Secrets… we all have them.

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.
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.

FREE download of Mandrake’s Plot

From 21st -25th September, this boarding school mystery for 8-12 year-olds will be FREE to download.

A skeleton, a key, a curse and a code are on the curriculum…

#kidlit #mgfiction #childrensbooks


U.S. Link

Evie and Mia meet on a train on their way to St. Agatha’s Boarding School for Girls. Dropped at a deserted station, with no one to meet them, they trek through the pelting rain and darkness for miles until they find a sign to St.Agatha’s which points to an unlikely overgrown track leading up a mountain path.

A foreboding place, St. Agatha’s School is surrounded by a sea of mist, and overlooks a loch. Coming face to face with the grotesque caretaker, Mandrake, is not the only thing to unsettle them.
What is the significance of the strange rings worn by Miss Blackthorn, the head teacher – and why does everyone behave so oddly?

The girls stumble across a forgotten burial chamber. Inside, lies the crumbling skeleton of Sister Beatrice, clutching a note which tells of a curse. Locked in the chamber as a punishment, the friends discover an old book within which is the antidote to the curse… but it is hidden in code.


‘a well crafted story filled with mystery and suspense’

‘truly an original and unique story’

‘a fabulous tale with an air of intrigue and mystery at its heart’ 

‘The author has depicted the characters well, with rich description they spring to life before you.’  

‘The dialogue is realistic and the story is very easy to read.’  

‘The narrative, well written and filled with vivid imagery, flows nicely’. 

‘Good plot, great characters, excellent read.’ 

‘Mandrake’s Plot is a fun read, a mystery with some unexpected twists and turns.’ 

‘I recommend it to all middle grade readers who love a mystery.’

Reviews are always appreciated!

July’s FREE book – Salt

From July 27th – 31st, this seaside mystery for readers of 8 – 12 will be #free to download worldwide as a Kindle edition.

Everyone knows Salt gives you high blood-pressure, and this edge-of-your-seat adventure is no exception…

A holiday at Pirates’ Cove with Great Aunt Win is nothing like Toby expects it to be…

He is baffled by the mysterious beach fires and eerie singing he witnesses during the night. He is fascinated, too, by the weird and wonderful tales of the town: not only the legend of the pitiful Mary-Anne, said to row out nightly to the Blue Rock, but also of the peculiar ‘cursed’ gold plate locked in the guesthouse cabinet.

Stranger still, why has a dead man been spotted in the town?

With the help of intriguing local girl, Hattie, the secrets of Salt Guesthouse are unravelled… but not before the children find themselves in grave danger.

You can read a couple of extracts here on my children’s website.


‘Gripping read, highly recommended for middle grade’

‘Salt is one of those stories that pulls the reader into the action.’


‘I’m reluctant to give five stars to anything, but Salt really nails my number one criteria, keep me interested and engaged.’

‘Having recently read and reviewed another of Helen Laycock’s books, “Mandrake’s Plot,” I can once again assert that this is another gem amidst the many children’s books’


‘many twists and turns’

‘an enchanting read’

‘Vivid imagery and nicely flowing prose add to the strengths of the narrative’

‘Your heart will be beating as you go along with Toby and his new friend Hattie as they piece together clues and encounter dangerous obstacles.’

‘Helen Laycock has woven a whimsical tale’

‘so wonderfully well written that the characters truly came alive’

‘The characters are very believable and realistic”rich descriptions of places and people’

‘The narrative flows well and the focus on the main characters keeps the storyline easy to follow.’

‘Strange happenings after dark, secret tunnels, a new friendship with a mysterious girl, what else would any kid want from a summer vacation in a seaside village. How about getting the chance to solve a baffling mystery? The main character, Toby, gets it all, and so will the reader.’

‘What could be better than reclaiming a man from the dead, cursed booty and outwitting many a menacing foe?’

‘The plot is well thought out and as the adventure begins, the story unfolds, coming to a swift resolution by the end’

‘It is exciting and once again I am reminded of the work of Enid Blyton.’

‘Both girls and boys will be attracted to this high-adventure story’

‘Helen Laycock’s books are most definitely recommended’


‘most definitely recommended’

All I ask is that in return, you will consider leaving a review. Thank you.

It’s all over…

I have just written THE END. My hand hovered for a while over that ‘T’. Was it really over, after all this time? I couldn’t be sure. Just like that, it happened. One minute I was up in the air, drawing squiggles as I looped the loop between the clouds, and the next I had plummeted to a stop. It caught me unawares, it really did.


What’s going to happen to all my characters now? I hope they will be all right. I feel as though I have been on a massive journey with them and have now abandoned them.


I worked really hard over the last few days to get this done. There is a deadline I want to meet for a competition for a humorous children’s book. This is my cover idea:





I am trying to remember how long this book has taken. I think I started it around Christmas, although the ideas began to brew long before. After several thousand words, I began to be less able to retain all the plot points, so, as usual, I summarised each chapter in my special book of hand-made paper – the one I have used for every book I’ve written so far.


But then, there were too many pages to look through to get the whole picture.


I turned to an enormous flip chart and made a grid. I had seen JK Rowling do the same. I jotted down the main points for each chapter, made a note of which characters appeared where, was able to correctly assign an actual day of the week to Day 1, Day 2, etc and scribbled additional information which would need to be included later in the book.


I didn’t use all the squares (128), but I can use what’s left to play solitaire or something. After all, I’ll be twiddling my thumbs for a while now, I think.

FREE quirky children’s mystery

 with a dash of Roald Dahl and a sprinkling of Lemony Snicket

Martha and Mitch

for readers of 8 – 12

until Sunday 24th April

US link:



Martha is humble and unspoilt, despite living a life of utter luxury at Lottery Lodge with her (mostly absent) father and stepmother, Penelope. 
Mitch lives at the boys’ orphanage, a dilapidated mansion run by Ariadne Scattypants. 

