fiction and other writing

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Magical children’s chapter books

These children’s chapter books are great for bedtime stories, assemblies in school, or for journeys. Each chapter contains a mini story within the bigger story and in this series there is a touch of magic, to make the reading fun for readers.

Why not download them onto your child’s e-reader or treat them to the paperback version.

The Green Book

Tiny Tyrannosaurus

Pablo the storytelling bear

Here’s the first chapter of Pablo the storytelling bear.

Bill’s Gift

Bill wanted to play football but the day was too hot. His grandparents had bought him a cuddly toy for his birthday, but he’d been hoping for a goalie outfit. Pablo, the fluffy white polar bear, was cute but Bill was seven years old.

He wasn’t too upset though, because there was a massive chocolate birthday cake for tea.

At bedtime he climbed up to his bed to discover the little polar bear already tucked in, but what he hadn’t expected was that the bear was snoring.

Bill backed away and looked all round his room. He suspected Emily, his sister, was hiding somewhere and playing a trick on him.

‘Are you in bed yet, Bill?’ called his dad.

‘Yes, almost,’ said Bill.

He picked up the little bear and moved him over to one side so that he could get into bed. By the time his dad came to kiss him goodnight he was snuggled down. Once the door had closed again, he heard a voice.

‘You woke me up,’ said the little bear. ‘I was having such a lovely dream’.

Bill sat up. ‘You talk?’

‘Of course, I talk.’

‘Well, most bears don’t talk and most toys don’t, so how do you?’

‘It’s a long story. You see I was once in the family of a little girl, called Jenny, who was very ill. She couldn’t do much. She would lay in her bed day after day, with just me for company. She was so bored and so unhappy and that’s when it happened.’

‘What happened?’

‘Gertrude Hermione Humbug happened. She just appeared like magic. Jenny had fallen asleep, but I was wide awake and I said to the little lady that there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t talk at that time, but she read my thoughts. I told her how awful it was when someone was left lying in bed, sometimes in pain, with nothing to do. She agreed and said something must be done. I asked if she was going to cure Jenny and she said she’d have to work on that, but in the meantime, she’d give me a gift.’

‘What was it? I wanted a goalie outfit for my birthday.’

‘Well, that wouldn’t have helped Jenny much, would it?’

‘I suppose not.’

‘What she gave me was a head full of stories. Of course, I couldn’t tell Jenny the stories without being able to talk, so really, I had two gifts.’

‘That’s wonderful,’ said Bill, ‘and did she like your stories?’

‘She loved them and they made her feel so much better. After several months she was up and about again. I was so happy.’

‘So why aren’t you with her now?’

‘You do ask a lot of questions, don’t you?’

‘That’s my job. I’m a child,’ said Bill and the little bear laughed.

‘I was so happy she was well again. I really was. At first, she took me with her. Then sometimes she forgot, until eventually I slipped down the side of her bed and she never thought about me. Then her mother cleaned her room and took me to a car boot sale.’

‘That’s terrible,’ said Bill. ‘Still, you wouldn’t be with me now if she hadn’t done that.’

‘True. I just hope Gertrude Hermione Humbug doesn’t come and take my gifts away.’


Writing Challenge (including short story).

A friend of mine gave me a writing challenge. Thank you Elizabeth Horrocks. It was to write a story or poem including the following:

Character:A child



Colour: Blue

Animal: Alpaca

I’ve completed this challenge and will post my writing within the next week. Why don’t you give it a go as well? Send them to me in the comments and I’ll upload so that others can read them. Obviously I won’t publish any that are unsuitable. It’s a great challenge and certainly makes you think.

I’ve left it a few days before posting my attempt. It is a work in progress. I hope you enjoy it.

The Winter of 1942

Tommy let himself into the house after school. His mum thought that he went to Auntie Vera’s down the road and that she fed him a sandwich, but she said she wasn’t wasting her rations on him. At such a tender age he didn’t realize that his mum was paying Vera to keep an eye on him, so at eight years old he was quite resourceful. He had to be.

