Sunday, 7 March 2021

The Camelot Inheritance series

It's the beginning of March 2021 and this morning Pete and I went to Looe - Pendrym in The Golden Sword and the other books.

There's a chapter in The Golden Sword describing Arthur's adventure in the river. A seal is part of that adventure and last week we actually saw one in the river. You have to be very lucky to spot one as closely as we did, unfortunately I wasn't quick enough to film it.
So instead, here's a video I took this morning. It is a wintry day and the river was rushing out to meet the sea. You can see the waves breaking where the river and sea meet. The tide was very low, but the current is still strong.


Our winters are generally more rainy than snowy, but just to prove we do sometimes get snow, I took these on the moors in January - again another setting in The Golden Sword.


It really has been unusually cold for this part of Britain this winter.


This photo (the one above) is from the beach at Downderry.

You can see the headland on the horizon, the little island is featured in the earlier books. 

The island is a few hundred metres off Looe and is now a wildlife island. It used to be a handy spot for smugglers in the past - they could land barrels of brandy and other contraband brought over from France. Then they would wait until the coast was clear to bring them ashore. The penalty for smuggling could be hanging.  


This is a gorgeous beach. It's called Daymer Bay and is on the opposite coast to us, the north coast. It was remarkably quiet - which is very unusual for this part of Cornwall because lots of people
love to come here on holiday.


And here is a very local beauty spot to me. It's called Golitha Falls.
When the weather is hot, this is a wonderful place to come and cool down.


High on the moors. 
Old mine buildings are dotted throughout this wild landscape, I refer to them in The Golden Sword, in particular in the final chapters, but I won't go into more detail and risk a spoiler. 


Banjo Pier, Looe.
You can guess why the pier has this name. The tides are pretty extreme in the UK, and folk who don't live near the sea can get caught out. Here at Looe, the water can go right out so that you can walk around the pier at a really low tide. Every year there are many rescues when the tide comes in and people find themselves at the foot of a steep cliff with the water rising and their way of escape cut off.


And finally . . . a beautiful sea and sky to end this blog post.


Friday, 27 November 2020

 Released: Arthur's Kingdom (The Camelot Inheritance ~ Book 4) & Giveaway on Goodreads

And finally, the fourth and last book in the series has been released! I know that it has been a long time coming, and for those of you who have been waiting, my apologies. However I am hoping that taking this amount of time making sure that it's as perfect as it can be will have been worth it.

My very grateful thanks must go to my editor, Sally Vince. Without her eagle-eyed inspection and her suggestions, 'Arthur's Kingdom' would be a much poorer piece of work. I am absolutely thrilled with the cover too, Katie in Australia has worked wonders.

And a very special thank you to Luke, who (rather a long time ago) entered and won a competition to name Dragon; however to find out what Nick's small, fire-breathing friend is called (courtesy of Luke), you'll have to read the book 😉!

And  . . . if you would like to win a signed copy of the book and you live in the US or Canada - then enter the Giveaway on Goodreads. It's open until the 28th December 2020. (The link is on the sidebar.)

So now the final word will be up to all of you. I'm really hoping that you like it. If you do, I'd very much appreciate a rating or a review, it helps other people to find it and all writers need help  . . . unless they're J.K. Rowling or David Walliams!

To get a taste of the story, you can use the 'Look inside' feature on Amazon. These are the relevant links for the UK, USA and Canada:

UK

USA 

Canada

As usual, illustrations start every chapter. I was very particular about these as well, so they took a while. Every morning I would retreat to our cabin at the end of the garden, pick up my pencils and pens and immerse myself. 



And a sample of what you'll find in the book:

 


This illustration is based on a real statue in the British Museum, London, UK. It is ancient and many, many centuries since it was first created.


The next post won't be so long is the writing (I promise). 




 

Saturday, 29 February 2020

Bookshops - my special place. (Plus an excerpt from Book 4 of The Camelot Inheritance series.)

Mr B's Reading Emporium:

One of the most magical places in Bath, UK.


If you love books as much as I do, then a bookshop as wonderful as Mr B's is a magical place.
And the best area is, of course, the children's books space.


Recently the shop has been extended (they bought the shop next door) and within a remarkably short time, this mind-extending space was created.


When last there I spent a very happy time perusing the shelves - and while inspecting a large variety of fantasy books for 'tweens' I found this book by Hilary Mckay.
'The Time of Green Magic', is a gorgeous, believable story. Although this is essentially a children's book, I can assure you that most adults will enjoy it as well.


But back to the shop. Mr B's is tucked away in little lane behind one of Bath's main shopping streets, at - 14-15, John St, Bath BA1 2JL
There are rooms and rooms full of books in every category, but every time I'm drawn back to the children's/tweens/teens space. 
However there are some aspects of Mr B's which pander for all bibliophiles, whatever your taste, it's the perfect gift. A Mr B's Reading Spa. A knowledgeable member of the team will spend some time with you, discussing your favourite authors and genres and then come back laden with a stack of books for you to leaf through. It's a great way to discover new authors and a perfect way to spend an hour or two. Click here to find out more so that you too can receive or give the most delightful of presents.