Neither child has any idea about the life the other is leading. 

Between Lottery Lodge and the orphanage is a dense wood and it is here that a band of wild boys live. Mitch finds himself at their mercy, but somehow manages to scrabble his way out of the woods, emerging at Martha’s wonderful home. 

However, here, too, things are taking a sinister turn.

This has been one of the least publicised of my books. It’s quite different in style from all the other children’s books. If you read it, and like it, please would you consider leaving a review on Amazon UK/US. It would be soooooo appreciated! Thank you.

FREE children’s mystery/adventure

February 24th – 28th



For readers of 8 – 12

US link:


#kidlit #mgfiction #childrensbooks


Please help me spread the news by sharing this post with children, parents, teachers… in fact, anyone who is involved with children and cares about what they read. I am excited to be able to offer this book for free Kindle download as I know that it will be enjoyed by all – adults included.

Oh, and please do consider leaving a review. They are very much appreciated.

Thank you.


Runaway, Jake, has no idea what adventures are in store when he meets circus performer, Khala, hiding in a ramshackle caravan.

Should he tell her about the mysterious box he has been warned never to open?

Khala also has a secret to share, but can she trust Jake?

Fantazi’s circus is a place of danger, but with the help of Cedric the dwarf and his beloved Chihuahua, Audrey, the children unravel the truth, and are utterly astounded at the biggest secret of all.



In case you’re still unsure, here are some of the fantastic reactions to Glass Dreams (some from reviews, others from a writing site):



‘Glass Dreams draws you in from the first sentence.’

‘The first chapter drew me in…’

‘Laycock’s beautiful and imaginative descriptions of events leave you totally immersed’

‘an amazing story’

‘Rich vocabulary, a nail biting plot, characters who stay with you long after you put the book down’

‘You’ve caught a child’s reaction to sudden death so poignantly it almost made me want to cry.’

‘Your writing is beautiful. You are especially good at portraying emotion. Your characterization is great…’

‘…your plot is bewitching’

‘an enchanting, captivating story’

`magnificent story telling’

 ‘Ms. Laycock is a master storyteller who takes you on an amazing journey’

‘This is a fantastic children’s book! I loved it!’

`I thought this was terrific.’

‘What a delightful, charming story. This may be written for older children and tweens, but this elderly woman really enjoyed it’

‘There is enough action, adventure, danger and mystery in this book to get my heart pumping, never mind a child’s!’

‘Helen Laycock has written a fast paced action adventure that will keep even children with short attention spans hooked!’

‘This is just my kind of read – poignant and emotional, but pacy at the same time.’

‘What a wonderful, enchanting story you have woven here!’

‘Brilliantly vibrant and so much fun!’

‘There is some really excellent writing, but none better than yours and your story is excellent as well. I am no expert on children’s stories but I was immediately struck by how well it balanced the modern world with a classic motif – running away to the circus.
A stunning piece of work…’

‘The mark of a good children’s book is when it seldom reminds you that it is one. Glass Dreams soothes you into it with uncomplicated but familiar characters, a traditional but suspenseful plot and the fun of an author who obviously enjoys the story she’s telling. It’s contagious.’

‘Engaging, brisk pace and plenty to keep the reader interested.’

`an exciting twist’

`You write extremely well’

`You manage to mix the sadness and the intrigue of its contents very well.’

‘Glass Dreams has everything’

‘There is a definite lump in my throat. Your magnificent story telling brought Jake into my heart right away. His honest, authentic, innocent perspective is perfectly done, even down the tone of his voice…’

‘I always say that good story telling is when you can relate to a character who is nothing like you- a young lad called Jake is hardly someone I’d say I’d relate to normally as a 40+ yr old woman, but I found myself drawn into Jake’s heart and mind and losing myself in his demise!’

`You have the written the voice of this sweet little boy absolutely perfectly’

‘wonderful characters’

‘Helen Laycock has what all good authors have – the ability to create an extremely interesting world in which to place her characters’

All good things come in small packages…

I’ve written before about the first little character I ever created for a book – Mr Charlie Chumpkins.

I am little. I like little things. Charlie’s very small, but, like me, perfectly formed – or so I like to think. I like Charlie an awful lot… nevertheless, due to his being so tiny, I had to put him through a few trials – not to be cruel, you understand, just to test his mettle.

*wonders if that is psychopathic behaviour*

Now, anyone of petite stature perfectly understands that while it’s great for Hide and Seek, it can be rather a disadvantage in some situations… supermarkets, for example. One has to be resourceful, nay, acrobatically-gifted, to reach the last box of fish fingers at the back of a high freezer.

(*By the way, I have perfected the art and don’t mind passing on my tip. See end of post for details.)

Anyway, I digress…

It was quite easy to come up with ideas for getting Charlie into trouble in the Big, Wide World. If you’re only inches tall, then there’s potential for catastrophe  everywhere from a pizza delivery to a camping holiday, from a wedding to a hospital visit, from a day at school to a day at the zoo… you get the idea. You name it, Charlie’s been there.

I have finally produced a bumper volume of his adventures which is, in fact, two books combined. Ready for the title?

*takes deep breath*


Mr Charlie Chumpkins and The Further Mishaps of Charlie Chumpkins

I enjoyed re-reading it as I’d forgotten a lot (memory like a … what is it?). I thought I’d share a bit here that amused me. This is a chapter called ‘Pest Control’ which introduces the character of Grandma… and her vicious cat, Zimbo:
This is where I inserted a Read More tag.

This is where the insertion of the Read More tag failed. Continue reading “All good things come in small packages…”