Did you guess the object? And my perfect writing holiday.

The object in the photograph below (which I posted it in response to Hughes weekly photo challenge week 12 – games) was of course a footprint, a cast of a wolf footprint to be exact.

WP_20160207_20_50_14_Pro  Thank you, Hugh for picking my picture to showcase on your weekly blog challenge.

It is not as exciting as a fossilised footprint (being only 12+ years old), but it is very special to me and reminds me of one of the most magical and memorable experiences of my life.

I stayed on holiday for a week at Wolf Watch UK, actually within a wolf reserve in Shropshire, England. It’s a brilliant organisation and for me it was a once in a lifetime holiday. Please check out their website Wolf Watch UK to see how gorgeous the place is and the important work they do. I don’t know if they still run holidays, but there are plenty of opportunities to visit the wolves on things like photography days.

(The pictures in this post are not the greatest quality as they are only photos of photos, it was way before my days of digital photography.)

I loved that whole experience. Hearing the majestic and haunting sound of the wolves howling in the evening and early morning – I couldn’t think of a better alarm clock. I would spring out of bed at the first howl (not that easy when you’re 5 months pregnant!) and record their howling on my little palm top computer. I have a sound file that I wanted to share, but the .wav format is not accepted by wordpress. If anyone can tell me how to convert and add sound files I would love to update this post. As it is you’ll have to put up with a rather poor quality image of one of the wolves mid-howl or yawning its hard to tell.


Back in 2004 there was no TV reception in this beautiful Shropshire wooded valley so it made the perfect writing retreat. I started planning and writing scene for one of my works in progress called Child of Destiny. I hope to finally finish the draft in 2016.

My husband wasn’t that happy without a TV. And he certainly wasn’t keen on the wolf feeding experience.

tony and the wolf

I loved my time in the wolf enclosure. Even though I was 5 months pregnant with my first child, I wasn’t going to let that stop me getting up close with these lovely creatures. I think you’ll agree I look a lot happier about it than my husband.

me and the wolf

I’ve always been an animal lover, but my obsession with wolves started when I read Robin Hobbs Farseer trilogy. Nighteyes was, and still is, one of my favourite all time fictional characters. I’d love to have met him.

This holiday will always have a special place in my heart and it’s brought back lots of memories writing about it now. I would love to revisit Wolf Watch UK, but I have a few years to go before my youngest is 16 (age limit imposed for safety reasons).

If you ever get the chance, go along and meet the wolves. The experience will stay with you forever.

I’m taking a few days off social media to finish the edit of my next book. Please do leave comments though, and I will get back to you as soon as I can.



#AtoZChallenge – Are you signing up for April’s blog challenge?

Today I signed up for the A-Z April Blog Challenge. I’m number 757 on the list, so it’s obviously very popular.

I’m still in my first year of blogging, so this is the first time I’ll be taking part. My editor, Alison Williams, recommended it. I look on it as a way to help me blog more, to find new blogs and hopefully build my own audience. It’s also a great opportunity to try out a few new things that I’ve been wanting to do for a while, and to share some of my favourite recipes and experiences.

My theme is crafts, or a loose interpretation of it. This is ranging from foraging, soap making, and my very special recipe for Zucchini cake – the kids number 1 favourite cake and it’s almost healthy too.

I’m still stuck on b, k, l, u and x. Guess I’m going to have to get creative.

I hope you can check out some of my April blogs and look forward to checking out yours too.

Follow the link here if you want to find out more about the A-Z April Blog Challenge.

Visions of Zarua – Results of the #Goodreads Giveaway Feb 2016

First of all thanks so much to all those who entered, and to those who have helped me spread the word.

Three winners were picked by Goodreads and the signed books are about to be sent out. Congratulations to the winners, I really hope they enjoy the book.

I ran my giveaway of Visions of Zarua for 2 months, not having put much research into what is a good timescale beforehand. Others have suggested that a shorter period is better, but maybe for a new indie author the longer the giveaway runs, the better.

2070 people entered the competition and of those 835 marked it as to read on their bookshelves. I’ve also managed to pick up some new followers. These are people that would never have heard of Visions of Zarua without Goodreads, so I see the competition as a great success. I really enjoyed running the giveaway and I may run another competition again soon.

I have also considered doing a Rafflecopter giveaway, but know even less about this than I did Goodreads. Can anyone offer any advice?

A bit cheeky I know, but if you were intrigued by the giveaway and fancied picking up a copy, Visions of Zarua is available for only £2.99 on Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Nook, and Smashwords for other formats.

For any authors out there considering a giveaway, I say go for it.


UPDATE – 17th February 2016

A small note of caution. Running the giveaway is free, but the costs can still add up. My lucky winners were from Romania, India and USA. In all, the postage has cost me £27.45. Add to this the cost of the books which I brought direct from createspace and had to pay shipping on as well. I’d say I’m around £50.00 out of pocket.

However, as far as advertising costs go, that’s a bargain.

