Monday, 18 May 2020

THE LUCY WILSON MYSTERIES: LOCKDOWN!

Candy Jar Books is pleased to announce that a collection of lockdown-inspired Lucy Wilson short stories is now up for pre-order, and will be released in two weeks. The royalties from sales will be donated to NHS charities and Candy Jar will double this amount.

Head of Publishing, Shaun Russell, says: “At the start of isolation I asked Jonathan Macho, the author of the most recent Lucy Wilson book The Serpent’s Tongue, to write a short story about Lucy being stuck at home, and we received some very positive feedback. 

Jonathan says: “When Shaun asked me to write ‘Copy/Paste’ as a free download story, I was really grateful for the opportunity to make a small, positive contribution for young readers. When he got back in touch to let me know about the book, I was over the moon. The chance for me to play my part means a great deal, and I really appreciate Candy Jar making my story a part of it.”

Shaun continues: “Around about the same time, Andy Frankham-Allen (the range editor of the Lethbridge-Stewart books) contacted me with an idea to send Lucy back to the 1974 dinosaur invasion. Of course, I thought this was too good of an idea to pass up. I was intrigued by how Lucy would cope knowing she could be infected with the coronavirus, but not wanting to pass it on to the Brigadier, or potentially change the past! So, in collaboration with Tim Gambrell, Andy made a start on the story. After this things just fell into place and we soon had eight stories.”

Tim Gambrell, who previously wrote The Brigadier & the Bledoe Cadets, is honoured to be a part of this collection. He says: “There’s a real sense of shared experience between the writers and the characters, and it feels special and personal to be able to give something back to the NHS in this way. Added to this, the brief was something I could not refuse. Lucy in an empty London during Invasion of the Dinosaurs! My immediate thinking was not to do the Doctor Who story over again. The biggest gap in the TV story, for me, was the lack of consideration for the poor dinosaurs, scooped up from their homes and plonked into London. There was also little appreciation, by the characters on TV, of the sheer beauty and size of the dinosaurs. So those were my starting points. ‘The London Invasion’ came together incredibly quickly after that, within the framing scenes which Andy had developed.”

The collection is aptly entitled Lockdown and contains eight short stories. Aside from Andy and Tim, the other authors include John Peel, Tom Dexter, Alan Stott, Cherry Cobb, Paul W Robinson, Adrian Sherlock and Shaun Russell.

Shaun says: “I really enjoyed working with Adrian on ‘Repetitive Strain’. He is such an imaginative writer and it was a pleasure to collaborate with him on his Groundhog Day-type escapade.” 

Adrian says: “For most of us our daily routine under lockdown is extremely repetitive, so I thought what if Lucy experienced a lockdown day over and over again? I always loved Sapphire and Steel and The Twilight Zone and these series often did stories such as this, so when Shaun approached me about contributing something to the book my imagination was fired.”

Candy Jar also released ‘Sweet Revenge’ by Paul Robinson as a free download story. Publishing co-ordinator at Candy Jar, Keren Williams, is excited to showcase Paul’s talent. She says: “When we asked Paul to contribute a short story he immediately understood the tone we were after and delivered a cracking adventure for all of us who are stuck at home.”

Our only female writer for this collection is Cherry Cobb, who successfully contributed to last year’s Christmas Crackers anthology. She says: “When Shaun asked me to write ‘Flower Power’ for this book I leapt at the opportunity, firstly because I can’t think of a better cause than raising money for the NHS and, secondly, I know that lockdown is proving a challenge for many children and adults. Reading is a great way to relax and escape from reality for a time, and with Lucy Wilson by your side you can be sure of so many great adventures along the way.”

The next story, ‘The Edge of Glory’, is written by Alan Stott, the author of the anarchic children’s book Those Kids Next Door (due to be released by Candy Jar in the autumn). Keren says: “Last year we previewed Those Kid’s Next Door at our summer pop-up shop and Alan was like a magnet to children. They really loved his energy and couldn’t get enough of his slapstick humour. Aside from this, his books sold really well, so when I needed a safe pair of hands to contribute to this collection he was my first choice.”

Another consummate professional is John Peel, the author of many classic Doctor Who, Star Trek, Quantum Leap and Lethbridge-Stewart novels. Shaun says: “John previously wrote the brilliant Lucy Wilson book The Midnight People. I wanted a story where Lucy and Hobo were trapped in the pages of fiction, so I approached John and within a couple of days he emailed ‘Get Lost in a Good Book’ back to me, and it was exactly what I’d asked for.”

