A Second Birthday Interview with Lakewater Press

LAkewater press

Since I began blogging I’ve been so privileged to interact with a wide range of other bloggers, readers, authors and publishers and it gives me very great pleasure to welcome Kate Foster, Editorial Director (and angel) of Lakewater Press to the blog today to celebrate Lakewater’s second birthday.

An Interview with Lakewater Press

Hi Kate. Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag. I’m delighted to welcome you here today to celebrate Lakewater Press’s second birthday.

Thank you so much for having me!

Firstly, could you tell us a bit about Lakewater Press?

Yes, of course. Lakewater Press is small, micro really, but still a traditional press in that we DO NOT and NEVER WILL charge authors to publish their work. We are about quality not quantity, with a side mission to publish debut authors who’ve written wonderful books that deserve to be read. All of our books go through a minimum of three thorough edits before we set a publication date and every author receives continued marketing and branding support throughout the term of their contract. We love reading great books and so birthing those we truly adore and are proud of is a blessing.

(What a wonderful philosophy!)

How are you celebrating your second birthday?

A Forsaken Friend Cover 2

Naturally we’re having a book sale and a few giveaways! Chances to win copies of our books, book vouchers, as well as some extra sweet treats too. Readers should check out our blog for details. But also, we’re celebrating by launching book 2 in the Friends series, A Forsaken Friend by Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape, sequel to the sharp and witty A Falling Friend. Teri and Lee, the stars of this series, are the Cagney and Lacey of academia.

falling friend

(Oh yes! I know all about this as Sue and Susan are also on the blog today and readers can see that blog post here.)

What is the biggest challenge in being a small independent publisher?

Growing our audience and reaching readers – the problem that most authors and publishers have. It’s happening, slowly, and we’re pretty chuffed with how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time. We have great products; we’re confident of that. And, although we’re not silly enough to think every reader in the world will fall head over heels in love with our books, we know each title is beautifully written, is current, but will also stand the test of time. Our books and our authors deserve to be read.

And what is the best aspect?

Being able to work so closely with the authors and involve them in every aspect of their book’s life. Also, for our staff and authors to become friends and support one another in promotional efforts. We want this process to be enjoyable, exciting, and we’re all about making it collaborative. As a small press we can do this.

Lakewater Press has the motto ‘Great Books, That’s All‘ but we know there’s more to it than that in getting a book from submission to publication. Could you explain the process for us please?

Yes, I’ll try to be as brief as possible! Each of our acquisitions staff has a list of likes and dislikes and what we’d like to see in our inboxes. So, initially, whoever the author submits to needs to have an interest in this genre or content – there’s really no point in sending me a historical novel, for example, because in general it’s just not what I enjoy reading. Then, of course, there’s that connection thing; the editor needs to be engaged and hooked from the opening pages and, most importantly, to the voice. Sometimes we can’t explain why we don’t like a well-written book with a strong story. It can come down to simply not caring enough about the characters or not being swept up in the rhythm of the voice. But, before rejecting submissions we each of us consider if a colleague might be a better fit first.

Once we have a manuscript we love and can’t stop thinking about, we take it through to acquisitions – which basically means sharing the book with the other Lakewater editors and trusted team of readers to make sure we’re all passionate about it and have a good idea of the areas that need work and development.

And then we hope the authors are as excited to join our team as we are to have them! We don’t hide anything and we make sure the author knows we expect hard work on their part and plenty of dedication to promoting their books. It’s that team effort again! At this point, once contracts are signed and deals are announced, we get down to business. Editing, designing, creating, chatting, and celebrating. It’s a lot of fun.

(I love the collaborative approach you have Kate.)

You take a personal approach to dealing with your authors. What is the Lakewater philosophy for publishing that sets you apart from all the others?

It’s a team effort – staff and authors. Pretty much everything is talked through with at least one other member of the team and the author. Everyone gets to be included in every decision – from the editing to the creative element to promotion. A new creative direction or promotional idea or anything really can come from anyone at any time, so we take time to discuss the books, not just when they’re pre-release, but post-release too.

Although you’re a small independent publisher, you have quite an eclectic catalogue. Could you tell us a bit about your books please?

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As booklovers, our collective tastes are eclectic and this will always reflect in our catalogue. We have gorgeous, rich fantasy (WITCHBREED series), gritty and edgy thrillers (JAKE CALDWELL series), intelligent and sharp diva lit (FRIENDS series), haunting and refreshing YA sci-fi (METAMORPHOSIS series), terrifyingly real technothrillers (CYBER WAR series), warm and inspiring women’s fiction (THE SUMMER SPRINGSTEEN’S SONGS SAVED ME), and disturbing and heart-pounding YA thrillers (THE LIFE GROUP). And these are just the books published! (I *might* mention our forthcoming titles in a moment…)


(What a wonderful selection of books, Kate.)

Many bloggers wonder if our blogs make a difference to publishers and their authors. What would you say to that?

