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10 REASONS TO GO ON AN IMAGINE WRITING RETREAT

Alison Knight and I are proud to present our very first “Imagine” writing retreat…

10 reasons to go on an Imagine Writing Retreat…

1                    Writers need writers! No one understands writing and a writer’s life like another writer. Mutual support is the name of the game!

2                    Located in the stunning Victorian manor, Northmoor House, Imagine’s retreat gives you the chance to stay in a home untouched by time (But don’t panic, there is Wi-Fi). You can even indulge in the waters of an original Victorian bathtub…don’t forget your bubble bath!

3                    With so many of the manor’s period features still in place, Northmoor is the ideal location for sparking inspiration and dreaming up new plotlines.

4                    On the edge of Exmoor, near the popular village of Dulverton, there are plenty of beautiful places to explore should you, or any non-writing friends or partners, wish to. There are miles of good walking land on hand. The pre-historic Tarr Steps are but minutes away, and the cafes in Dulverton are excellent. I can personally recommend the poached eggs on crumpets in The Copper Kettle.

Tarr Steps

 

5                    However, you might not want to stray into the village for food because we have employed an excellent local caterer, who is providing a delicious menu that will cater for all dietary requirements. All food is locally sourced.

6                    Come along for a confidence boost! At Imagine we pride ourselves on helping everyone to get their words onto the page. We are here for beginners and experts alike.

Kate Griffin

7                    Meet Kate Griffin! One of Faber and Faber’s most successful crime writers. Kate Griffin is the author of the brilliant Kitty Peck Mysteries. An expert on Victorian London, Kate will be our guest speaker on the Wednesday evening.

8                    Find your inner writer’s peace of mind. We all know that authors suffer from imposter syndrome: “Why am I writing? I’m not good enough!” We all say it! Local happiness mentor and fellow writer, Trina Stacey, will be available for optional one-to-one conversations about how to believe in your abilities, and convince you that you are allowed to do what makes you happy.

9                    Let’s face it – Monday to Friday in a beautiful Victorian Manor, with time to write, all food provided, plus three optional workshops, a chance to meet Kate Griffin, and the opportunity to share writing ideas over a glass of wine (or two) – for only £450 (10% less if you book before 31st October) is a BARGAIN.

10               IT WILL BE A LOT OF FUN!

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Full details are available at https://www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk/writing-retreats 

If you have any queries please email Alison or myself at imaginecreativewritng@gmail.com

PLEASE REMEMBER THAT THE EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT ENDS ON 31ST OCTOBER

Now is the time to drop heavy hints about wanting a writing retreat for Christmas… 

Happy writing everyone,

Jenny xx


Guest post from Marie Gameson: The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased)

I’m delighted to welcome Marie Gameson to my blog today to talk a little about her fascinating new book, The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased).

Over to you Marie…

 

“Winifred is exasperated by her Catholic mother’s inability to accept her conversion to Buddhism, and by her family’s determination to drag her back to her former life. But when an elderly stranger – haunted by his dead father – turns up on Winnie’s doorstep, insisting that stories she wrote as a teenager hold the key to his supernatural problems, Winnie is forced to renew acquaintance with her younger self.

Why did she write about a Mr Gadd, who died years before she was born?”

The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) does have lots of humour, but the main theme is grief – not so much grief for the dead as for the living. The main character, Winnie Rigby, is exasperated that her conversion to Buddhism and attachment to the Orient are strongly resisted by her Catholic family, who make persistent attempts to remind her of the person she used to be.

I wrote this book to explore an issue which has long bothered me, and more so recently:  how do you cope when someone close to you has substantially changed? The reason could be because they have had some physical or mental trauma, joined a cult, become an addict, or simply because they have adopted a new political or spiritual belief system. Of course, in the case of the latter, the grieved-for person can be annoyingly positive about the change; most of us have come across a new zealot, and have good reason to avoid ‘born-again Christians’, or ‘born-again anythings’. But whatever the reason for someone changing, that person is still alive, still looks pretty much the same, and yet is no longer the person you remember.

In the case of Winnie Rigby, after practising Zen Buddhism for some years, she had an enlightening experience whilst on a mountain in Taiwan, which increased her resolve to further her practice. Since being forced back to the UK by her family, she feels alienated and out of touch with her old life; in fact neither her old neighbourhood nor her old acquaintances seem familiar, which is inconvenient, as people who insist they know her turn up with irritating frequency.

