It’s guest blog time! I’m delighted to welcome fellow Accent Press author, Jackie Kabler, to my place today. Jackie’s second novel is out now…but how much of her media career influenced it…
Over to you Jackie…
WRITING WHAT YOU KNOW…OR NOT?
As a relatively new author – my first novel, The Dead Dog Day, was published by Accent Press last year – I had the thrill recently of appearing for the first time at a literary festival, where I was delighted to be asked to chair a panel discussion. The topic was ‘Writing what you know…or not?’, and the panel was made up of a great mix of authors with widely differing views, which made for a lively hour!
I thought it was a really interesting topic. Some of the writers there considered writing about what you already know to be the ultimate in laziness, arguing that being a fiction writer is about being creative, not just about regurgitating facts and experiences from your own life. Others, including a former social worker who now writes novels based around her experiences, argued that having such a wealth of knowledge about a specialist area lends realism and authenticity to our writing. I say our, because my current series of novels, the Cora Baxter Mysteries, is set in a television newsroom, a world in which I worked as a news reporter for twenty years.
My decade on breakfast show GMTV provided such a wealth of material – some of it surreal, some of it shocking, much of it hilarious – that when I decided to attempt writing a novel it just made sense to me to use that material. And I’m glad I did – some of the nicest comments I’ve had from readers of my first book were about how fascinating it was to get an insider’s view of the not-as-glamourous-as-you-think world of breakfast TV. But am I just being lazy? Should I, as a creative person, be using my imagination more in my writing? It’s something I’ve been thinking about. I’m still working on the Cora Baxter series, but now I also have an idea for a psychological thriller which will definitely push me out of my comfort zone. So – should we write what we know, or not? What do you think?
The Deadline, the second in the Cora Baxter Mysteries series, is now available in paperback, e-book or audiobook format.
Jackie Kabler is a journalist, TV presenter and author. Currently a presenter on shopping channel QVC, she signed a three-book deal with Accent Press in 2014 for a series of murder mysteries set in a television newsroom. She spent twenty years as a news reporter, including a decade on GMTV, followed by stints with ITV news, BBC news and Setanta Sports news. She lives in Gloucestershire with her husband, who is a local GP.
Many thanks for such a great blog Jackie,
Happy reading everyone,
I’m delighted to be able to announce the birth of my very first Jenny Kane audio book.
Another Glass of Champagne can now be purchased as a audio book – the perfect listen for a long car journey, or to help the housework along.
Amy and husband Paul are expecting their first baby – they want Amy’s best friend Jack to be godfather, but having left London to ‘find himself’ he hasn’t been heard from in months. When Jack suddenly turns up, things seem to fit nicely into place – but his motives for returning to Richmond aren’t all altruistic. He has a plan – one which could put community hub Pickwicks Coffee Shop out of business, and potentially ruin a number of old friendships. Meanwhile, Kit has problems of her own: just when her career as an author has started to take off, she finds herself unable to write – and there’s a deadline looming…not to mention two children to see through their difficult teenage years.
Unbridged, you can listen to award winning voiceover artist, Anna Parker-Naples read my novel out to you as you go about your day – all day in fact, as it is a 9 hour and 8 minute production!!
You can buy your audio version (with the different quirky cover!) from –
I’m delighted to welcome Cheryl Rees-Price to my place today to talk about her new novel, Frozen Minds. Just what is it about murder anyway…
Over to you Cheryl…
Recently I was asked to give a talk in my local library. Having worried that no one would turn up I was relieved when a bunch of people sat around the table seemingly interested to hear about my writing process. As I progressed through the talk I noticed a few eyes light up when I arrived at the subject of the murder weapon. I now had the room’s full attention as I displayed my reference book of poisons and weapons.
Following the talk the discussion soon turned to true crime and particularly a murder which occurred locally some 40 years ago. Some of my guests had a clear memory of the event. They remembered the shock and speculation that ran through the village. This turned to other murders that had occurred in various locations in wales, then followed a list of favourite crime authors. The age range of my audience varied but all agreed that they liked a good ‘whodunit’ or ‘thriller.’ This got me thinking about our general fascination with murder. Why do we find murder a source of entertainment?
We are surrounded by crime, true or fictional, on TV, in books, and newspapers. Most evenings you can turn on your television and find a detective series or true crime documentary. Have we become de-sensitised to murder? Or have we always had some morbid curiosity when it comes to crime? If we look back a few hundred years it was not much different. I read recently of stage production which puts all 74 of Shakespeare’s death scenes in one sitting. Imagine 74 in one evening! That certainly gives Midsomer some competition.
