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The importance of book reviews

I have recently been blessed with some lovely reviews for my latest novel, Abi’s Neighbour.

Reviews are the only way an author can tell if he or she is ‘hitting the spot’ or not. Obviously high book sales can tell you if your book is successful – but sale figures can do no more than reflect how good your marketing is. It is feedback from your readership that tells you if your stories are actually working.

If you wrote a thriller- did it thrill?

If you wrote a romance- did it melt the heart?

If you wrote a horror- did it give your reader nightmares?

Obviously this set of questions is simplistic, but the point is- authors need to know – and way to tell them is via reviews.

Good reviews improve our standing and our professional reputations. They improve our ratings on Amazon and equivalent book selling platforms. The more good reviews an author has, the better their sales will become.

I’m not saying that you should only give good reviews. If a book has disappointed, let you down and so on, then some constructive criticism can help an author- even though it might be difficult to swallow sometimes!

What you should not do is give a poor review because…

… of poor delivery packaging (nothing to do with the author)

…the book isn’t the one you meant to purchase- (you pressed the buy button)

…you didn’t like the cover after all, so you didn’t bother reading the book etc etc

My favourite 1 star review was for Another Cup of Coffee – it was complaining about all the sex in it.

This confused me. There is a suggestion that sex might happen on two occasions within that 97,000 word book. There is no actual sex.  I dread to think what might have happened if that reviewer had accidentally purchased one of my Kay Jaybee books!!!

If you enjoy a book – PLEASE review it.

It takes up to a year to write a book for you to read in a matter of days. Any positive feedback you can give helps us! A lot.

It’s tough in the world of publishing right now. We need to help each other to keep those books coming.

Whether you leave a review on the Amazons, WHSmith, Waterstones, or the brilliant Goodreads – every single one helps.

Every single one.

And with that…I have some reviews to write for some books I’ve recently enjoyed!

Thanks you,

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 


Imagine@Hazelwood: A heavenly writing environment

The wonderful Alison Knight and myself have been very busy since we launched our creative writing business, Imagine.

This week we were welcomed to the beautiful Hazelwood Spa, in the idyllic Wiltshire village of Sutton Benger, to meet and greet clients who after a well earned pedicure or massage, might like to come along to a creative writing class.

We were made so welcome by owner and manageress Sam at the spa’s recent open evening. The friendly staff kindly let Alison take over a treatment room so we could show off our books, explain how our classes work, and eat some delicious canapes. (It’s a tough job sometimes!)

If you would like to sign up for an Imagine@Hazelwood creative writing workshop you don’t have to be a spa client- although once you’ve seen the place I defy you not to want to come back for a little something!

The classes are going to run by Alison on the second Saturday of every month. Booking is now open!

IMAGINE@HAZELWOOD WORKSHOPS

June 10           Introduction to creative writing – what are your hopes for your writing?  Looking at styles, genres, opportunities and possibilities

July 8               Who will you write about? Developing characters, writing about real people.

August 12       Where is story happening? Looking at settings – using real places in your story and creating imaginary worlds.

Sept 9             When does the action take place – past, present or future?  Looking at time – historical, contemporary, speculative (future) and time-travel.

All workshops run from 3-5pm at Hazelwood Beauty Spa, Seagry Road, Sutton Benger, SN15 4RX. Each session costs £20.  To book your place, call the spa at 01249 720964.

After September 9th new class details will be added. Just keep your eye on our web site- https://www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk/news

You can sign up to one class, just a few, or all of them. Either way, with Alison Knight at the helm, I can guarantee you’ll learn a lot, laugh a lot, and have a fun and informative few hours in beautiful surroundings.

Happy writing,

Jenny x

 

 

 

 


Imagine: creative writing courses

Last month my lovely friend Alison Knight and myself launched our own business!

As you can imagine (pun intended!), it has taken a lot of time and organisation to get our new enterprise up and running.

It has already proved to be worth every second. With a number of classes completed and many more already timetabled to take place, we are loving get out and about across the UK.

Our next two public workshops are now open for booking-

 

If you’d like more details about what we offer- or if you’d like to book us to host a workshop at your venue, or arrange a one to one lesson, then check out our web site at www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk or email Alison and myself via imaginecreativewriting@gmail.com

Keep your eyes open for news about a workshop at the forthcoming Tiverton Literary Festival as well!

I’m particularly looking forward to a private life writing class I have at the end of May in a local retirement home. After all, everyone has a story to tell, and it’s never too late to let your book writing dreams come true.

