Free Books, Advice & How Sussex Writer Heather Flood became an author.

By Heather Flood

To mark my first post on Unknown Kent and Sussex, I’d like to offer readers free e-versions of some of my books and give advice to would-be authors.

Everyone has a book in them so perhaps it is time for you to start writing one if you have not already done so!

I didn’t become an author until after I moved to Eastbourne 14 years ago so it’s never too late.

Now I am now the author of six books – three for young children in the Mousey Mousey series, another for youngsters titled Giant Sticker Monster and Other Children’s Stories, a fantasy adventure for young adults called Purple Mist and, for adults, a collection of short stories and poems, co-written with my husband Tony Flood, aptly named Laughs and Tears Galore.

Tony, a former journalist and Sky Television executive, and I have run Creative Writing classes at Alice Croft House Over 50s Club in Eastbourne and mini-workshops as officials of Anderida Writers, so we can offer you advice. It was mainly due to Tony’s encouragement that I made the transformation from shy housewife to confident author.

You may consider writing a fictional story in whatever genre most appeals to you, or writing your autobiography for your family and friends to enjoy.

There are many different types of memoirs. You could write about yourself and the interesting places you have visited or people who have influenced you. Alternatively, it could be about a crime or injustice you have encountered – or something awe-inspiring.

The challenge is getting started, and coaxing the story out. Just like a jigsaw puzzle, once you have got a few pieces in place a picture will begin to emerge.

It may help to write down six of your most significant memories and begin your book with the one that stands out.

A life story should not start at the beginning but instead, the opening paragraphs need to contain something riveting that will make readers want more. Once you have hooked your readers then you can flash back to earlier, important but less captivating, occurrences.

This applies whether you are writing an autobiography, fiction or non-fiction story.

Don’t worry about facing large costs because KDP Amazon gives you the opportunity to publish your book free of charge. I will explain formatting and publishing later, but first let me tell you about my own work and give an example of how to ‘hook’ readers by providing the first chapter of my fantasy adventure Purple Mist.

Here it is:

My name is Annique Sheldon. I considered myself to be an ordinary schoolgirl until incredible things began to happen and my worst nightmares started to come true.

My whole world was changed beyond belief on my thirteenth birthday. But let me turn back the clock to five years earlier – the day I discovered I had special powers.

I was hurrying home from school along a country lane in Chobham, Surrey, trying to avoid my three tormentors, Fizz, Stacie and Nicola.

Nicola and I had been friends for a while, but when Fizz joined our class everything changed. Fizz was a bully and soon got Nicola and Stacie to join her in picking on other pupils – usually me!

I no longer had any friends because these three horrid girls would be nasty to anyone they saw speaking to me. Their favourite trick was to call me names.

Determined to ignore them, I continued on my way home, but Fizz grabbed my bag and ripped it off my shoulder, while Stacie and Nicola cheered her on. She swung it violently and the bag, containing all my school books, thudded against my head.

I staggered backwards, rubbing the painful spot above my left ear.

You’re ugly, Antique Sheldon. You’ve got strange purple eyes and you smell of fish,” taunted this tall, thin, squinty-eyed girl, who liked nothing better than to make my life hell.

It amused Fizz to ridicule me and call me ‘Antique‘ instead of ‘Annique‘. I hated her and the snotty-nosed Stacie and pimply Nicola. The spots on Nicola’s chin always looked like they would burst at any minute – it was a disgusting sight.

Fizz – that was her nickname because she preferred it to Felicity – did not care about my pain. Instead of stopping this uncalled-for attack, she poked me hard in the chest with one of her bony fingers. The other two joined in, pushing and shoving, until I fell, hitting my head on the ground. The throbbing was so bad that I thought I was going to be sick.

When I looked up Fizz was holding my bag. “There’s only junk in here – I’ll be doing you a favour if I empty it on the ground,” she gloated, starting to unzip it.

Don’t do that,” I yelled, trying to stop her but my head ached so much that my eyes began to water.

Aw, look, poor little Antique is crying,” scoffed Fizz.

As my eyes cleared, the feelings of pain and humiliation gave way to an all-consuming anger. I glared at her and a strange purple mist appeared in front of me.

Fizz, suddenly surrounded by the mist, was lifted off the ground. She dropped the bag as she began to float into the air, screaming.

What yer doing up there?” Nicola screeched, seeing her friend rise higher and higher until she hovered above our heads.

Nufink, stupid – get me down!” Spinning around in the mist, her arms flapping in panic, Fizz shouted: “Help me!”

Stacie leapt in a vain effort to grab hold of one of her friend’s legs.

Climbing to my feet, I rushed over to help as the airborne girl continued to wave her arms like a large bird.

Another searing pain behind my eyes caused me to blink. In that instant, she dropped several feet. I recovered sufficiently to tug at Fizz’s coat, helping Stacie to pull her down. She landed with a thud in the mud on the wet grass verge.

Leave me alone, you freak,” Fizz shouted at me, climbing to her feet. “Did you do that?”

No…I don’t think so,” I mumbled. But my hesitant answer obviously didn’t convince Fizz.

I’ll get you for this, Antique. I’ll make you suffer.”

