The Secret Lake 3 ~ coming soon!

Hello from a sunny but cold London on 6th Nov 2023

I’ve had my head down for quite some time, so apologies for the long silence, but I’m very excited to let you know that after 8 months of research, plotting, writing, and editing, book 3 in The Secret Lake series is almost here! The image below shows the ‘holding cover’, and further down you can link to a video of my unboxing it when it arrived last week. 😊 (If you don’t yet know the series, I’ve given an overview the end of this post.)

Beyond the Secret Lake – coming early 2024 – with its temporary cover 🚣‍♀️

Beyond the Secret Lake

As you can see, the title is Beyond The Secret Lake. Surprisingly, this took me a while to come up with —I needed it to ‘fit’ with the first two and just couldn’t think of anything! Happily, I got there in the end and it makes perfect sense as, in this latest adventure, the children from both past and present travel outside of early 1900s London to a countryside estate where all is not as it seems! True to form, Stella, Tom, Lucy, Emma, Sophie, Jack (oh — and Hannah!) took me in unexpected directions while working together to solve a mystery whose outcome would shape lives and futures forever. More on this in my next post! 

The early proof copy is currently being checked for any final tweaks, and I’ll be sharing the final cover design and book blurb in a few weeks. Publication is planned for early 2024. Coming in at 60,000 words it’s a little longer than Return to the Secret Lake, and is suitable for strong readers from ages 8-12+ —or to read aloud to ages 7+ who love adventure and mystery!

Advance Readers – your chance to ask to join my team

As with Return to the Secret Lake, I am recruiting a small team of advance readers. In return, if you/they enjoy the book I can include excerpts of their advance reviews at the front of the published book if I receive them in time. My previous readers loved seeing their names in print!

If you or someone you know who has read books 1 and 2 is interested in joining the Advance Reader Team, please email me (see the ‘Contact’ page) with ‘Advance Reader Request’ in the email subject line.  There have been a lot of requests via my newsletter, so good luck! I’ll reply with more details about how it works in the next couple of day, but in short I will send out advance copies in eBook or print in mid November. Feedback will be requested by a certain date — probably late December/early January.

If you were part of the last team, I’d of course love to have you for Book 3!

Unboxing my uncorrected proof copies

Unboxing the uncorrected proof with its temporary cover last week

Cornwall Writer’s Retreat and Book 3 Research

In case you missed the previous blog post, it was at my Cornwall Writer’s Retreat last March  where a lot of the research for Beyond the Secret Lake took place. (Of course I had no idea of its title at that time!) Below are a couple of shots from the train journey down — just some of the books I used to steep myself back in that time. Follow the link above and scroll down to see the beautiful house by the sea where we stayed!

Just some of the books I got lost in – The Edwardians was a charity shop find when out with my 98-year-old mother!

School visits, bookclub or birthday events: in person and online

In other news, I visited a large primary school near Hampton Court last week. It’s always a joy to connect with new young readers! If your school or book club would like an in-person or virtual author visit, please get in touch — I’m happy to visit anywhere in the world! I’m also happy to pop in online for a birthday event. You can find out more and read testimonials on my school visits page .

The Secret Lake series – at a glance

For those of you who may not know the series, in The Secret Lake Tom and Stella (aged 8 and 11), while trying to find their elderly neighbour’s missing dog in their Notting Hill communal gardens, discover a time tunnel and lake that lead them to their home and the Edwardian children living there 100 years earlier. Here they forge strong friendships, help a young boy who is in trouble, and uncover startling connections with the present.

In Return to the Secret Lake, one of their friends in past time has fallen dangerously ill and her best friend Lucy comes forward in time in search of their help. The children travel back down the time tunnel together where yet more challenges await. Loyalty, bravery and friendship across time are key themes in both books, together with a page-turning plot and unexpected twists and turns. 😊 Book 3 follows suit and will not disappoint!

That’s it for now. I’ll be posting again in the run-up to Christmas, and when the cover and blurb for Book 3 is available. In the meantime, happy reading! Follow me on Instagram. Follow me on Facebook.

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Spring News: Book Anniversary, Award Finalist, World Book Day, Writing Retreat and more… 😊

Happy spring, all!

I hope you’ve had a good start to 2023. Here in London the huge magnolia in our garden is in full bloom, and the daffodils and crocuses are out — and, of course, the days are gradually getting longer. I love this time of year!

Earlier this month we celebrated UK World Book Day week where I had five days of in-person school visits meeting children from Reception Year (kindergarten) up to Year 6 (fifth grade) around London and the south-east. One of the joys of writing across so many age groups is being able to meet pupils from across the whole school. All the children I met were a delight, with the little ones adoring the live fox footage that’s included as part of my Ferdinand Fox storytime, and pupils in the older year groups asking so many wonderful questions about writing, where I get my inspiration, and how books get made.

School children seated in a school hall with hands up during an author talk by Karen Inglis who is standing at the front of the class taking questions.
Year 2, The Oakwood School, talking about favourite books 📚
A groups of school children sitting on the floor looking at a screen with foxes.
Reception Year, The Oakwood School — waiting to meet Ferdinand Fox 🦊
Fox and hedgehog soft animal toys sitting on a table in front of the picture book Ferdinand Fox and the Hedgehog
Ferdinand Fox and Hatty Hedgehog waiting to meet the pupils! 🦔
Abbot’s Hill School, Hemel Hempstead —previously for borders but now a girls’ day school.
A great setting for a school mystery?!

Return to the Secret Lake — Double Celebration!

I can hardly believe that this month marks the first anniversary of publication of Return to the Secret Lake — how time flies! It has sold over 11,000 copies in English, and is proving extremely popular in German — and will be published in Czech later this year. There is also another foreign offer in discussion. It was also recently shortlisted as a Finalist in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards, judged by UK Primary School Children and teachers. I love the finalists’ medal, seen below!

Thank you so much to all of you who have left ratings and/or reviews online — your feedback has been wonderful! And special thanks for not giving away any spoilers, which is so easy to do with this plot!

Cornwall Writers’ Retreat

In other news, I have just returned from a week in Marizion in Cornwall with a group of six fellow authors who write mostly for adults (or YA and adults). The house we rented looked out to St Michael’s Mount, which you can walk to when the tide is out. The St Aubyn family, which had owned the island since the mid 1600s, gifted it to the National Trust in the 1950s but still live in the castle on a lease arrangement with the island operating as a visitor centre. The current residents, Lord and Lady St Levan (James and Mary St Aubyn) have been there since 2003. If you choose the right day to visit you can take a tour inside the castle, and climb to the top.

There are a few other homes there with residents all working on the island and children going to school on the mainland. (One of the boatmen doubles up as a teacher in the local primary school — what a great way to get to work!)

House view to St Michael’s Mount — plus work and play!

It was wonderful to get away. Most days were rainy and blustery, with one day of glorious sunshine. But it didn’t matter. Looking out onto rolling waves provides all the inspiration and calm you need to focus. Much work was done by all — writing, editing, plotting and research. We also held an impromptu marketing meeting, seen in the image above.

For my part I was steeped back in Edwardian London where I am researching and planning for book 3 in The Secret Lake series. 😊 We did, however, get out and about! Below you can see the causeway that leads out to the island, and more from a spur of the moment hour’s walk I made into Penzance.

Walking to and from St Michael’s Mount — the causeway is revealed as the tide goes out.
A 50-minute walk along the coast to Penzance: wonderful views and valuable thinking time!

Zoom visits around the world

In between World Book Day week and heading down to Cornwall I squeezed in various zoom sessions: two with elementary schools in the USA who have been reading The Secret Lake, and one with an English language school in Bulgaria where the children have been reading Eeek! The Runaway Alien. Both sets of pupils had such interesting observations about the stories and the Bulgarian pupils had completed activities showing which new English words the text had taught them. The first time I met the Bulgarian pupils was when they were in Kindergarten, with my Ferdinand Fox picture books, so I really feel as if I’m watching them grow up! It was also wonderful to receive thank you letters from the pupils below from Columbia Virtual Academy in Wyoming!

Do get in touch if you’d like to find out more about my Zoom school visits at home and abroad. I love meeting my readers, wherever they are in the world. I can speak with whole schools (as seen below) or small book groups of a few children!

This zoom call in February was with close to 500 pupils in Utah.
Their school had recreated The Secret Lake theme in its grounds!

Authors love reviews 😊

If your children or pupils have read one or more of my books but not yet reviewed them online, if you could find a moment to help them do so it would mean a lot— a short review is fine, whether on Amazon, Goodreads, Toppsta or your other preferred site! It will help other families, teachers and children discover my stories. Children also really enjoy seeing their words published online! Thank you!

And finally — our magnolia

I can’t sign off without including a picture of the glorious magnolia tree in our garden. They bloom for such a short time, —I just love them in the days before the buds fully open up. I hope you enjoy, along with my Mother’s Day flowers!

Magnolia — with Mother’s Day flowers from my son in the foreground!