Happy writing everyone,

Jenny x


End of March madness from Nell Peters

It’s that time again…I’m handing over to Nell Peters for her end of the month round up. Hope you’ve got a cuppa on standby…

Over to you Nell…

Oh hi! It’s you again! Nothing better to do? Well, you’d better come in, I suppose – but you’ll have to make your own tea, because I’m involved in matters of national importance. Not all of that is true …

So, did March come in like a lion, go out like a lamb? Rather depends upon where you live, I imagine. The saying is obviously based on northern hemisphere weather variance at this time of year, originating from times when the land dominated peoples’ lives and bad weather could trigger food shortages, putting whole communities at risk. It was believed that bad spirits could affect the weather adversely, and so everyone watched their Ps and Qs, trying not to upset the little devils.

March can be a changeable month, in which we experience a huge range of temperatures and conditions, but it’s also a month that hints at spring turning to summer and better weather to come. I’m always thrilled to see daffs in Tesco, with at least the promise of those and other bulbs’ brave green shoots raising their tips above the parapet of soil, where they’ve snoozed over winter. Lambs frolic in lush green fields (cue ooh-ah sounds, or maybe ooh-baa?) and baby birds hatch in their nests, beaks ever-open demanding food from their poor overworked/underpaid mothers. All in all, a hopeful time of year, especially after the vernal (spring) equinox – Monday 20th in 2017. Apart from lion/lamb lore, lesser-known predictions are: Dry March and a wet May? Fill barns and bays with corn and hay. Or: As it rains in March so it rains in June. Then we have: March winds and April showers? Bring forth May flowers. Genius.

There are two saints’ days in March; David (1st) and Patrick (17th), plus Mothering Sunday/Mother’s Day (26th in the UK 2017, the fourth Sunday in Lent) – and, occasionally, Easter; but not this year. Far more interesting though are National Peanut Butter Day and National Pig Day (perhaps referring to those who scoff more than their fair share of peanut butter?), celebrated on March 1st in the USA – where else? – and they follow that up with National Crème Pie Day (3rd), National Peanut Cluster Day (8th), National Crab Meat Day and National Meatball Day (9th), then National Blueberry Popover Day on the 10th. After that, there’s a bit of a digestion-resting lull, when any self-respecting American books on SAS (Scandinavian Airlines, not the scary military lot) and nips over to Sweden for Waffle Day on the 25th.  Then it’s back home to wash down all that junk food on the 27th, National Whiskey Day. Good grief, I have enough trouble keeping up with all the family birthdays, let alone anything else!

Apart from being the third month of the year in both Julian (who he?) and Gregorian calendars, March is a Fenland market town and civil parish in the Isle of Ely area of Cambridgeshire, situated on the old course of the River Nene. It was the county town of the Isle of Ely (which was a separate administrative county from 1889 to 1965) and is now the administrative centre of Fenland District Council. Don’t say I don’t tell you everything you need to know to get on in life.

In the nineteenth century, March grew through becoming an important railway centre and like many Fenland towns, it was once a Billy-no-mates island, surrounded by marshes – the second largest in the Great Level. As the land drained, the town prospered as a minor port, a trading and religious centre – but now it’s a market town, administrative and railway centre and a popular port of call for those messing about on the river in pleasure boats.

This day in 1596, René Descartes was born in La Haye en Touraine – now Descartes, Indre-et-Loire, France – how neat to have the town where you were born re-named after you! (I wonder if Wimbledon would do the same for me?) Though every schoolboy could probably quote Descartes’ observation, ‘Cogito ergo sum’ – ‘I think, therefore I am’ – the ‘Father of Modern Philosophy’ also said: ‘It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.’ Plus: ‘The reading of all good books is like a conversation with the finest minds of past centuries.’ And: ‘If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.’ Descartes was certainly no slacker in the fields of mathematics and science, either – a real Smarty Pants.

Sharing his birthday, we have German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685), the eighth and youngest child born into a musical family, as was Austrian, Franz Joseph Haydn (1732). Quite a few composers were born on this day, but since Feb’s blog leant heavily into the musical side of things, let’s move on to a couple of chemists. First up, German Robert Wilhelm Eberhard von Bunsen (1811) – absolutely no prizes for guessing he invented the Bunsen burner – and sporran-wearer Archibald Scott Couper in 1831. Archie came up with an early theory of chemical structure and bonding, clever chap.

American actor (George) Richard Chamberlain (1934) appeared in Dr Kildare (which even I would struggle to remember), mini-series Shogun in 1980 and The Thorn Birds in 1983. I wonder if he met Japanese actor Dokumamushi Sandayu (1936, and don’t ask me what he’s been in!) while filming Shogun, assuming at least some of it was shot on location. Another American, Christopher Walken, was Ronald Christopher Walken at his birth in 1943, and is perhaps best known for blowing his brains out while playing Russian roulette in the film The Deer Hunter. Don’t try that at home.