In a later post, I will feature another indie book shop. Possibly the one in my little town which features in The Camelot Inheritance series.

In the meantime, here's an excerpt from Book 4 of the Camelot Inheritance series. In my next post I'll be revealing the cover and the title. 
Nick and Gawain are on a school trip in Cornwall while Arthur and Tamar are miles away in London. In this excerpt we're with Nick and Gawain in a Cornish museum with their teacher and fellow students.

They meandered after their group along a dimly lit passage. It began on the level but then banked steeply, winding to the right. At the front their teacher was expounding on various exhibits connected with Cornwall’s history, but Nick and Gawain remained safely at the rear.
The floor was cobbled. Hundreds of years before it had been used to transport goods to ships by hand cart. The passages were old, very old. Gawain shivered. He could feel the memories jostling.
Suddenly Nick gripped Gawain’s arm.
‘Look,’ he hissed.
‘What?’ Gawain was miles away. Things that would bypass normal people were hammering on his senses; shouts of long-dead labourers echoed in his head.
‘The wheel on the wall at the back of the glass case; it’s spinning.’
A wooden ship’s wheel was nailed to the wall behind a model of the Titanic, somehow it was rotating. To the right of the wheel, the ship’s clock ticked while a small chandelier suspended from the ceiling above the display shivered.
‘That’s weird,’ Gawain observed quietly.
He watched the wheel slow and stop as the clock’s hands stilled. Objects were waking here too.
Nick checked the passage in front and behind them. ‘How could that happen?’
Gawain rubbed his chin. ‘I don’t know, maybe …’
‘Go on. Maybe what?’
He hesitated. ‘Maybe she’s waking the memories like she did before.’
A shout echoed along the passage. ‘Nick, Gawain, hurry up!’
‘The Ice Lady?’
Gawain nodded. ‘She woke the memories at Christmas didn’t she?’ He thought of the skeletons crawling from the winter sea. ‘Maybe she can use memories buried in objects as well.’
Miss Angell’s face appeared around the bend in the passage. ‘You two are holding us up, come on!’
‘Sorry,’ Gawain mumbled, casting a quick look at the now-motionless wheel. ‘We’re coming.’
‘Remember the barrel organ at Trezion’s fair?’ Nick said sotto voce as they followed their teacher. ‘Arthur thought that had something to do with collecting people’s memories, didn’t he?’
Gawain nodded.
And there was the train at Christmas. We were in the twenty-first century one minute and the next we were on a steam train, a hundred years from now.’ A thought struck Nick slap bang between the eyes. ‘It must be about memories – or time.’
He looked around. ‘And here we are, stuck in a museum in Cornwall, while Tamar and Arthur are miles away in London.’
‘Divide and conquer.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Well, if you want to weaken the opposition, try to get them arguing among themselves, that way they’re easier to defeat. We may not be arguing, but we’re separated.’
‘Boy, you really know how to cheer a person up!’
‘Sorry,’ Gawain said, mentally kicking himself. He should have kept that thought under wraps.
They rounded the corner but their group had already moved on.
The light here was a little brighter, and the displays were different with mannequins set in ‘rooms’ like stage sets. One was dressed as a pirate captain, complete with a black, large-brimmed hat and a leather waistcoat and breeches.
Gawain stopped. He didn’t take in any of the props: the dagger, short sword or plastic ‘treasure’. It was the flag that had caught his attention. A white skull over crossbones, set against a black background. He read the explanation.
‘Pirate ships had more than one flag.
A red background stood for bloodshed. Black stood for death.
The pirate captain wouldn’t give orders for either to be hoisted until they were close enough to their chosen prey for it to be too late for them to escape.
The only choice for their target would have been surrender or almost certain death.’
He recalled his imprisonment on the Ice Lady’s ship. If it hadn’t been for Tamar, he would have died. But his thoughts came to a crashing halt as long, bony fingers clutched his sleeve – and they didn’t belong to Nick.




Saturday, 25 May 2019

Inspirational places: London and France

The Camelot Inheritance ~ Book 4

Here we are in 2019 and, drum roll … I’ve finished Book 4!
Yes really.
Well, not the illustrations, those are just beginning; but the story is written and I’ve allowed my most honest critic (Pete) to read it.
In the next few weeks it will be sent to my editor but first off I’m going to allow a few other trusted beta readers to read and criticise. Painful but necessary.
My clever cover designer, Katie Stewart in Oz, has been alerted - now all that’s needed is a decision on the title.
Perhaps the reason that I’ve been able to type the last full stop (or period) is because the past few weeks Pete and I have been in France. This wonderful country continues to be my creative haven.

Just so you know what I mean, here are a few of our favourite places:

La Roche Bernard (meaning Bernard's rock). This is our closest town. We love it.





If you know anything about French history you will have heard of the revolution in the 1790’s.  This piece commemorates it. Sadly, there’s also a monument beside the river to some folk who were in the French Resistance during WW II and didn't live to see the end of the war.

Damgan is one of our happy places, it's not historical, just beachy.

Vannes: A fabulous walled medieval town with a port We enjoy mooching around its streets and lanes and taking in the photography exhibitions.