Consequently, her only objective is to get back to Taiwan just as soon as she can figure out how to replace the funds that have mysteriously disappeared from her account – (on her instructions according to the Bank) – but which seem to have gone to a cause that sounds suspiciously close to her mother’s heart.

Winnie’s refusal to return to her former persona or to traipse through pointless memories is challenged when an elderly man turns up on her doorstep, haunted by his dead father’s restless spirit, and insisting that the younger Winnie knew something about this late Mr Gadd. Although Winnie has no time for ghosts or superstition, when she is given proof that she did indeed write about Mr Gadd, she reluctantly agrees to try and find out why she wrote about a man who not only died years before she was born, but whose afterlife she seems to have recorded.

But the more she remembers, the more the answers seem to lie in the East. In her search for the elusive Mr Gadd, Winnie may fulfil her wish to return to the Orient – but unravelling the mystery of Gadd is bringing another unexpected revelation.

 

Taroko Gorge, Taiwan (where Winnie ‘saw the light’)

 

Although the book took a year to write, the preparation included a few months in Taiwan, two trips to China, an MA in Translation, a dissertation about Chinese ancestor worship, and frankly – countless fags and glasses of wine. It’s really nice that some people have said that they loved the book, but it is possible that I have reacted a little negatively when they have gone on to ask when the next one is coming out…

But with that little whinge out the way, the book has been a wonderful journey for me in terms of trying to reconcile East and West. Whether they are truly reconcilable or not, I will finish with a photograph I took some years back in Taipei of a Buddhist nun begging for alms. I rather like it.

Bio-

Marie Gameson is half of the mother and daughter writing team who published The Turtle Run as ‘Marie Evelyn’. Her latest book, The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) was published by Salt this summer and is available on Amazon. You can find out more about her and her books at her website, www.marie-gameson.com 

You can buy The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) from-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Giddy-Career-Mr-Gadd-deceased/dp/1784631183/

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Many thanks for visiting today Marie. This sounds like a fantastic read.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx


Clinging onto summer: Abi’s Neighbour

With autumn beginning to take a firm grip, I thought it would be nice to share a little from my Cornish sunshine novel- Abi’s Neighbour!!

 

The sequel to my bestselling novel, Abi’s House, Abi’s Neighbour introduces new characters- some nice- and some who are going to take a little getting used to…

Here’s the blurb to help you picture the scene…

Abi Carter has finally found happiness. Living in her perfect tin miner’s cottage, she has good friends and a gorgeous boyfriend, Max. Life is good. But all that’s about to change when a new neighbour moves in next door.

Cassandra Henley-Pinkerton represents everything Abi thought she’d escaped when she left London. Obnoxious and stuck-up, Cassandra hates living in Cornwall. Worst of all, it looks like she has her sights set on Max.

But Cassandra has problems of her own. Not only is her wealthy married lawyer putting off joining her in their Cornish love nest, but now someone seems intent on sabotaging her business.

Will Cassandra mellow enough to turn to Abi for help – or are they destined never to get along?

Complete with sun, sea and a gorgeous Cornwall setting, Abi’s Neighbour is the PERFECT summer escape.

(Abi’s Neighbour can be read as a standalone novel, or as a sequel to Abi’s House)

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Now all you need to imagine the sun warming your face, a glass of something chilled awaiting you in the fridge, and a business suited woman standing outside this house…and she’s not happy…

Extract

The untidy, clipboard-wielding woman started talking as soon as she climbed out of her Mini. ‘Hello, my name’s Maggie, and I’m from –’

Cassandra cut impatiently across the formalities. ‘Sennen Agents, obviously. It’s written across your car.’

‘Oh, yes. So it is.’ Maggie paused, ‘Anyway, I’m sorry I’m late, I got stuck behind a tractor down the lane.’ She jingled a key ring in front of her. ‘I have your keys, Miss Pinkerton.’

‘No, you don’t.’ ‘I don’t?’ The estate agent frowned, looking away from the woman that stood before her in expensive couture with crossed arms and a far from happy expression. Flicking through the papers on her clipboard, Maggie said, ‘I was instructed by a Mr Justin Smythe that you would be accepting the keys on his behalf?’

‘I meant, no, my name is not Miss Pinkerton. It is Ms Henley-Pinkerton.’

‘Oh. I see.’ Maggie refrained from further comment as she clutched the keys a little tighter.

Determined to make sure the situation was clearly understood, Cassandra pulled her jacket on, turning herself back into the sharp-suited businesswoman she was. ‘In addition to your error regarding my name, there appears to have been a further mistake.’

