The Perfect Blend: Coffee and Kane

Currently Browsing: Books For Children

2017-2018: New stories and new adventures

Happy New Year!

Here we are again then- another brand new year. A list of potential new year’s resolutions considered- and dismissed- and a determination that this year will be very much better than the one just past are whizzing around our collective minds.

It has to be said that 2017 was an eventful year. My naughty side (Kay Jaybee) had a novella out in January 2017, and then began the process of re-editing all her old novels. Meanwhile, in May my Jenny Kane side saw her second Cornish romance, Abi’s Neighbour, hit the world.

One of the highlights of 2017 has to have been when the amazing Katie Fforde endorsed my work in contemporary fiction, by providing a fantastic quote to be printed on the cover of Abi’s Neighbour. Having been a Katie Fforde fan for many years, this truly was a magic moment for me.

The publication of Abi’s Neighbour, and it’s previously published sister novel, Abi’s House, led to me being invited to the Penzance Literary festival in July. I had so much fun! Not only did I get to sit on a panel with the lovely Liz Fenwick and Teresa Benison, but I was also invited to teach a Life-writing masterclass.

Teresa Beniton, Jenny Kane, Liz Fenwick

A major change came to my writing life in 2017 with the setting up of Imagine – a creative writing workshop business I set up with my friend and fellow author, Alison Knight.  Although we’ve only been in operation since last Spring, we’ve built up a regular following at our classes, and expansion across SW England (and beyond) is afoot.

Not only do we teach group workshops, but we provide one-one classes, and this March we are running our first writing retreat on Exmoor in the stunning Victorian manor of Northmoor. If you want to have a look at all our Imagine information you can find it here- 

This decision to set up a creative writing business was something I’d been considering for some time. In 2017, with so many publishers either failing or cutting back on their lines, it felt that the time was right to add another string to my bow…and talking of bowstrings…

I was extremely luck last year to be asked to write a couple of audio scripts for the brand new series of Robin of Sherwood. As a life long fan of the show, it was particularly wonderful to be able to put words into the mouths of my favourite characters!

Produced by Spiteful Puppet- these new audio tales- narrated by original cast embers- are available now!!  With luck- if enough copies are sold- then I’ll be thinking up some more Robin of Sherwood stories in the future!

photo by Kim Jones

Of course, you can’t have the ups without the downs, and 2017 saw the medieval crime novels I’d promised you, take a step back from publication. The publisher they were lined up with decided to streamline, and not take on any new historical fiction. This meant I had to find a new home for my Jennifer Ash work. While this was a little frustrating, I am delighted to say that a new home for my work has now been found!

Romancing Robin Hood, The Outlaw’s Ransom, and The Winter Outlaw will all be out in the near future- and I’m already hard at work writing Edward’s Outlaw, for release in the Winter. Watch out for a very special announcement about that later in the week…

And what of my contemporary women’s fiction? Well- my next Jenny Kane novel is complete- watch this space…


2017 saw many new adventures (I’d never written a script before in my life for a start!)- I wonder what new adventures 2018 holds?

I hope you all have a very happy and exciting 2018.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx


The Moon Lantern: Beautiful children’s picture book

My lovely friend and fellow author, Loreley Amiti, is with me today- and she has a very special offer for UK readers…

Hello everyone, and thanks for having me, Jenny! How is this usually busy season treating you all?

You are very welcome. The Christmas is chaos as usual hun – but good chaos!

It’s surely a very different December for me compared to two years ago when we moved to into a quirky house from the 1950’s. My daughter, who was only two years old at the time, was fascinated with the “secret cupboard” in her nursery. It didn’t matter how often my husband tried to explain to her that this small door in the wall was only for pipes or storage. She was convinced that there was a whole world inside the cupboard and it would lead somewhere beyond the darkness.

Just after we had moved in, my daughter got very poorly and ended up in hospital. It was a dark, windy night with a full moon, when we were lying in her hospital bed, looked out of the window and I told her the story of a little girl who moved house and discovered a secret cupboard in the wall. Inside there was a glittery tunnel that led to her old bedroom, where everything was safe and warm. It was the first draft of my children’s book “The Moon Lantern” – long before I even thought about publishing it one day.

