I’m delighted to welcome back Nell Peters for her second ‘end of month’ guest blog of the year! This is a cracking (and I don’t just mean Pavlova’s eggs) blog post…
Over to you Nell…
I’m afraid that Pavlova the chicken is on the naughty perch at the moment and can’t come out to play. All the attention and fan mail she received after last month’s blog post went straight to her comb and she’s behaving disgracefully. A real poultry diva, in fact. She’s been horribly mean to birds that she deems inferior, has been strutting her stuff like she owns the place and making such a noise, Tim Peake can probably hear her up in his space station. But worst of all, she’s taken to leaving very large deposits right outside the back door. Eeew! That’s it – I’m withdrawing the oxygen of publicity that she craves even more than her dried meal worms, and whether this is a permanent or temporary measure depends entirely upon her behaviour in the immediate future. She can put that in her beak and smoke it. Pavlova is in the hen house.
Now where was I?
Oh yes, I took a short break recently to meet up with an old friend. About a hundred years ago, I used to share a flat in Kew Gardens with someone I will refer to only as M, to protect the guilty. In case you were wondering, Kew Gardens is a place (now referred to as a village by those fortunate enough to be able to afford the zillion pound price tags of property there) in West London and not just the hallowed centre of horticultural excellence – ergo, we didn’t actually live in a potting shed. There was another girl too – Valerie, but M and I knew each other from ghastly temp jobs we had with British Gas and Valerie was a bit of an also-ran. I wonder whatever happened to her – she was something of a miserable cow (turned her nose up at the rot-gut sherry we used to drink by the bottle, I can’t imagine why) and totally lacked any sense of humour as I recall. Some sort of local government worker, I think, which could explain the comedic bypass.
On Friday evenings M and I used to frequent the local wine bar, run by a rather brassy dame in her forties (she seemed ancient to us then!) who had very amusing affectations, airs and graces, until she’d had one too many glasses – which she did frequently – then all hell let loose and dancing on the tables ensued. Not a pretty sight, as she was a rather large lady, who either didn’t believe in or chose not to invest in controlling underwear. Brassy wasn’t the only entertainment to be had chez Garfield’s – a guy used to sing and play acoustic guitar (both badly), expecting punters to buy him copious amounts of alcohol to keep his tonsils irrigated. It was actually worth buying him a glass or two for the bliss of silence during the (all too short) time it took him to neck the booze.
Kew is within a long stone’s throw of Richmond upon Thames, just two stops on the Tube – where we could have had a much wider choice of great venues to sup the vino, most with some form of decent live music, but there’s a lot to be said for being a short walk from home when the time comes to stagger out the door of a hostelry, especially in Winter. Besides, I always suspected that M used to fancy the singer and that terribly attractive aggressive snarl he shared, if nobody applauded his questionable vocal efforts.
I was at the flat for only a short time before I got a proper job and moved in not a million miles away with the OH. Valerie and M let my vacant room to a rather dishy Australian guy – and were both bitterly disappointed when they found out he was gay. Unfortunately, he repaid their hospitality by hightailing it back to Oz less than three months later – perhaps he suddenly remembered where he’d left his didgeridoo.
M’s life and mine took very different directions; over the years, I produced a few sprogs and we moved the family to a falling-down house in Norfolk. M visited as frequently as she could and, child duties permitting, I went to see her for some very welcome R&R. Wine was drunk. In abundance. She neither married nor had children – perhaps being the oldest of six had put her off – and eventually moved back to Scotland, from whence she hailed. The visits in both directions became less frequent because of the sheer distance involved and the responsibilities that life throws at us – it didn’t help that the OH would spend long periods working overseas, leaving me in sole charge of four smelly boys.
But children grow more independent with age and gradually they were no longer tied to my apron strings, so a new period evolved in the social lives of M and me. For several years, we have been meeting up intermittently in a variety of UK locations (let’s hear it for bargain air fares and cheap deals on train fares!) – for instance, Edinburgh, Dublin and Newcastle, the latter where we took in the most excruciating ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ art exhibition (for want of a better description!) at the Baltic Centre. Well I say ‘took in’, but M stomped off in her size eight Doc Martens after about ten seconds – mumbling obscenities – to stick needles in her eyes. But was it art? Actually, no. A bit of a turkey is the kindest description I can manage – but I suppose you have to admire the exhibitor’s nerve. Plus, it was a few years ago now and I can still recall its sheer ghastliness in some detail (I didn’t have M’s nerve to exit, stage left, in a flurry of outrage at the flagrant waste of tax payers’ moolah, and persevered) so it did make an impression of sorts.
