The Magic of Forests

toadstool

What is it about forests? It’s no secret that I love them. In Germany, where I spend a lot of time, the area I visit is full of them and I love walking there. In early autumn picking mushrooms and later watching the leaves turn from green to all the glorious shades of gold and brown. In winter driving along narrow roads, forest on both sides, passing through a tunnel formed by the boughs of trees laden with snow. Sometimes we try to walk through as silently as we can in the hope of catching sight of a passing deer. I always take my camera in an attempt to capture some of their enchantment. I find them both enthralling and inspiring.
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The forest symbolises somewhere wild, where you can escape civilisation for a while, yet it is full of hidden dangers at the same time. Even the act of picking mushrooms is fraught with danger unless you know which ones are safe to eat!

toadstool

Definitely not for eating!

In ancient times forests covered much of Europe, and Germany still seems to have retained much of its woodland, while here in East Anglia, where I live, they are few and far between. Have we become too ‘civilised’?

In 1812, Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm published their collection of German fairy tales, commonly known as Grimms Fairy Tales (or Grimms Elfenmärchen in German). Of course, in Grimms tales, the forest is always present. It’s the place where Hansel and Gretel find the cottage of the wicked witch and where Little Red Riding Hood comes across the wolf on her way to her grandma’s house. Forests appear in many myths and legends too. Take Robin Hood, for example, where the outlaws hide in the forest. Story tellers throughout the ages seem to be obsessed with them and I suppose I am no different.

In each of the Agnil’s Worlds books, the forest plays an important role. In ‘The Rise of Agnil’, it’s the place where Agnil meets the strange old man who comes to play such an important role in her life. In ‘Agnil and the Wizard’s Orb’, the Frozen Forest of Boreas is where Agnil and Estil are placed in mortal danger. By contrast, the forest of Lilurrian in ‘Agnil in the Tree Spirits’ is in danger itself and Agnil’s quest is to save the home of the tree spirits.

If you are interested in reading more about the symbolism of forests in fairy tales, look no further than this article by Justine Gaunt.

 

 

All photos by me!

An experiment

Right now I feel like some mad scientist pouring strange chemicals into test tubes, mixing them carefully and trying to come up with a magic formula! Let me explain. I love my books. I believe Agnil has some wonderful stories to tell so I’m sad if children don’t get to hear about her just because I’m not published by one of the major traditional children’s book publishers. I want her to reach a wider audience.

mad scientist

Amazon offers some opportunities for authors who only sell their ebooks through them. One of those is to make them available for loan, rather like an online library, through Kindle Unlimited. Until very recently, this feature has only been available in the USA but it has just come to the UK too so I felt it was the right moment to try this experiment. At the moment, Amazon are offering Kindle Unlimited on a 30 day free trial and it will normally cost £7.99 a month to borrow as many ebooks as you want from their vast collection. Think of it as a Spotify or Netflix for books!

For the next three months at least, we have withdrawn the e-book versions of Agnil’s Worlds from all other online retailers to enable the books to be available through Kindle Unlimited. We’ll watch carefully and see how it goes. Will it enable Agnil to reach out further into our world? Only time will tell! Watch this space but follow this link if you want to read Agnil’s Worlds for free!

Five Star Reviews for Agnil’s Worlds!

Several months ago, I submitted the first two of the Agnil’s Worlds books to Readers’ Favorite, a book reviews and awards organisation, requesting professional reviews for them. I wanted to get honest reviews so I went for a free rather than their paid option nor do I know any of the people at Readers’ Favorites in any way, shape or form. That way they were not obliged in any way to give a favourable review.  It took a few months to get the reviews back but, suddenly, both notifications arrived in my inbox within 24 hours of each other!

To receive one five star review was brilliant but when the second arrived I couldn’t quite believe it! I was over the moon to discover that both books had been awarded five star reviews!

Readers Favorite also run a prestigious annual award and I am currently considering whether I should submit one of them for next year’s contest. What do you think? Are you more likely to read or recommend a book which has won an award?

five star stickerHere are links to the reviews:

The Rise of Agnil

Agnil and the Wizard’s Orb

Agnil and the Wizard’s Orb – cover and blurb!

Half-elf, Agnil, is struggling to fit into her human world and runs away from a bully at school. But life is difficult for her elf family too. Badly treated by the Boreans, the elves are stuck in a frozen world where the sun never sets. Can Agnil discover the power within her to save them all?

Cover book 2

Cover for Agnil and The Wizard’s Orb, book 2 of the Agnil’s Worlds series.

Second illustration reveal: Agnil and the Wizard’s Orb

Cranus
cranus colour

Cranus lifted his arms like two branches above his head and a flock of small birds appeared from beneath his cloak.

With the cover more or less finished and the book ready for conversion to ebook, we are now very close to release. For today’s illustration reveal I have chosen one of my favourite characters, and I hope he’s one of yours too! I won’t be releasing any more illustrations now until the cover reveal. Enjoy!

First illustration reveal: Agnil and the Wizard’s Orb

sword wash colour

Estil placed a bowl of water on the table and Agnil dipped the dagger into it, wiping away the mud with a cloth. The particles of mud swirled through the water until Agnil could no longer see the bottom of the bowl and the dagger was clean. As she lifted it out, she thought for a moment that she saw Vedron’s frozen face floating on the water. A shiver ran down her spine.

Exciting news! With all the illustrations for Agnil and the Wizard’s Orb complete, it won’t be long before the book will be released. Over the next few days I will reveal one or two more to give you a taste of what’s to come in book 2 of the Agnil’s Worlds series. As with the first book, the illustrations have been hand-drawn by Charlotte Moore.

Book 2 coming!

I’ve been busy beavering away at the keyboard and have written Book 2 of the Agnil’s Worlds series. Called Agnil and the Wizard’s Orb, the manuscript is now with the publisher and Charlotte Moore is once again preparing the illustrations. I will be adding small hints about characters and settings to the web site very soon. It’s a slightly darker tale this time and Agnil will need her thermals on for this world!

I already have the outline for Book 3. Within the next few days, I will be starting on the first chapters so that there can be a preview of it in the back of Book 2. Watch out for further news in the next few weeks!