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Birthday Perks

There are many advantages to having (yet another) birthday…This is what I’m telling myself as I wake up on my 45th birthday in a state of bewilderment that I’ve got this far through my life without anyone telling me I’m doing it wrong.

I will be honest- the idea of being 45 does not fill my with joy. On the other hand, not reaching 45 would have one hell of a lot worse, and so I’ll go with it- although it had better be a damn site better to me than 44 was!

A lot went wrong when I was 44 –  book deal promises died, publishers dissolved into the ether, writing promises were broken, and so on….On the other hand (again)…out of these professional ashes came Imagine… The creative writing business I am co-managing with the lovely Alison Knight.

It has already been so much fun- and we’ve had some fantastic adventures sourcing potential retreat venues, appearing on BBC Radio Wiltshire, teaching from Penzance to Chippenham, and lots of places in between. My highlight so far…

Carefully easing out the memories of a class of dementia sufferers who all want to get their life stories on paper before it’s too late. Humbling.

This last year has seen me embark upon my first literary tour, taking Abi’s Neighbour on a trip around the South West, ending up in Cornwall, where it is set, amongst the rocks of Penzance, and the yellow sands of Sennen.

Outside of my working life- my eldest daughter left compulsory education, has recently won a prize at the Royal Institution of Science for outstanding work in biology, and is about to head off to university. Meanwhile by youngest daughter has just won a scholarship to Maths school over the Summer, as well as an award for academic excellence in Statistics – not to mention a 2nd Dan Black Belt in mixed martial arts (Don’t mess with daughter number 2!!) I think you can say I’m a proud Mum.

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As if to offset the extra wrinkles and gradual general in-toning, a birthday does bring with it some perks.

I get to stay in bed and write this rather than go to the café to write this! I’m going to take part of the day off so that I can explore a little of the beautiful Exmoor countryside, and- it my nostrils don’t deceive me, and I’m not hallucinating the aroma coming from the kitchen, later there will be cake…

If you like a bit of a saucy read, I can also offer you a little pressie- in the shape of my Kay Jaybee novella, Wednesday on Thursday– which is FREE on Amazon this week (over 18’s ONLY)

So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to see if the postman has been, and to pull on my walking shoes. If I’m a good girl they might just walk me in the direction of a scone or two…

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 

 

 


Penzance Literary Festival

It’s good to be back where I belong; tucked away with a huge black Americano, toast and marmalade, after three days away as a contributor to the Penzance Literary Festival.

My adventure began last Thursday when I left Tiverton Parkway (only slightly delayed), and travelled the rail line to Cornwall. The scenery between Devon and Cornwall is stunning, and my plans to work as I went along were quickly scuppered in the face of the beauty of South West England.

As you’ll know if you read my previous blog, that coming down to Penzance was a big deal for me.  I hadn’t been there for 20 years, and I was unprepared for how emotional my arrival there would make me feel. More details about that here – http://wp.me/p75ZD9-WA

Acorn Theatre

Having found my guesthouse and left my luggage in the owner’s reliable hands, I took the advice of one of the literary festivals organisers, the lovely Teresa Benison, and headed to the Honey Pot Cafe. This was conveniently placed directly opposite the Acorn theatre – location of the panel I was due to appear on at three that afternoon.

I can’t recommend the Honey Pot Cafe enough- if you happen to be in Penzance at any time, make sure you pop in.

Anyway – the panel I sat on, with the illustrious novelist Liz Fenwick and YA novelist Christopher Vick, was enormous fun. Teresa hosted the panel, which was based on the theme of authors setting their books in Cornwall. I happily chatted about Abi’s House and Abi’s Neighbour, while Liz shared the background to her new novel, The Returning Tide (incredible story) and Chris talked about Storms, his new YA novel (a must read).

Teresa Beniton, Jenny Kane, Liz Fenwick

On the Friday I had no festival responsibilities. Instead I had my coffee shop blogger hat on. Travelling through the sheering heat (we were blessed with incredible weather) I moved around Penzance, sampling coffee and nibbling cake. I rather love my job sometimes! All the resulting blogs will appear on my Have Americano and Pen…Will Travel blog over the next few weeks. Check out the first one here.

As much as I enjoyed the panel I took part in, not to mention listening to the other visiting authors and poets (the poetry event on the Thursday night was amazing- and diverse! I’ve never heard poems about dissecting David Bowie before- unusual….), the highlight for me was the life writing class I taught on Saturday morning.

Based in the fascinating Morrab Library, within the Morrab Sub-Tropical Gardens, I was in my element. Surrounded by works of nonfiction that went back decades, 15 intrepid creative writing workshoppers came in. All smiling- some clearly nervous and wondering what on earth they’d let themselves in for- others clearly confident; every chair filled, and we were soon ready to launch into the world of fictionalising our lives and personal experiences.

Morrab Sub-Tropical Garden

I’m not sure which memory from that class will stay with me the longest.

The wonderful lady whose imagination decided that her ice cream didn’t want to be an ice cream, but wanted to be fruit pieces instead.

The terror so perfectly described by the gentleman whose memory of his first day at school involved lining up outside his classroom while his teacher flipped his cap off with a cane because it wasn’t quite straight.

The two friends who came in giggling, laughed all the way through the class, and left with even wider smiles- having produced some incredible writing along the way.

