Votes for Women

I shared this interview with Jill Atkins, author of Votes for Women, an amazing narrative non-fiction for ages 9+, with my newsletter a while ago, but with so many of us homeschooling now, I though it would be helpful to share again.

Jill is in my local SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) group and, as a prolific author with more than 100 books published, I confess I’m a little in awe of her (make that a lot!). Anyway, she’s super lovely and I’m going to hand over the pen to her now …..

One of my latest books is called ‘Votes for Women’. It’s for young people aged anywhere between 9 and adult and it tells the story of Rose, and her cousin Freddie, both born in 1900, who are aged 12 when Rose’s story begins. The book is partly narrative, part diary, with letters, postcards and a telegram. 

When I was asked by an editor at Hodder to write this book I was really excited and delighted because women’s suffrage has always interested me and is dear to my heart. We have a lot to thank many people for, because their campaigning eventually gave women a vote. I strongly believe that all people should vote in elections because it took a long time and a tremendous effort to achieve the right to do so.

To write this book, I had to get the facts right because, although it is a work of fiction, it is based on things that really happened just over 100 years ago. So I needed to research carefully. I bought books, borrowed from the library and found information on the internet. I also needed to know about daily life at that time. For example, what were telephones like in those days? What would a twelve year old wear? What kind of education did girls have? Did they have equal opportunities to boys? 

I had heard of Mrs Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters who led the ‘Suffragette’ movement, but I needed to know more about them and the others who strove for the vote with them. They held marches and meetings, but also performed acts of vandalism like setting fire to pillar boxes and they went to prison for it. Rose’s sister is for this movement.

What I didn’t know was that other people (mainly women – ‘Suffragists’) had been working peacefully for the same cause for about 50 years. Rose’s Granny was a ‘Suffragist’.

Then I imagined I was twelve years old in 1912 and wrote her story, through her eyes: what she witnessed and experienced; how she felt; what conclusions she came to about the rights and wrongs of the different groups of people. I hope you’d love to read ‘Votes for Women’ and learn about how women got to vote.

This isn’t the first historical fiction I’ve written: The Great Fire of London is about a boy waking up as the first warning shouts are heard in the streets of London; Sophie’s Secret War is the diary of a girl experiencing the German occupation of northern France in the Second World War; Royal Nursemaid is about a girl who becomes the nursemaid to Queen Victoria’s children in the mid 1800s.

I’ve also written early reading books and books for young teens. One of the teen books is called ‘A Brightness out of the Blue’. This is a modern-day story, based on the story of Cinderella with a twist.

I began writing for children when I was a teacher and I thought there weren’t enough good books for children in my class you read, but I’ve always written and told stories. In fact, I used to make up stories for my two little brothers when they were in the bath!

I’ve always loved reading. I read a lot now – children’s, teens and adult books – and as a child I used to read by torchlight under the bedclothes after my parents had switched off my light! Reading can take you places. Enjoy!

Thanks Jill. Now, my newsletter readers will know that I always make authors visiting us share a picture of them as a child, the more cringeworthy the better – but this is a gorgeous pic – where is the pudding bowl haircut? The orange cords? I’m so disappointed haha!

Take care everyone and stay safe.

The Magic Faraway Tree grows up?

When I do author talks in schools (not that there will be any for a while thanks to Coronavirus), I’m often asked what the first book I ever wrote was. The answer is it was a fan fiction version of The Magic Faraway Tree – fully illustrated with a cover and blurb, so when I saw there was a book about a real faerie tree, how could I not be intrigued?

This is a fantastic book, no sickly sweet romance here at all – believable main characters that I cared about (and I loved that they were mature), strong supporting characters, solid settings and a plot that kept me wondering right the way through. I absolutely loved it. If you’re self-isolating or in lock down, this is definitely one for your kindle (don’t forget to enter the giveaway below). Wishing you all good health – please take care, and stay inside.