Absolutely. Book bloggers are the royalty of the book world. Without your love and passion for discussing and sharing books, your honesty and opinions, publishers and authors often wonder what seasoned readers truly think of their work. We, like the authors, can get so wrapped up in the love for our books that we often can’t see the wood for the trees. So readers’ opinions – good and bad – are so important for us to hear so we know what works and why, but also what doesn’t work and why.

There are so many debates about the longevity of ‘real’ and e-books. What is your view from a publishing perspective?

There’s a place for both physical and e-books in the world. They will co-exist happily and there will always be a place for both. I think it was Stephen Fry who made this comparison to elevators and stairs. Why can’t we have both? Just because elevators came along it didn’t mean stairs had to go! Of course, some books sell better than others as e-books and others as physical copies, and trends always change, so it’s important for us to ensure both digital and physical copies are available to readers for all of our books.

(Quite right too. Whatever format doesn’t take away from the effort an author has had to put in to writing it!)

What are you most excited about for Lakewater Press in 2018?

Well, lots! We have some amazing books coming out this year, obviously starting today with A Forsaken Friend of which feedback so far has been remarkable! We think this might just be better than A Falling Friend… But also this year we have another instalment coming in the JAKE CALDWELL series – fans are becoming pretty impatient so James L. Weaver has been busy writing two books – the sequel to Butterfly Bones, Butterfly Blood, in the METAMORPHOSIS series by Rebecca Carpenter – and it’s an absolute beauty! – another adult thriller called The Foster – guaranteed to leave readers super creeped out – a YA LGBTQ called All Boy by the wonderful Mia Kerick – which is not only very important but melted our hearts! – and very possibly the third and final book in the WITCHBREED series – and we have no idea how RL Martinez plans to end this yet! Plus, we’re revamping The Life Group – new cover, new marketing plans – and we cannot wait!

Lakewater Press is 2 years old. What do you think Lakewater might look like by the time of its 10th birthday?

I hope much the same, but with more stunning books, more avid fans, and more brilliant and talented authors as part of the Lakewater family. We’re here for the duration and hope to evolve and learn from what works and what doesn’t. Life is an education.

(I’m sure you’ll go from strength to strength Kate.)

Is there anything else we should know about Lakewater Press that you haven’t told us so far?

Erm, we love books and authors and readers. That’s if you didn’t figure this out already! And we want to take this chance to thank those who’ve already purchased and read our books, to ask those who have to please, please leave a review so we know how you felt about our products, and finally to invite you to connect with us and our authors! We’re a nice bunch.

Great advice Kate. We should always leave a review of a book if we can as it helps spread the word. Thanks so much for being on Linda’s Book Bag today and Happy Birthday! 

Thanks Linda!

About Lakewater Press

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Launched in 2016, Lakewater Press is a small independent publishing company with a philosophy of publishing entertaining and engaging books for adults and young adults alike, preferring quality to quantity.

To find out more about Lakewater Press, follow them on Twitter @LakewaterPress, visit their website or find them on Facebook.

Staying in with Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape

A Forsaken Friend Cover 2

It seems absolutely ages ago that I was able to have lunch in real life with two smashing authors, Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape and I’m absolutely thrilled that today they are staying in with me to chat about one of their books, A Forsaken Friend which is published today. I’d like to thank fellow blogger and Random Things Tours organiser Anne Cater for inviting me to be part of this tour.

It seems especially exciting to invite the ladies over to stay in with me because Sue and Susan are published by Lakewater Press and as Lakewater Press is two years old I’m interviewing their Director Kate Foster today too in a post that you can read here.

Staying in with Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape

Welcome back to Linda’s Book Bag Sue and welcome for the first time Susan.Thank you for agreeing to stay in with me.

Tell me, which of your books have you brought along to share this evening and why have you chosen it?

Sue: This was a no brainer: our new book A Forsaken Friend, which was published today (March 21). Don’t you just love the beautiful cover?

Forsaken friend 3D cover

(I do indeed and a Happy Publication Day to you both!)

Susan: It’s a sequel to our first novel A Falling Friend, which was published two years ago by Lakewater Press.

falling friend

(When A Falling Friend, was published, lovely Sue wrote a guest post for Linda’s Book Bag that you can read here.) 

Sue: We started writing together about 13 years ago, but we actually met when my youngest daughter was seven months old. She’s now 28 – so a long time ago.

Susan: We were introduced by my then boyfriend, now my husband, who knew Sue was looking for a job share partner to work with her producing in-house magazines and video programmes for a privatised utility company. I was living in Wales at the time but wanted to return to Leeds so, since my background was also in journalism, he suggested we might be a match.

Sue: We hit it off straight away and have been pals ever since.

Susan: After five years, we both decided to move on and both ended up studying English Literature as mature students, before re-inventing ourselves as university lecturers. Sue taught journalism at Sheffield Hallam and I taught at Leeds Trinity.