That’s it for now. Happy spring reading! 📚

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December update

Happy holidays, all! It’s freezing and snowy here in London, but the sun is shining so it’s looking beautiful out there. I hope you are all keeping warm! I’m a little late with this update but wanted to post before the year is out — so here goes! (And if you’re still in need of a few extra presents, there may be something here for you! 😊)

But first, I hope you enjoy this image, snapped in my garden earlier this week. I just love how the frost decorates the shrubs and trees!

Frost covered shrub with pink flower
From my garden earlier this week

The Christmas Tree Wish

If you’re still looking for something for the little ones, this heartwarming tale for ages 3-6 about hope and friendship is still as popular as ever! Gardners UK wholesalers have just run out so getting it from local bookshops will be tricky. However, the paperback is available on Amazon worldwide for delivery before Christmas. (If you enjoy sharing books on your tablet/ device with your children/grandchildren, the story is also available as an eBook with pop-up text via the link above.)

Christmas tree characters in a snowy scene beside the book 'The Christmas Tree Wish' by Karen Inglis and Anne Swift
Paperback and eBook available on Amazon

Eeek! The Runaway Alien makeover (free flip-book sample below!)

A new edition of Eeek! The Runaway Alien (the soccer-mad alien who came to Earth for the World Cup) is now out. It was long overdue a makeover and I’m delighted with the work of illustrator and layout artist, Rachel Lawston. I hope you enjoy! With the World Cup tournament in everyone’s minds (win or lose!), what better choice of stocking filler for 7-10 year-olds who love football (aka soccer) and humour! Described as ‘Laugh-out-loud funny!’ by LoveReading4KidsUK, Eeek! is still a firm favourite with both boys and girls. There’s an hilarious twist in Eeek! btw, but don’t tell the kids!

book cover with boy and football looking up at alien wearing a football scarf - the front cover of Eeek! The Runaway Alien by Karen Inglis

Tap or click here to read Chapters 1-3 of Eeek! as a flipbook on any device The flipbook sample comes complete with page-turning sounds!

Collage of images of alien, girl in catsuit outfit and young boy Charlie, from Eeek! the Runaway Alien chapter book

I’d love to know what your children think of the new design; please do email me to let me know!

Return to the Secret Lake audiobook is here!

The audiobook of Return to the Secret Lake came out this autumn. Whereas I narrated The Secret Lake, I knew this was a job for a professional — the sequel comes in at twice the length of book one and has a much larger character cast, which would have been beyond my skills! After listening to around 15 audition samples, I chose British voice actor Eilidh Beaton. Her ability to assume the voices of so many different characters is astonishing, and I am in awe of how she managed to put in so many hours over a relatively short period and still sound so fresh. Eilidh has over 100 audiobooks to her name, so that probably explain things! Click or tap the image or the link below it to hear a free sample over on Amazon.

silhouette of young girl at night by a gate in woodland garden - the front cover of Return to the Secret Lake Audiobook by Karen Inglis
Click to hear a free sample on Amazon

Click this link or the image to hear a free sample on Amazon. The excerpt is the scene in past time where Emma’s best friend Lucy is sneaking out of her house in the middle of the night to try to find the time tunnel and get help for Emma, who is dangerously ill.

Thank you for your feedback! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

At the time of writing I’ve sold close to 9,000 copies of Return to the Secret Lake in the English language and the story has received nearly 400 ratings/reviews on Amazon with 83% 5-Star. This is truly heartwarming, especially as it was a rather nerve-wracking book to write following on from the success of book one! Children and adults say they especially love the mix of real history with a page-turning plot.

I am extremely grateful that no one so far has inadvertently included spoilers in their reviews — those who have read the book will know what I mean by this!

The German edition has also been extremely well received, and I’ve also just sold the Czech rights to Grada Publishing, whose readers loved book one!

Front cover of the German Edition of Return to the Secret Lake - girl standing by a gate at night

If you’ve bought and enjoyed Return to the Secret Lake, or its German translation, please do take a moment to leave a short review online as it will help other families find the story. Thank you!

The Secret Lake: illustrated Spanish edition coming soon!

In other exciting news, over the summer a major Spanish publisher bought the rights to The Secret Lake and is creating a colour illustrated version, which I hope will be out in 2023. I even got to choose from their final shortlist of illustrators, and have since been commenting on her pencil illustrations, which are amazing! I can’t wait to share the final result with you once it’s out! Watch this space 😊.

Spanish flag with inset image of girl by lake and a copy of The Secret Lake by Karen Inglis

Books from past time…

Earlier this year, my husband’s aunt died at the incredible age of 103. Before her house was sold, her daughter asked if I’d like to take a look through her collection of children’s books. Of course, I couldn’t resist. Below is a small sample of those I brought home — I’m sure that some older readers here will recognise at least some of them. The Water Babies is an 1899 Edition!

Another interesting fact is that Anne Logue (my husband’s aunt who owned these books) was married to Valentine Logue, son of Lionel Logue who was speech and language therapist to King George VI, and a main character portrayed in the film The King’s Speech. She said that her husband said that the somewhat downtrodden family apartment featured in the film was not accurate at all! The Logues apparently lived in a far grander property in Bolton Gardens, which is a very upmarket part of London!

Would you like a school visit?

Before I go, just to say please do get in touch or look at the school visits page here on my website if you think your child’s primary/prep/elementary school would like an in-person or virtual visit. For older pupils or secondary schools I can run talks on how books get made and writing and publishing in the digital age. I am mostly booked on World Book Day week 2023, but do still have a couple of slots for Zoom visits —and plenty of availability at other times for in-person or Zoom visits.

Classroom with pupils with hands up. Karen Inglis children's author at front of class
The Harrodian School July 2022 — questions about Return to the Secret Lake

That’s it for now. I’ll be in touch again in the new year. In the meantime, for everyone in the northern hemisphere, I hope you are able to find imaginative ways to stay warm without breaking the bank!

Happy reading in the meantime! 📚 😊


PS Reminder: if you/ your pupils or children have read Return to the Secret Lake or any of my other books it would be wonderful if you could take a moment to leave a short review online if you’ve not yet done so. Every little helps spread the word. Thank you!

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Barnes KidsLitfest, Secret Lake sequel flip-book, audiobook news, more…

Hello from London where midsummer is truly upon us. How time flies!

It’s three months since the launch of Return to the Secret Lake and I wanted to give you a quick update post-launch, along with news of my event at Barnes Children’s Literature Festival next Saturday.

I’m also including a link at the end to a free digital flip-book of the first three chapters of Return to the Secret Lake to give you/your children a flavour of the sequel if you’ve not yet read it. 😊

Below is a picture taken last month at Still Pond in London’s Richmond Park. As you may know, this pond was the inspiration for the lake in The Secret Lake. The azalea display was one of the best in years. I hope you enjoy!

Still Pond inspired the lake in The Secret Lake books

Barnes Children’s Literature Festival — bring the kids next Saturday 25th June!

Barnes, the riverside village in southwest London where I live, is host to the UK’s largest dedicated children’s literature festival. I appeared with Eeek! in the festival’s inaugural year in 2015, and am excited to be back there this year with Return to the Secret Lake. My session is next Saturday 25th June from 3.30-4.30. If you live within reach of Barnes I’d love to see you and your children! Click or tap the link for more details of my session.

You can see the full line-up of amazing authors here There are some very big names, as you will see! It really is a fabulous day out with events centred around the village pond and nearby sites in a variety of halls and marquees. The village itself is charming, with plenty of cafés and other eateries for all the family, and a huge green to picnic on if you prefer.

Return to the Secret Lake — your feedback

Thank you so much to all of you who have taken the time to post reviews of Return to the Secret Lake online. Readers young and old are loving how the page-turning plot mixes with historical fiction. As with book one, it’s proving as popular in the US as over here in the UK. And it’s especially lovely to hear that adults are enjoying it as much as children — my latest 5-Star UK reviewer is aged 70!

Please take a moment to leave a review

If you or your children have read the sequel and not yet had time to post a review online at your preferred store, please do take a moment as it helps those sites show the book more widely. Thank you 🙂 

Return to the Secret Lake audiobook — coming soon!

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been listening to auditions for the audiobook edition of Return to the Secret Lake and am delighted to have found a perfect match. My chosen narrator is in high demand so can’t start recording until mid August. This is a little later than I’d have liked, but the best things come to those who wait, as they say! Assuming all goes to plan it will be out in early September, and I shall of course let you know as soon as it is.

My mother-in-law, who is almost 97, is especially keen to hear it; she has dry macular degeneration (a degenerative eye disease) so can no longer read. Meanwhile my 97-and-a-half-year-old mother (!) whisked through it on Kindle as soon as it was out. They are both doing remarkably well for their age, as you will have gathered!

The Secret Lake in simplified Chinese

A couple of weeks ago, I received images of the cover design for The Secret Lake from my Chinese publisher. The book title translates as ‘The Missing Dog, The Dancing Moles and The Secret Lake’. Isn’t it adorable? What do you think? 😊

The Secret Lake in Simplified Chinese

Virtual author visits — at home and abroad

Just a quick reminder that, as well as in-person visits, I also offer virtual author visits to schools and book clubs. It’s always fun to visit online, no matter how near or far my audience is! Below are a couple of photos recent visits with elementary schools in the US who have been reading The Secret Lake in class. If you’d like to organise a virtual visit for your school —wherever you are in the world —please email me. You can find more details on the ‘school visits’ tab here on my website.