Enter her to win paperback copies of The Faerie Tree and The Cheesemaker’s House (UK Only)

*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

The Faerie Tree

In the summer of 1986 Robin and Izzie hold hands under The Faerie Tree and wish for a future together. Within hours tragedy rips their dreams apart.

In the winter of 2006, each carrying their own burden of grief, they stumble back into each other’s lives and try to create a second chance. But why are their memories of 1986 so different? And which one of them is right?

With strong themes of memory, love and grief, The Faerie Tree is a novel as gripping and unputdownable as Jane Cables first book, The Cheesemaker’s House, which won the Suspense & Crime category of The Alan Titchmarsh Shows Peoples Novelist competition. It is a story that will resonate with fans of romance, suspense, and folklore.

Purchase Link

Author Bio

Jane Cable writes romantic fiction with the over-riding theme that the past is never dead. She published her first two books independently (the multi award winning The Cheesemaker’s House and The Faerie Tree) and is now signed by Sapere Books. Two years ago she moved to Cornwall to concentrate on her writing full time, but struggles a little in such a beautiful location. Luckily she’s discovered the joys of the plot walk.

There’s never been a better time to start writing!

Hands up, how many of you are looking at self-isolation and thinking, “I’m actually going to write that book“? We’ve also got Camp Nano coming up in April (a wonderful supportive writers community), so, if I may set aside all the worries and difficulties, perhaps there has never been a better time to pick up your pen. I love a journal, and use a student planner myself because as a kids author that aligns with my planning. This journal is more focussed on creating a strong writing habit, giving you a clear structure and prompts to keep you going and I absolutely LOVE it. It’s a big beast (400 odd pages), so don’t be tempted to get a soft copy – you’re definitely going to need a printed version.

52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner

Are you ready to become the writer you were always meant to be? 52 Weeks of Writing will get you cracking by making you plan, track, reflect on, and check in with your progress and goals an entire year long. It will help you dig deep by offering questions and writing prompts designed to unravel whatever truths about your writing you’re ready for, and keep you inspired by delivering a thought-provoking writing quote every week. 

  • Do you struggle with setting goals that reflect your daily reality? 
  • Do you want to practise breaking goals down into manageable chunks? 
  • Would you like more insight into your writing habit(s) and figure out why you keep getting in your own way? 
  • And do you want to create a sustainable writing practice that honours your needs and desires as a writer? 

Then the 52 Weeks of Writing: Author Journal and Planner is for you. This book brings together every lesson Mariëlle S. Smith has learned as a writing coach and writer. Wary as she is of comparisonitis and unhealthy competition, this author journal and planner was designed to help writers develop and fine-tune a practice that works for them. If you’re ready to get out of your own way and become the writer you’re meant to be, pick up your copy of today. 

Competition time!

  • If that sounds good, wait until you see these prizes – Enter here!
  • THREE paperback copies of the 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner,
  • TWO paperback copies of Tarot for Creatives: 21 Tarot Spreads to (Re)Connect to Your Intuition and Ignite That Creative Spark, and
  • ONE coaching session.

Author Bio

Mariëlle S. Smith is a coach for writers and other creatives, an editor, (ghost) writer, and custom retreat organiser. In 2019, she moved to Cyprus, and island in the Mediterranean Sea, where she organises private writer’s retreats, is inspired 24/7, and feeds more stray cats than she can count. 

Writing groups, research and news!

Some of you will know I’m a big fan of writer support groups, both online and in person and am a member of several. My local group is called Chindi and I’ve benefitted from all their support and encouragement.

Today, I’m delighted to be interviewing one of my Chindi buddies, Patricia Osborne, who is celebrating the publication of her new book, The Coal Miner’s Son, this week. Since we write in different genres there is no direct overlap in our books, but the writing process has many similarities and we focussed on the research process here. Over to her …

Firstly, thank you to Lexi for inviting me over to her blog during my ‘Chindi Author of the Week’ which happens to coincide with publication of my second novel, The Coal Miner’s Son. 