The Victorians were also known to be obsessed with crime and death, broadsheets were full of the gruesome details of Jack the ripper and then there was public executions, reportedly souvenirs such as copies of the death speech were sold.
So is it our sense of justice that draws us into world of murder? A need to see the perpetrator get caught and punished. This isn’t always the case in true crime. There are reportedly some 564 unsolved murders across the UK in the past ten years. That should be enough to make us stop and think, am I safe? Perhaps reading the details helps us get some perspective, we can make judgements on the victim, locality and circumstances to calculate the risks to our own lives.
When watching a crime drama or reading a crime book we can do so in a safe environment. We are in no danger and we can play along being detective, taking in the clues and guessing the final outcome. We can escape reality, and get a dose of adrenalin. We satisfy our inquisitive nature, being given full details from crime scene to arrest and a glimpse into the killers mind. All this is done as we drink tea with our feet up on the sofa.
Whatever our reasons for enjoying a good crime story we still expect our happy ending. One where the killer is caught and locked up securely. Then we can feel safe as we curl up with a book on a cold winter’s night and seek our next thrill.
When a man is found murdered at Bethesda House, a home for adults with learning difficulties, local people start to accuse the home’s residents of being behind the killing. The victim was a manager at the home, and seemingly a respectable and well-liked family man. DI Winter Meadows knows there’s more to the case than meets the eye. As he and his team investigate, Meadows discovers a culture of fear at the home – and some unscrupulous dealings going on between the staff. Does the answer to the case lie in the relationships between the staff and the residents – or is there something even more sinister afoot?
Cheryl Rees-Price was born in Cardiff and moved as a Young child to a small ex-mining village on the edge of the Black Mountains, South Wales, where she still lives with her husband, daughters and two cats. After leaving school she worked as a legal clerk for several years before leaving to raise her two daughters.
Cheryl returned to education, studying philosophy, sociology and accountancy whilst working as a part time book keeper. She now works as a finance director for a company that delivers project management and accounting services.
In her spare time Cheryl indulges in her passion for writing, the success of writing plays for local performances gave her the confidence to write her first novel. Her other hobbies include walking and gardening which free her mind to develop plots and create colourful characters.
Many thanks for a great blog Cheryl,
Happy reading everyone,
Officially, I have been a writer for the past twelve years. Deep down however, I suspect I have always been a writer; I have certainly always been a creative person. How could I not be, when I was influenced from childhood by both of my grandmothers who were both physically incapable of doing nothing, and had imaginations that would have made Roald Dahl proud?
From a very early age I remember watching my maternal Nan performing plays, poems, and comedy sketches on stage for the WI, all of which she’d written herself.
I vividly recall sitting in the audience of one charity production where my Nan’s poem, ‘Hats’ was performed to shrieks of laughter and delight. I was only ten years old, and as I sat and laughed alongside the rest thinking how wonderful it would be to be able to make people happy like that- if only I wasn’t so shy…
My paternal Nan on the other hand, was a knitter extraordinaire. There was literally nothing she couldn’t produce out of wool with just the aid of a pair of needles and a decent drama to watch on the TV at the same time. I never saw her glance at what she was knitting, and I certainly never saw a pattern. The jumpers, gloves, toys, or whatever she was making, seemed to magically appear at a speed that would be the envy of any conjurer.
Both my grandmothers loved to read, but neither of them had any time for books that contained waffle. If a story didn’t grab them instantly it was jammed back onto the library shelf before the second page got so much as dabbed with a damp finger.
Standing in Princes Risborough, getting restless while book after book was dismissed with the words “If you ever write a book, make sure you get to the point faster than this lot!” ringing in my ears became a regular feature of my grandparental visits. This advice stayed with me, and I have always made an effort to grab my reader’s attention before the end of the first chapter. I have to confess, that as a reader, I’m now just as picky as my Nan’s were. I am notoriously hard to please!
A love of words, crosswords, and word puzzles in general- usually completed at a coffee shop table with my Nan- was something that was very much part of my childhood. This love of words and puzzles was inherited by my Mum, and has been passed on to me as well. It is perhaps not surprising then, that as I spent a great deal of my childhood (and indeed my adulthood) playing with words in cafes, I ended up writing a series of stories set in the fictional Pickwicks Coffee Shop. (Another Cup of Coffee, Another Cup of Christmas, Christmas in the Cotswolds, Christmas at the Castle, and Another Glass of Champagne)
My bestselling novel, Abi’s House (pub. Accent Press, June 2015), was written in dedication to my grandparents. Set in the Sennen Cove area of Cornwall, Abi (recently arrived from London), creates a new life for herself not far from Penzance, where my paternal grandparents lived.
