Last day of freebie!

Free copy for UK readers 

Free copy for US readers



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.

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

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?


UK link:
US link:

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

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


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

28th November-2nd December

#freebook #mgfiction #kidlit #childrensbooks #mgbooks



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

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]

Never judge a book by its cover…

‘It’s all about the writing,’ they say.

‘Never judge a book by its cover,’ they say.

But, in all honesty, have you ever picked up a book if the cover hasn’t grabbed you?

Just as I have redrafted the content of my books countless times, so the covers have undergone gradual transformations. At first, the designs were simple, hand-drawn affairs that I scanned and saved. Embarrassing in retrospect. *blushes* Then I discovered Picassa (no longer in existence. Boo hoo!) and they became a (little) bit more technical (but only a little bit).

However, I always felt that they were letting me down. *sighs* I could have paid to have them designed, but as I have twelve (thirteen?) books ‘out there’, it would have cost an arm and a leg – and I need my arms to type.

It’s taken years, but I am now more familiar with Publisher, and I also now realise that many online images are free to use if you know where to look. Free!! My favoured site is Pixabay. You just type in the subject you are looking for, and hey presto! Up come pages of images. I also like Cooltext, although I have tried to curb my enthusiasm for using fancy font which, apparently, is a give away that the designer is an amateur!

It has been, and is, a long, meticulous process as making a cover involves so much layering, experimentation, and moving about of features. Note to self: It also helps if you start by selecting the correct size page on Page SetUp… which I didn’t do to start with. Grrr! Once I had my backgrounds, I added specific images, titles and text boxes, and to make the covers look more professional, I went for a double-page spread. Who ever knew that a two-pager was available on Publisher? Well, I do now.

Anyway, at the moment my four new covers are in the system. In twenty-four hours I will approve them, and they will hopefully appear on Amazon in about another week or so. Until then, like a proud mum, I am going to show them off right here. And, by the way, the books are available on Amazon, but currently with their old covers (forgive me!). Oh, and for some reason, Amazon has listed completely the wrong prices! They range from £4.00 to £4.50.