UK readers: I’m also now taking in person and virtual bookings for World Book Day week in 2023. Please do mention this to your child’s school if you think they may be interested. 😊

Return to the Secret Lake — free flip-book of Chapters 1-3!

With the summer holidays upon us, what better time for children (and adults) to get lost in a new book? If you’d like to get a feel for the world of The Secret Lake click or tap this link to open up Return to the Secret Lake as a flip-book and read the first three chapters. (Suitable for ages 8-80!) Or you can scan the QR code below. You don’t need to input your email address and there are no ‘buy’ links inside.

The flip-book will work on your desktop, laptop, tablet or phone. If you’ve not read The Secret Lake you will get a feel for the story without any spoilers, but I’d definitely recommend starting with book one if you enjoy this excerpt. Feel free to share this link, of course!

Scan the QR Code or use the link above to get your free flip book — no email required

That’s it for now, but before I go here’s that link to my event next Saturday 25th June at Barnes Children’s Literature Festival. If you live locally and have children aged 8-12, I hope to see you there!

Otherwise, I hope you and your children have exciting plans (and books!) lined up for the summer.

Happy reading! 📚 😊


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⭐ Book Launch ⭐ Return to the Secret Lake 📚 🚣

Official launch date 8th March 2022

I’m thrilled to announce that Return to the Secret Lake is now out and available to order after many many requests from readers over the years!

In this page-turning sequel to The Secret Lake we see Lucy come forward in time in search of a cure for Emma who has fallen dangerously ill. Of course, things are never straightforward where time tunnels and magical moles are concerned — and so unfolds a thrilling tale of time travel, rekindled friendships and new threats that no one could have foreseen.

Today is International Women’s Day, and I’ve chosen to coincide the book’s official launch with this date as half of the story is set in early 1900s London, when the Suffragette movement was extremely active. The movement provides a gentle backdrop in a few of the scenes, which I know young advance readers have found intriguing alongside other historical contexts and events. Also resonating with the theme of strong females is the bravery and resourcefulness shown by both Stella and Hannah from the present, and Lucy and others from the past as they risk everything to help Emma .

The story is not only about the girls, however — we also have Tom and Jack to root for as unexpected events unfold!

Researching Edwardian London

Below is a slide I shared at my World Book Day school visits here in the UK last week about my research into Edwardian London. Stella and Tom spend far more time in this period in Book Two — including venturing out into town — so I wanted to feel, see and breathe the atmosphere through their eyes.

Extract from my World Book Day week school talk

What I loved about this research was diverting off in different directions and discovering little ‘aha’ moments which I knew needed to be in the story in some way, such as the craze of ‘rinking’ in Edwardian time (rollerskating in dedicated rollerskating rinks for those who could afford it), and bylaws being demanded by some to outlaw children rollerskating on pavements. Those children tended to come from poorer backgrounds who couldn’t afford to use the rinks, and I was pleased when reading Hansard reports from 1910-11 to see the young Winston Churchill standing up for them.

It’s amazing how many rabbit holes one can go down. But it was worth the many many hours — and, I hope, has helped ensure that the twists and turns of the story play out in contexts authentic to that time. I shall be writing separately about this in due course when preparing teaching resources. 😊

Early feedback

As any author will tell you, it’s always nerve-wracking launching a new book. Happily, the members of my small team of advance readers have given the story a very strong thumbs up. In the mix were children, parents (including a nurse), two teachers, two grandmothers and a couple of children’s authors.

You’ll find a few early reviews over on Amazon but here are a few more snippets sent to me directly:

“This book will keep you on the edge of your seat from start to finish! Each chapter brings new challenges, which the children face with determination and mastermind ideas. I loved their quick thinking and wittiness. But what stood out most was how much they cared for and looked out for each other.” Méabh ~ Aged 11 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Immerses the reader in the early 1900s and is really thought provoking for middle-grade readers. A great fictional adventure and an excellent choice for connecting history with reading for pleasure.” ~ Michelle Gilbert, Primary teacher and Year 4 Book Club lead ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“I loved that there were so many mysteries mixed in with real history! One of the longest books I’ve read and I finished it in 4 days!” ~ Brooke, Aged 10 ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Read more reviews or buy Return to the Secret Lake on Amazon

Visit to watch Méabh’s advance reader review

Click to watch BookMonster’s full review of Return to the Secret Lake on YouTube — this is a great channel for your children to subscribe to if they love middle-grade books btw:)

Where to buy

The print book is also available to order from all other online stores or via your high street bookshop. Signed copies will be in Barnes Bookshop from next week. Delivery times to other bookshops may vary in the first couple of weeks.

My next task is to commission a narrator for the audiobook. 😊

That’s if for now. I’m still catching up on piles of admin having caught Covid last weekend, which threw out many of my book launch plans and has left me making preparations up to the wire!

Still, such challenges pale into insignificance when compared with what is being faced by the citizens of Ukraine. I’m sure you will stand with me in hoping for a miracle and a swift resolution to this heartbreaking situation, even though that seems far off as I write.

Bye for now, Karen

PS: If you decide to buy Return to the Secret Lake, please do take a moment to leave a short review if you / your children enjoy it! Thank you!

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The Secret Lake 2 – Cover Reveal (and more!)

Update 8th March 2022 😊

Return to the Secret Lake launched on 8th March! You can order it in print or for eBook from Amazon here. The print book is also available to order from other online stores and high street bookshops, with a slightly longer lead time in the first few weeks.

Click or tap here to read more about the book and hear early reviews over on its main page.

Return to the Secret Lake — suitable for ages 8-12 or to read aloud to age 7+

(The rest of the text below is from the pre-launch blog post back in February.)

Hello from a blustery London!

This is a quick update to say that I signed off the final cover for the sequel to The Secret Lake on Friday, and the book is having final checks. (There are no real surprises in its title! — Return to the Secret Lake.) I shall be sharing the full cover and blurb seen below more widely in the coming week, but wanted my newsletter and blog subscribers to see it first. Please do comment below or email me to let me know what you think? — and feel free to share with friends, family or pupils. You’ll also find a couple of ‘sneak peeks’ inside the book further down. 😊

I hope you’ll agree that my cover designer, Stuart Bache, has done a brilliant job — in the many years I have been mulling over a sequel, I always knew that the story would involve a young child from the past coming to find Stella and Tom at night. This image is exactly as I had hoped it would be, and more…

Return to the Secret Lake comes in at just over twice the length of The Secret Lake, and in terms of plot complexity is suitable for girls and boys aged 8-12, or to read aloud to those aged 7 and up. I think/hope children will find the setting between modern-day and 1900s London intriguing; we spend more time in both eras in this follow-on book. Click or tap the image below to enlarge and read the blurb.

Early feedback so far on the story from a small team of advance readers has been fantastic, so if your child or class has read and enjoyed The Secret Lake this is definitely for them! (If they haven’t, you can download the first three chapters of The Secret Lake here for free to see if they might enjoy it; the sample is available both for eReaders and in PDF format.)

A sneak peek inside…

A quick flick through the final proof copy – you may see see a few mark-ups!

Launch date

The book is now having its final print copy proofread and I aim to make it available for pre-order in the next week or so, with a likely release date not very long after that in early March once the final files are uploaded to all printing platforms. Look out for another post in the next couple of weeks with links to pre-order pages. In the meantime, below is a quick look at the opening page of Chapter 1. 😊

With thanks to Anne Swift for the magical mole!

Lesson plans

Teachers/home schoolers — As previously mentioned, I shall be creating some interesting lesson plans to go with the book. More on this in a later blog post, or sign up to my email list.

That’s it for now. Do let me know what you/your children/pupils think of the cover if you get a moment? And I’ll post again once the book is available to order.

Sign up to my occasional newsletter to be notified…

If you’re not on my mailing list but would like to be notified when Return to the Secret Lake is available to order, please sign up to my occasional newsletter here. I don’t email often, and you can unsubsribe at any time.

Karen 😊

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The Secret Lake sequel 📚 | Christmas gift ideas | more! 🎄

Hello from a cold and crisp London, where the Christmas season is upon us. I hope your holiday season plans are well underway and that you’re all staying safe.

The Secret Lake: Sequel 😊

After much plotting and planning, and following many requests from children and adults, I’ve had my head down for the last three months writing the sequel to my bestselling middle grade novel The Secret Lake,

I’m thrilled to say that I finished editing the final draft two days ago (you can see the printout on my desk below!) and it is now with a small number of beta readers before, no doubt, further polishing, then on to my professional editor. Coming in at 50,000 words it will be approximately twice the length of the first book.

As you have guessed, writing a children’s book takes a lot of time, and effort — children are always surprised when I tell them just how long! Luckily this time around I had an outline plan before I started, which made life a lot easier than first time around when I had no plan and went round in circles with the plot for many many months. I do not recommend writing this way!

The printout of The Secret Lake 2 first final draft ✍🏻 📚

Why did it take so long to write The Secret Lake sequel?

