Sunday, 11 November 2018

The Scillies, this author's inspiration.

Come with me to the Isles of Scilly - faraway Cornwall.

The view taken from our apartment.

This year has been pretty full on.
It's been a mix of building projects, mini Morgans, travel for writing - and actual writing.

Although the building project is still underway, I now have a writing room at the bottom of the garden. (How lucky am I?) So as the house is ripped apart and drills hammer I can retreat and write. With these new and rather wonderful conditions the writing is flourishing.

But this post is not focusing on writing space, the focus here is travel. After all where we went features in a most important chapter of the fourth in the Camelot Inheritance series.
Our journeying didn't take us far. It was a mere hour and a half by car and twenty minutes by tiny plane to the Isles of Scilly; a group of islands off Cornwall's toe - and one of the most magical places you could choose to visit.

The plane from Lands End airport took just six passengers, we were directly behind the pilot (he was called Sam). The view was astonishing, the start of an incredible week.

The view from the plane behind the pilot.

Within minutes of our arrival in glorious sunshine, a minibus took us a short drive to our apartment. (Everything is very close together. If you're fit you could walk to most parts of the island. Cars are owned by the locals but not needed that much.) What a wonderful outlook we had! Over the harbour and out to sea. Yve was our warm and welcoming host, leaving home-made chocolates for us. There can't be anything better than that.

Our view for the week.

During the week we explored the main island where we were staying, St Mary's, and visited a couple of others. 
We went to Tresco famed for its sub-tropical garden -

 and St Agnes the smallest of the inhabited isles. It has a primary school with about nine pupils. Who needs home-schooling with a school like that? (When the children hit secondary school age they go to the school on the main island.)

We saw Atlantic Grey seals on the rocks - and the sort of plants normally only grown in glasshouses. 
We met many warm and friendly folk and passed dozens of stalls selling plants, books and honey with honesty boxes for people to put their money in. Trust is implicit. 
We visited a Camera Obscura made and manned by one of the most entertaining and eccentric men you could choose to meet. 

The Camera Obscura above Hugh Town. You know when it's open because the bunting is out.

We walked from coast to coast (the islands are very small), all the time becoming more and more enchanted. 

We found beautiful windows in a tiny chapel on St Agnes all linked to the sea -

   And sunbathed on glorious white sand beaches -

We talked to inquisitive cows -

Idled by charming cottages -

And marvelled over breath-taking sunsets -

The culmination was a week packed with memories, ready to be decanted into my book.
I'm on the final lap. editing and re-editing before it's sent away to my editor for her professional appraisal.
I'm sorry that it's taken as long as it has but no book will be wrested from my grasp until I'm satisfied as I can be.
Of course, the illustrations are yet to be drawn - but that's another story.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Unicorns and competitions

It's May - time for another competition; this one is geared towards the third in the Camelot Inheritance series, Merlin’s Vow.

If you’ve read the book you’ll know (spoiler alert) that a unicorn makes an appearance. So, it seemed only right that the prize should include a unicorn, albeit a toy one.
The prize includes a signed and dedicated copy of ‘Merlin’s Vow’ (the third in the Camelot Inheritance series), the unicorn, and a ‘unicorns are real’ mug.

Interestingly and topically (with the imminent wedding of Meghan to Prince Harry), when Pete and I visited London to research the fourth in the Camelot Inheritance series, we were staying close to Kensington Palace.

 One evening we took a stroll and happened upon the palace. Having written Merlin’s Vow, I was particularly intrigued by the decoration on the gate. I later discovered that the unicorn represents Scotland, whereas the heraldic lion represents England.
In Merlin's Vow wrought iron gates are one of the ways into Oakwood Manor, Merlin's house - and they're decorated too.

It seems that unicorns crop up in the most unexpected places - and palaces.

But I've deviated. 

The competition is open to anyone in Europe, Scandinavia, the USA, Canada and Britain.
(My apologies that I can’t open it further afield but posting can be complicated.)

To enter, put these details in the contact box on the sidebar of the blog. (No one else will be able to see it.) Your email address – it won’t be given to anyone else. 
Your name, of course. 
And if you’ve read any of The Camelot Inheritance books, I’d love to hear who is your favourite character. If you haven’t read any, let me know the title of a book you rate highly.

