Black Beauty Has A Beady Eye On The World pic.twitter.com/2lWfIdXcUI #birds

Who’s a pretty boy then?

In our house we’re celebrating the recovery of a favorite ‘pet’ – a wise old crow who’s been coming to our garden for years. Just as the dog in “Alf The Workshop Dog” is a real mutt, ‘The Crow of the World’ from the same story is also based on my real-life bird friend. We call him ‘Hook Beak’ – for reasons you can guess from his photo.

He’s the cleverest and bravest of the crows, always first to come down when we throw out food. He swaggers up, looks right in at the window with his beady eyes and squarks at us when he’s hungry. If food is too dry – he takes it to a bowl of water and sits for a few minutes whilst it soaks and softens. If there’s any left over, he hides it for later – digging little holes in the grass and covering with leaves or moss.

Recently he showed up with a wounded leg, hardly able to walk. The other crows were pecking at him, keeping him away from food. He became increasingly bedraggled and we were worried he wouldn’t survive, especially with the constant bullying. We knew he was braver and more confident than most of his oppressors. We guessed he would approach closer than the others if we stayed in the garden to frighten them away. We made up some pasta (his favorite!) mixed with tinned dog meat. Sure enough he flapped down to feed while we stood guard. The bullies just squawked and postured at a distance. His courage and intelligence got him his three meals a day in peace.  This weekend he’s looking glossy and sleek. His limp has more or less gone and he can once more hold his own in the pecking order. He’s also very busy delivering food to a nest in a nearby oak tree – we think he may soon be teaching a young apprentice all his tricks!

The Great Crow Of The World is a major character in my kid’s book Alf The Workshop Dog which  has been doing great and has reached #1 Bestseller in Time Travel, Pets, and Chapter Books in USA, UK and Canada.  To celebrate, the second book in the series Isabella’s Pink Bicycle is going free 12-13-14 May. Come along and meet another animal – that cool pole cat for a tight spot – Frankie Ferret.  Who needs a Fairy Godmother when you’ve got a Ferret Godfather?

http://www.smarturl.it/IsabellaPink

Emma Thinx: You can’t bully your way to courage.







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Crows’ Feet And Pasta – a menu for #Spring pic.twitter.com/2bhpJQYJ6n

Prima Rosa – yes the first rose. It is indeed the Spring and where there was nothing, suddenly there are primroses. Suddenly I draw them in through my senses and into my pagan soul. The crows fight savagely over sticks with which to build their nests. I get up at dawn to boil pasta to provide my noble scavengers with a romantic novelist’s breakfast. I love these birds. I think I worship them. In my children’s story Alf The Workshop Dog, all the wisdom of the world is stored in the crows. They are the default battery  on the motherboard of consciousness. (Did you ever wonder if digital language just has to reflect inescapable symmetries by way of metaphor and semi conductor?)

My friend H.B.

They have watched our futile struggles from the high trees since the dawn of conscious time. They have the DNA of dinosaurs, the politics of parliaments, the sheen of pimps, the stab of spike and claw, the stamp of merciless truth. Regular readers will recognise the photo of HB, my court favourite. Last week he showed up for breakfast bedraggled and desperate with hunger, only able to half hop on one leg. The others crows attacked him – such is the nature of the universe. I moved in close and for a moment he looked me in the eye. The other birds retreated or flapped off. He held my gaze and ate on. I circled keeping the others at bay. Finally he had eaten his fill. He took off back to his nest and fed some food to his mate. 

For the next two days he came, limping but stronger. He flew close by me before landing almost at my feet. Rivals moved in and he seemed to check me out for complicity. The others stayed away while he ate his Walmart fusilli and dog meat mash. Oooh, I’m a right cordon bleu you know!

Stark, stark. My kind has watched your species and bared your bones

Yesterday and today he has stayed up in his nest. He seems to be feeding on some agricultural land to the south of me. He has always been one to avoid the crush and shemozzle.  I watch him. He sat on my TV aerial while I hung out some washing. He watches me. He is still a bit lame but coping. He seems to have eggs in the nest. This universe has no mercy but it does support intelligence and the will to survive. Maybe just this once I have made a tiny tiny difference. Just maybe, beyond all the falseness of words and the dynamics of physics, some glue of friendship has some moral gravity or some value.

