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Helen Laycock
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Children's Fiction > FREE mystery/adventure for MG readers

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message 1: by Helen (last edited Apr 22, 2016 02:50AM) (new)

Helen Laycock (helenlaycock) | 129 comments Each month, a different book will be free. Please scroll down to see the current promotion. Thank you.

February 24th – 28th


For readers of 8 – 12

Glass Dreams by Helen Laycock

#kidlit #mgfiction #childrensbooks

Runaway, Jake, has no idea what adventures are in store when he meets circus performer, Khala, hiding in a ramshackle caravan.

Should he tell her about the mysterious box he has been warned never to open?
Khala also has a secret to share, but can she trust Jake?

Fantazi’s circus is a place of danger, but with the help of Cedric the dwarf and his beloved Chihuahua, Audrey, the children unravel the truth, and are utterly astounded at the biggest secret of all.

In case you’re still unsure, here are some of the fantastic reactions to Glass Dreams (some from reviews, others from a writing site):

'Glass Dreams draws you in from the first sentence.'

'The first chapter drew me in...'

'Laycock's beautiful and imaginative descriptions of events leave you totally immersed'

'an amazing story'

'Rich vocabulary, a nail biting plot, characters who stay with you long after you put the book down'

'You've caught a child's reaction to sudden death so poignantly it almost made me want to cry.'

'Your writing is beautiful. You are especially good at portraying emotion. Your characterization is great...'

'...your plot is bewitching'

'an enchanting, captivating story'

`magnificent story telling'

'Ms. Laycock is a master storyteller who takes you on an amazing journey'

'This is a fantastic children's book! I loved it!'

`I thought this was terrific.'

'What a delightful, charming story. This may be written for older children and tweens, but this elderly woman really enjoyed it'

'There is enough action, adventure, danger and mystery in this book to get my heart pumping, never mind a child's!'

'Helen Laycock has written a fast paced action adventure that will keep even children with short attention spans hooked!'

'This is just my kind of read - poignant and emotional, but pacy at the same time.'

'What a wonderful, enchanting story you have woven here!'

'Brilliantly vibrant and so much fun!'

'There is some really excellent writing, but none better than yours and your story is excellent as well. I am no expert on children's stories but I was immediately struck by how well it balanced the modern world with a classic motif - running away to the circus.
A stunning piece of work...'

'The mark of a good children's book is when it seldom reminds you that it is one. Glass Dreams soothes you into it with uncomplicated but familiar characters, a traditional but suspenseful plot and the fun of an author who obviously enjoys the story she's telling. It's contagious.'

'Engaging, brisk pace and plenty to keep the reader interested.'

`an exciting twist'

`You write extremely well'

`You manage to mix the sadness and the intrigue of its contents very well.'

'Glass Dreams has everything'

'There is a definite lump in my throat. Your magnificent story telling brought Jake into my heart right away. His honest, authentic, innocent perspective is perfectly done, even down the tone of his voice...'

'I always say that good story telling is when you can relate to a character who is nothing like you- a young lad called Jake is hardly someone I'd say I'd relate to normally as a 40+ yr old woman, but I found myself drawn into Jake's heart and mind and losing myself in his demise!'

`You have the written the voice of this sweet little boy absolutely perfectly'

'wonderful characters'

'Helen Laycock has what all good authors have - the ability to create an extremely interesting world in which to place her characters'

message 2: by Helen (last edited Apr 21, 2016 03:29AM) (new)

Helen Laycock (helenlaycock) | 129 comments April 20th – 24th

Martha and Mitch

FREE quirky children’s mystery with a dash of Roald Dahl and a sprinkling of Lemony Snicket
for readers of 8 – 12

#1 in Kindle Store > Books > Children's eBooks > Growing Up & Facts of Life > Family Life > Stepfamilies

Martha and Mitch by Helen Laycock


Martha is humble and unspoilt, despite living a life of utter luxury at Lottery Lodge with her (mostly absent) father and stepmother, Penelope.
Mitch lives at the boys’ orphanage, a dilapidated mansion run by Ariadne Scattypants.

Neither child has any idea about the life the other is leading.

Between Lottery Lodge and the orphanage is a dense wood and it is here that a band of wild boys live. Mitch finds himself at their mercy, but somehow manages to scrabble his way out of the woods, emerging at Martha’s wonderful home.

However, here, too, things are taking a sinister turn.

message 3: by Helen (new)

Helen Laycock (helenlaycock) | 129 comments 'Isn't it strange how one child can be so lucky, when not a stone's throw away another child's life has taken quite the opposite direction? Indeed, not one child, but many unfortunate children lived on the other side of the thick wood that encircled Lottery Lodge.'

