published December 1, 2016 by helenlaycock
There’s still time to get your FREE Kindle edition of The Secret of Pooks Wood, a time-shift adventure set at an old manor house during a Christmas blizzard.
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Here’s another little taster:
 
Stella found herself sitting on a rug on the wooden floor in Uncle Alfred’s study. It was day time and it was bright and sunny outside. There was no trace of snow. In fact, there were blossoms on the trees. She caught sight of her feet. Such little feet in shiny black patent shoes and white socks with bows at the ankles, and she was wearing a dress she had seen in a photo of herself… when she was two. She looked at her tiny hands with their tiny fingernails and found herself sucking her thumb for comfort. On the floor beside her was Whisker Ted. She’d forgotten all about him. She picked him up with her other hand and rubbed him on her face. He smelled familiar. All his fur had been loved off, and bits of straw poked through, but she loved his bristly roughness on her skin.
The great door opened and a much younger Uncle Alfred peeped round it.
‘Ah, there you are…’ he said in his gentle voice.

Get it while it’s hot… or should that be cold?

Published November 30, 2016 by helenlaycock

Still time to download your FREE Kindle edition of The Secret of Pooks Wood. It has been enjoyed by adults as well as children, so get it while it’s hot… or should that be cold?

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UK link: http://tinyurl.com/jxpkdpy
US link: http://tinyurl.com/hwqjtzq

Here’s another extract to whet your appetite:

As far as she could see there was white. The children’s and Eliza’s footprints had long disappeared. Which way had they gone?
She lurched out into the snow and, panic-stricken, looked in all directions. If they were playing in the fields she would see them, but there was no sign of anyone. Wait, there was a figure in the distance, but where were the others? Stella raced towards it, falling several times, so that her trousers became heavy and cold. As she got close, she slowed to a halt, her arms hanging by her sides. It was a snowman and he was wearing a discoloured bent tiara.
The woods off to the left looked magical, like some sort of Narnia. Surely that’s where they had gone? It was so difficult to run through the thick snow, and even more tiring now her wet clothes were dragging her down.
Within the woods there was silence. The snow had managed to sprinkle itself through every gap onto the woodland floor and lay there, still and untouched. It all looked so different, dressed in white. The familiar paths and landmarks were all hidden, changed into something quite beautiful, soft, pure and glittery, like powdered diamonds. Stella twisted her way between the trees.

Extract from The Secret of Pooks Wood #freebook #mglit #kidlit #childrensfiction

Published November 29, 2016 by helenlaycock

The Secret of Pooks Wood will be FREE to download until December 2nd

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Stella rubbed a circle of breath off the fogged-up pane and felt dizzy as she watched the snowflakes hurtle down outside. It was as if someone had split open a pillow and shaken it. The trees had sprouted white feathers and the hedges were furred with white; the whole world looked like a scene from the top of a Christmas cake.

She spun round as the heavy oak door thudded on the bashed nose of Jonty, the wooden dog that had sat behind it for years, and smiled at the squealing twins as they ran in.

‘Look what we found!’ shouted Oliver.

‘It’s a snow globe!’ His twin, Lily, jumped in as usual before Ollie could finish. ‘Guess what’s inside?!’

Stella knew immediately and, without a word, reached out for it. The twins became quiet and Lily handed it over. They studied their mother’s serene face intently as Stella cupped the globe and shook it.

If she had been standing outside in the grounds at that moment, looking towards Great Uncle Alfred’s mansion, she would have seen the exact same scene.

Inside the globe was a miniature model of Great Hawkesden Manor sitting in the middle of a glitter blizzard, just like the one that was going on outside for real right then and had been for the last three hours.

‘Mummy, will we really be able to stay here over Christmas with Alf?’ Lily looked up at her mother with her large turquoise eyes, her dark curls tumbling untidily over her face from hiding in the coat cupboard.

Great Uncle Alfred, Lily. You mustn’t call him ‘Alf’. It’s disrespectful.’

‘But are we?’

‘Well, it certainly looks that way. We’re cut off now. The roads are blocked and, even if we could get to the station, the trains aren’t running apparently.’

US link

28 Nov-2Dec #FREE #MG Christmas adventure

Published November 28, 2016 by helenlaycock

28th November-2nd December

#freebook #mgfiction #kidlit #childrensbooks #mgbooks

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The Secret of Pooks Wood, a time-shift adventure for readers of 9-12, is currently FREE to download as a Kindle edition.

When twins Lily and Ollie are stranded at Great Hawkesden Manor over Christmas with their mother Stella, they have no idea what will happen when they find an old glass snow globe.

Inside it not only is there a miniature model of the manor house, but there is magic.

‘Ok, I know it’s a children’s book, but it’s so well written it appeals to all ages.’

‘Really captivating story that moved intriguingly from the present to various times in the past with Great Hawkesden Manor and a snow globe linking the times. Loved the character development and the ending! Highly recommend’

‘I shared reading this with my 13 yr old daughter. We both really liked it.
It was well written and the characters were well developed.’

‘This is one of those magical stories which shows wonder and enchantment in the faces of young children. I am far from being a child myself (although I did used to be one) yet I was quickly pulled into the very real feeling family Christmas story and, by chapter 2, I was totally hooked.’

‘Helen Laycock’s writing is rich with careful use of grammar and the feast of colourful text is fabulous for young brains to soak up. I can’t think that any 8+ child, girl or boy, could help but be gripped by this magical story and I would certainly recommend to my friends with young children.’

I hope you enjoy it! If you could leave a couple of lines as an Amazon review, then that would be absolutely lovely. Thank you.

Painting in words

Published November 21, 2016 by helenlaycock

For me, the strength of Coffin Road was Peter May’s adept use of beautiful language, which was the perfect vehicle to portray the wild landscape in which the story is set.

The plot was not only clever, and original, but what made an impact on me was the catalyst for the idea: the research that purports that the reason that bees are dying out is due to memory loss caused by the use of pesticides, and by further implication, the threat that this poses to the future survival of the human race. P. 194 spells it out in no uncertain terms.

Three–quarters of the way through, I began to doubt that the plot was balanced, the focus having shifted from Neal to Karen, but of course, it was interlinked beautifully geographically, physically and emotionally.

Coffin Road by [May, Peter]

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