Many children and adults have asked me over the last few years why I hadn’t written a sequel. The reason is that I had promised myself I would only ever do so if I thought any new story would be as magical as the first. Also, I tend to have to wait for stories to come to me… and that can take time! That apart, with so many other projects to juggle, it had been difficult to sit down and find the time and space I needed in order to let my imagination run wild, then plan and research. This summer, I finally had that time.

Going back and spending time with the original characters — and meeting a couple of new ones — has been an absolute joy, with scenes unfolding that I hadn’t planned, and new characters popping up unannounced, as happened the first time around!

I’m hoping for a release date in spring 2022 and, of course, will keep you updated via this newsletter. In the meantime, if you’d like to apply to join my advance reader team to help make the launch a success, please email me via my contact page with the subject line ‘The Secret Lake 2’ and I will send you details of how it works closer to the time.

Teachers — I will be creating some interesting lesson plans to go with the book. More on this in a later newsletter! 😊

In other Secret Lake news, I have just sold foreign rights to Romania, meaning it will soon be in translation in nine languages!

Also, I couldn’t resist the gorgeous little mole, seen sitting on the shelf in the first image above. I found him in one of the gift shops where I live in Barnes village and couldn’t leave without him! As readers of The Secret Lake know, moles are integral to the magic of the story. ❤️

The Christmas Tree Wish: A heartwarming tale for ages 3-6 🌲

Back to the holiday season — if you’re looking for an extra special gift for your younger children or grandchildren, please do take a look at The Christmas Tree Wish.

A heartwarming tale — with links to free colouring sheets

This heartwarming tale about hope, friendship and being different was inspired by a small, bedraggled Christmas tree I saw one dark and wet Christmas Eve, unsold and looking very lonely. As is usually the case with my stories, I couldn’t get this little fellow out of my head, and knew I had to give him a happy ending!

The Christmas Tree Wish comes with links to free downloadable colouring sheets of the tree characters to keep children or grandchildren occupied in the run-up to Christmas, using Anne Swift’s stunning illustrations. Hopefully, the reviews speak or themselves! 😊 🌲

Click or tap below to watch a short video about The Christmas Tee Wish.

Tap to play 🙂

If you prefer to share picture books on an iPad, the eBook is free on Kindle Unlimited worldwide. Also, Amazon UK has just reduced it to 0.99p for December.

The Tell-Me Tree — continued praise from teachers and parents ❤️

Thank you so much to all of you who have bought The Tell-Me Tree and shared with me how it has touched children’s lives, or how you have been using it in schools to help children open up about feelings. Below are a few examples. I’m also bowled over that a simple Facebook promotion has been shared and commented on over 1,000 times!

With the uncertainties all of our children are living with these days, The Tell-Me Tree aims to help ease worries through encouraging a habit of regularly talking about feelings, whether happy, sad or anywhere in between.

Pupils getting into the habit of sharing feelings at schools using The Tell-Me Tree

This story and activity book comes with free download templates to help children draw their own Tell-Me Trees and copies of activity sheets from inside the book to encourage them to draw or write about how they are feeling as often as they would like. Available everywhere online, or via your local bookshop or your school ‘s usual channels.

If you have used The Tell-Me Tree and found it useful please feel free to send me pictures, or tag me if you post about it and I will share.

You can read about the background to The Tell-Me Tree here

📚 Eeek! The Runaway Alien discounted to £3.95! ⚽ 
(RRP £6.99)

Finally, a quick heads-up for my UK followers looking for stocking fillers to let you know that Amazon UK has just discounted Eeek! The Runaway Alien to £3.55 (RRP is £6.99).

Eeek! is perfect for girls or boys aged 7-10 looking for a fast and fun read, and a good laugh! (It’s also available as an audiobook and eBook.)

It was voted book of the month by LoveReading4Kids UK at launch, and favourite book club read three years in a row in one London primary school, and now comes with a shiny new cover! It is also fantastic for reluctant readers, and comes with fun black and white illustrations throughout. 😊 👽

A fun, fast-paced read for ages 7-10 — loved by parents too!

That’s it for now. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season and I look forward to providing you with updates on The Secret Lake 2 soon 😊 .

With very best wishes,


PS: Remember, if you’d like to know more about joining my launch team for The Secret Lake 2, please email me via my contact page with ‘The Secret Lake 2’ as the subject line, and I will send you further details in due course.

PPS: Remember, if you like to share picture books on an iPad with little ones, The Christmas Tree Wish eBook is free on Kindle Unlimited worldwide. Also, Amazon UK has just reduced it to 0.99p for December. 🌲

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🌞 Middle Grade Summer Reading Sale 🌞 | 10-year anniversary of The Secret Lake and other news…

Hello from London where we’ve been experiencing extreme heat, epic rainfall and flash flooding in equal measure. It’s cold and grey in London as I write. I hope your summer is a little better! Thankfully, more governments are waking up to the reality of global warming. Here’s keeping fingers crossed that between us we can turn this around.🤞

I’ve had an especially busy first half of the year — hence the long gap since my last post! Since finalising the second edition of my non-fiction book for children’s authors (now out, all 420 pages — phew!), I’ve commissioned a fun audiobook of Walter Brown and the Magician’s Hat (check out the free sample later on!) and have been working on plans for a new top secret middle grade title, on which more towards the end of the year. 📚 Now, back to more immediate news…

Middle Grade Summer Reading Sale

First things first! In the spirit of summer, and to encourage more Summer Reading, I’ve teamed up with a small number of bestselling middle grade authors to offer nine incredible eBooks, all of which are either FREE or just $0.99/£0.99 on Amazon.

Top notch books from top-selling authors!

I can vouch that all of these books are high quality, well reviewed, and you will not be disappointed! These deals, which are available for the next five days only (sale ends Thursday August 5th), offer a great way to sample new authors and stories. And, of course, you can always then buy them in print if your child prefers reading that way.

Your Children’s Summer Reads Amazing Line-up

• Ben Archer and The Cosmic Fall by Rae Knightly (Only $0.99/£0.99 Click here)

• The Book of Chaos by Jessica Renwick (FREE Click here)

• Brother Wars by Steven K. Smith (FREE Click here)

• Eeek! The Runaway Alien by Karen Inglis 😊 (Only $0.99/£0.99 Click here)

• Epic Zero: Tales of a Not-So-Super 6th Grader by R.L. Ullman (FREE Click here)

• Jack Jones: The Pirate Treasure by Zander Bingham (Only $0.99/£0.99 Click here)

• The Math Inspectors: The Case of the Claymore Diamond by Daniel Kenney (FREE Click here)

• My Fox Ate My Homework by David Blaze (Only $0.99/£0.99 Click here)

• Pumpkins by Kevin Miller (Only $0.99/£0.99 Click here)

These books are rarely discounted so please spread the word to your friends and family. I also encourage you to subscribe to each author’s newsletter to learn more about them and their new releases.

Eeek! — New Cover

Those of you who have been following me for a while, will see that Eeek! has a shiny new cover! That’s 11-year-old Charlie opening the door to the alien in the picture (with shorts and a scarf added for front-cover modesty!). For those not familiar with this story, it’s about a soccer-mad alien who runs away to Earth for the World Cup. Described as “laugh-out-loud funny” and great for keen and reluctant readers alike, it was featured as Book of the Month on LoveReading4KidsUK when it came out and remains hugely popular for both girls and boys ages 7-10 at school events 🙂 It surely must be up there with every child’s dream to find a friendly young alien on their doorstep?!

In print, eBook and audiobook (narrated by the brilliant Ciaran Saward)

The Secret Lake: 10-year Anniversary

August marks the 10-year anniversary of the publication of my bestselling time-travel adventure The Secret LakeAt the last count it had sold over 320,000 print copies in the English language. I am truly honoured and humbled that so many children (and adults) have fallen in love with this magical tale. Thank you if your family has a copy! Look out for a separate celebratory newsletter in the next few weeks when I shall be giving away dedicated, signed copies in a special draw.

Meanwhile, the photo below was taken by my son when visiting his girlfriend’s best friend’s family home out in Wiltshire last weekend. I couldn’t believe how closely it echoes the lake in The Secret Lakenor could I resist superimposing the book cover! What a beautiful setting — a perfect location for a film of the book, don’t you think?! 😊 ❤️

The perfect setting for the film of The Secret Lake!

The Tell-Me Tree — incredible teacher and parent feedback

image of the book 'The Tell-Me Tree'
For ages 4-8 ~ with links to free printable activities

I continue to be bowled over by feedback to The Tell-Me Tree, which both parents and teachers are telling me has been brilliant for helping children share their feelings through writing, talking or drawing. Several schools say they have set up Tell-Me Trees either inside a classroom, or assigned a tree outside in their grounds. One parent in the UK has even painted a ceiling-height Tell-Me Tree into the corner of her young sons’ bedroom! (If you’re reading this, Amanda, do let me know how it’s going down with boys!)

Below I’ve included a few example comments from a Facebook promotion I’ve been running. As these were posted publicly I don’t think the readers will mind.

Children have the habit of storing up worries and the more we can encourage them to share feelings of all sorts — happy, sad, or anywhere in between — the better chances we have of resolving issues early on before they grow into something bigger.