On Abi’s arrival in Cornwall, she meets Beth, a young woman who has recently inherited her grandfather’s cobblers shop. My maternal grandmother’s family owns Wainwright’s Shoe Shops in Buckinghamshire, where I spent many hours with both my Nan and my Grandad, who was the company’s chief cobbler!
Both of my grandmothers influenced my writing, and the way I approach the production of my stories, more than they ever knew. Their creativity and encouragement (my maternal Nan was forever telling me I’m make my mark on the world with words, long before I even contemplated trying my hand as a writer), has carried on into the next generation, with my Mum, an excellent artist and needlewoman, cheering me on.
And now, proving that the creative gene is strong on the female side of my family, my daughters have picked up the baton, and both have had poetry of their own published already!
Look out world- the next generation is on its way!
I’m delighted to welcome Julie Archer to my blog today. Julie, who I had the good fortune to meet earlier this year (see below), has just released her first novel, and is hot on the heels of the second…
Hi Jenny! Thanks for having me over at your place.
I’m writing this blog post having just arrived at Stickwick Manor for a six-day retreat to recover from all the excitement of self-publishing my first novel. And to make a start on Book 2!
It was just over two years ago (ironically on the day I published the eBook) that I received an email from Urban Writers’ Retreat to say that I had been accepted on the Six Month Novel Programme. I remember doing a happy dance around my kitchen as I realised that someone thought I had a good story to tell.
The Six Month Novel Programme is something to help writers get to the end of that first draft, with the support of fellow writers. There is structure, accountability and cheerleading. And a place for you to vent about how things are going – good and bad. The Writer’s Playground was a massively important part of my writing journey and without it, I don’t think I would ever have finished Cocktails, Rock Tales & Betrayals. I have made some fantastic virtual and real friends here, all of whom have helped me along the way.
I wrote “The End” on the first draft in early March 2015. Then life got in the way. And I half-heartedly edited the manuscript a few times, shoved it in a cupboard, forgot about it, dusted it off, got a few people to beta read it, sent off a few agent submissions and generally didn’t love it.
Then I went to a World Book Night Event in Stoke Fleming, near Dartmouth where I live, in April this year.
The guest speaker was Lesley Pearce, who regaled us with tales of her writing journey – and penchant for Sean Bean. Other speakers included Tony Porter, Jane Gill, Mel Menzies and Steve Stevenson-Olds. Oh, and a lovely lady called Jenny Kane (on that day anyway!).
Hearing these authors talk about how they had got their works published, either traditionally or through the self-publishing route, really made me think. And it made me want to be standing up on that side of the table at World Book Night 2017 telling my own story!
Having already submitted to a few agents and received stock replies of ‘thanks, but no thanks’ and ‘keep writing’, I considered the self-publishing route. Not knowing what this might entail, I explored the possibilities out there and looked at “assisted self-publishing” versus “pure self-publishing”.
I went to Tiverton Literary Festival in June (Jenny may have mentioned it at World Book Night!) and attended a self-publishing workshop by Marissa Farrar. Although I hadn’t come across her work before, she has self-published a huge number of novels in different genres. And made the process work!
I also met Carrie Elks at a Stickwick retreat. As another self-published author she was also able to give me more invaluable advice on how to do things properly, what to focus on and where to start with things like a marketing plan and social media.
After listening to both of these inspiring ladies (and taking copious notes!), I was more determined than ever to get the book out there myself. I was in a fortunate position of being able to have the time and funds available to dedicate to the editing, cover design and marketing processes.
So I did it! I wrestled with Createspace, Kindle Direct Publishing and Draft2Digital and won!
What’s next? Book 2 of course! And along with my fellow chums in the Writer’s Playground, we are publishing an anthology of stories called ‘Off Track’. It will be available in mid-November in both eBook and print formats. All proceeds are going to charity, so it would be great if you could pick up a copy.
Here’s a short extract from Cocktails, Rock Tales & Betrayals…
“She couldn’t stop thinking about Nate, how they had talked and talked. And connected. Had things been different, she would certainly have left him her number.