I picked up my bag and ran as fast as I could the rest of the way home, crashing through the red front gate to my small terraced house. Fumbling in my bag for the door key, I pushed it into the lock, tripped over the step, slammed the door behind me, and rushed up the stairs to my room. I threw myself onto the bed and pulled the duvet over my head.

Stella, my mother, called to me from downstairs, but I was too afraid to get off the bed as my legs felt like jelly.

My heart thumped in my chest as I went over what had just happened. Was it really me who’d created the purple mist and made Fizz float up into the air? Maybe they were right: I was a freak.

The astonishing truth behind Annique’s special powers is finally revealed when she becomes a teenager. She must then face a far worse bully as, together with her friend Antony and dog Waggles, they take on the biggest ordeal of their lives.

Purple Mist has been endorsed by actor Brian Capron and best-selling author Ellie Dean. They say:

DELIGHTFUL! Don’t you love it when bullies get their comeuppance? That’s just the start of Purple Mist, a wonderful adventure story full of thrills and spills that is literally out of this world! – BRIAN CAPRON, actor who starred in Coronation Street.

CAPTIVATING! An enchanting fantasy adventure that children will love – and adults should enjoy it, too! – ELLIE DEAN, Sunday Times best-selling author of the Cliffehaven novels.

My series of three Mousey Mousey books, featuring her talking animal friends Molly Mole, Ben Badger and a host of others, are for younger children but again they each have a moral, with good triumphing over bad.

They involve the delightful lady mouse’s confrontations with the mischievous Agatha and her fellow witches Stinkblob and Mouldy Knickers. In the first book, titled Mousey Mousey and the Witches’ Spells, the interfering Agatha changes all the lovely pink things in Mousey Mousey’s cottage to black.

The little mouse’s adventures include being kidnapped by a giant parrot – and reveal how her kindness is repaid when one of her old foes saves the lives of Mousey Mousey and her friends.

More challenges face both Mousey Mousey and Agatha in Mousey Mousey and the Witches’ Revenge and Mousey Mousey and the Witches’ Secrets. There are lots of laughs, too.

I am so pleased with the feedback received, saying that children are finding Mousey Mousey as cute as the mouse in Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo.

Children and their parents have also given similar glowing reviews to Giant Sticker Monster and Other Children’s Stories.

They love the outrageous Giant Sticker Monster, who sticks stickers on everyone and everything but has the chance to become a hero. Other enchanting stories include Pixie, the naughty kitten; The Happy Snowman and the magic dust; Maurice the mischievous donkey; The little, lost Puppies; The Christmas Tree Fairy that brings toys to life; and the greedy King who doesn’t learn his lesson.

These stories – and my other books – are offered FREE at the end of this article.

I ventured into another genre by writing, together with my husband Tony, Laughs and Tears Galore – short stories and poems with twists.

Most of us love twists in the tale, humour and tear-jerkers that pull on the heartstrings. And if some of them involve a bully, a cheat or a bigot getting their comeuppance, then so much the better.

It’s all packed into our short stories and poems plus love, passion, human error, nostalgia, and patriotism. And there are plenty of surprises!

The excellent reviews and endorsements by fellow authors have again been most encouraging, saying our short stories and poems are delightful, intriguing, enthralling and captivating.

Hopefully, my own success as a writer will encourage those of you who have yet to publish your first book.

As I said earlier, you can do so without incurring heavy costs by publishing both a paperback and e-version with KDP Amazon. Full details are available on their site which you can reach via Google, including how you will receive a share of sales.

But I suggest you pay for your book to be formatted, so that the text is properly set out in the correct type faces and sizes, and the covers are professionally designed. I can recommend the experts who carried out these services for me, with formatting costing approximately £30 an hour.

If you would like further details or to receive a FREE e-version of one of my books then simply email: tflood04@yahoo.co.uk

I am willing to send you an e-version of any of my books – just state in your email which book you would like and it will be sent to you as a complimentary attachment.

Author

  • Heather Flood

    Heather's experiences as a wife, mother and grandmother, together with her vivid imagination and great sense of humour, played big parts in her becoming a successful author. Her first book was MOUSEY MOUSEY AND THE WITCHES' SPELLS which proved so popular that it turned into a series. Fellow authors have praised Heather's adorable lady mouse and other wonderfully original characters, including interfering witch Agatha, a host of talking animals and Agatha's smelly pals Stinkblob and Mouldy Knickers. Other books to also reach the top ten of Heather's respective Amazon categories are GIANT STICKER MONSTER AND OTHER CHILDREN'S STORIES and, for older children and adults, science fiction fantasy PURPLE MIST – AN OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD ADVENTURE! about a girl called Annique who gets bullied at school, but discovers she has amazing powers. Heather and her husband and fellow author Tony Flood conjure up humour, pathos, love, nostalgia and trickery in their latest jointly written book LAUGHS AND TEARS GALORE! - Stories and poems with twists. More details - and special book offers - are available on websites www.fantasyadventurebooks.com and www.celebritiesconfessions.com Heather and Tony have run creative writing classes at Alice Croft House, Eastbourne, and mini-workshops as officials of Anderida Writers.

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