If you’re a teacher, or have children aged 4-8 you can read more about the The Tell-Me Tree and its inspiration in my blogpost here. It’s available to order both on Amazon or from any other online store or high street bookshop, and comes with free printable download activities.

Walter Brown and the Magician’s Hat audio sample

Finally, as promised, here’s a link to a free sample of Walter Brown and the Magician’s Hat. While it has a reading age of 7-10, the audiobook can be enjoyed from age 6. British voice actor Ciaran Saward (who also narrated Eeek! The Runaway Alien) is absolutely brilliant! 🎩 😊

That’s it for now. Look out for my next post later this month or early September when I’ll be offering signed copies of The Secret Lake to a few lucky readers!

And remember: the Summer Reads sale ends on August 5th so scroll up to grab your copies now!

Happy reading, stay safe and have a great rest of summer!

Karen 😊

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November update 🍂 : Free audiobook codes, online author events, more…

Hello from a cold and crisp London where, like everyone, we were uplifted by news of progress on a Covid-19 vaccine yesterday. What a great end to a very eventful seven days!

Here in England we’ve just gone into lockdown again for a month although, thankfully, most children can still go to school. With socialising time for all ages cut back, one means of escape we still have is, of course, books! On a personal note, I’m now managing to catch up on 45 minutes of reading each morning while exercising, having recently invested in a fold-flat running machine that we have in our kitchen – seen below 🙂

Updates at a glance…

  • Free codes for the new audiobook release of Eeek! The Runaway Alien (US and UK) – I have 20 to give away! 😊
  • The Christmas Tree Wish – shortlisted for the UK Selfies Awards earlier this year – is currently discounted on Amazon UK. But not to be missed wherever you are! 🌲
  • Record-breaking reviews for The Secret Lake – a huge thank you! ❤️
  • Your chance to bid in an online auction of signed children’s books in aid of the BBC’s Children in Need charity.
  • Online author events at home – coming your way!

Eeek! The Runaway Alien – free audiobook codes

Scroll down to hear a sample reading on Audible

I’m delighted to say that the audiobook of Eeek! The Runaway Alien is finally live and I have 20 free promo codes to share exclusively with my blog and FB followers – 10 for the US and 10 for the UK. (Unfortunately, they don’t supply them for other territories.)

Described as “Laugh-out-loud funny” by LoveReading4KidsUK, a respected children’s book recommendation site, Eeek! is fun and fast-paced for ages 7-10 and was voted favourite book club read three years in a row by one London primary school.

To request one of the codes for your children please email me by Sunday 15th November. If there are more than 10 requests from each country I’ll ask my husband to draw names out of a hat. I’ll then reply on Monday 16th to everyone who requested a code, whether or not you’re successful. Anyone who doesn’t win – plus those who do – will get a link to free download Eeek! posters 🙂

>> Click or tap to hear a sample of Eeek! on Audible US

>> Click or tap to hear a sample of Eeek! on Audible UK

The Christmas Tree Wish: don’t miss if you have little ones…

Do check out this heartwarming tale if you’re looking for an extra special Christmas gift for ages 3-5+. Shortlisted earlier this year for the Selfies Award for Best UK Independently Published Children’s Book, this gentle story introduces Little Bruce Spruce and his fir tree friends – Cedrick Cypress, Penelope Pine and Douglas Fir.

Little Bruce is excited about finding a home for Christmas Day, until he discovers he has two broken branches from the weight of the snow. Downhearted, he is sure that no one will want him. However, all is not lost as Cedrick, Penelope and Douglas rally round to help and reassure him, showing him that none of them is perfect. (Needless to say, there is a happy ending!)

Anne Swift’s stunning pen and ink illustrations make this a wonderful Christmas gift with a gentle message about friendship, kindness, and that it’s okay to be different. There are also links to free downloadable colouring sheets.

🌲  Click or tap here to read reviews of The Christmas Tree Wish on Amazon

If you live in London, you’ll find signed copies in The Barnes Bookshop (operating click and collect). If you’re farther afield but prefer not to use Amazon you can order it via any other online store globally or which shares a percentage of each sale between the independent bookshops that are signed up with it.

Stop Press for UK readers: The Christmas Tree Wish is currently discounted on Amazon UK. I’m not sure how long the discount will last so grab it while you can. I have no control over Amazon discounting.

Please note: the book is paperback, though the image above implies it’s hardback.

Record-breaking reviews for The Secret Lake – thank you!

I’d like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to those of you who have helped your children leave reviews of my books online – and in particular for The Secret Lake, which has been breaking all sorts of sales records recently, not just here in the UK but also in the US and Canada. It has now had over 4,000 reviews globally – and has been dipping in and out of the top 200 books for the UK / US stores and even higher in Canada where it’s inside the top 20 as I write.

Reviews from children posted on The Secret Lake’s website

Your children’s feedback means a great deal to me and those who post reviews to The Secret Lake’s website (with your help) always receive a personal reply from me. Thank you also for copying so many of those reviews to Amazon or your other preferred online stores – doing so really does help authors’ books get shown more, which means that more children, parents and teachers find them.

Online charity auction: bid for a signed book or illustrated toilet roll tube!

I’m delighted to be part of the ‘Children in Read’ 2020 online charity auction of signed books and other items from authors and Illustrators from around the world. I have donated a signed copy of my latest book The Tell-Me Tree for ages 4-8, which invites children to share how they’re feeling – whether happy, sad or anywhere in between – through writing, drawing or conversation. All funds raised are going to the BBC charity Children in Need which helps disadvantaged children and young people across the UK.

Auction ends 11pm UK time this Friday 13th November

With three days to go – and over £15,000 raised at the time of writing – there are still plenty of small and large bid-price lots available. Besides signed books for children and grown-ups, other items include a range of illustrated toilet roll tubes from ex UK Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell! His work is truly stunning – see above! The auction closes this Friday 13th November at 11pm UK time and UK postage is included if your bid wins an item.

Coming your way! Online author events at home…

Covid-19 has forced all businesses and educational institutions to rethink how they operate. Of course, in-person school visits have been significantly affected, with many authors now moving online. I continue to offer school visits via Skype in the Classroom, Microsoft, Zoom or the school’s other preferred tech, visiting whole classes/year groups at a school or (more recently) a ‘virtual’ US classroom where pupils were individually logging in for the session from home as part of their weekly online classroom schedule. One of the pupils even had his pet rat running around on his lap during that session! 🐀 The wonders of technology mean that I shall shortly be ‘visiting’ 80 Fifth Grade pupils at an elementary school just outside of Chicago. 🇺🇸

Book clubs and family audiences…

I am now looking to extend my virtual visits beyond schools to book clubs, informal reading groups and families. I’m still putting the flesh on the bones of how this might best work, staying mindful of budgets and, of course, the need to comply with the rules to protect the privacy of children. As I firm up my plans I may be in touch to get feedback on different formats and pricing options as I’m keen to make it as affordable as possible for smaller groups or family audiences. In the meantime, if your school would like a virtual visit – wherever in the world – please do ask them to email me 😊 .

Stay safe and remember to reply to me by midnight your time on Sunday 15th November if you’re in the UK or US and would like to request a promo code for Eeek!’s audiobook.

Before I go… Here’s a link again to The Christmas Tree Wish where you can read customer reviews.

You can also view sample excerpts and read more about how I came to write The Christmas Tree wish in my blog post here 🌲

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Autumn update 🍁 The Tell-Me Tree feedback, Eeek! audibook, new projects…

It’s September and back-to-school week here in the UK. Like everyone, I’m keeping fingers crossed that pupils and students will be able resume their school and uni life with as little interruption as possible in the coming months. If you’re farther afield with children studying from home, I do hope you are all managing in this challenging time.

I have a few updates below which I hope you’ll enjoy. These include:

  • Early feedback from parents and teachers on The Tell-Me Tree
  • A new, fabulously narrated audiobook of Eeek! The Runaway Alien – out soon and with a free coupon offer
  • A sneak peek of my Der verborgene See, the upcoming German edition of The Secret Lake, and plans for a new picture book for next year

The Tell-Me Tree: Your Feedback

I firstly wanted to thank everyone who has taken the time to write to me and/or leave a review of The Tell-Me Tree online. Early sales have exceeded expectations, especially here in the UK where it has been ranking in the top 2,000 or so on Amazon in the last few weeks. I’ve also seen healthy orders for non-Amazon sales (via bookshops or school orders), which is a lovely surprise!

Most importantly, however, I have been bowled over by the responses from parents and teachers, and in particular wanted to mention two emails I received. The first is from a parent, Nicola Roberts, from Kent, who has given me permission to share the photos and details you will find below. The second is from a teacher who is planning to use The Tell-Me Tree as part of her back-to-school activities.