With a sigh, she put on her headphones and pulled a copy of Roccia from her bag and idly began flicking through the pages to pass the time. A short article in the news section about North Ridge caught her eye. She took a large sip of wine a read on, always interested to read about new local talent.
Recently signed to Numb Records, Alik Thorne and the rest of the Blood Stone Riot boys play their last gig at The Vegas in North Ridge next week before decamping to record their as yet untitled four-track EP at the renowned Newcomen Farm studios.
Set for release in the next few months, the band are also to film their first video to accompany the title track, “Bleed Like Cyanide,” in addition to playing a number of low-key showcase gigs in preparation for their debut appearance at the Wilde Park Festival.
Caro almost spat out her wine in shock as she re-read the article and studied the picture that accompanied it more closely. There was a black and white photograph of a singer, caught by the camera snarling into the microphone. He was wildly attractive, with chiselled cheekbones, eyes flashing with passion, and bare-chested, showing an array of tattoos and a nipple ring.
She knew she had seen him before.
Knew that she had recognised his voice from somewhere.
In the magazine shot, he was clean-shaven and his hair was shorter, and he wasn’t wearing glasses; looking totally different to the man she had left in bed that morning. But she certainly recognised the tattoos, having spent time up close and personal with them.
He had lied.
His name wasn’t Nate.
Suddenly Caro was acutely aware of the fact that she had just slept with one of the hottest new properties in rock music…
You can buy Cocktails, Rock Tales & Betrayals through the following platforms. Or you can pop into the Dartmouth Bookseller on Foss Street in Dartmouth and get one in person!
I grew up in Hampshire and lived in Reading before moving to the beautiful riverside town of Dartmouth in Devon. I still feel like I’m on holiday. I trained as a journalist, then went into teaching (kept meeting the sixth form students in the pub, awkward!). After that I ‘fell’ into recruitment, spending more years there than I care to mention, where the most creative thing I did was to create a sexy top line for job adverts! Since moving to Devon, I set up my own business offering virtual administration and recruitment services, worked for an accommodation company and am currently moonlighting in the local bookshop… Also, COYS, Cats, Metal. Underneath this preppy exterior beats the heart of a rock chick.
Thanks for a great blog Julie. Good luck with your first book!
Hello, it’s Jenny Kane here – or is it?
This week I was lucky enough to announce the pre-order of my first entirely historical mystery, The Outlaw’s Ransom. As this is a new genre, it comes with a new pen name – Jennifer Ash.
As some of you will know, I also write as two other ‘people’ as well- both for the over 18’s only market…
Then of course, there’s the real me, who occasionally gets a bit lost in translation.
I often get asked questions like – ‘Don’t you get a bit confused?’ ‘Do you have trouble remembering who you’re supposed to be?’ ‘Why not just publish everything under your own name?’
Well – in answer to the first two questions – yes, I do sometimes get confused, and when I am called by my real name I frequently take a few seconds to realise I’m the person being addressed. As to the third question, well- it’s largely a marketing thing, and rather boringly to do with bookshelf spacing, advertising and so on.
Here’s a quick guide as to who all my ‘ME’s’ are!
Jenny Kane writes RomCom style contemporary fiction – with a hint of romance and a healthy spattering of coffee drinking included. (Tea drinkers are also welcome)
Jenny Kane also writes children’s picture books of the very quirky variety. There is no coffee on offer, but cookies are involved by way of compensation.
Jennifer Ash writes fourteenth century medieval mysteries– also with a hint of romance, but with no coffee whatsoever. There is ale though – lots of ale.
Kay Jaybee writes award winning, full on, adult only, erotica. It has been known to include coffee, although not as a drink.. Enough said… If you wish to learn about Kay, then feel free to visit her at www.kayjaybee.me.uk You should NOT visit Kay unless you are over 18. If you are under 18 and you visit her, you’ll make her very cross- not something I’d advise you doing…
There is another ‘ME’, but that name is not shared…ever…
And then of course, there is me. The actual me, who looks remarkably like Jenny and Jennifer and Kay. I can’t tell you that much about her except she works 12 hour shifts as a writer, and goes to work, and runs a house, and has a family (pretty much like every other writer I know).She often has moments of total forgetfulness, is very clumsy, drinks WAY too much coffee, loves Malteasers, and is rather keen on all things Robin Hood…Oh, and she is very happy.
Hope that’s helped you a bit. As to me, well…it’s way to late for any help this end!
Happy reading everyone,