We met again most recently in Cambridge – I am now granny to six and M has a huge number of nephews, plus just one niece, so two old ladies sitting in deckchairs, to paraphrase Morecambe and Wise. J She took (very!) early retirement and is travelling a lot, so I was lucky she could fit me in! In all likelihood we will never again Run the World with Bob Geldof (though I’m not sure that he actually ran the first time!), or go on severely bracing hikes here, there and everywhere – or indeed puff, pant and wheeze our way to the top of Arthur’s Seat. That always sounds faintly rude, somehow. I did draw the line, though, at accompanying M to a Wham concert – she bought herself the most awful bright blue synthetic cap thing with ‘George’ plastered all over it, and actually wore it there and back on public transport!
Our main exercise now when we are face to face is talking, catching up generally – and, of course, drinking wine, though not so much as we used to as we’re older and so much wiser. Yeah right!
Just to prove what a wino I am (it was M’s fault – she led me astray), even my two crime novels published by Accent Press are drawn to the bottle.
Hostile Witness can be found at mybook.to/hostilewitness and
By Any Other Name is at mybook.to/BAON
See you next month for some more drivel? By the end of July, both Jenny and I will have celebrated our birthdays – actually on the same day, although I suspect she’s decades older than me … J NP
Another wonderful blog!! Many thanks Nell!
I shall be raising my coffee up to you on 13th July.
It’s time for another in my interview series, ‘My First Time’- this week fellow Accent Press author April Hardy is opening the book on her recent publishing beginnings.
Can you remember writing the first story you actually wanted to write, rather than those you were forced to write at school? What was it about?
I must have been in the third or fourth year at secondary school, and those of us who wished to could hand write a “book” in an exercise book. A selection of these would go into the school library for other students to borrow. Anyone who’d tried to decipher my handwriting had advised me not to bother, as nobody would be able to read it!
So, with that warm encouragement ringing in my ears and a story burning in my mind, I’d grabbed a handful of scrap paper and set to work on a rough copy. My “book” was based on the true story of a woman called Kitty, who had run theatrical digs, a stone’s throw from the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. My mother and aunty had stayed with her many times when their dance troupe had been working there, and had kept in touch after they’d retired from the theatre.
Kitty’s digs had still been popular in the 1960s when the lease on the building ran out. She was an elderly lady by then and, although she and everyone who knew her fought against it, she was re-housed in the brand spanking new town of Milton Keynes. A Londoner through and through, Kitty had hated the soullessness of the new town. She’d hated its concrete cows, its lack of theatres, history or community. It had been the beginning of the end for her and when she died, shortly before the “book “writing competition, my mother believed she’d died of a broken heart.
My “book” didn’t make it into the library in spite of my slow and painstaking efforts with my handwriting. Apparently it had the requisite beginning, middle and end but, the teacher said, the conclusion was far too fanciful. And too sad. I don’t know what happened to the “book”. I suspect if I could re-read it now I would cringe at my teenage prose.
What was your first official publication?
Well, that would be a recipe booklet I wrote for the Papadopoulou Biscuit Company when I lived in Athens! Food has always played a big role in my life, and I’d just completed a Diploma in Culinary Arts with an idea (a rather naive one now I look back) of writing cook books for a living!
What affect did that have on your life?
As we moved from Greece to Dubai at that time, the physical product slipped right out of my life. I didn’t even receive the copy I was sent. But the process of writing it certainly re-awakened the writing bug in me.
Does your first published story reflect your current writing style?
Gosh! My first published story will be my debut novel, Sitting Pretty, a romantic comedy which comes out in July. I certainly hope it will reflect my current writing style as it’s one of three books I have coming out with Accent Press!
What are you working on at the moment?
Well, I’m working on a series of romantic comedies set in and around a trio of fictional villages in the New Forest, which is where I grew up. They are stand alone novels which feature the same settings and, in some cases some of the same characters may pop in and out.
Sitting Pretty is the story of pet sitter Beth, a young woman on the brink of a new life abroad, whose husband dumps her, by phone, just moments after the removal van has driven away with all their worldly goods. Suddenly homeless, Beth goes to some unusual lengths to keep her husband’s behaviour a secret, while she works out how to get him back …
Hazard at the Nineteenth, winner of the 2014 Literary Idol competition at the Emirates Lit Fest, is about bride to be Stella, who is sure someone is trying to sabotage the wedding. But would that someone go as far as trying to bump her off? Or has librarian Stella just read one too many Agatha Christies …
Kind Hearts & Coriander, a runner up in the 2014 Exeter Novel Prize, follows the story of London chef Polly who, on her mother’s death, learns she may be Hampshire hotel magnate, Charles Hetherin’s illegitimate daughter. Tracking him down, in search of answers, she finds more than she bargained on. A whole lot more …
The manuscripts for these are with Accent at the moment, so while I’m waiting to make a start on my edits on these, I’m tapping away at possible opening chapters for the next one in the series.