Nicola’s message to me is one I will treasure for years to come and I hope you understand why. Her seven year-old daughter Lucy, seen below, has cerebral palsy, development delays and breathing difficulties caused by craniosynostosis (or “cranio”), a condition where the skull fuses too early, meaning that while the brain grows the skull cannot. Sadly, this resulted in a stroke for Lucy when she was just a year old.

little girl reading The Tell-Me Tree by Karen Inglis
Lucy at her gait analysis, and with big sister Edie, aged 10, who is reading to her 🙂

Nicola explained that, although it hasn’t been officially diagnosed, Lucy possesses a lot of the traits of autism, including severe anxiety both at home and at school. “At school she finds it difficult to express her feelings and therefore just bursts into tears or has a meltdown if she doesn’t understand something or cannot convey how she feels. I think it [The Tell-Me Tree] will help her immensely when she starts back. We have read it several times over and I can honestly say this is the first book she hasn’t got bored with halfway through. We adore everything about it, from the concept to the beautiful illustrations and the rhyming aspect. I had a lump in my throat when I first read it because it could’ve been written for Lucy.

“When Lucy goes back to school, I’m going to buy some copies for them, both to reiterate the meaning to Lucy and to help other children. I have five book cases filled with children’s books and I’m being totally honest when I say it’s the best book we’ve ever read.”

Nicola is keen to educate other parents and children about Lucy’s condition and, as I say, has given permission for me to share the photos above. A couple are from when she recently went to Guy’s and Thomas’ Hospital for her regular gait analysis test, to see whether she will need an operation to stretch her leg muscles. Apparently they took the book with them on the train to help keep her calm ahead of the visit. As you can see, Lucy is quite a character! Nicola says she is going to try and find a soft toy tree for Lucy to take to school which can be her very own portable tell-me tree. I am humbled and thrilled that The Tell-Me Tree has been of such help to Lucy, and wish her all the luck and love in the world as she grows up! I’m also thankful to every parent who has let me know how the book has helped their children express their feelings.

You can learn more about craniosynostosis here.

Teacher feedback

I was also extremely touched by an email received from a primary school teacher in Leicester who was downloading the various activity sheets and let me know that she will be using the book in the school grounds where they are lucky to have several mature trees. She plans to have activities based around the book under the trees, with the aim of encouraging children to talk, write or draw about how they are feeling after the long break from school.

Although I conceived The Tell-Me Tree before the pandemic, it has clearly resonated with many families and teachers in the context of what everyone has been through in the last few months and I am humbled and delighted if it can serve to help. Thank you all for your feedback and please do feel free to share any photos of The Tell-Me Tree in action and I will post them on my social media if you are happy for me to do so. Oh – if you’ve bought but not yet reviewed The Tell-Me Tree, would you be able to take a moment to do so? Thank you very much!

Eeek! The Runaway Alien

😊  👽 Hear a free sample from the upcoming audiobook! 👽 😊

Described as ‘Laugh-out-loud funny’ by LoveReading4KidsUK, Eeek!, my second most popular book for older ones (ages 7-10) after The Secret Lake, continues to be a firm favourite with reluctant and keen readers alike – and with both boys and girls. (It has a great twist, but don’t tell the kids!)

Image of alien with football spinning on finger - from Eeek! The Runaway Alien by Karen Inglis
Due out mid September 2020

I’ve long wanted to produce the audiobook of Eeek! and am thrilled so say this has finally happened and it should be available from mid September. The narrator, voiceover artist Ciaran Saward (pronounced SWORD), offers up a wonderful array of human and alien voices! You can listen to an excerpt from Chapter 2 over on my author website here. I hope that you or your children/pupils enjoy the excerpt.

*Offer: When the audiobook goes live I shall be giving away 10 free audible codes. Sign up to my email list to be in with a chance to enter the draw in the next couple of weeks.*

The Secret Lake – German edition

I have just approved the German edition of The Secret Lake, for which I have project managed the translation. Below is an early reveal of the front cover 😊.  The title ‘Der verborgene See’ translates as ‘The Hidden Lake’. My German translator and editor both felt this to be a more apt choice for the German language and I do like the ring it has, I must say!

I also recently received two copies of the Russian Edition – to see a fun short flick-through, pop over to my instagram account or facebook page. The Secret Lake is also due out in Turkish in October and in Czech in March 2021. It warms my heart that this magical story, that went through so many drafts, and about which I had so many doubts when sitting alone writing it at the top of the house, is now capturing children’s imaginations around the world! 

Der verborgene See - The Secret Lake by Karen Inglis (German edition)

🌺  Stop Press: I have plans afoot for a special colour illustrated hardback edition of The Secret Lake and will give updates on this in my next blog post. Watch this space! 🌺  The early concept illustrations are beautiful. 😊

A new picture book next year…

Lastly, I’m in the early stages of formulating a new picture book for next year and, again, shall be working with Anne Swift – illustrator for The Tell-Me Tree and The Christmas Tree Wish.  I can’t say much more other than that it will not feature trees this time around 🙂 There might be a cat though! 😼  I’ll provide more updates on this in the coming months.

That’s it for now. Stay safe and I’ll be in touch as soon as the free promo codes for Eeek’s audiobook are available in mid September or so. In the meantime, I hope that back-to-school goes smoothly for your family.

Quick reminder: If you buy or have already bought The Tell-Me Tree, it would mean a lot to me if you could find a moment to leave a short review online as this will help other parents and teachers find it.

Thank you!

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Introducing The Tell-Me Tree

A long overdue hello from a cool and breezy London! I hope that you and your family members are staying safe during this very challenging time, and that books have helped offer a means of escape if you’re at home with little ones. 📚

I’ve been extremely busy over the last few months, working on a new picture book (amongst many other things) and am thrilled to let you know that, after a delay waiting for the proofs, it is finally out today! As you can see, it’s called The Tell-Me Tree and my good friend Anne Swift has worked her magic yet again with the illustrations 😊 .

Children sitting below a tree talking, reading and drawing, with one little boy sitting up on the tree branch

As with so many of my stories, The Tell-Me Tree was a long time in the making – or ‘brewing’ rather! The initial inspiration came three years ago from a majestic London Plane tree – one of many that stand on the green near the pond in Barnes village, close to where I live in west London.

I must have walked past that tree hundreds of times in the last 25 years, but on that particular evening I spotted a face and nose in its trunk – captured in the first photo on the left below – and thereafter just couldn’t get it out of my mind! From that moment I knew it would feature in one of my stories – and although I had no idea what that story might be, I was certain that the tree would be caring, wise and friendly, and that children would gravitate towards it for that reason.

Collage image of a plane tree, one with the author Karen Inglis standing in front of it
The tree on Barnes Green that inspired The Tell-Me Tree

For me, it’s a case of ‘the best things come to those who wait’ where stories are concerned, and wait I did. Little did I know that it would be three whole years for another moment to make the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end to complete the puzzle! That moment was a chance overheard remark by a parent (whom I didn’t know) whose daughter had come home from school and drawn a picture that made the family realise she wasn’t happy. In that instant I got my special ‘tingly feeling’ and quickly realised that the tree was going to be part of a story that helps children talk about how they’re feeling – be that happy, sad or somewhere in between. (I often tell children about my tingly feeling at school visits when they ask how I get ideas.😊 ) 

The very next day as I drove the 10 minutes to my usual gym session (remember those?!) the words for the story came to me in such a rush that I had to dictate them into my phone the moment I parked! Here’s a short excerpt. I hope you enjoy…

Children sitting and standing under a tree and talking or drawing

The Tell-Me Tree intentionally isn’t ‘heavy going’ in nature – rather it gently encourages conversation with friends, family or trusted grown-ups through drawing, writing and conversational activities, whether you’re feeling happy, sad, excited, proud, lonely – and a range of other emotions. It can be used at home, at school, between friends or in any other setting and includes links to a variety of fun download sheets that children can use to create their own Tell-Me Trees and put their friends, or anyone else they wish beneath it. The downloads also include a full colour Tell-Me Tree poster.

There are also links to resources for grown-ups, offering tips on how to encourage conversations with a child if you are worried about how they’re feeling, and where to get more information should you need it.

I do hope you enjoy this very special book. As ever I am indebted to my great friend Anne Swift for interpreting the story so perfectly with her stunning pen and ink illustrations.

From today it’s available in print and as an eBook on Amazon – though I would always recommend print! The eBook version can be read on a Kindle Fire or a tablet such as iPad, or on a Smart Phone using the Kindle App. (It won’t work on a standard Kindle.)

Three children playing under a snowy tree branch
The Tell-Me Tree is there throughout the year – naturally!

Later next week the print edition should become available in online stores beyond Amazon. It will also become available to order from high street bookshops, though lead times may vary. Covid-19 has meant getting it into the wider world has been a little more drawn out than usual.

Click or tap here to order The Tell-Me Tree on Amazon

Image of children beneath a tree - The Tell-Me Tree book cover

Please leave a review

If you order a copy of The Tell-Me Tree please do take a moment to leave a short review online if you and your children or pupils enjoy it! And if there are links you feel I should add to the resources folder please feel free to email me – that document is easy to update.

I have a lot more news to share about The Secret Lake around foreign rights, but I’ll leave that for my next post! With so much now off my task list I plan to blog sooner rather than later next time!

Stay safe wherever you are – and happy reading with the little ones!

Here’s that link one more time.