Sue: We kept in touch – in fact, Susan was instrumental in getting me my job at Hallam – and regularly met up for lunch (we like to lunch!) and a gossip. On one of these meet-ups we were chatting about the various how-to-write-like-a-journalist books on the market…

Susan: …and because none were quite right for our students we decided to write the book we wanted our students to have…

Sue: … so I went home and emailed four academic publishers and by teatime two of them had expressed an interest in seeing a detailed proposal.


Susan: We went down to London to meet one of the editors and twelve months later, our first text book, Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction was published by Sage. It was followed a year later by our second book, Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction, also published by Sage.


And then, as one does, we decided to write a novel, which eventually, after a number of false starts, became A Falling Friend.

(What a story Susan!)


Sue: We’ve just given the book a bit of a makeover with a lovely new cover to tie in with the release.

I can’t decide which cover I like best. What do you think?

(I definitely like the new one best Sue.)

What can we expect from an evening in with A Forsaken Friend?

forsaken twitter

Susan: The Amazon headline describes it as witty and intelligent chic lit with attitude. I’m glad people think our heroines Teri Meyer and Lee Harper are spunky, funny and clever women, but since neither they (nor us!) are quite young enough to be chicks, we prefer the label #diva lit.

Sue: Or even just women’s contemporary fiction.

After all, we’re two women writing about the ups and downs in the lives of another pair of women. Men and jobs and family matter – and Teri and Lee have their share of fights – but their friendship is the backbone that enables them to take whatever life throws at them.

Susan: Something which is true for very many women.


Sue: A Forsaken Friend picks up where A Falling Friend left off: as the book opens things can’t get much worse for Teri. She’s lost her job at the university, as well as the regular allowance from her dad’s factory, and now her ex-best friend has gone and stolen her ex-husband!

Susan: Teri decides to hell with them all and heads off into the countryside to spend some time at her brother’s smallholding where the gorgeous and god-like neighbour helps lift her spirits.

Sue: But back home in Yorkshire she’s still got newspaper editor Declan, and a guy she calls Duck’s Arse (because of his weird hairstyle), on hold…

(I wonder why an image of Donald Trump has just popped into my head?)

Susan: Meanwhile, her best friend Lee is feeling a bit guilty about falling in love with Teri’s ex-husband. But, she’s also rather enjoying the fact that, for once, her love life is looking up…

Sue: …except for all the elephants in the room – Teri being the biggest – and not to mention Lee’s mother’s views about her dating a twice-divorced man.

Susan: In other words, things aren’t as rosy as she first thought.  So Lee’s beginning to wonder if sharing her life with a man is such a good idea.

Sue: When we wrote A Falling Friend we thought it would be a standalone novel but then lots of people started asking us what happened next…

Susan: …and we realised we weren’t quite ready to let Teri and Lee go so we decided to move their story along. It took us eight years to write A Falling Friend – we were both working full-time and juggling busy lives – but we finished A Forsaken Friend in eight months.


Sue: And then spent another eight months-or-so re-writing and editing. A lot of writers don’t like this part of the process but I don’t mind because I’m a bit of a tinkerer and polisher. I’m not so sure about Susan though…

Susan: …it can be a bit frustrating, especially when I’m buzzing with ideas for our next novel which will be the last in the trilogy, but we’ve got a brilliant editor and copy editor, and the changes we’ve made at their suggestion have made A Forsaken Friend a much better book.

Sue: We’ve already written a dozen chapters of the next one – and have a pretty good idea of what’s going to happen to Teri and Lee next. But, no doubt, they’ll swing a few surprises…

Susan: …they always do. It’s lovely when an email pings into your inbox and the next chapter arrives and then, of course, we’re straight on the phone to each other. My husband says he always knows when I’m talking to Sue because of the shrieks of laughter from my office.

(This sounds such a wonderful working relationship ladies.)

What else have you bought along – and why?

Sue: We’ve brought a selection of goodies: a bottle of wine, because, just like Teri and Lee, we like a good bottle of wine and, because I think you’ve said before that you don’t drink alcohol, a packet of my favourite China rose petal leaf tea from the world famous Betty’s tea room in Harrogate, and a box of their Yorkshire Fat Rascal scones.


(I DO drink alcohol (though I prefer tea) but, you’re right, wine doesn’t agree with me. I love those scones from Betty’s and have found I can buy them here too!) 

Susan: We’ve also brought a little photo album of some of the Yorkshire settings that feature in our books. We’re going to post the pictures on our blog so readers can see them too but, in the meantime, you can have an exclusive preview.

(How lovely. Your friendship really shines through.)

Sue: And while you flip through the photographs, we’ll tell you how we make writing together work, how Twitter helped us find Kate Foster, our lovely editor and publisher, and why we avoid using the word ‘looked’.