The story has changed a little since. The little girl in the book moves house on the first night of Chanukah, the Jewish Festival of Lights. I felt the story needed more light and Chanukah is very festive in our house. In addition, every illustration is being photobombed by a hilariously grumpy cat, which isn’t impressed with anything at all.

This story has certainly brought a bit more magic into our house and I hope it will do the same for my youngest readers. As a special festive gift to you, I’m giving away signed copies for only £7, including postage (UK only, 2nd class). Only until the 10th December (or until I run out of stock).

Whatever you’re celebrating or if you’re simply enjoying the many festive lights, I hope you have a truly magical season!

Loreley Amiti xx


If you would like one of these beautiful books signed, and discounted, (and you live in the UK) then please leave a comment below with your email address. 


What a fantastic offer. I’ve read this lovely book- it’s beautiful.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

Pop-Up Bookshop in Tiverton: 28th Nov- 2nd Dec

Come along to the CreaTIVHub in Tiverton between 28th November and 2nd December for your chance to purchase books from local authors!

See you there!!

Jenny x


Guest Post from Tracey Norman: Thinking magic

Today I’m delighted to welcome fellow Exeter Author Association member and friend, Tracey Norman, to my site. Tracey is an actress, audio book narrator and writer…and there isn’t much she doesn’t know about witches. Why not grab a coffee and have a read…

Hi Jenny – and thank you for inviting me to talk about my writing!

I’ve written stories and poetry since I was very young, but it is only in the last couple of years that I have finally taken the plunge and decided to actually do something with my work. That all started in 2015, when I was invited to contribute a short story to Secret Invasion, a Lovecraftian-themed horror anthology which was being put together to raise money for MIND. I wasn’t hugely knowledgeable about Lovecraft’s work, so I decided to marry what I did know with my deep love of history. Thus, Dark Words was born.

The story is told from two perspectives, one modern-day and one from the 1930s, as an archaeologist works on a site on Dartmoor and accidentally uncovers not only a dark and horrific secret, but also why an entire village was drowned beneath a reservoir in the late 1930s. It takes as its inspiration the terrible mind control of “Asenath Waite” from Lovecraft’s The Thing on the Doorstep and the various artefacts which lie unseen and quiet beneath the waters of the Fernworthy Reservoir, not far from Chagford in Devon. Having spoken to a few archaeologists and curators about the submerged bridges, hut circles and boundary markers, I found that no one really knows much about the village – so in Dark Words, I have given it my own back story, as well as explaining why so much archaeology should be lost beneath the waters of a reservoir. Believe me, it was for the best….

The normally submerged, Fernworthy clapper and medieval pack bridge

I’m delighted to say that Dark Words has been accepted in another anthology, Fairy Tales and Folklore Reimagined, which is due out shortly from Between the Lines, a publisher in Minneapolis.

Something happened in 2016 which changed my perception of my writing forever. I accidentally became a playwright. In 2015, some friends and I had started Circle of Spears Productions, a professional audio production house and theatre company. Our initial focus had been on gathering authors and working with them to turn their books into audio. I thought it would be good if I could write something for us to perform for a summer season to build up the theatre side. Again, I wanted to blend my love of history into my writing, so I kicked a few ideas around and eventually hit upon the idea of preserving a moment in history by using the actual words spoken by those involved. I decided to try to use the words from a witch trial. This began a wonderful relationship with the fabulous team at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle, Cornwall, who were incredibly supportive and helpful right from the outset and who introduced me to the woman who has since become an obsession for me.

Gimmerton case paper

In Lyme Regis, Dorset, in 1687, a woman named Deanes Gimmerton went on trial for witchcraft. Hers is one of the most complete written records of an English witch trial. The papers consist of four pages of witness evidence from one of her ‘victims’, his parents and the mother of a second ‘victim’, who had actually died two years previously as a result of being ‘bewitched’. What fascinated me the most, however, was the fact that the accusation had arisen after Deanes shared a pipe of tobacco with her young victim. A simple, everyday action that she probably didn’t think twice about and yet which had such staggering consequences.

My play WITCH tells Deanes Gimmerton’s story using three fictitious characters – Margery Scrope, the accused, Thomas Latimer, her accuser and Sir William Tyrell, the landowner-magistrate who has to evaluate the accusation to see if it should proceed to trial. However, as there was so little of Deanes herself in the papers – no indication of a plea or a verdict – I needed to research more widely to build Margery’s character and she ultimately became an amalgamation of the experiences of Deanes and about seven other women.