Click or tap here to order The Tell-Me Tree on Amazon

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The Christmas Tree Wish – Coming Soon!

Happy Autumn, all! The nights are slowly drawing in here in London and it will be Halloween before we know it, followed by the big rush up to the holiday season. As I write we’re still 85 days away from Christmas (!), however I’m still thrilled to announce that my new picture book The Christmas Tree Wish will be available to order from early to mid October 2019. UPDATE: IT’S OUT NOW HERE ON AMAZON and will be available via bookshops and other online stores from mid October.

This is a heart-warming Christmas tale for ages 3-5+ about hope, friendship and being different 😊. The beautiful pen and ink illustrations by Anne Swift feature little Bruce Spruce, Penelope Pine, Douglas Fir and Cedrick Cypress, as well as a gorgeous Christmas robin and inquisitive squirrel.

Read on to learn more, see images and to sign up for a release date notification.

Christmas tree images

From the back page

robin in snowy scene sitting on a star

The story behind the story

This is a story that had been going around in my head for years after I saw a small bedraggled Christmas tree left unsold one dark evening a few days before Christmas. My heart went out to the little fellow and I knew I had to write about him.

From the outset I was certain that I wanted hand-drawn illustrations rather than digital, so it was a question of finding the right person. Anne, who is a great friend whom I’ve know for 25 years, is an architect by day, but has always been incredibly creative in other ways – I can’t believe it never occurred to me to ask her to try her hand at children’s illustrations! It was a chance image she drew for her son that made the penny drop!

A sample page spread for fun!

christmas tree characters


Sign up to be notified on release date 

The Christmas Tree Wish will be available to order from early to mid October. Sign up here to join my occasional mailing list to be notified on the release date. You’ll also receive the first three chapters from my Amazon UK/USA bestseller The Secret Lake, a time travel adventure for ages 8-11. 😊 I don’t email often and you can unsubscribe at any time.

  • Alternatively, search your favourite online store from mid October.
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The Secret Lake audiobook, Australian log cabins, Albanian translation and other summer news…

Summer is here, it’s Wimbledon fortnight in southwest London and it’s not been raining too much for England! But that’s not the only reason to celebrate 😊. I’m thrilled to announce that the audiobook of my Amazon UK bestseller The Secret Lake has just come out and is available to sample for free or to buy now. With its summer mystery adventure theme, the timing couldn’t be better.

The reading age for The Secret Lake book is 8-11. However, the audiobook is perfect for ages 6 and above. (Grown-up fans of classic children’s adventure stories such as Enid Blyton and Nancy Drew love it too!) So if you have a car or other journey planned and would like to keep the kids occupied for two and a half hours, do check out the samples by following the links.

I am narrating so I do hope you and the children enjoy an English accent. It required huge amounts of practice and preparation but was worth every minute for the experience. Did you know that for every hour of audio recording there are typically six hours of editing and mastering involved?! Here are a few photos of me at the recording studio in Brixton with sound engineer Andy Marlow 🙂

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The Secret Lake has continued to chart in the top 300-800 (mostly) on Amazon UK over the last few months, as well as fluctuating in the top 2,000-5,000 over on It has also been ranked regularly in the top 2,000 for all print book sales (not just children’s or Amazon) for the whole of the UK in recent months, according to reports from Nielsen bookscan. As I have said before, when I first sent the manuscript out to publishers they told me that children were no longer interested in traditional adventure stories. How wrong they were!

The audiobook on Amazon has Whispersync enabled, which means the kids can swap between the Kindle version and audiobook and keep their place, or even listen and read along with word highlights on some Kindle models. I’ve not tested this yet but will do so and blog about it at a later date. I think you need to have the Audible app installed for this to work.

The Secret Lake, Australia and Ten Log Cabins 🏕️

Yes, this is a very unlikely combination, I have to confess! But my favourite email in this week was from a lovely Australian called Graham. It read as follows:

Hi Karen, We have just purchased a property in New South Wales, Australia and have named it Secret Lake. We saw your book and loved it. We will be building 10 self-contained cabins around our lake and will find and put copies of your book in each cabin.

Here’s a picture of the lake that was in the property details he sent a link to. I am still speechless but so thrilled 🙂 As and when they are built I will share photos of the books in situ!

Image of lake from sky with trees all around
The owner plans to put a copy of The Secret Lake in 10 log cabins around the lake.

The Secret Lake in translation: introducing my first Albanian Fan

I was thrilled last Autumn to receive a rights request for The Secret Lake from Albania and even more excited when the book came out in June. Here’s a picture of my first Albanian fan at a book fair in Kosovo, which has a large Albanian population. The publisher Botart have many other English classics on their list, such as Michelle Magorian (Goodnight Mr Tom), Roald Dahl and David Walliams so I feel in good company and very safe hands. Next up is a Russian translation for which I have recently finalised a deal – more on this another time! In the meantime I hope you enjoy the picture and video below 😊.

Young girl holding up a copy of The Secret Lake in Albanian
My first Albanian fan 🙂



The Secret Lake as a Class Reader

I’ve been receiving increasing contact from primary school teachers saying they have been using The Secret Lake in class, including one Deputy Head of English at a school in Durham, UK who is now mapping out a full Scheme of Work based on the book to be taught across four classes from September. He has invited me to go and watch the sessions live once they are up and running – I can’t wait and will blog about this in more detail when the time comes.

And below is a lovely photo (for which I received permission to share) from a school in Wiltshire, where the children each sent me a handwritten letter telling me how much they had enjoyed the story. Getting feedback from readers and schools means so much. Please do email or write to me with any feedback you have for any of my books and I will be happy to reply and share. Anything I can do to help encourage children to read and write more is a pleasure!

hand written letters arranged with a copy of The Secret Lake children's book
Wonderful handwriting – and lots of requests for a sequel to The Secret Lake!

That’s it for now. I hope you have a wonderful summer (or winter) break!

Before signing off I just want to wish the Women’s England Football Team the very best of luck in their World Cup semi final against the USA this evening. May the best team win! Needless to say, Eeek is excited for more reasons than one! (If you don’t know what I’m talking about, ask the kids if they’ve read the book…!) ⚽ 👽 🏆

Update: Eeek! sends congratulations to the USA Women’s Soccer Team for winning! “You were awesome!” ⚽ 👽 🏆


Happy reading and listening!


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The rhyme and the reason: confessions of a picture book author

It’s a well-known fact that we authors spend a lot of time alone, dreaming up and crafting our stories, discarding some and holding on to a golden few. If the idea takes off, we then spend many more hours, days – and often weeks or months – drafting, rewriting, testing, editing and polishing before finally having the courage to put the story out into the big wide world.

It’s a long (long) process – no matter how short the book. Don’t believe anyone who tells you that writing children’s books is the easy option!

The above holds true for middle grade novels (aimed at ages 8-12), for early reader chapter books – and for picture books whose word count is typically around 500 but might range from zero to 1,000. (Less is best. Less is harder! And it goes without saying that the illustrations are crucial.)

Ferdinand Fox picture books side by side
Ferdinand Fox rhyming picture books

The rhyming game

Trying to squeeze a satisfying and entertaining tale into a picture book’s 26 or 28 pages (this is what’s left after the title and copyright pages etc are used up) is hard enough at the best of times as we toil away on our own. Add in rhyme and you’re into a whole new layer of complexity. Getting the story and the rhyme and the rhythm to cooperate along with the illustrations over a limited page count is one huge challenge!

‘Why on earth would anyone want to write in rhyme?’ you might ask yourself. I’d agree with you there. Except that’s how it came out when I began composing my Ferdinand Fox stories after seeing a beautiful fox trot past me in the mist one November evening. I simply couldn’t express the story in any other way!

Happily, rhyme, it seems, is still what little children love best – or most consistently at least.

Speaking as a parent, I also know that the rhyming stories I shared with my children, such as Hairy MaClary from Donaldson’s Dairy and the others from Lynley Dodd’s wonderful series were firm favourites for me and my husband!

Kids know best

Another well-known fact is that children are the most discerning and honest audience out there – and generally the younger, the more discerning! If they don’t like your story they will let you (or their parents or teachers) know in no uncertain terms 🙂

This brings me on to the flip side of all of those hours spent alone getting things just right – namely the rewards for authors of getting out and sharing our stories with young readers at school visits and other live events.

Children's Author Karen Inglis reading Ferdinand Fox and the Hedgehog to the pupils of Barnes Montessori
The pupils of Barnes Montessori eagerly listening to Ferdinand Fox and the Hedgehog

With my rhyming picture books I often see Reception year children as part of a wider primary school visit with my other titles. However, just as rewarding – and with an extra special place in my heart – are my visits to nursery schools, where I have the opportunity to introduce the magic of books and stories to such young, receptive, (and brutally honest!) minds.

The pictures above and below from my recent visit to Barnes Montessori, a stone’s throw from where I live, offer a glimpse of how meeting my readers brings such joy both to me as an author and to the children. These three to five year-olds were hooked from the get-go and highly engaged for each of the 30-40 minute sessions I offered. That’s quite a tall order from children of that age – especially the three-year-olds!