Susan: We might also, if you’re very discreet, tell you what inspired the Friends trilogy and, though none of our characters are based on real people, we’ve both worked in universities and the local media so we might share some snippets of gossip…

I’m always ready for a bit of gossip. Thanks so much to both of you for staying in with me to tell me all about A Forsaken Friend. I’ve really enjoyed it. I hope you have a wonderful publication day.

A Forsaken Friend

A Forsaken Friend Cover 2

No-one said friendship was easy.

Things can’t get much worse for Teri Meyer. If losing her job at the university and the regular allowance from her dad’s factory isn’t bad enough, now her ex-best friend has gone and stolen her ex-husband! Well, to hell with them all. A few weeks in the countryside at her brother’s smallholding should do the trick – and the gorgeous and god-like neighbour might help.

But then there’s Declan, not to mention Duck’s Arse back in Yorkshire…

It’s not as if Lee Harper set out to fall in love with her best friend’s ex-husband. But, for once, her love life is looking up – except for all the elephants in the room, not to mention Mammy’s opinion on her dating a twice-divorced man. Perhaps things aren’t as rosy as she first thought. And now with one family crisis after another, Lee’s juggling more roles – and emotions – than she ever imagined.

Maybe sharing her life with a man wasn’t such a grand idea.

The Friends trilogy continues in this heart-warming and hilarious hoot as two best friends navigate men, careers, family and rock bottom in this brilliant sequel to A Falling Friend.

A Forsaken Friend is published by Lakewater Press today, March 21 2018 and is available for purchase here in paperback and here in e-book.

About Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape

Sue Featherstone and Susan Pape are both former newspaper journalists with extensive experience of working for national and regional papers and magazines, and in public relations.

More recently they have worked in higher education, teaching journalism – Sue at Sheffield Hallam and Susan at Leeds Trinity University.

The pair, who have been friends for 25 years, wrote two successful journalism text books together – Newspaper Journalism: A Practical Introduction and Feature Writing: A Practical Introduction (both published by Sage).

Their debut novel, A Falling Friend, published by Lakewater Press, has been followed by a second book, A Forsaken Friend, in their Friends trilogy.

Sue, who is married with two grown-up daughters, loves reading, writing and Nordic walking in the beautiful countryside near her Yorkshire home.

Susan is married and lives in a village near Leeds, and, when not writing, loves walking and cycling in the Yorkshire Dales. She is also a member of a local ukulele orchestra.

They blog about books here.

You can find both Sue and Susan on Twitter: @SueF_Writer and @wordfocus.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

forsaken friend poster

Staying in with David Impey

The october men

I love a good thriller and am delighted to be part of the launch celebrations for The October Men by David Impey and would like to thank Helen Lewis at LiterallyPR for inviting me to take part. Usually I don’t know what book an author is going to bring along to stay in with me, but as it’s publication day for The October Men I had a pretty good idea today!

If you’re an author who’d also like to stay in with me to tell me about one of your books, please click here for more details.

Staying in with David Impey

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag David. Thanks so much for agreeing to stay in with me. 

I think I have a good idea of the answer to this question, but which of your books have you brought along to share with me and why have you chosen it?

The october men

Hi Linda. Thanks for asking me along. I’ve brought my first published novel The October Men along with me. It’s a conspiracy thriller about the evidence of time travel as opposed to a linear narrative from the point of view of the time travellers.

(Sounds so exciting and Happy Publication Day David.)

Thanks Linda. I wanted to share The October Men with you because I tried to write it in a way that examined the different aspects of  what might happen in a world which has been affected by the intervention of people with different agendas – some more benign than others – over the course of the last 150 years.

So I wrote the book in a ‘mosaic’ style, a series of vignettes which, by themselves, may mean little but, when taken collectively, build up into a cohesive story arc. There’s no protagonist, unless you count you, yourself the reader. I’ve tried to write it so that you are put in the centre of the evidence and you are asked to try and make sense of what is going on as you proceed through the book.

I hope you enjoy it.

(I honestly think this sounds fascinating. I think readers always affect a book because they bring their own experiences to the reading so this approach really appeals to me.) 

3D The October Men

What can we expect from an evening in with The October Men?

Those people who have already read the book have pretty much all said the same two things: that it’s a page turner (one reader said the book kept her from attending to all the work she should have been doing!) and it goes off in a completely unexpected direction towards the end.

(Oh. Interesting.)

jfk dallas

The story examines various events in recent history – the assassination of JFK, the Roswell Incident the Wall Street Crash – as well as art fraud, stock market dealing and espionage. It also is set in a number of locations including London, Oxford (my home town), New York, The Cayman Islands, Liechtenstein and France among others.

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Whilst I said the novel is built up of short vignettes, many of them interlink and most end of some sort of a cliffhanger. So, I have been pretty brazen about trying to keep the reader hooked.

This is a novel to spend the evening with. In the company of an excellent bottle of wine.


(Ironically, I’ve been to all those locations so settling down with The October Men and revisiting them sounds a plan to me!)

What else have you brought along and why have you brought it?