The winner will be picked electronically in mid-July. The decision will be final.

While in London researching, I found this statue in the royal park of Kensington Gardens close to the palace. It’s a statue of Peter Pan, the boy who never grew up. 

And this is where you can find it, if you're visiting London.

And for all fans of Doctor Who, this well-known mode of time travel is outside the entrance to Earl’s Court underground station. If you want to visit it yourself, here’s where it is:

London’s streets may not be paved with gold, but it appears that they are littered with fantasy!

Speaking of fantasy, I thought I'd include another taster of the fourth in the Camelot Inheritance series. It's a only a small excerpt, but hopefully not a spoiler.

I hope you enjoy it.

In a narrow alley, a couple of hundred of metres from the harbour, the air wobbled.
There was a muted woomph followed by an exclamation.
Fortunately for the time-travelling Watcher, he’d landed in a secluded spot. Gradually his molecules settled until he was all in one piece: cloak, shoes and bag all together.
Viatoris glanced up and down the high-walled lane and took in the stunted shadows and blue sky.
Examining the granite stone walls he muttered, ‘Cornwall again.’
A velvet bee hummed.
‘At least it’s summer,’ he muttered. ‘The weather was foul at Christmas: snow, wind . . . storms.’
The Watcher, keeping an eye on the lane’s entrance, swung his bag off his shoulder and hurriedly pulled out a selection of clothes suited to twenty-first century Cornwall. He had prepared carefully. This time he had both boots as well as the rest of his outfit. 
On the other side of the wall a blackbird chattered. 
High overhead, a plane droned.
Viatoris swept off his cloak and pulled on a shapeless fisherman’s jumper. He slipped off his fine Italian shoes, swapped them for a pair of sturdy boots, and pushed a navy-blue cap on his head.
Cramming his fifteenth century clothes into the bag he stood up. He was ready. Most of the time he wouldn’t be seen, but the Watchers’ training stressed the need to be prepared.
He tilted his head. ‘Mid-summer, I reckon.’
Words rang in his head. The Writer, his overseer, was checking he’d arrived.

Friday, 30 March 2018


A sensitive topic!

I assume that most folk reading this blog are people who may have come across my books, or folk interested in the county of Cornwall or its Arthurian link. 

Rubin Eynon:Gallos
The beautiful sculpture of  King Arthur at Tintagel in Cornwall

So I usually write about something to do with one of these topics. 

This time I’m going to touch on a particularly sensitive area. Reviews. 
Bear with me - you'll understand why this is especially important to me in a moment.

Anyone who makes or creates anything which can be reviewed knows the power of a few words. These words can make or break a product; they can build or demoralise.
A good review is the best thing that any maker or creator can ask for. To know that someone liked what you made, or in my case, wrote, is a like a bubble of joy.

When I was teaching I was only too aware of how easily a child could be discouraged. I knew the importance of constant encouragement to foster their growth and self-confidence. There was nothing better than heaping praise on a kid and seeing the glow plastered on their face.

Whatever our age or stage in life, I think we all need encouragement. Even those who appear confident on the outside are probably harbouring secret doubts about themselves or their work. 
Consequently, a few months ago I was seriously discouraged when someone posted a very negative review of ‘The Golden Sword’ in the U.S.. Granted it was probably somebody young who doesn’t understand the power of his negativity (both on me and on other potential readers), but it still stung and it’s still there as the latest review.

So I’m going to do something I’ve never done; I’m going to ask a favour of you.

If you have read one or other of my books, and enjoyed them, would you be prepared to take a couple of minutes to post a review on Amazon? I would especially welcome some in the USA and the UK; although wherever they are posted in the world, my day would be well and truly made.

Thank you :) .

Meanwhile the latest in The Camelot’s Inheritance series is cooking nicely. That’s why there have been very few blog posts of late. I would estimate that I have maybe three chapters left to write - although the editing and illustrating will be a lengthy process at the end of all the scribbling.

Oh, and I nearly forgot! I was all set to run a competition this month but I’m waiting for some of the prizes to arrive, so keep watching this blog or my Facebook page for news. I’m hoping to have it up and running in April.

