Autumn Sky

Over the last week, I’ve seen a great increase in the number of downloads of my perma-free short story, Autumn Sky. I’m not going to question why, any reason is good enough for me! But it feels good to see this short story climb the charts once more, for various reasons.

When I first wrote this story, it was meant to be a full-length novel based on my experiences. But when it came to putting the words on paper, I just couldn’t do it. It was too raw, too upsetting, and far too difficult to write. So I decided to try a shorter version, using only a few key events and changing some details completely. Autumn Sky was the result.

Initially, I wasn’t particularly enamoured by this story. It was too personal for me to feel any emotions about it. And then the reviews started to come in, and I was completely surprised. People wrote things such as:

“I love this short story for how it portrays abuse as just more than a physical thing; it can involve sexual, emotional, and verbal abuse as well. Her husband’s threats and accusations seem to be Julia’s typical day, no more out of the ordinary than a hug or kiss. Through her trials, Pryke handles the subject of abuse with care, explaining its every facet to her reader.
As an educational piece, “Autumn Sky” does fantastically. Please feel free to read this and learn more about the forgotten side of abuse.” – Anne Pyle

“Although a short read, this is an important book that looks at abuse. Julie thought Simon was the man of her dreams. It didn’t take long to realize just how wrong she was. Admitting it to herself and others is harder than she thought but is the most important first step in making things right. The author brings heart touching emotion into this quick read that is one to grab.” – P.S. Winn

“Thank you for writing this painful story about an area of life many of us are oblivious to – psychological abuse, a kind of silent killer.” – Petch

The story is loosely based on my own experiences of psychological abuse, which I endured for 23 years. I wanted to show people what it’s like to be subjected to this kind of abuse, day in and day out, but also show people in that situation that there is hope, there is a way out.

I found the courage to leave the relationship and start my life over again at the age of 40, with my two sons. I’ve since remarried and now have the kind of relationship I never thought I’d ever have, the kind I’d dreamed about ever since I was a young girl.

My story is permanently free on Amazon and all on-line retailers. Please download it, share it and encourage others to download it – you never know if someone you love is going through exactly this sort of abuse, and maybe it will help them find the courage to ask for help. As is so often said nowadays, you never know what’s going on behind closed doors.

Download from Amazon

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The Du Lac Chronicles: Book 1 by Mary Anne Yarde

My review for The Du Lac Chronicles: Book 1 by Mary Anne Yarde, 5/5 stars.

I was intrigued by this series, as I love any books based around the legend of King Arthur. These books are set a generation later, and feature the Du Lac brothers, sons of Lancelot.

Alden Du Lac, the son of Lancelot, has been captured by Cerdic and is due to be executed in the morning. Annis of Wessex, Cerdic’s daughter, has been in love with Alden ever since he married her sister, and is determined to rescue him.

Although she appears to be weak at the start, Annis becomes steadily stronger in her struggle to survive and fight for the man she loves. As the story develops, you get to know Alden, his beloved brother Merton, and their not-so-beloved brother Budic, who has his own agenda in the political intrigue in war-torn Britain.

The story draws you in from the beginning, keeping you turning the pages until the twist at the end. It does finish on a bit of a cliffhanger, which is why I’m glad I already have all the books in the series! Book 2 is now waiting for me on my Kindle.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Morwitch: Breaking the Rules by Jennifer Redmile

My review for Morwitch: Breaking the Rules by Jennifer Redmile, 5/5 stars.

I really enjoyed this YA fantasy, it’s well-written and has a good narrative voice. Ellie is about to turn 18 and finds out she is actually a witch when her long-lost mother turns up. Jayce is also about to turn 18, and is a dragon disguised as a human, taking a year away from home to live in our world. Both must make an important decision by the time of their birthdays.

When they meet, sparks fly and they discover that their destinies are entwined. They soon form a bond and fall in love, but the Councils of Witches and Dragons are determined to separate them. When a mysterious disease starts to spread on Earth, they find themselves on a quest to save the Tree of Life and mend the discord that has arisen between witches and dragons.

Ellie and Jayce are both likeable characters, and the author has created a believable relationship between Ellie and her mother. Jasper and Isabelle, two rogue dragons they meet along the way, are the voice of wisdom for the two headstrong youngsters.