I have brought you a Bitcoin and a winning ticket for El Gordo.

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If you had bought a Bitcoin in October 16th last year and sold in December 16th when the price peaked (at $19,343.04), you would have trebled your money. If you had bought in June, the profit would have been nearly five-fold; if you’d bought in March 16th, the value would have gone up sixteen times!

(Oh my goodness. The value of hindsight eh?)

By contrast, the top prize for El Gordo in 2017 was over €200 million and was shared by the locals of a village bar in north-western Spain.  

el gordo ticket

(Lucky villagers!)

Now, tell me, if you could go back in time, what would it be for? And what would you do with the proceeds? Is it for yourself, or for someone you love?

(What questions David! If I could go back in time and get my hands on those fortunes I’d certainly spend some of the money travelling, but I think I’d give the majority to my local hospital as it seems to be dying a rapid death through lack of funding.)

Thanks so much, David, for staying in with me to introduce The October Men. It’s usually me who asks the questions and I’ve had a really interesting time. Good luck with today’s launch of The October Men. It sounds great.

The October Men

The october men

Otto Parsons, a brilliant Oxford physicist, is missing. His early experiments on zero gravity machines have produced unimaginable results. His professor, Dan Sibley, has to secure funding for their work or close the project down. A wealthy organisation has made him an offer to secure the project’s future. Only now, it seems his backers may have an altogether more sinister agenda. Wheels are in motion that cannot be stopped.

What is it that connects their work with the assassination of JFK, the Roswell Incident, the Wall Street Crash and a mysterious cache of priceless art?

And who are the shadowy partners of the October Foundation?

The answers will threaten the safety of everyone on the planet.

The October Men is the stunning debut from David Impey, full of twists and turns that will keep you gripped. If you like well-crafted thrillers by John le Carré and Colin Dexter or thought-provoking science fiction by John Wyndham, then The October Men is the novel you must read.

The October Men is published today, 20th March 2018, and is available for purchase here.

About David Impey


David Impey is a debut writer and when he’s not writing, he is an avid musician and an awful cricketer.  David lives in a village near Oxford UK with his patient wife and insane dog.

You can follow David on Twitter @David_Impey1.

Extract and Giveaway: The Ballad of Curly Oswald by Curly Oswald

Curly Oswald

I am absolutely intrigued by The Ballad of Curly Oswald by – er, Curly Oswald (see author details below)! I have a copy of The Ballad of Curly Oswald on my TBR thanks to the lovely folk at Indie Books. I’m so looking forward to reading this one, but in the meantime I am delighted that I have an extract to share today. Even better perhaps, I have a paperback copy of The Ballad of Curly Oswald give away to one lucky Linda’s Book Bag reader too. You’ll find how to enter at the bottom of this blog post.

The Ballad of Curly Oswald is available for purchase here and on Amazon.

The Ballad of Curly Oswald

Curly Oswald

Born in a woodland pond and raised in a hippie commune, Curly Oswald is the ultimate outsider, unhindered by conventional schooling or any administrative ties with the wicked System.

Now, confined to hospital following a near-fatal accident, he tells the story of his younger self and extended ‘family’, as they grapple with problems ranging from eco-friendly slug control to the mischief of a power-hungry guru.

An extraordinary chronicle of a lifestyle both alternative yet remarkably viable, a microcosm of eccentricity, comedy and occasional grotesque tragedy, it is told with the unflinching eye of a child and the sympathy of a narrator who sees the humour as well as the horror of life in all its deranged glory.

An Extract from The Ballad of Curly Oswald

We had plenty of musical evenings, usually round the Fireplace – (the fire made from dead branches only, of course). Erryk played reasonably well on his acoustic guitar, though Rick was by far the most accomplished musician. On his electric guitar, a black Stratocaster, he would perform some extraordinary solo riffs when he was in the mood. ‘He must be connected somehow to the spirit of Jimi Hendrix,’ said Zoë; of course she was biased. Sean had a pair of bongo drums, Tiger Lily her Balinese flute, and Ginnie a collection of exotic little percussion instruments. Us kids liked to invent our own; Rain, for instance, made himself a pair of maracas out of a couple of old tennis balls he filled with tacks. Not the most musical of the bunch, I still enjoyed bashing glass jars with bits of stick. Erryk showed me how to vary the note by filling the jars with different volumes of water.

We all sang, too. Stella had a particularly good soprano voice, clear and strong – our very own Joan Baez. Erryk knew the lyrics to all Bob Dylan’s songs, and composed his own Dylanesque numbers – including The Ballad of Curly Oswald written when I was still a toddler. ‘Born of fire, into water,’ it began, ‘of the wingéd elven daughter…’ I don’t think I need go any further.