‘There has?’

‘Mr Smythe has not purchased this property. He has merely rented it, with an additional agreement to sublet it as a holiday home. I am here for two months to make the place suitable.’ Cassandra ran a disdainful eye over the beautiful exterior stonework. ‘It would seem that my work is going to be well and truly cut out.’

‘This is a much sought-after street, Ms HenleyPinkerton. And this particular property is in excellent period condition.’ Feeling defensive on behalf of the old miner’s cottage, Maggie bit her tongue and flicked through her paperwork faster. Extracting a copy of the bill of sale, she passed it to the slim, angular blonde. ‘I think the misunderstanding must be yours. Mr Smythe has purchased number two Miners Row outright. It was a cash sale.’

Snatching the papers from Maggie’s fingers, Cassandra’s shoulders tensed into painful knots. Why hadn’t Justin told her he’d done this? She was convinced she was right. And anyway, he’d never deliberately make her appear foolish in front of a country bumpkin estate agent…  Yet as Cassandra scanned the document before her, she could see there’d been no mistake. Closing her eyes, she counted to ten, before opening them again to regard the badly dressed woman before her, who was once again holding out the offending set of keys.  Failing to take them, Cassandra gestured towards the little house.

‘Perhaps you would show me around, after I’ve made a call to Mr Smythe?’ Maggie, already feeling sorry for this unpleasant woman’s future neighbours, took unprofessional pleasure in saying, ‘Good luck with that call. The phone signal here is unpredictable to say the least.’

It had taken a ten-minute walk towards Sennen village to get a decent reception on her mobile phone, and then, when she’d been able to connect the call, Justin’s line was engaged. When she’d finally got through, she was more than ready to explode. ‘Justin! How could you have done this to me without a word? You’ve made me look a total idiot.’

Clearly thrilled that he’d managed to buy the terrace for a knock-down price – which, he’d claimed, was a far more economic use of their funds, an investment that would make them a fortune to enjoy in their retirement – he’d sounded so excited about what it meant for their future together that Cassandra had found it hard to remain cross. Assuring her that the situation remained the same, and that she was still only expected to stay in Cornwall while he secured his new position and got the wheels of the divorce in motion, Justin told Cassandra he loved her and would be with her very soon.

Returning to the terrace reassured, if lacking some of her earlier dignity, Cassandra swallowed back all the words she’d have liked to say as she opened the door and the gloom of the dark and narrow hallway enveloped her. She was sure that awful Maggie woman had been laughing at her. The agent had taken clear pleasure in telling her that if she hadn’t stormed off so quickly she’d have found out that the phone reception was excellent if you sat on the bench in the back garden.

Vowing to never drink champagne in any form ever again, as it clearly caused her to agree to things far too readily, Cassandra saw the next two months stretching out before her like a lifetime.  Letting out some of the tension which had been simmering inside her since she’d first seen the for sale sign, she picked up a stone and threw it at the back fence, hard. Maggie had gone, leaving her reluctant client sitting on an old weathered bench in the narrow rectangular plot at the back of the house.

Playing her phone through her fingers, Cassandra saw that there was enough reception to make calls if she sat in this spot – but only in this spot. One step in either direction killed the signal dead, which was probably why the previous owners had placed a bench here. And probably why they left this Godforsaken place!  The Internet simply didn’t exist here. When she’d swallowed her pride and asked Maggie about the strength of the local broadband coverage, the agent had actually had the audacity to laugh, before informing Cassandra with obvious satisfaction that people came to Sennen for their holidays to leave the world of emails and work behind them.

Breathing slowly, she pulled her shoulders back, pushed her long, perfectly straight blonde hair behind her ears, and took a pen and paper out of her bag. It looked as if she was going to have to tackle this, old school.

First she would make a list of what she considered necessary to make the house habitable for holidaymakers, then she would locate the nearest library or internet café so she could source decorators and builders to get the work underway. The sooner she got everything done, and herself back to hustle and bustle of London, the better.

Deciding there was no way she could sleep in this house, which Maggie had proudly described as ‘comfortable’, ‘sought-after’, and ‘ready to be made absolutely perfect’, Cassandra hooked her handbag onto her shoulder and headed back into the whitewashed stone house. Shivering in the chill of the hallway, despite the heat of the June day, she jumped in the silence when the doorbell rang just as she bent to pick up her overnight bag. For a second she froze. It had been years since she’d heard a doorbell ring. In her block of flats back home she buzzed people in via an intercom, and anyway, people never just dropped by. She hoped it wasn’t that dreadful Maggie back with some other piece of unwanted advice.