Sitting Pretty is out on 7th July 2016- The pre-order link is http://amzn.to/1Ow2T8d
Since leaving drama school I’ve had an interesting and (hopefully) creative working life, in UK, Greece and now Dubai. I taught infant ballet classes, did pantomime tours and summer children’s shows, interspersed with waitressing and working in hotel kitchens. I spent many years as a dancer, then choreographer, before re-training as a pastry chef in a Swiss hotel school, with a plan to write cook books. But it was having the words “Housewife – not allowed to work” stamped on my residency visa, here in the UAE, that gave me the freedom and the time to devote to something I’d always wanted to do – writing. The first manuscript I completed was a huge learning curve. It was a contemporary romance, set in London and Dubai and, though it remains unpublished, I learnt such a lot writing (and rewriting) it. And whilst at the Winchester Writers’ Conference in 2011, I met lovely Allie Spencer who advised me to apply for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme. I spent four years in the scheme, soaking up the wisdom and knowledge of my “readers”. In 2014, I decided to try my hand at romantic comedy which, after all, was what I mostly read. I started writing Kind Hearts & Coriander, expressly to show to agent Luigi Bonomi at that year’s Emirates Lit Fest. It got me signed up by his wife, Alison Bonomi. In 2015, at the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s conference, I met the lovely Hazel Cushion, MD of Accent Press. I’d sent her the opening chapter of Hazard at the Nineteenth and she liked it enough to offer me a three book deal – all these months later and I’m still floating!
Winner of Emirates Airline’s Festival of Literature’s Literary Idol 2014
Many thanks April,
Good luck with your debut story,
It is with great pleasure that I can announce, not only that Another Glass of Champagne has been selected to be part of the Accent Press Summer Read, but that my blog tour is about to begin, and my book launch is only a few days away!
Over the next four days I will be visiting four fellow authors, chatting about Another Glass of Champagne, sharing a few of the secrets behind the story, and giving you a peep at the story itself via some tasty extracts.
Do drop by the following blog pages each day from 9am and say hello. A massive thank you to my fellow authors for hosting me.
The following links will work from the dates shown.
27th June- Marie Laval – http://marielaval.blogspot.co.uk/2016/06/who-could-resist-another-glass-of.html
28th June- Laura Wilkinson – https://lauracwilkinson.wordpress.com/blog/
29th June – Georgina Troy – http://georginatroy.blogspot.com/
30th June- Helena Fairfax – https://helenafairfax.com/
On top of all that- on 1st July I am holding my- rather late in the day- book launch for Another Glass of Champagne! This event will be held at my local Costa- where I wrote the novel- and will involve a book quiz for the whole family- with some great prizes! Part of the Tiverton Literary Festival’s occasional events, and supported by both Accent Press and Costa Coffee, this will be a relaxed, fun, free to enter event, with coffee and cake! If you are anywhere near Tiverton in Devon, I’d love to see you there.
To add the cherry to my cup cake- the first 2 reviews for Another Glass of Champagne are in- and they are both 5 Stars!
“…Going to miss this bunch, a lot…”
“…It’s nice to have the whole gang back together for the series finale, along with a couple of new faces to join in with – and add to – the drama along the way! Jenny Kane has tied up some loose ends perfectly, whilst at the same time creating enough new openings to wish that this wasn’t the last we will see of Jack, Amy, Kit et al…I thoroughly enjoyed this book and was sad to get to the end.”
Happy reading everyone- don’t forget to come and say hello to me while I’m blog touring!
With all the excitement of my latest novel, Another Glass of Champagne, hitting the mainstream book shelves, I’ve been thinking back to how the series, which began with the novel, Another Cup of Coffee, first saw the light of day. It was certainly a long time in the making!
Thirteen years ago Amy Crane ran away from everyone and everything she knew, ending up in an unfamiliar city with no obvious past and no idea of her future. Now, though, that past has just arrived on her doorstep, in the shape of an old music cassette that Amy hasn’t seen since she was at university.
Digging out her long-neglected Walkman, Amy listens to the lyrics that soundtracked her student days. As long-buried memories are wrenched from the places in her mind where she’s kept them safely locked away for over a decade, Amy is suddenly tired of hiding.