Lockdown concludes with a scary romp written by Tom Dexter. Shaun says: “When we started the Lethbridge-Stewart range Tom wrote two short stories for us: ‘The Fright Before Christmas’ and ‘The Black Eggs of Khufu’. Since then we’ve tried, on many occasions, to get him back, but Tom is always very busy. Thankfully isolation has slowed him down a bit. His story ‘Home Invasion’ really rounds off the collection with its heart on its sleeve, and includes a fantastic tribute to all the nurses, doctors and NHS staff that are helping us get through these difficult times.”

Blurb for Lockdown:

Earth is in lockdown. But for Lucy Wilson, staying home doesn’t mean staying safe.

Dinosaurs, killer plants, even Meme Lords – some enemies just don’t respect social distancing. So Lucy and her brainbox sidekick Hobo have no choice but to come to Earth’s defence again – although never forgetting to stay two metres away from each other!


In this collection of short stories, Lucy finds herself contending with the challenges of a pandemic, while continuing to rise to the mantle of her legendary grandfather, Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart. 


The Lucy Wilson Mysteries is a Lethbridge-Stewart spin-off adventure inspired by characters created for Doctor Who by Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln.

The Lucy Wilson Mysteries: Lockdown is available HERE!


The royalties from this book will be donated to NHS charities. Whatever is raised Candy Jar will double. This book is available exclusively through Candy Jar. It will not be available via any other retailers.

Thursday, 7 May 2020

75TH ANNIVERSARY OF V E DAY


To celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day Candy Jar Books is giving away free kindles over the bank holiday weekend.   

One of the titles included is Christopher Bryant’s The Flaming Soldier, a Lethbridge-Stewart spin-off novella very much inspired by the late Eileen Younghusband. Shaun Russell, head of publishing at Candy Jar, says: “Eileen worked in the Filter Room, the top secret hub of Britain’s air defence, and tracked the first V2 rocket into the country! Before she died, I had a brief conversation with her about our Lethbridge-Stewart series. We joked about her being the first person to track an alien rocket into the country and this sparked an idea. Her sad death prompted us to include her in The Flaming Soldier and happily she has since been a star character in other titles in the Lethbridge-Stewart range.”

Veteran World War II hero, Eileen Younghusband, and author of the popular One Woman’s War saw her children’s memoir, Eileen’s War, as her ‘legacy’ book. Before her death in 2016, she said: “It is my hope that all children will read my book. I think it is really important to engage with young people about World War II. It’s a pivotal moment in our history. If my story can live on from generation to generation this will be wonderful.”

With the country still on lockdown, celebrations for VE Day will be very different this year, but there are still many ways to celebrate from the safety of our homes.

Traditionally held on a Monday, this year’s May Day has been put back to coincide with May 8th. This was originally to give as many people as possible the chance to remember and honour the heroes of World War II, but with the lockdown still firmly in place the majority of VE Day celebrations have been postponed. There are, however, still many ways to mark the occasion and honour our heroes, one of which is through reading...

Packed full of history, Maureen Mullally-Clarke’s Old Clothes and Porridge tells the story of a childhood spent against the backdrop of the Depression following the collapse of the American stock market, the launch of the Queen Mary, the Jarrow march, the abdication of King Edward VIII, the coronation of George VI, six years of war and the victory celebrations when war ended.

In a recent interview, Maureen was asked if she would encourage others to write down their life stories. She stated: “Yes I would and I have. I know one woman who used to be a war correspondent and one man who had a military career. People have fascinating lives and they should be documented.”

As our heroes gradually age and pass away, many of them taking their memories with them, it is vital to document and learn as much as we can about their extraordinary lives. Gavin and Claude Parr’s A Seemingly Ordinary Man details Claude’s account of growing up and living through the tumultuous first half of the twentieth century. Following his yearnings to become a sailor, Claude began his career as a steward on a cruise liner before eventually working as a member of the gun crew aboard the doomed RMS Laconia, which was torpedoed by the Nazis in 1942. Miraculously surviving the sinking, Claude was then captured and taken prisoner by the Vichy French.

Gavin Parr, co-author of A Seemingly Ordinary Man, says: “Each year when VE Day falls upon us once more I cast a special thought back to my Grandad and how surprised and “chuffed” he would be that so many people have enjoyed reading his life story. We spent many years recapturing his experiences, from losing his friends during the infamous sinking of the Laconia and his imprisonment at a POW camp, through to the moment that they answered the threat of death from their German captives with a good old fashioned raspberry. Through it all, he managed to capture not just the common man, and his tragedy, but humour in the face of adversity. That pretty much sums up the spirit of the book, and the man.”