And we had story-telling evenings as well: here Tiger Lily was the star, though once again everyone joined in. The stories were by no means always fictional or mythical. Often they dealt with real life, events from Lothlorien’s past – (my birth, for instance) – or weird, amusing, sometimes distressing encounters with Outsiders. These true-life stories were part of the glue which held Lothlorien together, an ever-growing oral history which belonged only to ourselves, the Elves’ Inheritors. That was what Sean called us. In those halcyon days men could get away with expressions like that.

These entertainments came at the close of days packed with activity for us children. There were games in the woods, of course – when we had the time. As soon as we were old enough, we were encouraged to take on simple responsibilities such as collecting the eggs and helping in the Garden. The best was the laundry run, when we did a round of the caravans to pick up dirty washing for the machine in the shower-block. The vehicle we used for this, which we either pushed or rode in, was a shopping trolley from the supermarket in Middington. It could become a car, a tank, a dragon… anything.

Then there were lessons, although lessons isn’t really the right word to use as it sounds too schooly. All the adults were happy to teach us their various skills if we showed an interest, but our principal instructor was Gogo. But no timetables were involved, no curriculum. ‘School,’ he would say, ‘is simply society’s method of conditioning kids to believe that for most of the week, for most of your life, you’ll have to be in a place where you don’t want to be, doing something you don’t want to do.’ He just taught what he felt like teaching at any given moment. This unpredictability was half the fun.

Quite often he would take us for a trip Outside. ‘Come on kids,’ he called one warm spring evening. ‘Jump in the car. We’re off to the seaside to learn all about tides and the moon.’

I looked up. ‘There isn’t a moon.’

‘There will be, you’ll see.’

‘What about supper?’ I asked a little anxiously.

‘We’re taking it with us.’

‘Will the ice-cream place be open?’ We loved going to the seaside. The nearest resort was less than an hour’s drive away.

‘No Curly, it’s closed at night. Anyway, we’re going somewhere much wilder than usual. But you know what? We’re going to look for driftwood and build a fire and then we’re going to bake some spuds and toast some of Marj’s homemade marshmallows. I’ve got a whole big bag. And we’re going to gather seaweed and make jelly with it tomorrow.’

‘And some more marshmallows?’ I asked. Marjoram used seaweed to make her marshmallows, gelatine being out of the question as it came from animals.

‘Quite possibly. Now listen to this, kids – if we’re really lucky tonight we might even see phosphorescence.’

We did, too. I’ll never forget that evening: the full moon rising like a golden peach, the swish of pebbles dragged back and forth on the beach by the waves, the scent and sizzle of the marshmallows that we stuck on skewers and held over the embers of the fire. And the tiny sparkles of brilliance drifting around the rocks – only a few, but enough to reduce even Rain and me to silence by their magic. ‘They’re sea-fairies,’ whispered Layla, and for once we had to agree with her.

The next day we wrote an account of our outing, as we always did – in my case lavishly illustrated as I loved to draw and was good at it. All of us could read and write by the age of five – because we wanted to. Books were a big part of our lives. Everyone had books, but the most interesting, to us, were Ginnie’s, as she had hung on to all her childhood classics, and Gogo’s, because he had picture-books about more or less everything. He also took us on regular forays to the library in Middington. I remember its fabulous smell – and the way in which parents often pushed their children away from us. ‘Gypsies,’ was a whisper we heard more than once. ‘We are not,’ Shine would reply loudly and loftily. ‘We are the Elves’ Inheritors.’ But that didn’t seem to help much.

Perhaps the most varied collection of literature, and the one which finally absorbed me the most, was Jack’s. I realise that up till now I’ve only once mentioned Jack in passing, and Loose not at all – the two people who were to be absolutely pivotal in my life as I started to grow up. Even now they still stir up a powerful and ambivalent cocktail of memories.

But they didn’t arrive until the autumn of ’76. Arjuna and all his mischief-making happened first.

(Now that really makes me want to get cracking on my TBR so that The Ballad of Curly Oswald gets to the top!)

About Curly Oswald

Now, here’s the thing. I have a Linda’s Book Bag house style and I usually post a photo of the author here, followed by a brief biography and social media links. This time, however, I have nothing for you. Even Indie Books don’t know the true identity of Curly Oswald and whether The Ballad of Curly Oswald is a memoir or fiction! You’ll just have to enter the giveaway and see if you can work out the author’s identity if you win!


A Paperback Copy of The Ballad of Curly Oswald

Curly Oswald

For your chance to win a paperback copy of The Ballad of Curly Oswald, click here. Giveaway open internationally and closes at UK midnight on Monday 26th March 2018.

Rover by Michael Berger


My thanks to Mia Harris at Author Solutions for a copy of the children’s book Rover by Michael Berger in return for an honest review.

Published by Simon and Schuster imprint, Archway, Rover is available for purchase in the usual places including directly from the publisher here and on Amazon.



Julia is a little girl who has always wanted a puppy, just like many other little boys and girls. One exciting day, her wish comes true!