When it comes to writing family sagas, my favourite era is the 50s and 60s. This is partly due to the fact that my late mum would have been a similar age to my protagonist Grace Granville in House of Grace (Book 1 of the trilogy) which meant that I already had a fair grasp of what life was like in Britain during those decades. My mum inspired my character, Grace Granville, and Jack Gilmore, Grace’s first love, was based on aspects of my dad. On my regular visits to Mum, I’d quiz her on details such as what Dad was wearing when they first met and where they went for their first date. 

Patricia’s mum (on left) aged sixteen.

Reading family sagas, non-fiction books, and watching television series played a big part in my research. For example, I researched mining accidents, and coal miners’ wives’ communities. George Orwell’s Road to Wigan Pier aided the latter and it was from this I was able to create a coal miner’s wife. 

Mr Selfridge and House of Elliott were particular inspirations for House of Grace while a villain, Reverend Osborne Whitworth in Poldark inspired my villain, Sir Gregory Giles, in The Coal Miner’s Son. 

Facebook memories of Bolton sites were really good sources for research in the fifties and in particular the FB Palais site. The members were so helpful in providing details right down to what the furnishings were like in the dance hall in 1950, how all the youngsters would meet their boy or girlfriends under the clock, and even how much a cup of coffee cost. I’m pleased to say that when these members read House of Grace they felt they were back all those years in the Palais. 

One of my aunties helped me choose an illness in the early sixties that could be a childhood killer at that time which I was able to use in House of Grace. I followed this up with research, making my first port of call the internet, and at that time I was also lucky enough to have access to Brighton University online library, in particular searching academic sites such as JSTOR. 

Researching the sixties was easier for me as I was able to build on my own memories. For instance, poor Mum dragging a tin bath in from the backyard and filling it up with water boiled in buckets on the stove. And the dread of having to go outside in the yard to the toilet, especially when it was cold and wet – these recollections enabled me to enact scenes in The Coal Miner’s Son when George bathes in the tin tub by the fire. 

To heighten these memories and fill in any gaps, I studied non-fiction books such as: “A 1950s Childhood: From Tin Baths to Bread and Drippingand “A 1960s Childhood: From Thunderbirds to Beatlemaniaboth by Paul Feeney. And “The ’50s ’60s: The Best of Times: Growing Up and Being Young in Britain” by Alison Pressley.

The internet is a great source too and Google was my friend. For example there are quite a few weddings in the House of Grace trilogy so sites like Pinterest were a great help. Here I looked at pictures of different dresses and took details from a few of them to come up with a beautiful gown for each of my brides. I’d search to see what fabrics were around in a specific era, satin, silk, etc, then I’d look at designs on Pinterest and maybe take something from three or four different pictures to come up with a unique gown, adding netted petticoats, broderie-anglaise bodices etc. I’d go through a similar regime for flowers and cars too. 

Growing up in Bolton as a child aided my research too, particularly for Part I of House of Grace as most of the story is set there. My visits to the townhall and museum with mummies and famous lion sentinels outside proved a valuable use of time. I was able to use these places in scenes in House of Grace when Grace stayed with her best friend, Katy, in Bolton. 

When I’m not questioning relatives or memories of Facebook groups I find Facebook friends in general are always accommodating in answering questions. In fact they love it, they feel like they are having input in the book. It’s a great feeling. For instance I may ask what the most popular toy for a ten-year-old boy was in 1962. The answers will come back in floods. 

So I suppose for me, for research, I like to wherever possible, write what I know, develop it using research, and then embellish and fictionalise to create extra drama. I love the idea of learning something new while writing. 

Blurb for The Coal Miner’s Son 

After tragedy hits the small coal mining village of Wintermore, nine-year-old miner’s son, George, is sent to Granville Hall to live with his titled grandparents. 