In the Summer it wasn’t too bad. He passed the allotments on the way to school and often went in and helped himself to a few carrots or runner beans. It wasn’t hard because the gates and most of the fencing had been taken away. In the Autumn there were apples to scrump and blackberries growing in the hedges. In Winter things were tougher. He didn’t like doing it, but sometimes he pocketed a bun from the corner shop. Bread wasn’t on ration and he’d have paid for it if he’d had any money. He wondered what would happen if Mr Jones ever caught him.

Tommy’s mum worked at the factory and although she didn’t earn much, some of his friends were worse off than him. One of his friends didn’t have any shoes. Dad was away. Mum never talked about him and if his name cropped up Mum would start to cry. She also cried when letters arrived from Japan, with big black lines on them. He didn’t know what they said because they were in a scrawling, spidery writing.

The war had been going on for as long as Tommy could remember. They lived on the outskirts of the town and Tommy knew that when the big sound sang its ugly song, he had to go into the shelter at the bottom of the garden, whatever he was doing. He didn’t like it in there, especially on his own, because it was cold and dark and had the most awful smell. Mum had put a blue blanket in there to keep him warm but it was damp and rough.

One day Tommy was very hungry. He’d given his lunch to Daniel, who hadn’t had any breakfast and was sitting crying in the playground. Daniel’s feet looked a mixture of blue and mauve. Tommy pulled up his warm, long woollen grey socks.  They may have lots of darns in them but he didn’t care. Some of the others had been picking on Daniel, and Tommy had felt sorry for him.

It was cold and after school it started to rain. He slipped into the corner shop to keep dry. He was standing just inside the door when he heard Mr Jones being threatened by a young man.

‘Give me the money in the till or I’ll beat you up,’ said the man.

Tommy saw Mr Sikes, the local policeman, on the other side of the road. He slipped out of the shop and ran over to him. Soon they both returned, and P.C. Sikes arrested the young man.

‘Well now Tommy, you must have a reward,’ Mr Jones said, handing him a bun. ‘You can pick anything you want.’

Tommy saw a pair of soft red woollen gloves on the counter. They were on a pile of gloves in a box marked for the Land Girls.

‘My mum would really love those red gloves. They’d keep her warm when she does her volunteer work at the soup kitchen. I could give them to her for Christmas.’

Mr Jones hesitated for only a moment and Tommy sunk his teeth into the bun he’d been given.

‘Well, Mrs Jones knitted them with her special alpaca wool which she’d been sent by her brother, who was travelling in Peru, before this awful war. I’m sure she won’t mind my giving them to you after what you did today. I never thought they were suitable for the Land Girls anyway.’

‘Oh, thank you,’ said Tommy. ‘I hope they’ll make Mum happy until Dad comes home. She cries whenever his name is mentioned.’

‘Hmmm,’ said Mr Jones, not looking at all confident about the gloves keeping Tommy’s mum happy.

‘You know young man, if ever you’re at a loose end after school, I’ve always got a few jobs you can do in exchange for a mug of tea and a bun. We need smart young men like you around.’

Tommy left the shop almost skipping home. The rain had stopped. He had a lovely gift for his mum for Christmas and he could earn his buns in future

New Release – A Patchwork of Poems

New Release

A Patchwork of Poems is now available on Amazon. It is a small book of diverse poems in different formats, covering a wide variety of subjects. This book is free on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited all the time, but it’s also FREE on Kindle from 18-23 December 2022, as a little Christmas Pressie.

Normally it’s £2 for the e-book and £5 for the paperback in the UK.

In the US, it’s $2.43 for the e-book and $6.07 for the paperback.

You can download or buy it here.

If you read it please leave a review and let me know which is your favourite poem. I hope you enjoy it.

Happy Christmas to everyone

The Child of Time

I’m thrilled that The Child of Time has won a silver award in the paranormal/suspense category of the Reader’s Choice Awards in the Connections eMagazine. It also came seventh overall. Thank you everone who voted.

Connections is a quarterly online magazine that has short stories, serials, recipes, articles about authors, new releases and much more. For authors it’s a great place to submit stories, new releases and freebies and for readers there’s a wealth of content. There were loads of excellent books amongst the finalists of the competition and I’ve printed the top ten listed in the magazine for you below. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

The Child of Time – Connections eMagazine Reader’s Choice Awards

I’m so thrilled that my book, ‘The Child of Time’ is a finalist for the Reader’s Choice Awards with Connections eMagazine. Thank you to whoever nominated the book. You can vote in this competition until 23 July 2022 and you’re allowed to vote once a day.