As well as real-life stories, World War II fiction is also vital, especially to help children understand what life was like for their relatives. In particular, Cherry Cobb’s Will’s War and Anthony Ormond’s Tommy Parker.

Tommy Parker is the story of a seemingly ordinary schoolboy, worried only about football and homework, until his grandfather reveals a massive secret that will change Tommy’s life forever – a pen that enables the user to time travel into their memories. Tommy must face numerous adventures and along the way is thrown into the midst of World War II Britain.

Alongside this Will’s War introduces the twenty-first century child to their World War II counterparts – literally! In Cherry’s book, the eponymous Will, a young boy from modern-day Britain, is magically transported back to London during the height of the Blitz. With two boys he befriends amongst the rubble, he is then evacuated half-way across the country. Despite the strangeness of the world around him – rabbit pie? the cane? – Will finds his way back to the twenty-first century, along the way learning all about the lives of children during the war.

Cherry says: “I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect modern children to just ‘get’ evacuation. They’re from a different world. One hundred miles now is much less of a distance than it was in the 1940s; and being apart from mum and dad then meant a far greater level of separation than it does in the modern day. But at the same time, no matter how much changes, some things stay the same. And one of those things, in my opinion, is a kid’s ability to adapt. I tried to reflect that in Will. And as he learns, the readers learn too.”

Starting on Friday the 8th and ending on Tuesday the 12th of May, readers will be able to download the following titles free from Amazon: Old Clothes and PorridgeA Seemingly Ordinary Man


Friday, 13 December 2019

INSPIRATION BEHIND THE OSCAR BOOKS


Hope and friendship can be found in the worst of situations. Things don’t always go to plan. Sometimes things go wrong. Sometimes we get lost and we can’t find our way back. Often this leads to unexpected meetings, friends, adventures, and a brand new life. 

The wonderful children’s book Oscar the Ferry Cat written by the talented Molly Arbuthnott, is heart-warming picture book that explores how we come to terms with loss and the positives that can be gained from this.


Loss is an unpleasant part of life that people don’t want to talk about, especially with children. As a primary school teacher, Molly Arbuthnott feels this is a missed opportunity. Loss is inevitable, we will all experience it.

But how we cope with it will make a difference to how it will shape the rest of our lives. She says: “I wanted my pupils to be able to read something that would help them understand the realities of life. And to teach them that hope, love, belonging, and friendship can always be found.” Her books achieve this in a masterful and light-hearted way that makes it very easy for children to understand.

Oscar is a Siamese cat with an adventurous streak. When he runs away from his family to explore, he loses his way and realises that he may never be able to get back. Although upset, he tries to make a new life for himself and meets lots of fantastic and interesting characters along the way. In the next part of Oscar’s tale, he and his new found friends explore the beautiful Hebrides and find themselves risking everything when they notice a girl in danger on a beach. 

This daring book series challenges the concept of the ‘happy ending’ with a rewarding outcome. Molly Arbuthnott teaches children and adults alike that life takes some unexpected twists and turns. You may not end up where you wanted, but you will always find your way. Her exploration of loss is a beautifully crafted piece of work full of emotion, inspiration and hope. 

Molly has written and published three Oscar books so far through Jelly Bean Books. These are Oscar the Ferry Cat, Oscar the Hebridean Cat and Oscar the London Cat. Molly Arbuthnott is currently working on her next book, the anticipated Angus the Robin, which will prove to have just as much depth, insight and meaning.

If you like to publish a picture book with us and take control visit: www.jellybeanselfpublishing.co.uk

THE BEES KNEES! PASS THE KLEENEX!

As of 2019 bees are currently at a higher risk of extinction than ever before. Pesticides appear to be the main culprit for this growing issue and with her new book Little Bee’s Sneeze Nerys Beattie hopes to send an important message to children and adults alike. 

Nerys has taken time away from her three-year-old son, husband and small pack of dogs, to write and create her first ever short children’s fiction book. It follows the journey of a small bee with terrifyingly allergies to flowers. This means she cannot take part in day-to-day bee life, subsequently isolating her from the rest of the hive.

Having always wanted to write, but never having had the time before, Nerys was finally emboldened to start her labour of love after deciding to prioritise the idea she had been holding onto for as long as she can remember. She says: “Once I had thirty minutes to myself and I sat down at my desk, all of the ideas came spilling out. I started at 1pm and by 8pm I had written the entire book!”