Caught up in a web of treachery and deceit, George grows up believing his mother sold him. He’s determined to make her pay, but at what cost? Is he strong enough to rebel? 

Will George ever learn to forgive? 

Step back into the 60s and follow George as he struggles with bereavement, rejection and a kidnapping that changes his life forever. Resistance is George’s only hope. 

About the Author 

Patricia M Osborne is married with grown-up children and grandchildren. She was born in Liverpool but now lives in West Sussex. In 2019 she graduated with an MA in Creative Writing (University of Brighton). 

Patricia writes novels, poetry and short fiction, and has been published in various literary magazines and anthologies. Her first poetry pamphlet ‘Taxus Baccata’ is to be published by Hedgehog Poetry Press during 2020. 

She has a successful blog at where she features other writers and poets. When Patricia isn’t working on her own writing, she enjoys sharing her knowledge, acting as a mentor to fellow writers and as an online poetry tutor with Writers’ Bureau. 

The Coal Miner’s Son is the second book in the House of Grace trilogy.

A delightful fantasy

I’ve been reading a lot of MG fantasy recently so I was looking forward to trying a YA fantasy. Esme is 15 so I knew it would be a young YA, but really she reads as about twelve or thirteen and as such I’d have billed this as Upper MG, suitable for 10 to 13 year olds. So I’m still on the look out for a new YA fantasy (recommendations most welcome). Setting that aside, this is a totally delightful story. The prose is poetic and swept me straight into the world. I was intrigued by what had happened to her mother and had to keep reading. Oh and sorry, I mispronounced her name in my head the whole way though – apparently, it’s pronounced Es-mee – I always thought it was Es-may. Overall, definitely a book to check out.

COMPETITION! Win 3 x pairs of e-books Esme’s Wish & Esme’s Gift (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

A warm-hearted, whimsical fantasy tale, with lashings of mystery, magic, and mythology, and prose that ‘flows like water.’ Prepare to fall in love with Esperance! 

The Blurb

When fifteen-year-old Esme Silver objects at her father’s wedding, her protest is dismissed as the action of a stubborn, selfish teenager. Everyone else has accepted the loss of Esme’s mother, Ariane – so why can’t she? But Esme is suspicious. She is sure that others are covering up the real reason for her mother’s disappearance – that ‘lost at sea’ is code for something more terrible, something she has a right to know. After Esme is accidentally swept into the enchanted world of Aeolia, the truth begins to unfold. With her newfound friends, Daniel and Lillian, Esme retraces her mother’s steps in the glittering canal city of Esperance, untangling the threads of Ariane’s double life. But the more Esme discovers about Ariane, the more she questions whether she really knew her at all. 
 “A fresh new fantasy, of an enchanting world.” – Wendy Orr, New York Times best selling author of Nim’s Island. This inventive tale, the first in an MG-to-YA series, is an ideal read for 10-14 year olds. Esme’s Wish recently won first place in the fantasy category of the 2018 Purple Dragonfly Book Awards, which recognises excellence in children’s literature. 

About the author

I read avidly as a child, but only discovered the joys of writing some years ago when reading to my own kids reminded me how much I missed getting lost in other worlds. It’s never too late to find and follow your passion! I now have two books published and am about to start writing the third and final story in the Esme series.  My home base is Sydney, where I can often be found running (just kidding – walking) by the water, or scribbling in cafés.

Social media links





A wonderful wordsmith

I wasn’t sure what to expect as the simple cover and title don’t give much away in terms of genre, but this short, middle-grade fiction is a beautifully crafted book. I can imagine Matilda or Alice (in Wonderland) reading it. It’s not going to appeal to readers of fast-paced action stories, but if your young readers enjoy losing themselves in language, they’re going to love this. I did.