In the meantime, here are a few photos that I've taken of my beloved Cornwall from winter through to the promise of spring. 

The mysterious standing stones
on Bodmin Moor - ten minutes from our front door.

An abandoned engine house
above the mine workings on the moor.

Just beautiful.

The south coast close to the setting for
The Golden Sword

Looe - known as Pendrym in The Camelot Inheritance series.
The snow was melting so we were able to negotiate the lanes. 

Another gorgeous spot - just off from
Kingsand on the Rame Peninsula.
And soon - spring!

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Book news and kindle deals.

Before I write much more, you ought to know that Amazon are running a deal (they approached me – I’m not paying for it) with the kindle of ‘The Golden Sword’ over the next couple of weeks. It will cost 99p in the UK and $1.40 in the US.

And the US: 

As for me on this glorious afternoon, I’m sitting in my lounge (sitting room), looking out at the bare trees and drizzle. The tops of the moors are shrouded in cloud. It’s not great weather. It’s what we call in Cornwall, mizzly (drizzle and mist). Even the cats aren’t impressed!

One of the great things about this weather though is that if it’s too miserable outside, it’s better to stay in and write - cocooned in my very own storyteller chair.

So that’s what I’ve been doing and the book - number four in the Camelot Inheritance series - is forging along. It will still be a while until it’s out there but it’s coming ever closer.
I’m going to put an excerpt on the end of this post, so you can get a flavour.

However, I also wanted to flag up the next competition I’ll be running soon on here and on Facebook. It will feature a unicorn and Merlin’s Vow. The two go very well together!
In the meantime, those of you in the UK and other cold spots, keep an eye out for spring …

This one was taken recently on the coast close to us.
For those of you who've read any of my books, it's close to Pendrym. 

and keep reading. And should be interested in my latest reads, pop over to Goodreads. Here’s the link:

And now, from the beginning of Chapter One -

Tamar nudged Arthur. ‘Don’t look now … but that statue blinked.’
‘The statue behind you, the one with wings and a human face, it blinked.’
Despite her instruction, Arthur spun round. ‘The one that looks like a lion with wings?’
She nodded. 
Catching a statue moving wasn’t new to him. He’d come across one before - but that had been on his side. He didn’t fancy finding out whether this one was friendly. It was way too big.
He caught hold of Tamar’s arm, ‘Let’s move.’ He lowered his voice. ‘Slowly.’
‘It can’t do anything … can it?’ Tamar asked. ‘I mean how can an ancient Assyrian statue, in the British Museum in the centre of London, do anything?’
‘I don’t know and I don’t want to find out.’ Arthur said, edging away. A memory rumbled. ‘It could listen.’
Tamar examined the statue’s head. A sort of headdress covered any ears it might have.
‘We weren’t saying anything worth listening to, were we?’
‘Just think what we were talking about!’
She did a quick re-run of their conversation and realised that the stuff they’d been discussing had definitely been worth hearing. She risked another look: the statue was massive, probably several metres high. It towered above the tourists and groups of schoolchildren. If it did do anything there could be carnage.
Arthur grabbed her hand, pulling her away as he whispered, ‘You’re the history geek. Remind me: why were these statues made?’
Tamar didn’t need to check her notes. ‘They were meant to be gatekeepers against evil spirits.’
‘Oh yes,’ he said softly. ‘Now I remember.’
Arthur flipped through his memories and one slid to the front of his mind: of him outside the Granite House on the moors, and the stone knights on the gateposts glowing - just before he’d been captured by the Crow Man.
He cast another look over his shoulder. A Japanese tourist was taking a close-up photo of the statue, standing under it and angling his camera upwards so that the photo would demonstrate the statue’s dimensions. As far as Arthur could tell it wasn’t moving, but he wasn’t going to chance a closer look; he and Tamar were probably the reason behind the blink.
‘We need to get away. We could be sending out vibes. After all, you are the Time Keeper. You haven’t always been stuck in this century like the rest of us, have you?’
‘That’s true.’ Tamar’s hand instinctively sought out the Time Keeper’s watch hidden deep in her pocket. Gentle, rhythmic ticks ran along her thumb. The fob watch had her name inscribed on it: Tamar Tamblyn, the latest in a long line of Time Keepers.
‘Come on.’ Arthur’s brown eyes were worried. ‘There’s a new café on this floor. It might be safer. We can get to it to through these galleries … and don’t look at any of the statues.’
Tamar didn’t need to be told. A blinking statue was enough to worry anybody; even someone who’d met ancient knights.
They attempted a nonchalant amble along the gallery, away from the human-headed lion, but the amble quickly turned into a brisk walk and then their legs took over and the walk turned into a run.
The first gallery was packed with carved friezes of helmeted men on horses. Insanely, Arthur’s brain buzzed with facts: the carvings had come from Greece and were over two thousand years old. ‘I don’t need to know this now!’ he thought as they hurtled past.  
Arthur knew without a shadow of a doubt that if Tamar said that she’d seen a statue blink - it had blinked. He also realised that when inanimate objects begin stirring it’s usually time to make a retreat.
‘I knew this school trip was a bad idea,’ he muttered, as they skidded past a group of excitable Italians. ‘We’re away from Cornwall, and we’re separated from the rest of the Guardians.’
‘Not much we can do about that now,’ Tamar pointed out. ‘Boy, this place is a maze, where’s the café?’
‘Through here – come on.’
They ran past more statues and galleries of antique objects. Lively chatter bounced off the stone pillars and floors, and cameras clicked, storing memories. Under normal circumstances, they’d love it here; but these weren’t normal circumstances.
Arthur checked the miniature sword hanging from the chain around his neck. The gold was at body temperature, which generally meant there wasn’t an immediate threat.
‘My sword’s okay,’ he informed Tamar as they spun past a clutch of schoolchildren.
Instinctively she put her hand to her own silver sword. ‘So’s mine - and the pocket watch is quiet too.’
Sliding over the polished floors, they rounded another corner and there was the café in front of them; glossy and modern with just one statue in the far corner of a man on a horse. From what he’d learned so far, Arthur guessed that it was about a couple of thousand years old; Roman probably. But at least this one didn’t look threatening. . .