I know 2070 people (plus their friends on Goodreads) have now seen my book. Being in the fantasy section of the giveaway ensures I have done all I can to target my ideal audience. So although the giveaway hasn’t had much impact on sales yet, I’m hopeful it will help spread the word about Visions of Zarua. I read somewhere that consumers need to see a product a lot (something like 7 – 10 times) before they buy. So I shall just keep plugging away and keep dreaming of those sales and reviews rolling in.

1 day left to enter #goodreads #giveaway for epic fantasy – Visions of Zarua

Two wizards, 350 years apart. Together they must save the realm of Paltria from Zarua’s dark past…

VOZ print book 3d image standing If you want to be in with a chance of winning 1 of 3 signed paperback copies, enter the Goodreads Giveaway now. It ends midnight 14th February 2016. So far 1440 people have entered.

Please share this and help me spread the word. Thank you.


About Visions of Zarua 

An ancient darkness haunts the realm of Paltria.

Apprentice wizard Paddren is plagued by visions of a city on the brink of annihilation. When his master Kalesh dies in mysterious circumstances, the Royal Order of Wizards refuses to investigate. Helped by his childhood friend, the skilled tracker Varnia, and her lover Leyoch, Paddren vows to find the killer. The investigation leads Paddren down a sinister path of assassins, secret sects and creatures conjured by blood magic. But he is guided by a connection with a wizard from centuries ago – a wizard whose history holds the key to the horror at the heart of the abandoned city of Zarua. Can Paddren decipher his visions in time to save the Paltrian people from the dark menace of Zarua’s past?



Hughes weekly #photo challenge Week 12 – Games

Over on Hughes blog, we’ve been set the photography challenge of ‘Games’ by Ronovan.

I’ve struggled with the theme this week. So I decided to make up my own game.

This object is something I brought back from holiday, something I really love to look at but not hold because it’s quite heavy. Can you guess what it is?


I’ll update you with the answer next week. In the meantime, why don’t you have a guess in the comments.

The Iron Ship – K.M.McKinley #bookreview

The Iron Ship is Book One of The Gates of the World. Published in 2015.

‘Merchant, industrialist and explorer Trassan Kressind has an audacious plan – combining the might of magic and iron in the heart of a great ship to navigate an uncrossed ocean, seeking the city of the extinct Morfaan to uncover the secrets of their lost sciences…’

It was my book group choice. My first impressions – I loved the cover, was intrigued by the blurb and couldn’t wait to read it.


The Iron Ship is a fantasy / steampunk mix, perfect for those who love indepth worldbuilding. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them.

It took me over 200 pages to get into the story. There are a lot of characters – we follow the lives of the six Kressind siblings, but also a lot more besides, and it’s hard to keep track of everything that’s going on. I would think those who enjoy the huge scale of Game of Thrones would enjoy this new series.

It’s a long book and sometimes the descriptions can drag. But there are also moments of high tension and excitement that draw you in. I just wanted more character focus, to live the story through them more. I did like (but not love) some of the characters Katriona, Guis and Tuvacs, and would be interested to continue their stories in the next book.

There are plenty of new concepts to enjoy; the Tyn people, talking dogs which are used as horses, lizard-like creatures and plenty of fantastical beasts, twin moons, Glimmer magic, Guiders to send spirits on, the Drowned King… I could go on. There is a lot to explore in this book. If you are a fan of world building this could be the book for you.

I rate it 3 out of 5 stars.

Amazon UK

Amazon US


#goodreads #giveaway update – Visions of Zarua

With the closing date of 14th Feb, there’s only 8 days to enter my Goodreads giveaway to win 1 of 3 signed copies of Visions of Zarua.

It’s the first giveaway I’ve done, so I’ve been a bit obsessive looking at the stats. As of 9.30am this morning (sat 6th Feb) I am number 23 on the most requested fantasy giveaway list. That’s pretty cool.

I’m overwhelmed that over 1000 people have entered the giveaway so far, and of those over 400 have marked the book as to read. This is amazing exposure for a first-time self-published author.

For those authors considering doing a giveaway, I would say go for it! But I will also do an update post at the end of the month on whether the giveaway has had any impact on the number of sales and reviews.

For readers who have read Visions of Zarua, I would like to ask if you would consider leaving a review. It’s the only way that self published authors get noticed and taken seriously. So far I have 6 brilliant reviews and a star rating on Amazon of 4.7. A big thanks to my readers who have been kind enough to share their views.

Please share and tell your friends. And have a wonderful weekend everyone.

Hugh’s weekly #photo challenge: Week 11 – Rust

Soon after I posted a picture of ‘frosty the frog’ on #wordlesswednesday, I saw Hugh’s weekly photo challenge for a picture of a rusty object.

Well I love this trumpet playing frog and couldn’t resist entering him. My son rescued the frog from the River Thames several years ago. I think it was some time after the floods, so maybe the poor frog was washed out of someone’s garden. The frog, which my daughter informs me is actually called Ribbit, sits happily by our little pond guarding over all his froggy friends. He is getting quite rusty now, but we love the quirky character and are glad to give him a home in our garden.

frog 2