And then there’s Nantes on the mouth of the Loire (where many a chateau can be found). We drove down there on Friday to visit Les Machines de l’Ile and to see the amazing, ENORMOUS, walking elephant. People can ride on its balconies. The trunk moves and sprays the crowds. It flaps its ears, opens and closes its eyes. And the best thing about it? It made everyone smile and laugh and feel better.




I've made a tentative beginning to the illustrations. One will head up the introductory chapter which is set in the British Museum in London - this photo is of the front of the Museum. If ever you go to London, do visit .


I’m aware that there’s loads to see and do in that city but, of all the museums, that’s the one I’d recommend (although the Science Museum is another great day out).

In this book there are scenes set in the museum, but also on the underground and Tower Bridge. Other locations have been saved for future books.

Here is an excerpt. I hope it whets your appetite for more.


‘Don’t look now, but that statue blinked.’
‘What?’
‘The statue behind you,’ Tamar said. ‘The one with wings and a human face … it blinked.’
Arthur spun round. ‘The one like a lion with wings?’
She nodded. 
‘O-kay.’
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 edged away. A memory rumbled. ‘It could listen.’
Tamar examined the statue’s head. A sort of headdress covered its ears.
‘We weren’t saying anything worth listening to, were we?’
‘Think what we were talking about!’
She did a quick re-run of their conversation and realised that the stuff they’d been discussing was most definitely 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 anything there would 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. It was two summers ago and he was standing outside the Granite House marvelling at a couple of glowing stone statues just before he was captured by the Crow Man and taken to meet Matearnas. One of the maddest people he’d ever met.
He cast another look over his shoulder. A Japanese tourist was taking a close-up of the statue. She was standing directly beneath it. 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 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.’
‘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 cafĂ© on this floor. It might be safer. We can get to it to through the galleries. Don’t look at any of the statues.’
Tamar didn’t need to be told. A blinking statue is enough to worry anybody, even someone who’d met ancient knights. When inanimate objects stir it is time to retreat.  
They ambled from the human-headed lion, but the amble rapidly turned into a run.
Arthur’s brain buzzed. ‘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. ‘Where’s the cafĂ©?’
‘Through here – come on.’
They zoomed past statues and through galleries. Chatter bounced off stone pillars and floors. Camera’s clicked. 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 so there couldn’t be an immediate threat.
‘My sword’s okay,’ he said to Tamar as they spun past a clutch of schoolchildren.
Tamar put her hand to her own silver sword. ‘So’s mine - and the watch is quiet too.’
Sliding over the polished floors, they rounded another corner. The cafĂ© was in front of them. It was glossy and modern with just one statue in the far corner of a man on a horse. Arthur guessed the carving was probably a couple of thousand years old. Roman probably. It didn’t look threatening.
‘Do you think Mr Vennor will mind us taking a coffee break?’ Tamar asked.
Arthur surveyed the cafĂ©. ‘Doubt it. And anyway, we can hardly ask if we can take time out because a statue moved.’
‘True.’  
‘I’ll get us a couple of coffees. There’s a table over there in the corner. Why don’t you grab it?’
Tamar inspected the other customers, expecting to see one of their enemies: possibly the Crow Man and his pale companion, Hagarawall; or the Ice Lady and her silver-haired son. But the cafĂ©’s clientele were reassuringly ordinary.
She relaxed. ‘Actually, can I have a hot chocolate?’
Arthur took in her expression. Her brown eyes were almost black. Whatever she’d seen had really frightened her. 
‘Course you can.’
They’d been friends since nursery. Arthur knew her almost as well as knew his own family.
He knew that she loved her ugly dog, Mug Shot. That she fought with her big sister. That she was one of the bravest people he’d ever met … and that hot chocolate was her comfort drink.
She was fishing in her bag for her purse. Arthur shook his head. ‘My turn.’
Unusually she didn’t argue, just muttered ‘thanks’ and threaded her way between tables to the corner furthest from the carved horse and rider. She slung her coat over the back of a chair and flopped down. Her heart drummed.
Pull yourself together, she told herself sternly. You’ve come across worse things than a blinking statue. You’ve seen skeletons come to life, you’ve been kidnapped by the Ice Lady… and you’ve seen a man die.
It was true. In the two years since she’d been knighted by Excalibur and been made one of Cornwall’s Guardians with Arthur, Nick and Gawain, she’d experienced a lot.
There’s been good stuff too, she reminded herself. Remember last summer when Arthur was made the new King Arthur …  and defeating the Ice Lady at Christmas!
Wiping her palms on her jeans, Tamar slid her hand into her pocket. She touched the cool silver of the top of the pocket watch’s case and ran her thumb over the emeralds set in the other side. Its ticks travelled along her fingers.   
‘Decided I’d have a hot chocolate,’ Arthur announced, plonking the tray on the table. ‘I got us a couple of doughnuts too.’
‘Yay, bring on the sugar rush.’
Arthur swept the room. Since this had started he’d learnt a new way of operating: Always know the exits; examine strangers’ faces; and sit with your back to the wall. 

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 -
Tresco

 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.