A puppy who can talk appears at the school bus stop one morning, running out of the woods. He comes to Julia and asks her to take him to school. Julia decides she wants to keep him forever—but first she must get permission from her mother to become the puppy’s owner. If her mother says yes, Julia is hoping to find a new wonderful friend. But what will she name her new friend?

In this children’s story, a little girl waiting for her school bus meets a magical puppy who can talk and who wants to become her dog.

My Review of Rover

Waiting for the school bus, Julia discovers a talking puppy.

Rover is a quaint and charming story about the blossoming relationship between a little girl and a puppy. It works at a very simple level so that children will relate to it easily. Although it is modern in setting, Rover draws on the great traditions of children’s stories with a talking animal, and in beginning ‘Once upon a time’ leading through the narrative to Julia and the puppy living happily ever after.

When the puppy is missing I think there’s a good opportunity to engage children in the story as they guess what may have happened so that they can enjoy the story on more than one level.

I thought the illustrations accompanying the story were very effective and their child-like quality will appeal to children. Indeed, I’m sure many children will really enjoy this story.

About Michael Berger

Michael Berger has been creating fun stories for his only daughter for many years and is now sharing one of her favorites. He is a father, an insurance agent, and an elite Ironman triathlete. He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

The Fed-Up Cow by Peta Lemon

Fed up cow

My enormous thanks to the author Peta Lemon for sending me a copy of the children’s book The Fed-Up Cow in return for an honest review

Published by Quirky Picture Press, The Fed-Up Cow is available for purchase here.

The Fed-Up Cow

Fed up cow

Hilda is FED-UP with being a cow. Spending all day doing not much but moo. There has to be something more she can do.

So she decides to be a sheep… … then a pig … and even a chicken.

Is the grass any greener on the other side?

Join Hilda, the fed-up cow, on her voyage of self-discovery in this daft but timeless story, written in rhyme.

My Review of The Fed-Up Cow

Hilda is bored with being a cow so looks for another animal identity to transform her life.

The Fed-Up Cow is a fabulous children’s book. I loved it and am certain young children will adore it too because it is witty, engaging, colourful and there’s a jolly good story between its pages too.

There is a surprising amount to the plot for a picture book in this age range as Hilda experiments with being various animals, so that I think The Fed-Up Cow could be read several times over with young children without them getting bored.

There’s a smashing rhyme scheme and a wonderful rhythm to the writing so that reading this aloud with children would be a real pleasure. The language is simple enough for young children to begin the reading process independently with words like ‘now’ and ‘cow, and yet there is sufficient challenge in other vocabulary, like ‘chortles’, to extend children’s language as they enjoy the narrative.

I loved the plot and the humour and I thought the themes of identity, and being content with who we are, were handled so well. The idea of pretending and being someone else will appeal to all children, but enjoying what we have and who we are too is a valuable lesson to learn.

Alongside the text are superb illustrations from Maria Dasic Todoric that enhance both the story as well as the engagement and enjoyment. The illustrations add an extra educational element too as children could count the flies buzzing around the cows, or the number of pigs rolling in the dirt, for example.

I think The Fed-Up Cow has all the elements that make for a wonderful children’s book and I recommend it most highly.

About Peta Lemon


Peta Lemon is the author of beautifully illustrated children’s picture books, published under the imprint Quirky Picture Press.

Her books are always funny, written in rhyme and illustrated by Maria Dasic Todoric.

The Fed-up Cow is available now from all major retailers. Timmy on the Toilet and the Bins of Cotteridge Down are coming later in 2018.

The Apocalypse: A Guest Post by Devon C Ford, Author of The Fall

the fall

As a blogger I get the chance to encounter a wide range of books and although I don’t have time to read them all, it doesn’t stop me being completely fascinated by them. One such book is The Fall by Devon C Ford. I’m thrilled that I have a stunning guest post from Devon C Ford today looking at the concept of an apocalypse.

Published by the innovative Vulpine Press, The Fall is available for purchase here.

The Fall

the fall

Cal’s ‘honeymoon’ didn’t start off quite how he’d planned. For starters, he was heading somewhere he didn’t actually want to go. And secondly, he was going alone and unmarried. He had no idea that his first visit to New York City would also land him in the middle of a domestic terror attack, forcing him to flee Manhattan in a desperate bid to survive.

This was no ordinary terror attack.

The Movement, in a misguided attempt to seize political control of the USA, unwittingly invited the destruction of their homeland, and as the bombs start to fall, the shock and loss of life reverberates around the world. Cal, along with a small group he met in NYC, desperately flees inland away from the targeted coastal cities, but chaos follows them around every corner.

The Apocalypse

A Guest Post by Devon C Ford

For starters, there are lots of different kinds of post-apocalyptic world we could find ourselves in. Imagine yourself a year down the line having to deal with a world without power, without running water, without transportation as there is no fuel left. Imagine yourself having to cope with the big three: food, shelter, water.

And not in that order, either.