I’d love you to vote for The Child of Time here

The Child of Time is a collection of ghost and paranormal stories, which explores the possibilities of things we may not know about our world. It’s pure escapism and if you have Kindle Unlimited you can read ir for free or you can buy the ebook from Amazon for £1.99/$2.99 – paperback for £5/$6.64.

Connections E-Magazine is a free quarterly magazine run by author Melanie P Smith and Rhoda D’Ettore. It contains articles, short stories and information about books and new releases. It’s also completely FREE. It’s a great magazine, which has lovely graphics and loads of information about books, which we all love.

If you love short stories don’t forget my other books: Lady in the Woods The Mermaid Pebble on the Beach and Missing

I’m hoping to get another book out before Christmas. There are just so many stories that need to be written and do let me know if you enjoy any of the books.

Do you like fantasy?

The Truth Finder

When I started writing this trilogy, I intended it to be a young adult novel, but analysing who reads it, it was read by all age groups. It tells the tale of Vrail in the fifth millennium. He can see what you’re thinking and as he’s left on his own at a young age he has to find his way in life.

Life is dangerous for those with special gifts, as many want to exploit them, others want Vrail to spy on their loved ones, but he has to find ways to use his gift for good.

This is a quote from one of the reviews.

“Having raised four daughters who now have teenagers of their own I am always searching for books I feel would be suitable for them. I read many and most I reject – either I think they are simple or they do not hold my attention. THE TRUTH FINDER is on my A list and highly recommended. It is thought provoking, stimulating and futuristic with enough modern touches to make it feasible. Mind reading, telepathic powers, villains, all combined into one good story that is guaranteed to keep a young mind wondering and turning the pages. Enjoyable.”

The Visualizer

The second book, The Visualizer is about Seek. She has the gift of being able to visualize objects, such as a butterfly and transform into one. She learns to do sky writing and to fly.

The world in the fifth millennium is unstable and the city of Mizair is at risk of being reclaimed by the evil Ruler Gettison. Seek tries to find a way to bring peace to the city.

This is a quote from one of the reviews.

I loved reading the Truth Finder (book 1), so when I heard about book 2 – The Visualiser, I couldn’t wait to read it. Just like the first book, I really enjoyed the second. It’s a great book with well developed characters. I particularly liked Seek. She’s a very strong character.

The Healer

The final book in the series is The Healer. Aley lives in a world that has beeen partitioned into habitable and unihabitable, but he believes that the uninhabitable part may be healing from the effects of war and pollution. He sets off to discover the truth using his healing powers along the way.

Here’s a quote from one of the reviews

The Future Earth series is a fantasy that so well-grounded it’s believable… or it is while you’re reading. “The Healer” is Aley. He ventures into the unknown world beyond the three cities most people believe are all that remain after nuclear war, and what he finds is fascinating.

Penny Luker truly “gets under the skin” of every character. There’s love, hate, fear, bravery, jealousy, generosity, corruption, friendship… and a dog called Spike.

Thank you to my lovely reviewers, Robert, Lacey and Sarah and to all the other wonderful people who have left reviews for my books. You truly brighten my day.

The Truth Finder is FREE on Monday 2.5.2022 and Tuesday 3.5.2022 You can get it here. It is also free on Kindle Unlimited. £1.99/$1.99 to buy the e-book and £8.20/$7.64 for the paperback.

You can pick up The Visualizer here. It is free on Kindle Unlimited. £1.99/$2.71 to buy the e-book and £8.20/$8.56 for the paperback.

If you’d like to read The Healer, you can find it here. It is free on Kindle Unlimited. £1.99/$2.74 to buy the e-book and £7,00/$9.62 for the paperback.

The Healer

New Release: The Child of Time

The Child of Time is a small collection of ghost and paranormal stories and is being released on Friday 17 December. There are fourteen brand new stories and three bonus stories, from earlier anthologies. If you like to read stories that explore other dimensions, pick up a copy.