Fans of the Partridge Family may recognise the name of actress/singer Shirley Jones, who is eighty-three today. In the musical sitcom, she played David Cassidy’s mother and is in real life his stepmother, having been the second wife of actor/singer/director, the late Jack Cassidy. Cassidy Snr was bipolar (manic depressive), an alcoholic and bisexual – quite a combination. He sadly died aged only forty-nine, when he nodded off on a sofa after a boozy night out and set light to it with a cigarette.

David C has had his own, well-documented trials with alcoholism and more than one trip to rehab. But before that and the more recent shocking revelation that he is suffering from dementia, he spent many years, first as a teen idol and then a popular singer/actor who managed to evolve from child star to adult entertainer. I was never a fan of the young DC, but a friend, author/journo Allison Pearson most certainly was – with bells on. Her second novel, I Think I Love You (I wonder where she got the title from?)  is written in two parts, the first about two young girls, Petra and Sharon, living in 1970s South Wales. Their lives revolve around their shared crush, David Cassidy, and so to a certain extent the story is autobiographical.

The book – I believe the only one ever printed with my (real) name included in the Acknowledgements – was launched in June 2010 and the OH and I toddled along to Cambridge for a lavish party, to join a huge number of people gathered under the marquee to be fed, watered and entertained – I rather doubt I could fill the garden shed. But the road to finished MS was a very rocky one for Allison (and everyone who knew her!) Amongst other things, Miramax threatened to sue over delayed delivery (it was due in 2005, which is impressively late in anyone’s book!) and her agent, Pat Kavanagh, tragically died of a brain tumour. Incidentally, since we’re a bit low in the unusual names department this month, can I just mention that Allison was born Judith Allison Lobbett … Pearson comes from her ex-husband, Simon Pearson.

Right. What else? Anyone interested in knowing that on this day in 1996 actor and director Clinton (aka Clint) Eastwood (then 65) married news anchor Dina Ruiz (30) in Las Vegas – that’s what you call an age gap! The marriage lasted until 2014 – eons by Hollywood standards. Clint was named after his father – imagine the senior version being asked his name, ‘Clint Eastwood.’ ‘Yeah right, very funny buddy – now what’s your real name?’

Nipping forward to 2011, Italian Canadian singer Michael Bublé (my auto-correct keeps insisting that should be Bubble – I do see its point) aged 35, tied the knot with actress and model Luisana Lopilato (23) in Buenos Aires. Not such a happy day one year before though, when Dawson’s Creek actor, James Van Der Beek (32) and actress Heather Ann McComb (33) divorced after almost seven years – an almost-itch. At least we’ve collected a few more contenders for the dodgy name competition – my money is on Ms Lopilato so far. Has a nice ring to it.

Historically on 31st March, in 1657 English Parliament made the Humble Petition to Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell and offered him the crown, which he declined. Gold not his colour, perhaps. Quebec and Montreal were incorporated (1831), and keeping a tenuous French connection, in 1889 the Eiffel Tower – designed by engineer and architect Gustave Eiffel – officially opened in Paris. It was built as a gateway to the Exposition Universelle, and at 300m high retained the record for the tallest man-made structure for 41 years. The tower usurped the Washington Monument for the title and was itself knocked from the perch when the Chrysler Building in New York City was finished in 1930.

In 1903, a dude called Richard Pearse flew a monoplane several hundred yards in Waitohi, New Zealand. The plane resembled a modern-day micro light and witness accounts controversially suggested he flew before the Wright brothers took off into the wide blue yonder – claims which were subsequently discounted. Fast forward eleven years and the bi-planes flown in WWI were not a great deal more substantial than these pioneering aircraft.

My paternal great grandmother, Rose, was born in Kingston upon Thames workhouse in 1876 – as was her mother (also Rose) before her. It’s almost impossible to comprehend the levels of poverty and deprivation they would have endured in those dark, patriarchal days of extreme inequality during the Victorian era. (There is a point here, loosely connecting Richard Pearse and my ancestors – I promise. Bear with me. Or bare with me, if you prefer; I won’t look.) Younger Rose must have been made of pretty stern stuff, because she pulled herself up by the bootstraps and married a wealthy landowner – way da go, Rose! That level of social mobility was almost unheard of then. One of their sons, my grandfather Wilfred, lied about his age to join up as a pilot with the Royal Flying Corps, twenty days before his seventeenth birthday in August 1914. (Got there in the end!)

There are quite a few anecdotes surrounding Wilfred’s flying career – one of my favourites is when he formed the airborne escort for the King of Belgium. Inevitably, they came under attack from German aircraft and once Wilfred had run out of ammo, he soared above the enemy plane and threw his toolbox down on the poor pilot, who – if he didn’t die of heart failure – may have had a bit of a headache thereafter. Apparently, there was no official recognition of his quick-witted act of bravery – not even a new toolbox. My grandmother once told me that when Wilfred asked her out before the war, she turned him down flat because he looked too young. It seems that his service years aged him a little (unsurprisingly!) because they got together immediately upon his return. Lucky for me.