Extract from Martha and Mitch

FREE until Sunday 24th April.

message 4: by Helen (new)

Helen Laycock (helenlaycock) | 129 comments Here is an extract from Martha and Mitch which is FREE until Sunday 24th April.

To put it into context, Mitch has just left the orphanage to join the band of boys living wild in the woods. He does not get the welcome he expects...

Meanwhile, Mitch was trekking through the thick, dark woods, trying to remember in which direction he had seen the camp from the tree top. He was very cold. The evening was damp and his shoes were worn and uncomfortable. In the pitch black he was finding it very difficult to see. Thick branches above his head almost cut out what little moonlight there was.

Then he heard it. Just a slight noise. A snap of a twig and a rustle of leaves.

A huge weight dropped on to his back and he fell to the forest floor. The smell of damp leaves was in his nostrils and he felt a smear of cold mud upon his face. There was someone sitting on his back, holding him down.

‘Friend or foe?’ It was a boy’s voice. Mitch’s spirits lifted.

Someone from the camp!

‘Friend!’ said Mitch, attempting to roll over so that he could meet this new acquaintance, but he was held fast. ‘Why are you pinning me down? Let me up so that I can at least shake hands and introduce myself.’

The strange boy was quiet.

Suddenly, from all around him, Mitch heard more rustling and menacing whispers.

‘Hey! What’s going on? Will someone please tell me?’

Mitch was beginning to feel scared. What was going on? He had come to join the camp. He was a friend, one of the boys from the orphanage. Why were they treating him like this? What had he done wrong?


Mitch, still flat on the ground, became aware of a pair of large feet standing astride just in front of his face. As his head was being held down, he was unable to look up beyond the ankles of the stranger. In the darkness, he could just make out that the shoes were torn and ragged. Dirty toes were peeping through with long, claw-like toenails. He could see no trouser legs, no socks, just thick, muddy ankles, camouflaged in the dark.

‘Release him.’ This voice was deeper, commanding.

Slowly, Mitch got up on to all fours and pushed himself up to a standing position. The boy in front of him towered over him and was standing with his hands on his hips. All around him were other boys, all dark-faced, so that Mitch could only see silhouettes. He was unable to recognise anyone.

‘Name?’ ordered the deep voice.

Mitch held out his hand as a token of friendship, but it was not taken.

‘Mitch,’ he said in a quiet voice. ‘And you are?’

‘Your leader, Montgomery.’

Mitch was suddenly struck by the thought of his old bed, where Johnson was now sound asleep. This was not how he imagined his welcome to be. All those late-night stories in the dormitory had created in his mind a quite different scene from that with which he was now met.

At that moment, Montgomery issued a command which was responded to immediately. The boys closed in around Mitch, hoisted him up and carried him flat on his back above their heads through the dark woods, chanting,

‘Initiate, initiate,
Emaciate, emaciate,
Rubricate, rubricate,
Eradicate, eradicate.’

Mitch was bemused. This didn’t match the stories that were told at Miss Scattypants’. They must have been rumours. All the boys that Mitch talked to had thought that life in the forest was a life of camaraderie and adventure. It wasn’t meant to be like this. This was scary. And those words. What did they mean? The boys were repeating them over and over again. This time in a whisper.

‘Initiate, initiate,
Emaciate, emaciate,
Rubricate, rubricate,
Eradicate, eradicate.’

He tried to pick them out. Well, Miss Scattypants had read lots of stories to the boys, so Mitch was able to pick out most of the words.

‘Initiate’. That must be something to do with an initiation ceremony when a new member joins some sort of group or club, he thought as he was carried along through the trees. It’s usually some sort of unpleasant ordeal, where the new person has to perform a task to prove their worth.

‘Emaciate’? Don’t you say someone is ‘emaciated’ when they are starving? It’s when their bones show through their skin. I don’t like the sound of that.

‘Rubricate’? Rubricate? Never heard of it. I’ll just have to wait and see. And what is that last word? Er-ad-i-cate. ERADICATE! That means to get rid of something! What on earth am I going to do?

The next thing that Mitch knew, he was being pushed into some sort of cage which was hanging from a tree. It was made from twigs tightly entwined and was only big enough for Mitch to crouch. With that, he was left swinging in the dark, silent night, alone and afraid. As the boys retreated, Mitch heard their voices fading into the distance.

‘Emaciate, emaciate, emaciate...’

‘So, this is it,’ he thought, ‘the first stage of the initiation. They are going to starve me.’

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