It’s free if you subscribe to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited or you can buy the ebook for £1.99/$2.99 or it’s £5/$6.64 for the paperback.

The Child of Time and Lady in the Woods are great Christmas presents or stocking fillers.

The following story is one of the bonus story in The Child of Time. It was first published in the anthology, The Mermaid.

Witch Hunt

I could smell food cooking close by. My stomach responded to the aroma. After days of just water and stale biscuits, I longed for something tasty. Automatically, I walked faster. As I turned the corner, I saw an old man sitting by a fire roasting some meat; probably rabbit. He was big and bald and although his back was slightly bent, he didn’t look to be past his strength. Nervously, I walked towards him, wondering if he’d be friendly. I certainly didn’t want any trouble. He heard my footsteps and turned towards me.

‘Don’t suppose you’ve enough to share?’ I called, stopping where I was. I didn’t want to look as if I’d grab his food and run.

He looked me up and down and then smiled. ‘There’s plenty of food, if you’re on your own. Come and join me.’

I dumped my bag by the fire and sat on my black cloak. Brushing my long dark hair away from my face I let the flames warm me. It was the most wonderful feeling. Soon, the meal was ready. I cannot describe how delicious the food was. I wiped the juices away from my chin, with my hand and picked up the mug of strong black tea. It was not to my taste but I didn’t want to offend my host.

‘So, why is a pretty young thing like you wandering around here, on your own, at this time of night,’ he asked.

‘I’m Topaz. I live in Bycross Mill, in the valley beyond and I’m travelling to see my grandmother. She lives in Wootten Stanley. Somehow, I seem to have taken a wrong turn and I don’t recognise the landscape. I don’t suppose you have a map.’

He took out a small map, made from a lined backed material and placed it on the ground before me. He pointed first to Bycross Mill and then to Wootten Stanley. Then, he showed me where we were. Past Wootten Stanley

‘You’re miles out of your way. It would be dangerous to travel tonight. You’d better stay here, by the fire, until the morning.’

‘So, why are you here?’ I asked.

He looked at me closely. ‘You’re looking tired,’ he said. ‘Lay down by the fire and I’ll tell you who I am.’

He looked a kind man and he’d just fed me and offered me a place to rest for the night, so I spread out my cloak and lay down. He didn’t move. The fire lent its rosy glow and I felt safe.

‘My name is Volt Hunter. I’m hunter by name and by profession. I hunt witches and deliver them to the authorities.’

Fear spread through me and chilled my bones. I sat up slowly and schooled my voice to be calm.

‘So, you believe in witches, do you? I don’t. Are you telling me you’ve actually met a real witch?’

‘Who knows?’ he smiled. ‘I get paid for delivering them to the authorities and that’s the end of my job. Do you know there’s a witch on the run from Wootten Stanley at the moment? Let me show you her poster.’

He leaned over and passed me the poster. There in front of me was a drawing of my likeness. I handed it back to him.

‘Poor woman. She’ll die a most excruciating death. I’m glad you know I’m not a witch.’

‘Now, how do I know that, Topaz?’

‘Well, it’s obvious. I approached you for food. A witch wouldn’t need to do that. A witch, if such beings exist, would be able to catch their own food; light their own fire. That’s what they do, isn’t it?’

He smiled. ‘I think you’re missing the point, dear girl. I just have to deliver someone who looks like the poster and I get paid. You’ll do, whether or not you’re a witch.’

‘So, what happens now? Do you tie me up and haul me back to the village in the middle of the night?’

‘No, Topaz. You lie down again and you’ll sleep. Your tea was drugged. You can be comfortable tonight. Tomorrow when we’re both rested, I’ll take you to the village. It can be as easy or as hard as you like.’

‘Don’t you care what they’ll do to me? And what about my grandmother? How can you condemn me to a death by drowning or by fire? Doesn’t it prey on your conscience? Do you have no concept of good and evil?’

‘Lie down NOW, Topaz. I have to eat just like the next man. I’ve never killed any woman, witch or otherwise. If you really want to know what I think, I’ll tell you.’

I lay back down on my cloak.

‘Yes, I really want to know.’