The Blurb

What would happen if words disappeared forever? Set in a whimsical town called Inkwell, a place with an ancient secret history, this fairytale-like adventure will uncover the key to the power hidden within words. The Word-Keeper is a tale about a savvy bookmark named Ben that unwillingly becomes an evil imp with only one objective: follow the orders of his master and destroy the words that live inside books. Only one girl can stop him. Her name is Florence Ibbot. She is eleven years old, oddly eloquent and a quiet observer of the world. But above all, Florence is a keen logophile and is willing to sacrifice everything to protect the words. She sets out to discover who is behind all this. The journey will take her to the origins of writing and inspiration. But she’ll also have to face the most treacherous adversary, Zyler, a ruthless sorceress whose sole mission is to ruin one of humankind’s most precious possessions: the gift of language. As the final battle approaches, Florence will have to learn how to wield words instead of the sword. Is Florence brave enough to become who she was born to be?

Author Bio

Veronica Del Valle grew up in Argentina, but life eventually led her to live in London, the city that was her home for many years. Veronica’s always had a fondness for words, language and the magic of storytelling. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Kingston University.  Veronica currently lives in Buenos Aires with her husband, Ale, and her daughter, Tomiko. She teaches creative writing at Universidad de San Andres and is a contributing editor and writer for one of Argentina’s leading news organizations. When she’s not writing or teaching, she’s either a) meditating or b) enjoying life with her family (which, in a way, is another beautiful way to meditate).

Social Media Links – 

IG: @veronica.del.valle


Fresh Eggs & Dog Beds

I love audiobooks, especially when dog walking and especially non-fiction, so this was a double tick as soon as I saw it. I particularly love memoir narrated by the author themselves, but understand that’s a big task and not for everyone (certainly not me anyway). In fact the narrator was excellent – I’d definitely look out for anything else by him.

At times I forgot this was non fiction and was looking for a plot. Then again, as a memoir, I was expecting some life lessons, but it’s a pretty straightforward linear account. It is a little slow – five chapters before they even think of moving to Ireland and way more before they actually make the purchase – it’s a bit like watching one of those “Home or Abroad” or “Move to the Country” property search TV shows! If you enjoy those shows, this lets you see “behind the scenes” and you’re going to absolutely love it. It could have gone straight from his health wake up call/ redundancy into the action, but I guess by taking the slow road it’s left plenty of scope for book two. I wasn’t rolling around with laughter, just a gentle smile but, as a light, easy listen, I definitely enjoyed it and am looking forward to book two.


Nick and Lesley Albert yearn to leave the noise, stress and pollution of modern Britain and move to the countryside, where the living is good, the air sweet, with space for their dogs to run free. Suddenly out of work and soon to be homeless, they set off in search of a new life in Ireland, a country they had never visited. As their adventure began to unfold, not everything went according to plan. If finding their dream house was difficult, buying it seemed almost impossible. How would they cope with banks that didn’t want customers, builders who didn’t need work, or the complex issue of where to buy some chickens?

Author Bio

Nick Albert was born in England and raised in a Royal Air Force family. After leaving College he worked in retail management for several years before moving into financial services where he quickly progressed through the ranks to become a training consultant. As a very passionate and reasonably talented sportsman, Nick had always wanted to use his training skills towards creating a parallel career, so in the mid 1980’s he qualified and began coaching sport professionally. After a health scare in 2003 and in search of a simpler life, he and his wife Lesley, cashed in their investments, sold their home and bought a rundown farmhouse in the rural west of Ireland – a country they had never before even visited. With little money or experience and armed only with a do-it-yourself manual, they set about renovating their new home, where they now live happily alongside a flock of chickens, two ducks and several unruly, but delightful dogs.
In 2017 Nick was signed to Ant Press to write a series of humorous memoirs about his life in rural Ireland. Fresh Eggs and Dog Beds (book one) was published in September 2017 and soon became an Amazon bestseller. Book two in the series was published on 1st June 2018 and book 3 in August 2019. Book four is due out in early 2020. Nick is also the author of the twisty thriller, Wrecking Crew, the first in a series of books featuring reluctant hero Eric Stone.


Twitter @Nickalbertautho