Monday, 23 October 2017

Competition time

For you or for someone special.

The knight and his horse.

I realise that things have been a little quiet on this blog over the last little while, for which I apologise; I've had my head down while working on the fourth in The Camelot Inheritance series.
It's going well (I'm about half way through), but it does need an awful lot of concentration. However, I've torn myself away long enough to post this competition.

I really enjoy being able to run these. In the past I've sent prizes to winners in England,Wales, Ireland and further afield to the USA.

This time the prize is a signed and dedicated copy of 'The Golden Sword' - the first in The Camelot Inheritance series; a model knight and his horse, and a Cornish bookmark. 

I'm timing it so that with a fair wind behind us, the package should arrive in time for Christmas. That way if you're wanting to give it to someone special, it could be a surprise Christmas present.

Entering is very easy.
Simply put your name and email address in the contact box in the sidebar of this blog (scroll down on this page) by Friday 8th December 2017.
I'll be pulling the winner's name out of the electronic hat on Saturday 9th December. Then I'll contact the winner for their postal address in time to send it off on Monday 11th December.

One other thing. If you have time and you've read any of my books, I would be delighted if you could tell me if there was a particular character (animal or human), or episode that caught your imagination. It gives me immense pleasure to hear from my readers. Each and every letter makes a difference to my day.

In the next few weeks for those of you who are so patiently waiting, I'll post an excerpt from Book 4. Of course it's unlikely to be exactly the same in the final, published story, but at least it will give you a flavour of how things will be for Arthur and his allies!

((The official bit: There's one prize and the draw will be electronic and unbiased. Once drawn it will be final. Entries will be accepted from the UK and Ireland, USA, Canada, and throughout Europe. Last entry 8/12/17.)

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Land of the Vikings and the midnight sun (well, almost) . . .

  Let me introduce you to the Orkneys

It’s been a while since the last post, partly due to quite a lot going on here in Cornwall, and also because Pete and I have been travelling to carry out more research.