The book ends on a cliffhanger, and I’ll definitely be reading the next one in the series!

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Author Sarah Northwood

I met author Sarah Northwood in some Facebook group last year – I can’t even remember which one, how bad is that?! – and we clicked right away. We kept seeing each other in various posts and waving hi, and she was the first author friend I made on social media. A year later, it feels as if we’ve been friends forever.

I picked up one of her books when it was on a free promotion, and loved it. Sarah has a fresh, unique writing style that draws you into her stories and keeps you turning the pages to the end. Her psychological thrillers have twists that will shock you, and scenes that you can’t imagine coming out of someone who’s so sweet! I’ve since read all her books, and loved every single one.

I had the honour to work with Sarah on She’s Not Gone, a psychological thriller with a paranormal twist, and I consider this her best one yet. I hope she writes more of this kind!

Sarah writes children’s books and poetry as well. Her poetry is down-to-earth, heart-warming and uplifting that will appeal to almost anyone, and her children’s books are perfect for younger kids. This talented woman also plays the piano extraordinarily well, creating her own pieces that she showcases on Sound Cloud.

Click here for Sarah’s Amazon author page to see all her amazing books!

Visit Sarah’s Facebook author page and leave her a unicorn gif to say hi!
And here’s her poetry Facebook page.

But most of all, Sarah is a wonderfully supportive person, always sending messages when you’re down and unicorn gifs to help celebrate others’ successes. So this is my way of saying thank you to a gorgeous friend – I’m so pleased we met on Facebook, and I hope we can meet some day in real life too.enchanted-unicorn-thank-you-notes-bx-93559

Review for The Healers Secret

This wonderful review for The Healer’s Secret made my day!

Author 🦋Tayler Macneill

Helen Pryke is a wonderful author. Her book The Healers Secret is well worth reading. It Is very descriptive, which makes It very easy to visualize. The personality of the characters were written out beautifully and brought alive right before your eyes. It was an emotional journey, with excellent flow and an even pace. I love the magical moments and surprising twists. It had me fully engaged right till the end. Bravo Helen Pryke, The Healers Secret is defiantly a book worth reading.

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The Sisters of Hex series by Bea Paige

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Author Bea Paige (aka Kelly Stock) introduced me to the RH (Reverse Harem) genre when she asked me to proofread her books for her. I’d never actually heard of it before (what a sheltered life I lead…). In case you don’t know what it is either – there must be someone else out there who’s never heard of it – it’s a story with one woman and several men.

I’d already helped Kelly with her Soul Guide series (click here to see the books on Amazon) and love her writing and her ideas, so I was more than happy to proofread this series as well. You can see my review of the first book in the Soul Guide series here.

In the Sisters of Hex series, the first three books revolve around Accacia, a young woman with a disorder that means she can’t go out in sunlight, and three men from another world, Ezra, Rhain and Devin, who are vampires. Their world, Ever Vale, is under threat and five girls must fulfill a prophecy if they are to save it.

Accacia becomes stronger in each book, as she slowly develops a determined, feisty character, which she needs to keep her three men under control! I love these books because they’re well written, with a great story that keeps you turning the pages, and a couple of scenes that might leave you having to lie down for a while!

Each set of three books will concentrate on a different girl and her men, and I can’t wait to see how the story develops. In Accacia’s Bite the story is already getting darker with some sinister undertones, adding an edge of uncertainty as to where the author is going to take us.

Each book has got 5/5 stars and a Pink Quill Book Pick badge from me, not because of my involvement with them but because they truly are a great read. (See this article if you want to know more about the Pink Quill badge.)

For more information about these books, you can go to her author page on Amazon. Even if you don’t normally read PNR or RH, I think you’ll love both the Soul Guide and Sisters of Hex series!

Guest Post: Lieve Snellings – Children’s Author and Photographer

Today I’m pleased to welcome children’s author Lieve Snellings to my blog.

Nothing gives more peace than photographing nature.

About 10 years ago I was introduced to this heavenly pleasure of nature photography. I was so charmed seeing all these pretty animals and birds in our Quebec garden. I had seen cats washing themselves, but here I also saw birds, squirrels, groundhogs… doing the same. Observing them was so much fun.