‘Obviously, there’s no such thing as witches. These poor creatures have just annoyed someone powerful, but that’s their problem, not mine. I don’t commit the murder. It’s not my responsibility. In your case, I think it’s a terrible waste to kill someone so beautiful and young, but that’s mankind for you. Now go to sleep.’

He got out a rug and lay down on the other side of the fire. Soon his snores could be heard rattling into the night. I sat up slowly and then stood up, quietly lifting my cloak from the ground. I wrapped it round myself. How lucky I had poured the tea into the ground behind me. It had smelt foul. I looked over at Volt Hunter and silently swore he would never cause another woman to die a terrifying death.

In the morning, a tiny mouse woke up on the rug by the dying fire. I was walking in the fresh sunshine, listening to the birds. I laughed at the thought of how many predators there are for mice. He would be hunted every day of his life, be it a short one or a long one.

New Release: Lady in the Woods

This is a new release of short stories for adults, which includes two Inspector Winsford stories and othe crime stories; stories that are observations of people’s lives and some flash fiction. Ideal for a Christmas present and available in paperback and on kindle.

Here’s one of the short stories. Although it’s written as if it’s real life, it is of course entirely fiction, although I did go to churches with various friends, when I was a child. When writing stories you often need a starting point, which of course can be absolutely anything.

I remember, I remember

Three things happened when I was seven years old. It was a chance remark from my sister that brought back those memories.

We were talking about a child who’d gone missing from a village near where we lived.

‘Whenever a child goes missing, I always think of Sandra,’ Katy said.

‘Sandra who?’ I asked.

‘You know Sandra, from your class, who went missing. If I remember, surely you do?’

All the memories came flooding back to when I was seven. They started with the Autumn of 1959. Back then I used to make myself some breakfast and take myself off for the day. Nowadays you’d accuse a parent of being neglectful, but in those days, it was perfectly acceptable for children to be out playing and exploring on their own.

Now it so happened that both my parents were strict atheists, but my aunt and grandparents were devout Christians. I liked the idea of Christianity; of being a member of a group and having a God to call on when you’d got yourself into a mess. I used to go to church on my own and was always made welcome. Then various friends said come along with my family. One of them was Sandra Weston.

‘Meet me outside the church at nine fifteen and we’ll go and find a seat together,’ she said. Now Sandra and I were friendly but we were by no means best friends. She was nice enough with a tendency to copy others, but I thought it would be good to try out a new church with a family. I’d been to a Catholic church, a Church of England one, a Methodist one and a Baptist one. I’m not pretending that I understood any of the differences between the church disciplines. I can still see the church but I can’t remember the denomination it was.

I remember dressing carefully for Church; wearing socks without any holes, a plain skirt and a neat cardigan and I skipped happily along the mile or so of pavement until I came to the church in Oxford Lane. It was a quiet morning, but when I arrived there was literally no-one there. Had Sandra tricked me? I peeked my head around the church door and the vicar saw me.

‘Why hello there. You’re early. Did you remember to put your clock back an hour?’ he asked.

My face must have fallen. ‘Oh, don’t worry about it my dear,’ he said. ‘Come on in,’ and in I went. It was dark in the church compared to the bright daylight outside.

‘I’ll just finish putting out these hymn books and then I’ll take you through to the back and make you some orange juice,’ he smiled.

I really can’t explain why, but I suddenly thought I don’t want to be here with this creepy man. I shuddered inside with fear. You know the saying, the hair stood up on the back of my neck, well I think it really did.

‘No thanks,’ I called. ‘I’ll go and meet my friend and come back later.’ I was out of that church so quickly. I don’t know at what point I started running, but I found myself running all the way home. My parents were totally unimpressed by my little adventure.

‘I do wish you didn’t have such an overactive imagination,’ said mother.

At school on Monday, Sandra asked me why I hadn’t turned up and I made up some excuse. Later I came to regret not meeting her that week and the next Sunday I overslept.

A week later she didn’t come to school. I asked the teacher if she was ill and was told to go and sit down and not ask questions. After two weeks, I asked my mother.

‘Has Sandra moved? She doesn’t come to school any more or is she on some wonderful holiday?’ I remember that mother didn’t look me in the eyes as she told me to go away and lay the table.