Emma Thinx: Friendship is an island. Ditch the swimming lesson.







Erin, aged 6, #reviews all three Once Upon a NOW #books @ajcraftybox #kidlit #giveaway

ajbookreviewclub, kid's review, book review, book blog


My children’s book tour and giveaway is now up to stop number seven: the  ajbookreviewclub

I’ve been delighted to be included on many blogs where real children have been invited to read and share their thoughts about the series with adult reviewers in the feature. Here on AJ’s blog we meet the delightful and wise Erin (who is six). She had all three books read to her and tells us about which bits she liked (and didn’t!) and which of the stories is her favourite. 

One common comment on all the reviews of ‘Alf The Workshop Dog’ is that readers love ‘the song‘. They are referring to  the fictional National Anthem of Zanubia, which you can hear and watch being sung from within the book.  

Zanubia, King of Zanubia, Zanubia National Anthem, song, Once Upon a Now song,  Oscar Sparrow, narrator

It’s performed by my daughter on the piano (she’s very clever and wrote the music) and Oscar Sparrow who is the wonderful narrator on the audio book editions of all my children’s stories. 

He was very worried about being too fierce and frightening the kids – so we made him a paper crown to go with his plastic sword.  This then gave us a lot of trouble as he couldn’t keep a straight face and we had to record many takes.  In the end I set the camera rolling and left the room and that solved it.

Want to see the video and hear the song? Well I’m afraid it’s exclusive to the book… it’s one of the ‘bonus features’ included via scannable QR code and secret URL links.  

(A hint for my special readers – ALF will be FREE on Amazon Kindle 8,  9, 10 Feb:  grab your copy and hear the song! http://www.smarturl.it/Alf )

All books in the series are ‘chapter books’.  These are aimed at younger readers maybe not yet ready to read a whole book in one go.  The stories are divided into manageable chunks with the bonus materials as a ‘reward’ for the end of a section. The videos, photos and colouring pictures are accessed via QR codes and URLs in the book. QR codes let people with the paperback version still get the benefit of these interactive materials. I guess they are a bit of a gimmick but I think they make for a richer experience and help make story time more fun. They certainly added a new element to the job of creating the books! 

A big thank you to AJ and her daughter for sharing their thoughts on my stories – I’m so pleased you enjoyed them!

Who couldn’t love a dog like that? pic.twitter.com/PqRKR1uWKa @maryannwrites #review

it's not all gravy, blog tour, blog, review, book review, Alf The Workshop Dog, Children's fiction, kid's books,


Day Five and my Book Tour is visiting the blog of Maryann Miller which is called  It’s Not All Gravy.  

Alf The Workshop Dog cover, cover image, kid's fiction book, kid's book, children's storyShe has kindly hosted all three books in the ‘Once Upon a NOW‘ series and includes a review of ‘ALF THE WORKSHOP DOG‘.

With a daughter who is a graphic artist she was particularly interested in the illustrations in the book.  

Alf The workshop dog, time travel, dog, kid's fairy stories, kid's fiction

I also know she downloaded one from the book to colour-in for herself. 

Find out why she highly recommends these books for children of all ages..

Thank you Maryann!

Father and son duo @grabthisbook #review pic.twitter.com/oq0OciiXPE ALF THE WORKSHOP DOG

Grab this book blog, book review, blog tour, Once Upon a NOW, kid's fiction, children's book, Alf The Workshop Dog, review

Stop number four on my Book Tour for the Once Upon a NOW series is at the wonderfully named review site “GRAB THIS BOOK”.

It’s great to get a dad’s perspective on my children’s books.  As a mother of sons whose father was frequently away and busy when they were small, I always felt it was a shame they never got to share special reading time with him.  

Alf, Alf the Workshop Dog, children's fiction, book cover sketch, colouring picture, Once Upon a NOW

It’s wonderful to be allowed in to this father and son’s story time and share an 8year old’s perspective on Alf The Workshop Dog.  What a perceptive young man – and what  a lovely review.  Thanks to the little chap for telling us how the book made him feel.  Thanks to Dad for  hosting us on his blog.