It wasn’t Maggie. It was a petite woman in paint spattered clothes, with a large shaggy dog at her side. Cassandra’s unwanted visitor wore a wide smile and held a bunch of flowers in one hand and some bedding in the other.  ‘Hello. My name’s Abi, I live next door. Welcome to Miners Row. I hope you’ll be very happy here.’

***

I hope you enjoyed that!!

Abi’s Neighbour is available from all good retailers, including-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Abis-Neighbour-Jenny-Kane/dp/178615028X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487006698&sr=1-1&keywords=abi%27s+neighbour

https://www.amazon.com/Abis-Neighbour-Jenny-Kane/dp/178615028X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487006868&sr=1-1&keywords=Abi%27s+Neighbour+by+Jenny+Kane

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Happy reading!!

Jenny xx


Interview with Sarah Dahl: Monk

 I’m delighted to welcome Sarah Dahl back to my site to enjoy a cuppa and a chat about her latest historical romance (with spice); Monk.

Why not grab a slice of cake and join is?

What inspired you to write your book?

It has never been clearer than in this case: “Monk” was created out of mild frustration and the question “What if?”. There’s this scene in the first series of History Channel’s Vikings where Ragnar brings home an attractive young monk, Athelstan, who makes the couple curious. They enter his room and ask him to join them in bed. The audience doesn’t get to know if that is a test of Ragnar’s, to check if the “new man in the house” will be a threat to his marriage. Or if they just want to have their own version of fun with the man of God who seems so stressed out by their love-making. We know the Vikings had a very relaxed attitude towards phyical aspects, including sex. The scenario is not too far-fetched. But: in the series, the monk shies away. The atmosphere is sizzling and tense, you literally hold your breath before he answers “no, I can’t” – although you see his eyes and body saying the opposite. That didn’t leave my mind. I wondered if the producers were shying away from his “yes” out of realistic thinking or just Hollywood-esk prudery. We couldn’t know then how the monk’s answer would affect the coming plotlines.

But from that day I pondered the question “What if the monk had said yes? He wanted to. The temptation was too much, he was overwhelmed. He was close to a “yes”. But was it realistic? I thought: Heck, I can do this. I’ll write what would have happened, and make it just as sizzling …

So I did my very own version of a monk being seduced by his Viking captors.

Do you model any of your characters after people you know?

In this case: see above. I bluntly admit to stealing the main characters’ basics from the series, then made them my own people in my own story and setting. I go very much deeper into their minds and world views. All three, Yngvarr, his wife Runa, and the monk Alistair, are very vivid and accessible on several levels. So concerning your question:

Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

I went bold and brave with this one, and made it three points of view. Which is a first, for such a relatively short piece. This way, readers can dive into every character separately and feel with them, make it a tight and direct experience. Eliminate the guessing and questions. You can’t do that with TV-series’ characters, whose feelings and thoughts are guess-work after all. But in “Monk” I play with the three views and how the actions unfolding affect every one of the three – and ultimately change them.

Yes, it’s carnal, but also: very emotional, a revelation, a turmoil, life-changing. All three of them hand themselves over to the situation and come out differently, not having anticipated what this “game” would do to them. So maybe I modelled my characters after what inspired me, but I very much made them my own material and went deep with them. Through their shy monk –  despite him being very much at their mercy – my Vikings are suddenly not so fierce and confident anymore 😉

What type of research did you have to do for your book?

This is especially funny for “Monk”. I’m quite solid concerning Viking research and reality and am very aware of staying realistic and true to the period in every detail. To then be extra-sure I always give the stories to my researcher-friend, John, who then double-checks for any flaws that distort the reality of the era. I was very sure that by now I’m firm enough, and he won’t find anything major, but then came the discussion of “the rope”, haha. He said no sane Viking would just cut the rope that lay around the captives neck. They used iron collars, for one, and then would never cut a valuable rope when freeing the slave. It would be a strange act to destroy the thing. My problem was that the Viking should scare the monk a little with the swift movement of the knife, make him flinch and graze his Adam’s apple; make him aware that he is, from now on, at their mercy. It should break the confident gaze of the captive and display the mortal danger he is in. There’s so much to that brief moment! But could that work with iron collars the Viking would have to fiddle with? Would him forcing these open in slow motion have the same effect for monk and readers as a fast-moved knife? Surely not. My monk would have impatiently rolled his eyes at some point, haha. So: even though my researcher was right, technically, I overruled his verdict and stuck with my fast and threatening knife-movement. I needed to shock the monk, not bore him to death before the real action had even started 😉