I don’t know if these lovely creatures have emotions like humans have, though I could hear them talk. And Margot the woodchuck started to tell me I had to publish their story, to show small and big kids that all creatures in nature are living beings and that they love to live too.  Of course Margot wanted to play the first violin in the orchestra, but that was OK. She loved to share the attention with her family and friends.

It was Margot, who told me about Eufrazie the hairdresser and how she create a special hairstyle for every critter, also birds, when some festivity is coming up. It was exciting to see all those birds with this special haircut. I had to photograph them and share this with you all.

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Maybe you are interested in how to photograph birds too. I’m glad to offer you  here 14 easy tips:

  1. If you want to start photographing birds, you do not have to go far. It is best to start in your garden or street or a park or field in your area.
  2. It is important to get to know the behavior of the birds you want to photograph. Around what time of the day do they show up? On which branch do they usually sit? Do they show up alone or in the company of others?
  3. Use a tripod.
  4. Hide yourself, make use of a shelter, something you’ll not too visible. An old paravan, with opening to pierce the lens of your camera through can also be a handy thing to hide.
  5. Don’t make sudden movements.
  6. Birds adhere to the same habits, they regularly return to the same place. Choose a spot, prepare your camera and wait until the bird returns to that spot.
  7. Set your camera to a fast shutter speed (S in high number) and the aperture or diaphragm as large as possible (F in small number) – this is to allow as much light as possible to come in and to make the shutter speed as short as possible.
  8. Take your photos in the larger format (highest megapixels) because otherwise you lose a lot of quality when you make a cut-out afterwards.
  9. Make sure you are dressed warm enough because you may have to sit still for a while.
  10. Pay attention to the foreground and background.
  11. Birds like to fly against the wind direction to keep more control. So when you choose to photograph birds in flight, draw with your camera in the flight direction.
  12. Experiment with different points of view.
  13. Photographing birds is in fact, like top sport. Patience, exercise and perseverance are important.
  14. It is pleasant to have a bird encyclopedia or a bird app on your smartphone or tablet, so you can look up which birds you just saw and to learn more about them.

I wish you can enjoy as much as I did and do.

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Thank you, Lieve, for this great post! I love your books, they’re perfect for children who want to learn all about nature, and the photography is incredible.

You can watch a book trailer for Groundhog Secrets here.

You can read my review on Amazon for Groundhog Secrets here.

Forty-five by Danielle Gallant Simms

My review for Forty-five by Danielle Gallant Simms, 4/5 stars.

I read Danielle’s first book, Living Past Being a Victim, last year and was very moved by this emotional true story written by a survivor of abuse. It wasn’t an easy read, but one I highly recommend. You can see my review here.

So, naturally, I was interested in reading this short follow-up to her story, which describes her life after having written the other book and reaching the age of forty-five.

It’s a heartwarming read, where this abuse survivor has not only come out of her situation stronger than before, but she has also found true love where she least expected it and gone on to build a wonderful life for herself and her husband.

Battling adverse events, including fibromyalgia and a work accident, the author nonetheless fills this short story with optimism for the future, and her courage, as always, shines through.

Amazon US
Amazon UK

Tall Chimneys by Allie Cresswell

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My review for Tall Chimneys by Allie Cresswell, 5/5 stars.
For more information about the Pink Quill Book Pick badge, click here.

Beautifully written, Tall Chimneys follows the story of Evelyn Talbot, who is sent to live in her family’s stately home at a young age. She leads a sheltered life, which conditions the decisions she makes through the years. Even as a young girl, Evelyn comes across as having a weak personality, unable to go against her family’s wishes. However, it’s easy to forget that women were treated in a certain way only a few decades ago, and if you bear that in mind you start to feel sorry for Evelyn as she struggles to keep her independence while having to conform to society’s expectations.

This book evokes images of times gone by, through its descriptive narrative and the customs of the characters. The narrative draws you into the story, keeping you turning the pages as you see how the story develops. As Evelyn matures she becomes the woman you desperately want her to be, but will she be able to break free from years of having to behave in a certain way? Her destiny becomes enmeshed with that of the house, as war creates havoc throughout the world and their once-glamorous existence declines.

The bitter-sweet ending ties up all the loose ends nicely, and leaves the reader with a sense of having lived Evelyn’s life through the pages of this book. This is a long read, but highly worth it!

Amazon US
Amazon UK

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