Her first venture into children’s fiction is a real treat, shining light upon the trials and tribulations children may face, up against the backdrop of a walking, talking bee hive. Having always suffered from hay fever herself, Nerys wanted to incorporate this into her story. She also tackles issues such as bullying, running away from home and feeling excluded.

Nerys continues: “I wanted to include issues that were integral for parents to talk about with their children, but can often be tricky to handle. This book will hopefully help start the conversation. I also wanted to include bee poison as a representation of the pesticides that are killing bee communities, however, it needed to remain subtle and flow well within the storyline.”

Her collaborator on this project has been Inge Van Der Ham. Inge is a fellow colleague from over twenty years ago who reconnected with Nerys after the author posted her elation at finishing Little Bee’s Sneeze. Inge reached out and offered her skills as the illustrator for the book, and the pair then began to work alongside to bring the story to life.

Little Bee’s Sneeze is an adorable short rhyming story that shows children how our differences make us special. Nerys Beattie invites us to follow the story of a small bee who, by realising her potential, can achieve miraculous things. It is the perfect read for your children during this run up to Christmas.

If you like to publish a picture book with us and take control visit: www.jellybeanselfpublishing.co.uk

Thursday, 12 December 2019

HOME SWEET HOME? OR MAYBE NOT...


Gemma Greening never had plans to become a published author. It wasn’t until a string of funny poems she had scribbled over birthday cards to her husband; mainly for the amusement of her two sons, Alfie and Oliver, snowballed into an idea for a children’s fiction book, and all of a sudden ‘Messy Dad’ was born.

Having always had a way with words; often writing short poems when she found the time, Gemma struck gold when she started stringing together silly and satirical rhymes about her frustration with her partner Ben’s lack of initiative when it came to housework.

Gemma says: “It all started as a joke to be honest. My eldest, Alfie, really likes getting involved. After showing the ideas of Messy Dad to some close friends, I gained the confidence, but I needed to decide to share it with an audience.”  

Messy Dad is a cheeky and brassy short rhyming story, with silly anecdotes. Illustrator Matt Prewett successfully heaps on the comedy, matching each verse to an equally wacky cartoon, tying the book together as dessert for your eyes. The story follows our leading man Messy Dad who happens to have some rather questionable hygiene habits and struggles to hold down the fort whilst his wife is at work. 

Gemma continues: “Having such a close bundle of kids in my life; with my three nephews, two nieces and of course my own two boys, I became inspired to create something that they could read and enjoy whilst at the same time pushing me out of my comfort zone. Although the idea came from a real life scenario, I was experiencing with my partner, he knows it’s quite exaggerated and has been really supportive throughout the process.”  

Gemma is already working on new material that continues to shine light on her lovable, funny family and hopes to have two new Messy Dad books out next year. Messy Dad will surely face challenges far trickier than just juggling the kids and the broken dishwasher. Will he succeed and become ‘Super Dad’ full-time, or will ‘Messy Dad’ prevail?

If you like to publish a picture book with us and take control visit www.jellybeanselfpublishing.co.uk



Tuesday, 19 November 2019

HELPING YOU UNDERSTAND DEMENTIA




We need to talk about Dementia! The illness has long been misunderstood and stigmatised. Despite millions of people being diagnosed or impacted by it every year we do not talk about it.

Enter Sally Flint. In her children’s picture book I Love My Grandpa!, Sally has approached the subject of dementia in a heart-warming and educational way. She aims to eliminate the stigma of the illness. She says: “There is still a lot about dementia that people don’t understand. We need to talk about it. Dementia is not as simple as forgetfulness.”

In the book, Sally’s explores how dementia affects all those involved, most particularly children. Her beautifully illustrated and poignantly written story tackles this issue with sensitivity, intelligence and love. 

She continues: “When a family member is diagnosed with a type of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s or Lewey Body, the change to normal family life can be overwhelming. My story is about a boy, Chris and his grandpa. Despite Grandpa's dementia they have a loving relationship. The story explores the coping mechanisms of dementia, while being entertaining, uncomplicated and thoughtful.”

The book has been published by Jelly Bean Books. Head of Publishing, Shaun Russell, says: “I Love My Grandpa! has gorgeous illustrations by artist Terry Cooper. Alongside the sympathetic text by Sally Flint, it is humorous and offers a fresh perspective on the illness. You don’t need to have experienced dementia to read the book. Its overriding message is that family is important and love will conquer.”

I Love My Grandpa! is a sincere, insightful, and uplifting story that everyone needs to read. The message is clear! Those diagnosed with dementia are still human and have so much to offer.
To order the book click https://www.sallyflint.com/shop.html