It’s time to confront everything about her life. Time to find all the friends she left behind in England, when her heart got broken and the life she was building for herself was shattered. Time to make sense of all the feelings she’s been bottling up for all this time. And most of all, it’s time to discover why Jack has sent her tape back to her now, after all these years…
With her mantra, ‘New life, New job, New home’, playing on a continuous loop in her head, Amy gears herself up with yet another bucket-sized cup of coffee, as she goes forth to lay the ghost of first love to rest…
As the blurb says, it took Amy thirteen years to come to her senses and sort her life out – it took me thirteen years to write how she did just that! Not that I’ve been sat puzzling at the pages everyday in all that time- far from it.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin the story of my story…
The idea for Another Cup of Coffee came to me all that time ago, but was originally only intended to be a short story for a competition. I had never written a story before beyond the requirements of school homework, although I had written poetry, some of which I’d been lucky enough to have published. The story, Getting It Back, was all about a quiet girl, who’s cut herself off from her old life after her heart had been broken, and told of how, out of the blue, a package had arrived through the post that made her look at her life afresh. That package was an old fashioned cassette tape, which had a variety of different songs recorded onto it- as was the craze in the 1980’s and early 90’s.
That short story was not well written, and quite rightly got nowhere at all. I gave up writing after that. I’d only entered the competition so that I had a project to do that would occupy my mind and keep me awake. I had a one year old at the time- and she never slept and was a pain to feed- totally the opposite of now bless her!!
So the story was shelved, and I didn’t go back to it for two years went, you guessed it- I had another child- and I remembered the story I’d written. Being the type of person who never throws anything away, I dug it back out, and in fits and bursts I turned it into a novel based on my experiences as a student, my time as an archaeologist, and a friends music obsession.
I’ll be honest- it was not a good read. So again, I shelved it.
Then, a few years later my children went to school- and as is fairly well documented, I had an idea for a very different type of story- an erotic story which I simply had to write down. The result was a persona I called Kay Jaybee.
Such was the unexpected success of Kay Jaybee, that I had no time to look at my first early attempt at a novel for years. I also had no confidence in it at all. I had become Kay, and Kay was good at stories that oozed kink- I wasn’t sure I could do a story that kept the pages turning without it.
It wasn’t until ‘Kay’ had a handful of novels, novellas and short stories under her belt, that I decided the time had come to prove to myself that I could do more- and so I rewrote Another Cup of Coffee– and to my surprise it was snapped up.
So- if you fancy delving into the story of Amy, her ex boyfriend Jack, and his best friend, erotica writer and Mum, Kit (sound familiar at all????), then why not give Another Cup of Coffee a sip
You can buy Another Cup of Coffee as either a paperback or an eBook from Amazon and all good online and high street book stores
Then of course- if you enjoy this novel- there are three seasonal follow on novella’s as well as my new novel, Another Glass of Champagne, to read afterwards!
I think it’s fair to say that I’ve had a busy couple of months- but boy they have been so much fun!!!
Writing is, on the whole, a lonely business. You sit at your desk (or coffee shop table in my case), and let fictitious happenings fill your mind, flow through the arms into your fingers and onto the computer screen, or onto the pages of a notebook. These last eight weeks however, very little actual writing has had the chance to form as I’ve been on something of a grand tour book wise.
(Take a deep breath before you read this paragraph- well, sentence!)
Starting back in April with a brilliant World Book Night event arranged by Annette Shaw down in Dartmouth, travelling on to Chepstow to sell copies of Romancing Robin Hood to the wonderful folk who attended this year’s Hooded Man event (celebrating the 30th anniversary of Jason Connery’s adoption of the role of Robin of Sherwood, as well as the birth of the latest Robin of Sherwood audio adventure, The Knights of the Apocalypse – #KOTA), before heading off to London to be part of the aforementioned #KOTA premiere, and then back to Tiverton to arrange the local literary festival, before I dashed- only an hour after the end of the festival- off again to the NEC in Birmingham to attend a book event and award ceremony for the ‘other me’.
In amongst all that my latest novel was released as well- not to mention there was real work, life etc to squeeze in.
Now I’m taking a minute (well, a day), to myself to let it all sink in before I start writing my next novel. This new story will be much inspired by my travels with the Robin of Sherwood crew. Called The Winter Outlaw it is to be based, not of RH himself, but a group of historically accountable noble outlaws who admired his stories. (Out Nov 2017)
My fingers are itching to write again- but first I need another cup of coffee!
I’ll leave you with a few more photographs from my recent adventures,
Many thanks for all your support as ever. Writers are nothing without readers,
After 7 months of planning, weeks of rushing around, and 5 days of full on excitement, the second Tiverton Literary Festival has drawn to a close.
Myself and the team, Kerstin Muggeridge and Sue Griggs, would like to thank each and every one of you who came along as a guest, visitor, or helper.
Here’s to Tiverton Literary Festival 2017!