The following week I was in bed, diagnosed with glandular fever. I was there forever or that’s what it felt like.

‘If you’re ill enough to be off school, you stay in bed,’ mother said. Of course, I didn’t stay in bed and I didn’t want to be at home any more than she wanted me there. At the back of my mind, I suppose I assumed that Sandra must have been off school with glandular fever, but I hardly ever thought of her again.

Now here was my sister telling me that she’d gone missing. I did some research and discovered that she’d never been found and then I remembered the creepy vicar. As a child I believed my parents when they kept on telling me I had an over large imagination, but as an adult I believe that if we take an instant fear of someone there is usually a reason. I dressed myself smartly and took myself down to the local cop shop and asked if anyone was still looking into the case of Sandra Weston.

I was called into an interview room by Detective Inspector Chester. He listened quietly to my story about my strong fear of the vicar, made a few notes, thanked me for my help and bade me good-bye.

He probably thought I was bonkers. Fancy telling a policeman that you had a bad feeling about someone when you were a child. He was right. I must put it behind me.

Three months later there was a ring on my doorbell and there was Inspector Chester. I invited him in and made him tea.

‘I looked into the background of Reverend Alan Wilson. There were quite a few outstanding complaints about him and he left the church suddenly and emigrated to Australia, so I notified the authorities over there of our interest in him.’

‘I thought you must’ve thought I was mad coming to see you,’ I blurted out.

‘Indeed no. Then I thought what if he’d tried to abuse Miss Weston and she’d struggled? What if it had all gone wrong and he’d killed her? What would he have done with her body, so I went and looked at the burial records for the church in Oxford Lane. I found there was one more grave than there was on the records.’

My blood ran cold. I knew what he was about to say.

‘I’m sorry to tell you that we exhumed the body from that grave and it was that of a child. We’re checking her dental records to see if it’s Sandra Weston, but almost certainly it is.’

‘Will Reverend Wilson be arrested in Australia?’ I asked.

‘He was taken in for questioning and put in a cell overnight. In the morning he was found dead in his cell. I don’t have the full details. You might be disappointed that he was never brought to trial or paid for his crime, but I’d like you to remember that because of you, Sandra’s parents have finally got closure and can grieve properly.’

I thanked Inspector Chester for listening to me and for all his hard work on the case.

Rest in Peace Sandra. I’m sorry I wasn’t a better friend.

Available books

My other short stories are:

The Mermaid

Pebble on a Beach


If you click on the links they should take you to Amazon UK/USA, so you can see prices for the paperbacks and e-books.

All are available on Kindle Unlimited. Hope you enjoy!

The Healer is released today

The Future Earth trilogy is complete with the release of The Healer today. Aley lives and works in Firstop village growing crops and developing plants to help feed the increasing population in the known part of the world. The rest of the world was contaminated by nuclear war and is thought to be uninhabited, but is it recovering?

In this unstable world, where resources are limited and technology is varied, there are a few with gifts. Aley can heal many illnesses, but has to keep his gift a secret to stay safe. Does he help one too many person and find himself in trouble?

You can get The Healer here.

The first book in the series is The Truth Finder and the second is The Visualizer. Both these books are free today 6 August 2021, for one day only, in e-book format.

All my books are free on Kindle Unlimited and this trilogy is also available in paperback format.

Reviews always welcome.

New Release: The Healer

New Release Day for The Healer is Friday 6 August 2021. The Healer is the third and final book in the Future Earth trilogy and will be available in paperback and e-book format from this Friday. Look what arrived today. I’m so excited.

Aley works as a farmer who collects seeds and grows new crops to feed the ever expanding population in the known part of the world, but what is happening in the contaminated part? Has the Earth been recovering?

He also has the gift of being able to heal many illnesses and conditions, but such a gift makes unscrupulous people see him as a commodity to make money for them. He is kidnapped and put to work, but can he escape with the help of others or find a way to freedom by himself?

If you haven’t read the first two books in this series, The Truth Finder and The Visualizer, you can catch up here. The Truth Finder and The Visualizer.

All my books are free on Kindle Unlimited. I hope you enjoy this trilogy.

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