Links:

Author homepage and buy links: https://sarah-dahl.com/book/monk

Publisher Pronoun with buy links: https://books.pronoun.com/sarahdahl

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16341241.Sarah_Dahl

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sarahdahl13

Twitter: @sarahdahl13

Bio:

Sarah Dahl lives on the edge of the rural German Eifel and writes historical fiction (novels and short stories) primarily set in the Viking age. She also works as an editor, translates, and coaches new writers in German and English. She is interested in everyday life in bygone centuries and the human stories that may have occurred behind the hard, historical facts. Her author page is: sarah-dahl.com 

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Many thanks Sarah for dropping by today hun. Good luck with your new story.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x


Interview with Jon Hartless

It’s interview time. Today Steampunk author Jon Hartless is here for a writer type chinwag 

Why not grab yourself a cuppa, put your feet up for five minutes, and come and join us for a chat?

What inspired you to write your book?

It was a bit of a mental collision between different ideas, topics and real life. I’d known of the Bentley Boys for some time but only in the sense that I knew they were famous racing drivers of the 1920s. I did some research about the era, learning how most of the Bentley Boys were very rich playboys and I saw that the gulf between the rich and the poor could be encoded very neatly by using motor racing and car ownership. With the rich in cars and the poor on foot, you have a very clear demarcation between the two.

I’d also seen on TV a wonderful car called Brutus, the engine of which came from an old 1920s airplane. The car was a big, brutal, black vehicle that was very difficult to drive, as shown on an old episode of Top Gear (obviously before Jeremy Clarkson developed his hobby of beating up members of the production crew for not having a hot meal for him on demand), wherein Clarkson had trouble on the track as the vehicle was quite skittish owing to the power.

The final factor that came into play was chatting to someone I met at a Steampunk event at the Commandery in Worcester; she was involved in amateur dramatics and she was doing a Christmas pantomime which, in essence, was a Steampunk version of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Unfortunately, I never saw it and so I know nothing else about it, but that left the vague image floating in my mind, bobbling about.

And so, eventually, all these elements collided in my brain and there it was; a steampunk motor racing story, giving me many opportunities to examine inequality within society, as well as the roles we are expected to adopt and conform to by the status quo, all centring on the heroine and a huge Brutus-like car that exacts a terrible price on any who try to drive it.

What type of research did you have to do for your book?

I did a lot of background reading on the Bentley Boys and associated topics, such as the rise and fall of the original Bentley Motor, and on motor racing in general back in those very early days of the sport. Books included biographies, autobiographies, reminiscences and the like, some written almost at the time, some not done until years later, and I also picked up anything I could on motoring and that era (the 1920s) that I could find. And of course anything on the Victorian era helped, given that the Victorian epoch didn’t really end until the Great War, and you can argue it extended (in certain ways) even beyond that.

Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

I prefer the third person omniscient, but my one digital publisher (who sells mostly in the United States) repeatedly warns all their authors against this as their feedback from the public demonstrated this is not a popular voice, for some reason. It seems that the authorial voice telling you that a character is lying is unacceptable to the readers as they demand to know how anyone can know this, and hence the limited third person is preferred, wherein the impersonal narrator knows no more than the characters do… hence it may be suspected that a character is lying, but no more. Quite what the problem is with the concept of an omniscient author I do not know, but American readers just don’t seem to like it.

Having said that, Full Throttle is written by an editor writing “now” but looking back about one hundred years to the events “then”, so everything is being selected and filtered through his mind. Which makes for an interesting change.

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

I generally know the outline – where the story starts, where it ends, and a few points in between – but within those parameters I just let it develop wherever it wants to go. I could claim that unstructured free-flowing subconscious creativity is a primary requisite to creating a real, living world, but in truth I’m just too lazy to plot everything out beforehand.

What is your writing regime?

I’m out and about in my job, visiting different people in different places, so quite often my regime is nothing more than having an hour to spare between appointments and quickly getting the laptop out and doing what I can while sitting in the car. Finding a quiet side road is essential for this to work…

Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Full-Throttle-Jon-Hartless/dp/1786154579/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1504432789&sr=8-1&keywords=jon+hartless

Bio

Jon Hartless was born in the seventies, which is rather long time ago. Full Throttle is his first novel with a traditional publisher.

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Thanks for stopping by today, Jon.

Happy reading everyone,

Jennyxx

 

 


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