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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.

Jeremiad* (bet you’re wondering…)

Published October 20, 2016 by helenlaycock

I read a brilliant quote recently on Facebook:

 

‘Supporting another’s success won’t ever dampen yours’

 

Yet, many writers don’t do it. They seem to be able to regularly blow their own trumpets with decibellic gusto, but when it comes to giving a shout out to another writer, they can’t even ting a triangle. I don’t know. Maybe percussion’s not their thing…

 

I do my best to share the good news of others. Timewise, it takes a second. Technologically, it’s really not difficult: retweet books/blogs/articles (and product info) on Twitter, share posts on FB and congratulate in all sincerity when there is good news! I do this willingly just because a) I know (of) them, and b) as a way of saying thank you to complete strangers if they have brought attention to what I do.

 

There are the odd few who always reciprocate – and it is really appreciated when they do, but I could count them on one hand, maybe one and a half. Then there are those who as a means of showing appreciation for my efforts make a gesture… and retweet a retweet. Um, thanks, but it doesn’t take more than a few seconds to scroll back and find an original tweet (fair enough if they can’t find one). That would be so much more helpful. *sighs* At least they tried, so thank you. However, there are so many who don’t acknowledge anything in terms of action on social media, not even a thank you, let alone a ‘Share’. It can make a writer bitter. Of course, I’m not (very) bitter…

*breathes loudly through nostrils for a full minute*

 

Correct me if I’m wrong, but helping each other is not going to result in anyone having their thunder stolen, nor will take away any chance of their own success. If anything, it will gain them more followers, even if it’s for selfish reasons.

 

Anyone who’s got a product, be it book or otherwise, is struggling to be seen and heard. There are a few absolute stars ‘out there’ who are very generous in their capacity to use social media platforms to promote others, and to them I would like to say a big THANK YOU. I just don’t understand why others are so reluctant to help. All it takes it one click.

 

Thank you for listening. I shall now step down from my soapbox.

 

*Jeremiad (noun) – a prolonged lamentation or mournful complaint.

(See, my blogs are nothing if not educational)

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

cs-cover

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 short story collection

Published January 27, 2016 by helenlaycock

*** Roll up! Roll up! ***

~FREE short story collection~

Take a pinch of humour, a touch of light-heartedness and a drop of whimsy and you have the perfect recipe to be savoured any time, anywhere.
Light Bites – a collection of satisfying and uplifting tales.

Just click on the Amazon links to get your Kindle edition FREE (worldwide) until the end of the month.

Light Bites

US link: http://tinyurl.com/hnvv456

School/Library Visits for Children’s Authors

Published January 26, 2016 by helenlaycock

Those of you who found my article helpful on Marketing Tips for Children’s Authors may also find Part Two useful, where I talk about organising your talk at schools or libraries. You can read it on Dan’s blog

 

One writer told me that she was worried about not having enough material to fill the session, so here’s the advice I gave to her:

You can structure the session in any way you please, or, if you’re unsure how to go about it, you can ask the teacher if there’s an aspect of writing which she would like you to address with the children – and then relate it to your book/s.

It’s always nice to chat a bit with the children when you first meet them (about yourself, how you started writing, what sorts of books you have written, what you like reading, etc.) and they will always have lots of questions (which you should encourage them to keep until the end), so that’s the beginning and the end of the session sorted!

The middle bit is the fun/creative bit, and it can always extend into an interactive session if you want it to:

  • You might just like to spend the majority of the session reading an exciting part of your book and finish by asking what they think might happen next – and this could continue into a writing exercise which the teacher could lead once you’ve gone; of course, you could participate, too.
  • You might decide to talk about characters, how you came up with them/goodies and baddies/ traits, etc and pick extracts to share which demonstrate how you have differentiated between them. The children could create their own (verbally, or as a written exercise), or draw yours, or write a fictional conversation.
  • You might have a theme which runs through all your books and you can pick excerpts to illustrate this.
  • Whatever you speak about, the children will be learning from you, so don’t be afraid to talk about why certain writing techniques are more successful than others.
  • If you feel you have used up all your material, have an activity to direct them to which links in with what you have been talking about. It could be a worksheet, but it could just as easily be a verbal instruction, for example,

‘Can you come up with three very different beginnings without using the phrase Once upon a time?’

  • Poems are also a good way of filling a few extra minutes… but, in all honesty, I think they will still be firing questions at you, even as you are walking out of the door with your coat over your arm!
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