Tyrell, Margery and Latimer

WITCH was originally intended to run for a summer season at the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic (and a more fitting venue I cannot imagine). However, over the course of the summer of 2016, something changed. At our second performance, we were asked if we used it as Theatre In Education and this resulted in our first school booking. Since its premiere in July 2016, we have performed WITCH 54 times and have dates booked for 2018 already. WITCH has become its own entity and that, I think, is because it tells not just Deanes’s story, but the story of all the women – and men – like her, who found themselves accused of witchcraft as a result of some ordinary, everyday action like sharing a pipe of tobacco.

I am delighted to have been given a contract by Troy Books in Cornwall to expand on the research I did for WITCH and write a book about it. I have been looking further into Deanes’s story to try to find out what happened to her, but she is frustratingly invisible in the historical record. As I write  this, I have just ordered a couple of documents from the National Archive, where I am spending the day on Friday of this week, to try to find some mention of Deanes in the legal records of 1687 and hopefully discover her fate. I am incredibly excited at the prospect of seeing the original court documents in the flesh, but as Deanes has been a huge part of my life for so long, I know that it will also be an incredibly emotional moment for me if the information I am seeking is actually in those documents.

So what leads on from witch trials? Well, for me, it was dragons. I have always been a rather eclectic writer and am totally unable to stick to just one subject or genre, so I followed WITCH by self-publishing a story I wrote for my daughter when she was about three years old. She is now ten, so it was about time something happened to this particular story! Sammy’s Saturday Job is the tale of a little dragon who desperately wants to be a firefighter, but when she finally gets the chance, everything goes wrong. She has to think creatively and persevere in order to put things right and save the day.

And now? Well, now it’s elves. And more dragons. The dragons haven’t appeared yet, but it’s high fantasy, so it won’t be long before they show up. At the moment, though, I am having some difficulty in persuading my elves to stick to the chapter plan. As someone who, in the past, just sat down and wrote with no plan anywhere in sight, the fact that I actually took the time to plot an entire book is nothing short of miraculous, so the elves really do need to get with the programme.

This is the first in a projected series of books about a young elf who turns her back on the life her influential family has mapped out for her and follows her as she travels the length of the Empire in which she lives, learning new skills and trying to find a place where she belongs. The central character is my gaming alter ego, who, again, has been with me for a long time and whose back story I really wanted to explore. However, when I was planning the first book, The Battle for Dragonheart, I realised that it was not her story that I needed to tell, but her mother’s. Then, as I started that story, I realised that it wasn’t her mother’s story, either – not entirely. A completely new character made herself known and Dragonheart, the first of The Fire-Eyes Chronicles, is her story.

I would have loved to be able to take part in this year’s NaNo, but unfortunately, I have to grab my writing time whenever and wherever I can in between everything else I do, so the chances of me reaching 50, 000 words in a month is, sadly, highly unlikely. However, I do have the advantage of being a member of the Exeter Authors Association, which provides me with plenty of opportunities to discuss my writing with other authors and the 2018 programme of events we have put together will certainly encourage me to ensure that Dragonheart is finished sooner rather than later. There are a number of books to plot in the Fire-Eyes series, as well as a bunch of rather interesting (non-sparkly) vampires waiting in the wings and periodically trying to grab my attention. It looks like 2018 will be a very busy year….

You can find out more about WITCH at

WITCH’s Twitter handle is @WITCHplayCoS

You can buy the audio play of WITCH from

You can also follow me on Facebook – @TraceyNormanWITCHbook and @TraceyNormanauthor

Secret Invasion is available as a print on demand, with all proceeds going to MIND –

Sammy’s Saturday Job is available as an ebook and a paperback –


Thank you ever so much Tracey- fabulous blog.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x






Interview with Mark Colenutt (a.k.a M.J.Colewood)

Today I’m delighted to welcome Mark Colenutt  co-author of The Last Treasure of Ancient England. You may be surprised to learn that M.J. Colewood is not one, but two authors: Mark Colenutt and Jacqueline Wood who joined forces to write this wonderful book. Today I am joined by Mark.