Now it’s time for me to fly (so sorry!) Thanks once again for having me, Jenny – now stop eating those hot cross buns! A moment on the lips …

Toodles.

NP

Author.to/NellPeters

***

Another triumph Nell – thank you so much!!

(As if I’d over eat Hot Cross Buns…hides crumbs quickly…)

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x 


Mother’s Day: Quick Gift Guide

On March 26th Mothering Sunday is celebrated here in the UK.

If you fancy a change from buying your Mum a bunch of flowers, how about treating her to something to read while she puts her feet up and you cook her dinner? (Well, it’s just a thought!!)

Here’s a few quick and easy suggestions to help things along.

COSY COFFEE TIME READS

Another Cup of Coffee

Another Cup of Coffee - New cover 2015

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 got completely 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 a bucked-sized cup of coffee, as she goes forth to lay the ghost of first love to rest…

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Another-Cup-Coffee-Jenny-Kane/dp/1783751126/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377605533&sr=8-1&keywords=another+cup+of+coffee

Amazon US – http://www.amazon.com/Another-Cup-Coffee-Jenny-Kane/dp/1783751126/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377605667&sr=8-1&keywords=another+cup+of+coffee+jenny+kane

Romancing Robin Hood

 RRH- new 2015

Dr Grace Harper has loved the stories of Robin Hood ever since she first saw them on TV as a girl. Now, with her fortieth birthday just around the corner, she’s a successful academic in Medieval History, with a tenured position at a top university.

But Grace is in a bit of a rut. She’s supposed to be writing a textbook on a real-life medieval gang of high-class criminals – the Folvilles – but she keeps being drawn into the world of the novel she’s secretly writing – a novel which entwines the Folvilles with her long-time love of Robin Hood – and a feisty young girl named Mathilda, who is the key to a medieval mystery…

Meanwhile, Grace’s best friend Daisy – who’s as keen on animals as Grace is on the Merry Men – is unexpectedly getting married, and a reluctant Grace is press-ganged into being her bridesmaid. As Grace sees Daisy’s new-found happiness, she starts to re-evaluate her own life. Is her devotion to a man who may or may not have lived hundreds of years ago really a substitute for a real-life hero of her own? It doesn’t get any easier when she meets Dr Robert Franks – a rival academic who Grace is determined to dislike but finds herself being increasingly drawn to… 

Amazon.com- http://www.amazon.com/Romancing-Robin-Hood-love-story-ebook/dp/B00M4838S2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409936409&sr=8-1&keywords=romancing+robin+hood

Amazon UK- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Romancing-Robin-Hood-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B00M4838S2/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1407428558&sr=8-1 

Abi’s House

abis-house-new-cover

Newly widowed and barely thirty, Abi Carter is desperate to escape the Stepford Wives lifestyle that Luke, her late husband, had been so keen for her to live. Abi decides to fulfil a lifelong dream. As a child on holiday in a Cornwall she fell in love with a cottage – the prophetically named Abbey’s House. Now she is going to see if she can find the place again, relive the happy memories …maybe even buy a place of her own nearby? On impulse Abi sets off to Cornwall, where a chance meeting in a village pub brings new friends Beth and Max into her life. Beth, like Abi, has a life-changing decision to make. Max, Beth’s best mate, soon helps Abi track down the house of her dreams …but things aren’t quite that simple. There’s the complicated life Abi left behind, including her late husband’s brother, Simon – a man with more than friendship on his mind … Will Abi’s house remain a dream, or will the bricks and mortar become a reality?

***
HISTORICAL FICTION as Jennifer Ash
outlaws-ransom-final
A historical novella by Jennifer Ash, set in the lawless English countryside during the 1300s.
When craftsman’s daughter Mathilda falls foul of the infamous Folville brothers, a local family who run the district as their personal kingdom, her life is in danger…but surely not all the stories about the Folvilles are true…are they?
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Outlaws-Ransom-Jennifer-Ash-ebook/dp/B01LZDKPQM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1475660907&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Outlaw%27s+Ransom+Jennifer+Ash 
https://www.amazon.com/Outlaws-Ransom-Jennifer-Ash-ebook/dp/B01LZDKPQM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1475660990&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Outlaw%27s+Ransom+Jennifer+Ash
***
I hope that’s given you a few ideas. If you want more, then just check out my Amazon author page – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jenny-Kane/e/B00HYZIL1E/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
Happy last minute gift buying!
Jenny x

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