Keeping picture book listeners engaged

I always warm things up with a rhyming game and by asking children about foxes they may have seen. This sets the scene well for what’s to follow and ensures they feel relaxed and invested from the outset.

Karen Inglis at front of class holding up rhyming game images for pupils who are out of shot
Rhyming game warm-up before I introduce the rhyming stories

Whether as an author or parent/carer the key, of course, to engaging children with books and reading is the enthusiasm you show yourself – it’s infectious and little ones quickly pick up on it. It’s reflected not just in the energy and variety you bring to delivering the story, but also in using opportunities to involve the children with the characters and storyline as you go.

Have you seen a fox in your garden? Where did you see one? What did it look like? Was it a beautiful fox or did it look sad and hungry? What might you call your fox? How do you think Ferdinand feels in this picture? How does baby Ed feel here? Do you think he’s scared? Have you ever seen a hedgehog? Did you touch it? How did it feel?  What colour is the mouse in this picture?

In Ferdinand Fox’s Big Sleep, as Ferdinand sleeps (and snores) through the story we are introduced through his dream bubbles to his favourite food. This provides ample opportunity to talk with the children about their favourite food – as well as hear whose mum or dad snores!  There’s also a clock that chimes from one to five as the hours pass. As the story moves forward I pause at the clock chimes and count the numbers with the children. Needless to say they get lots of praise for their counting skills!


Image of interior page of Ferdinand Fox's Big Sleep - colour image of fox sleeping and rhyming text
From Ferdinand Fox’s Big Sleep: lots of opportunity to discuss food likes and dislikes 🙂

In Ferdinand Fox and the Hedgehog there’s a section at the end dedicated to fun facts about foxes and hedgehogs, such as where they live, how long they live and what they eat. We always have great fun discussing whether the children would like spiders for breakfast, caterpillar sandwiches for lunch, or worms on toast for supper! This part of the book also shows how we can all help hedgehogs find food by cutting holes in the bottom of garden fences, and help them hibernate by building up safe areas in our gardens.

Karen Inglis at front of class with nursery pupils at Barnes Montessori
Discussing what hedgehogs like to eat – caterpillar sandwiches anyone? 🙂

Live video

As time has gone on I’ve added videos to my sessions. One is of a fox that fell asleep in an author friend’s garden and looks remarkably like Ferdinand Fox. The children all ‘ooh’ and gasp when he finally starts to wake up!

The other is a video of a hedgehog running down the side of my family home in Hertfordshire – captured by chance by my brother. As with the fox video, it has the children entranced and goes just one step further to enhancing their experience of sharing stories and books.

Karen Inglis author pointing to hedgehog video with nursery pupils in front
The children loved the video of the hedgehog running up the side of my family home!

The pictures here mean a lot to me and encapsulate the double sided joy of being writer. From sitting alone in a quiet world where stories tumble, mature and develop as they try to get out – to seeing the delight on children’s faces as they lap up your characters and the journey you have taken them on.

Author and teacher with pupils - picture book reading
Reading Ferdinand Fox’s Big Sleep

Writing children’s books is a journey I wouldn’t give up for the world!

Rhyming or no rhyming 🙂

With thanks to Barnes Montessori for inviting me and for taking these lovely photos.

If you think your child’s school would like a visit, please do get in touch via my school visits page (opens in new tab).







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Festivals, book offers, hedgehogs and more – why I love May!

We’re at the start of the first of two Bank Holiday long weekends this month in the UK  — guaranteed to make the nation smile, come rain or shine! However, there are a couple of other reasons why I especially love May. I’ll start with those before sharing other news.

Barnes Children’s Literature Festival – May 11th/12th

May is the month in which we have The Barnes Children’s Literature Festival, conveniently held down the road from where I live in southwest London. It’s in its fifth year and is now London’s largest dedicated children’s book festival.

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Barnes now has London’s largest dedicated children’s literature festival – don’t miss!

As well as the many big names this year (Lauren Child, Judith Kerr, David Almond, Jeremy Strong to name but a few…), there’s also a fabulous free events programme. So if you have kids and live within reach of London, do look at the programmes and come along. I’m already looking forward to hearing Judith Kerr and Emma Carroll. Oh and I must book for Hillary McKay too!

Do you have a children’s story in you?

I’ve had great fun running children’s events at Barnes over the years. However, this year for the second year in a row I’ll be running an event for new and aspiring children’s authors on  Children’s Book Self-Publishing and Marketing. If you think you have a children’s story in you, or are just curious about how it all works, do come along to find out more about this exciting world. Ages 16-66+ welcome! 🙂 (We had a packed tent last year.) Click here to learn more or book.

The Secret Lake – the magical journey continues

As many of you will know, another reason May has a special place in my heart is that it’s the time that Isabella Plantation, a stunning woodland in London’s Richmond Park, comes into bloom. The woodlands and ‘Still Pond’ (seen below during a 14k walk last Sunday!) were a strong part of the inspiration for my UK bestselling time travel adventure The Secret Lake, which is also now climbing the charts in the US and Canada.

Karen Inglis standing in front of Still Pond lake with pin azaleis
Still Pond last Sunday 28th April – The Inspiration for The Secret Lake

Unbelievably, over 20,000 copies of The Secret Lake have sold in print in the last year and I’ve just signed two foreign rights deals. If you don’t yet know the story and are curious, do visit Amazon UK to read over 100 reviews 🙂 You’ll also find 35 more on

It’s now almost 20 years since I wrote the first draft, after watching some friends’ children playing in the vast communal gardens of London’s Notting Hill. As I looked all around at the grand houses I couldn’t help wondering what would happen if the children playing there that day could meet the children who had lived and played there 100 years earlier. If you want to know more, or to download a free sample, follow the links below. The reading age is 8-11, but it’s also perfect to read aloud to ages 6 upwards.

The Secret Lake on offer in the UK and Canada

For those of you who live in the UK, The Secret Lake is currently on offer on Amazon at £5.29 down from £6.99. It’s also discounted on Amazon in Canada from $10.70 to $9.71. I don’t control the offers I’m afraid, so don’t know how long they will last. If you have a young bookworm at home, I’d say grab it while you can. And, of course, you can also order it from your local bookshop.

Reader fan mail – making me smile!

image of a book and two cards
This beautiful hand-drawn postcard is from a Secret Lake fan in Richmond, Texas

We authors love hearing from our readers. Above is a lovely hand-drawn postcard I received from a nine-year-old pupil, Grace, from Richmond, Texas, USA. I was travelling in Vietnam when her card arrived and my son sent a photo on Whatsapp — I was thrilled and have since written back with the ‘head in the clouds’ (that’s me!) giraffe card you can see. I’ve also just received an envelope full of letters from school children in Wiltshire, UK — most asking for a sequel after they read The Secret Lake in class! This was a wonderful surprise, especially as I’ve not visited that school.

hand written letters arranged with a copy of The Secret Lake children's book
Wonderful handwriting – and lots of requests for a sequel to The Secret Lake!

Eeek! The Runaway Alien cover makeover

In more news, Eeek! The Runaway Alien (my fun illustrated story about a soccer-mad who runs away to Earth for the World Cup) has a had a minor cover update, with a football added. Goodness knows why we didn’t have one before! To mark the occasion, my illustrator created this animation. I hope you enjoy!

Eeek! is ‘laugh-out-loud funny’ and great for boys and girls aged 7-10 who love soccer and/or aliens. Read Amazon reviews or grab a Kindle sample here.

Hedgehog Awareness Week: May 5th – 11th

Last, but not least, it’s Hedgehog Awareness Week here in the UK next week. All year round we’re doing what we can to look out for them as they are now an endangered species.

We’re lucky to have quite a few hedgehogs in my local London village of Barnes, and there’s a huge campaign to encourage homeowners to create holes at the foot of garden fences, to allow the hedgehogs to travel to find food. This creates a ‘hedgehog highway’. The video below of a hedgehog running up the side of my family home last summer demonstrates just how far they like to go in search of food!

Click below to view a video of a hedgehog out looking for food – my brother kindly captured this for me last summer 🙂

Hedgehogs and foxes – early learning

If you have a toddler in the house, or children/grandchildren up to age 6 my gentle rhyming picture book Ferdinand Fox and the Hedgehog, about a baby hedgehog that meets a fox one night, ends with eight fun pages of photos and facts about foxes and hedgehogs including how to build nests and safe places for hedgehogs to hibernate in your garden. It’s always a huge hit at my school visits — not least when they come to learn what foxes and hedgehogs like to eat for breakfast and supper!

View Ferdinand Fox and the Hedgehog on Amazon here.

You can find out more about helping hedgehogs on the Hedgehog Preservation Society website.

FFHH Global print link Affiliate

Do you have hedgehogs where you live? I’d love to hear about them or see some photos if you do!

That’s it for now. I hope you have a relaxing May bank holiday weekend if you’ll be getting time off where you are. And, for those of you in the US, I hope the children have been getting stuck into reading more than ever over the last week!

With very best wishes,


PS If you or your children have read any of my books already, it would mean a lot to me if you could help them leave an honest review on Amazon or your other preferred store. Doing so means that Amazon and other stores will show it to more people. Every little really does help! Thank you!

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