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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.
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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?

snowy-forest-background-with-girls-title-brown-blurb-author-and-no-booklist

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.

FREE download of Mandrake’s Plot

Published September 20, 2016 by helenlaycock

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

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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

Published July 27, 2016 by helenlaycock

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.

Another free collection!

Published May 25, 2016 by helenlaycock

Minor Discord 

From MAY  25 – 29 this collection of ten-minute short stories and flash fiction will be free to download as a Kindle edition.  Many of the stories have had success in writing competitions, and,  with around forty entries, it should keep you entertained for some time…

U.S. link

Dare to visit the dark places at the edges of the map, places where you will feel unsettled, and from where characters will follow you, whether you want them to, or not. This collection of stories and flash fiction will take you into the shadows. Don’t get left behind…

 Minor_Discord_Cover_for_Kindle

 

‘In this collection of flash fiction and microfiction, Laycock provides a wide variety that will satisfy anyone who loves short stories. Most of the stories are dark, bizarre, and deliciously creepy; a few are lighter but just as captivating.’

‘This book perfectly illustrates my contention that the short story is an art form, and a much-underappreciated one at that.’

‘Laycock’s use of vivid imagery makes the stories an immersive read, and she manages to say a lot with very few words–a truly remarkable accomplishment.’

‘…delighted to have purchased this collection of short stories and flash fiction.’

‘This book was a page turner for me, and kept me reading for longer than intended into the dark hours’

‘… quirky, eerie tales that collude with the darker side of story telling.’

‘…a gamut of emotion…’
‘I have purposefully declined from using the word…twisted, though on the, QT, I think it should be in there somewhere.’

‘This didn’t disappoint!’
‘…all well written & so easy to get into.’

‘The characters and scenery are well presented…allowing the characters to take you on their amazing journey…’

‘My favorites were: The Visitors, a practical joke gone awry; Soul Control, a humorous take on population control in heaven and hell; and Drop-Dead Gorgeous, a twisted tale of an employee at a morgue with a vivid imagination.’
‘…wonderful twists and turns as in Expectations and Cold Comfort. And then the darker tales, The Last Place and Two’s Company, just the thought of that doll, ugh  and then the brilliant tale, loved this, Taking Flight. These are a few that stuck in my mind.’

‘Birds…death as a stalker in his personalised black car, really good story.
Cold Comfort…A spooky love story, enjoyed this & could have read a full book about this.
Soul Control…Lucifer & Gabriel, straight away this was a story for me, it was funny & bizarre right up my street, again, BOOK!
A Stitch in Time…an unfinished sampler causes a couple of problems, intriguing story.
Drop Dead Gorgeous…A really creepy story, skin crawling & freaky!’

‘…reading the many stories that make up Minor Discord was a challenge, and it is one that I have enjoyed.’

‘Helen Laycock’s creative talent shines through…; her skills and creativity are to be admired.’

‘…there were times when… I had to pause and re-read simply for the enjoyment of the imagery they conjured (e.g. White Light).’

‘I cannot say which was my favourite – there were too many!’

FREE quirky children’s mystery

Published April 20, 2016 by helenlaycock

 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: http://tinyurl.com/zfufcap

Martha_and_Mitch_Cover_for_Kindle

 

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 short story collection – Peace and Disquiet

Published March 23, 2016 by helenlaycock

From 23rd – 27th March

 

FREE collection of short stories for adult readers –

Peace and Disquiet

 

A collection of twelve slightly disturbing tales which encompass mortality, mentality, brutality… and reality.

UK link: http://tinyurl.com/kq7bsyh

US link: http://tinyurl.com/jlder3c

 

‘the work of an accomplished writer, one with true knowledge of the craft’

‘an outstanding collection of short stories’

‘I was left open mouthed at the sinister realism and very brave and powerful writing’

‘two of the very best stories of this kind I have ever read’

‘I almost felt as if the words themselves were drawing me in and binding me to each and every syllable’

‘Helen Laycock writes with a deep understanding of her characters’

‘intriguing and is crafted with figurative, poetic language which flows beautifully’

‘each one is a masterpiece that could only have been created by the master story teller that she undoubtedly is’

‘Great short stories that send you through a host of emotions’

‘…brought tears to my eyes’

‘Each story is unique and well crafted’

‘compelling reading’

‘a great collection of short stories that are well written and enjoyable’

‘shades of Roald Dahl’

‘The author has a wonderful clear-as-a-bell, way of writing with good finality to each story.’

‘Well worth the price’

‘I found it very difficult to choose a favourite story amongst this collection.’

‘I was held captive until the end’

‘…stick in my mind long after reading them’

‘she can certainly send shivers up the spine!’

‘this author writes in such a way that you can’t help but turn the page’

 

This book is also available as a paperback edition £4.50 / $7.00

More about the book: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,150868.25.html

If you enjoy the collection, please would you consider leaving a review on Amazon, or any other reading site. It would be very much appreciated.

Thank you!

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