This time we didn't travel to London but to one of the other settings for Book 4 - the Orkneys; magical, wild and wonderful Scottish islands.

We flew from Newquay in Cornwall to Edinburgh in Scotland, and then on a small plane to Kirkwall on the Mainland, Orkney's largest island.

Our first glimpse and introduction to these
magical islands.

The Orkney islands are right at the top of the map, off the coast of Scotland. They’re about 800 miles from where we live in Cornwall, close to Britain's toe. (I won’t say Britain’s bottom!)
Although Scotland is another Celtic land, and the Orkneys are part of Scotland, the Orcadians are also very proud of their Viking heritage because hundreds of years ago this little group of islands was invaded by the fiery Vikings. 

The Vikings settled here for many centuries before eventually giving the islands back to Scotland.
I particularly liked some of the warriors' names: Thorfinn Skull-splitter, Havard Harvest-Happy, Sigurd the Stout! (If you want to find out more there's an excellent site: ).

Interesting fact: The DNA of 60% of the male Orcadians has been discovered to be Scandinavian.

However I wanted to find out about other aspects of see the Orkney's history as well - and to get a feel for the landscape. Top of my list of things to see were the standing stones which combine both the history and the land.
The standing stones on Orkney's Mainland.
Another interesting fact: There are stone circles dotted throughout Britain. (It's thought that the earliest are probably those in the north.) For book purposes I wanted to get a feel of those in Orkney because we've got a stone circle which is just ten minutes drive from our house. The link intrigues me.
These are the Hurlers, a ring of standing stones on Bodmin Moor
close to my home.
I also wanted to get a feel for the landscape. Photographs give you some idea, but you need to go to a place to get under its skin. For me, the setting is an integral and important part of any book. I found that although the Orkney islands are beautiful, they're also windswept (there are few trees) and very wild. The sea and the wind dictate much of how life is lived. Because the islands are so northerly in the summer the sun barely sets. It's still quite light at past 11 in the evening in late June, whereas in the winter the days are very short because the sun barely rises above the horizon. Laurence (see below) told us that by 3pm in winter it's going dark!  
A close-up of a standing stone

Staggeringly high cliffs; home to hundreds of wheeling, screeching birds.
If you like wild and lonely, you'd love it here.
A solitary Pete!

And there was the wildlife! So much of it. Many, many birds. I'm not very good at bird photos, but the blobs in the second photo are seals in Scapa Flow which we spotted on a boat trip with the delightful Laurence of the Dawn Star. ( )
He took us around Scapa Flow - a site very much linked with both WWI and WWII, and showed us the wrecks of huge ships sunk during the wars on his boat's sonar.

Apart from the standing stones and the birds and seals I wanted to see some of the other ancient sites. So we went here, to the Tomb of the Eagles.

Inside the tomb there were many skulls and skeletons and eagle remains, which explains why the tomb is called the Tomb of the Eagles. Once you get inside the tomb, it's high enough to stand up and big enough to fit several people. A Collie dog, like Lightning in The Camelot Inheritance series and one of my favourite breeds, was in there but it was far from happy. It's ears were flat and it was really keen to get out. It reminded me of the scene in The Golden Sword with Arthur and Lightning outside the Granite House.

And then we visited Skara Brea.
Skara Brae. I took this photo to show what is thought
 to be a sort of dresser like a cupboard.
Skara Brae is a wonderfully preserved neolithic village, thousands of years old.  It shows just how clever our ancient ancestors were! It's not only the ancient Greeks and Egyptians and the Aztecs who were ingenious. (Although I must admit, a pyramid is pretty impressive.) 

However our trip wasn't only lonely windswept cliffs and beaches and ancient monuments - we took in some other sights too.
We were treated to a wonderful
display by Kirkwall City Pipe Band.
And then more live music in The Reel.

Then there was the haggis and a trip to a distillery, but Book 4 is waiting for me so I'm going to leave it at that! 
This post is going to be the last for a while, I want to be able to concentrate on the writing. The story is coming along but it needs some quality time without too many distractions. If you've got to this part, thanks for reading my post. Perhaps when you eventually get to read the fourth in The Camelot Inheritance, you'll be able to spot the links between our adventuring and what happens to Gawain.