Why not make a cuppa and join us for a quick chat?

What inspired you to write your book?

At the age of eleven I went to a remote Devon boarding school which was steeped in history and legend so that got the imagination flowing. Over the years it grew into the story that you can read in the novel.

Do you model any of your characters after people you know? If so, do these people see themselves in your characters?

There is only one character that was a real person at the school. Sadly, he has since passed on but his nephew has read the book and said that I did his uncle justice by depicting him in the humane way that we all admired about him.

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

I had to swot up on my medieval history and iron out finer points over the Battle of Hastings and the Norman invasion to ensure it was accurate according to the historic record. It was also fortunate to benefit from the very latest discovery of the site of the Anglo-Saxons’ last stand following Hastings in north Devon.

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

It is imperative to plot the story before sitting down to write in the case of this novel as it is a treasure hunt and mystery, several mysteries in fact, all wrapped up into one. It is therefore essential to pace the revealing of the mysteries and discovery of the various clues. If not, the storyline cannot function and the reader would not only get lost but not be given a fair chance of working out the solutions and guessing the mysteries. That said, once the writing commences the story comes to life and unexpected twists and turns present themselves, which are enthusiastically embraced and pressed into service for the greater good of the plot and characters.

What is your writing regime?

As I hold down a full-time teaching job and an even fuller-time job looking after and a three-and-a-half-year old, basically my writing regime is whenever I can but predominantly in the early hours while all are asleep. So, I tend to rise around five or five thirty and get an hour and a half’s writing done and at the weekend that extends to a couple of hours on Saturday and Sunday mornings. It’s not ideal but it’s that or nothing and I don’t want the writing to inhibit family life during the waking hours.

What excites you the most about your book?

The fact that it is a real treasure hunt filled with clues, riddles, symbols and adventure that really does end in a revelation worth discovering. Few treasure hunts bring that to life and so that was the missive with this novel. If you have read a book or watched a film about a treasure hunt and were disappointed that the hunt was lackluster and the treasure not worth waiting for, then that is not the case in the Last Treasure of Ancient England. It is not only what excites me the most but also the novel’s greatest achievement.

If you were stranded on a desert island with three other people, fictional or real, who would they be and why?

For debate Christopher Hitchens, for companionship my daughter and for survival Bear Grylls. In the case of my last choice, there’s no point Einstein or Billy Connolly coming along to keep me company if I can’t even make a fire or shelter.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

The novel does in fact transcend generations. The older reader will be returned to their youth and enjoy not only the quick-paced storyline but also writing that immerses them in the past, in several pasts, teaching them what they were never told at school about the Norman invasion of England. For the younger reader it will capture their imagination as they are thrown onto the front lines at the Battle of Hastings and then later find themselves in the wilds of Devon hunting down the last treasure of ancient England, shadowed by dark forces. One reader has called it ‘the Da Vinci code in Devon’ and I can settle for that briefest of epithets, although the writing is of a higher standard, believe me.



Twitter @MJColewood

Facebook @chesterbentleymysteries


Born in Plymouth, Devon, I was educated at Blundell’s School and then at St. Mary’s College, Strawberry Hill, London. Upon completing my degree, I took off to Malaysia and New Zealand before returning one last time to the UK capital before I boarded the plane that would eventually carry me to my adopted homeland of Spain.

After a year and a half in the Spanish capital, I decided it was time to leave and seek colour and adventure in the Andalusian south. I settled in Seville, which had been a place that had fascinated me from a very young age and I was not disappointed. Eleven years later and it was time to move on again, this time the north of Spain.

By this time, I had completed two books and was engaged in a third, imagining a fourth and wishfully thinking of a fifth.

At present I live and work in Girona, a pleasant, laidback green part of the country which is ideally sandwiched between the Pyrenees, France, Barcelona and the Mediterranean.

Not surprisingly, I have produced a collection of books on Spain over the years in ‘The Hispanophile Series’, from literary criticism in the form of my Handbook to the ‘Legacy & Odyssey of Don Quixote’, to a city guide in Old Seville and even a book of photography and the first in the novel form of a paperback, hence the format: ‘photoback’, and entitled ‘A Vision of Seville’.

I have also written two history titles about the British Raj.


Many thanks Mark, great interview.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

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