Interesting too that the lad is now demanding to be a regular guest on his dad’s blog.  The next generation of reviewers is here!

Take a visit and hear their thoughts on Grab This Book.

Introducing the next generation of #bookbloggers on @BestChickLit #KidLitChat for my Children’s Fiction Blog Tour.

Today I am pleased to share with you the content from BestChickLit.com .  They recently featured my ‘Once Upon a NOW’ series of children’s books and introduced the world to super-reviewers Ellie and Eden (aged 11 and 9).

Both girls read the books and between them created 5 wonderful reviews for ‘Alf The Workshop Dog’, ‘Isabella’s Pink Bicycle’ and ‘Kool Kid Kruncha and The High Trapeze’.


Coming up with one review is hard enough against a deadline, but these sisters have really got the reading bug.  They are destined, I am certain, to become great literary star-reviewers of the future. The pair managed to read all three stories and came up with synopses of the plots as well as explaining the things they particularly enjoyed in each book.

A big thank you from me to them for all their effort and fantastic result!
(particularly as they liked the stories 😉 ).

Visit the blog and see all their thoughts and reviews on BestChickLit.com.

Kindle version of ‘Kool Kid Kruncha and the High Trapeze’ is FREE on Amazon Worldwide today & tomorrow (27/28 Jan 2015) http://www.smarturl.it/Kruncha.


Next stop on the tour is Tales of Yesterday readable from the 28th January. 








ONCE UPON A NOW – fairy tales for #children – launch #Giveaway #Kindle pic.twitter.com/7jhRxZ4PlH

Well, today’s the day. I’ve had children, I was a child myself ( do writers ever grow up?) and I still like them. As a kid I loved to listen to stories and today I’m launching my own series of children’s books.

The Fairy tale retains its potency because it still speaks truth, hopes and dreams. I’ve approached some modern day situations exploring contemporary dilemmas and issues that confront young folk.


These chapter-book stories are aimed at young readers, in the 7-10 year age group.  The books are all illustrated in a modern anime-style by talented artist Miko Abellera from the Philippines. This young guy has a real Wow style. He gets right in there in a special way. He’s got a great career ahead of him.

Each book features unique links and scannable QR codes to take readers of both paperback and e-books to bonus material such as audio and video clips, downloadable photos and colouring pictures to enrich the reading experience.

All the books are also available in audio book format – delightful recordings by the poet Oscar Sparrow, who brings the stories to life in his own inimitable style. He also composed the words for the National Anthem of Zanubia which he sings in Alf The Workshop Dog. Well – singing may not be quite the word. I’d love to hear your opinions. 


Ideal as stocking fillers or pocket money purchases!

How could a scruffy dog in a bus depot and the call of crows, link back to another world of power and love?

The ancient Kingdom of Zanubia and a stray dog looking for scraps in an inner-city repair garage, hold the secret. 

A wicked king, a beautiful girl, a young prince and the struggle between right and wrong maintain the fable tradition.


There’s something strange in the woodshed…

A poor little girl in a faraway land dreams of riding a pink bicycle. When she meets a strange animal, her dreams come true. Her happiness turns to sadness when a tragedy occurs in the town and her father doesn’t come home.


Maybe her new magic friend can find him?

Charlie finds it tough when his parents divorce – but Auntie Kate helps him overcome his greatest fear.

When Charlie has to move from the country into the city, he needs new friends. With his small size and red hair, some people aren’t kind to him. 

He wonders if he can face another day at school.

A trip to the circus gives him the strength to see himself and others in a new way.

To set the launch off with a bang I’m hosting a giveaway on Rafflecopter – something to really get your reading tastebuds fired up – first prize is a brand new 6″ KINDLE TOUCHSCREEN! 

Nothing complicated required for entry and plenty of options to qualify for for extra goes.  If you don’t want the latest Kindle, you can opt for a CASH alternative too. Oh – and I’ll be giving away some books as prizes too, as you’d expect.   The draw is on the 17th December 2014 – so don’t hang around to enter.



Find all the full details on my new ONCE UPON A NOW CLUB website or enter the Rafflecopter draw below:


a Rafflecopter giveaway