Do you know how long you can go without water? Do you know how to purify rain water? Could you handle the extremes of seasonal weather changes where you live? How long will your food last, and do you know how to become self-sufficient? How much farm land does it take to feed one person? Are you even aware of the psychological effects of surviving in the first place?

And that’s just the first year in an apocalypse, without even considering what other people would do.

So why do so many people want to read about the end of the world as we know it? What is the obsession?

I think it’s a slightly sad side-effect of the society we have built, and make no mistake we have built it in every democratic country because we as the people have elected our leaders. People will always seek a release, an escape, a brain-break from the daily grind  where responsibility and paying bills and getting up before you want to only to go and work to make someone else more money than you get, is just the endless hamster-wheel cycle of life.

People want to switch that off, and they will do it in different ways. Exercise, alcohol, TV, books… all of these things are a way to push normal life aside for a moment.

Sometimes that switch off, that distraction, becomes a mild obsession. Many of us wish it could be exercise (he types, as he looks over his expanding midsection) but it worms its way into your thoughts so insidiously that you haven’t even noticed it’s there until you are hooked.

The apocalypse does that. You can’t say when or often how, but somewhere along the way you became hooked. It’s a believable world to escape to, where a person can reinvent themselves and be what they think they could be instead of what they have ended up as.

For many it remains as a mild obsession or an enjoyable escape, and allows them to imagine a world without phones and power, to see justice dispensed without the lengthy trial and predictably light sentence, to read about how people survive adversity.

Yes, I said that, people read about the apocalypse because of the feel-good-factor when the characters overcome adversity and survive. Despite the death and destruction and loss, a good Post-Apoc tale leaves the reader with that warm, fuzzy feeling that no Rom-Com could ever hope to match.

“But it’s just fiction…” I hear them cry.

Is it? Do any of us honestly believe that we as a species are so civilised and evolved that we couldn’t find ourselves in the midst of a global war? Or surviving in the aftermath of a nuclear Armageddon? Or picking up the pieces after a series of natural disasters or the next pandemic?

Take a look at history. We have killed billions of our own kind in our relatively short time on this rock. We’ve seen and perpetrated genocides, ethnic cleansings, slavery, forced labour, we’ve killed people through political uprisings, suffered famines, droughts, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, floods, weather disasters… and all of this is before smallpox, Spanish flu, the Black Death, malaria, cholera, typhus, AIDS…

Wake up, peeps, we are probably due for something bad to go down.

Which brings me on to the people who already know this. ‘Prepping’ is nothing new on the far side of the pond to me, but it is still a relatively new concept over here. People are going on survival training weekends not just for fun, but so that they can provide for and protect their families when the SHTF. People, normal people with good jobs and no overt signs of lunacy, keep season-relevant BOB’s ready to go at all times. (A BOB, for those of you not up with the lingo, is a Bug-Out-Bag containing everything you need to survive for a few days.)

Talk of the apocalypse, in whatever form, isn’t as much a case of IF but WHEN.

But is it all doom and gloom? Well, that depends on your personal outlook on life. If you eat food that someone else has cooked every day and live your entire life through the inadequate medium of social media, then the apocalypse probably isn’t going to be your thing.

If you secretly yearn for the banks to disappear and for the need to survive to overtake the need to meet that next performance review on a strong footing, then you might not see it as such a bad thing.

The sad truth is, we don’t know how close we are every day to another war breaking out because our access to that information is as sanitised as it could be. We are spoon-fed the information that others deem us capable of handling, and we happily go on with our lives as though nothing is amiss on our happy planet.

But if we were aware, would we be as happy? Would we still be able to function in our daily lives? Could you imagine the conversations we would have?

“Have you seen the new Marvel film yet?”

“Forget that, did you see the display of military might by North Korea? Do you know where there are any shelters around here? And there was a report that an Ebola outbreak is making people reanimate and attack. Dude, it’s happening, I’m going off-grid!”

Those of you old enough to recall might remember the feeling that war between east and west was imminent for years. That heightened state of fear, public fear, has to have an effect on not just people, but society as a whole.

I’ve been asked if I prep, and I suppose I do in a way. No, I don’t have a stockpile of food and tools, because if an apocalypse of any form did happen I live in an area that is too populated to stay in. I don’t have a rural stronghold I could dig into like the proverbial Alabama tick, I don’t have six months of canned goods in my basement for the main reason that I don’t have a basement, so no, I’m no prepper.

But that’s not to say I don’t have a plan…

(Oh my goodness Devon. What a guest post! I’m looking at the store cupboard right now and thinking…)

About Devon C Ford


Devon C Ford is from the UK and lives in the Midlands. His career in public services started in his teens and has provided a wealth of experiences, both good and some very bad, which form the basis of the book ideas that cause regular insomnia. His debut series After it Happened became a bestseller.

His latest book The Fall is part of a multi-author series and is available to buy now on Amazon.

You can find more about Devon C Ford on Facebook, on his website and by following him on Twitter @DevonFordAuthor.