The Australian traveller who summed up how it feels to be a young woman trying to please the world via the medium of a scoop of Neapolitan ice cream…

They were a dream class to teach. So much talent- so much potential. I look forward to seeing some future short story competition winners and novelists amongst them.

Morrab Library

My time in Penzance was over all too quickly. I would like to thanks Teresa, Linda, Barbara, and all the organisers and stewards who made my visit so much fun. Special thanks must go to the lovely chap who wrestled with the projector and its screen for me at Morrab Library – and to the kind library staff for providing tea, coffee and cake for my workshoppers.

Thanks must also go to the Edge of the World Bookshop on Market Jew Street, Penzance. The friendly and wonderful folk who work there not only managed to order loads of my books, but kindly displayed them at both my events as well as displaying lots of them in their bookshop. There is a never ending thrill in knowing my books sit on bookshop shelves.

Penzance Literary Festival is styled as the country’s most friendly literary festival with good reason.

Roll on next year’s event.

 

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 

 

 


From Tiverton to Penzance- via Chippenham…

It’s almost the summer. In writer land that means the literary festival circuit is in full swing.

This year I’m embarking upon a mini-circuit of my own – starting in my home town of Tiverton, Devon this very week – before heading to Chippenham Literary Festival in Wiltshire on 30th June, and then turning towards the very South West of the country, and taking part in Cornwall’s Penzance Literary Festival.

It would be wonderful to meet lots of you lovely folk along the way. If you’d like to drop by and say hello, here is a run down of my schedule over the next few weeks.

On Friday 23rd of June I will be in Tiverton Library, Tiverton selling my latest novels, chatting to readers and writers, and signing any books that you wave in my direction (Make sure they’re mine- I can get a bit carried away with my biro!)

On Sunday 25th June I will be joined by my business partner, the lovely Alison Knight, to teach a writing workshop entitled ‘Who, What, Where , When.’ There are still places left- so feel free to book a seat now if you’d like to take part. (Alison also has a workshop on writing Young Adult fiction – do not miss it!!)  Tickets are available from www.tivertonlitfest.co.uk 

Then it’s off to Chippenham, Wiltshire for the second leg of my tour.

On the evening of Friday 30th June I’m joined by a star line up of romance authors, to chat about our work, writing in general, and share the joy – and peculiarities- of our working lives! There will be wine and cake – enough said!!

The following day, 1st July, Alison and I are teaching our ‘How to Write Romance’ workshop at the nearby Wiltshire History Centre. Details can be found here- www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk

Leg three of my exhibition, will find me on a train from Tiverton Parkway to Penzance Literary Festival in Cornwall on 6th July. This is quite a big deal for me as I haven’t been back to Penzance since the death of my beloved grandparents.  My father was born and raised in Penzance, but I have no family in the town at all now, and it is going to be strange experience indeed being there on my own.

On 6th July, between 3-4pm I am taking part in the Local Authors panel, talking about how Cornwall inspires fiction.

On 8th July, between 10am and 1pm, I will be teaching a Life Writing workshop for beginners and new writers to the genre.

Details of both events can be found here- http://www.pzlitfest.co.uk/speaker/jenny-kane/

On the 9th July I intend to sleep – lots!!

Abi’s Neighbour and I – for that is the novel I’m touring with- would be delighted to see you on our travels!

 

Get those tickets booked (at the Chippenham event tickets are on the door), and I’ll see you soon!

Happy travels,

Jenny xx


Tiverton Literary Festival: 22nd-25th June

I am proud to be able to announce that the third Tiverton Literary Festival is only a few days away!

Started in 2015 by myself, Susie Griggs and Kerstin Muggeridge – I am delighted to see the festival going from strength to strength.

After two years at the helm, Kerstin and I have taken a step back to attend our families and our books (well, both actually) and the festival is now in the capable hands of Rachel Gee, Susie Griggs and Caro Bushnell.

The new team have got a fantastic line up- you will not want to miss out.

Check out the website for the full line up-

Here are a few of the events on offer…

Thursday 22nd June

7.15pm – 8.30pm.

Tiverton Library. Tickets: £5

TivLitFest Launch Event: Jane Corry in conversation with BBC journalist Simon Hall
Sunday Times bestselling psychological thriller writer Jane Corry will talk about her hit My Husband’s Wife and new book Blood Sisters with BBC South West crime correspondent Simon Hall.

Friday 23rd June

All day

Pop-up book swap @ CreaTIV Hub, Fore Street.
Pre-loved give a book, take a book event brought to you by CAG Devon Sustainable Villages.

 10am – 12 midday

Tiverton Library. Free Admission.

Author Showcase
20 authors from all over the South West all in one place, including Tiverton’s own Jenny Kane. (Ohh– me!!)  Lots of different styles and genres to suit all tastes. Come and meet some local talent and buy their books!

 

1.00 – 3.00pm

CreaTIV Hub, Fore Street. Free Admission.

Book Chat & Signing: Frank Westworth and Tyrrel Francis
Meet the authors of the Killing Sisters crime series and local combat sports drama Blood, Sweat and Tears

 

2.00 – 3.30pm.

Tiverton Library. Tickets: £15

WORKSHOP: So You Want To Be A Writer? Cathie Hartigan & Margaret James
How to give yourself the best chance of success. Have you entered competitions but got nowhere? Are those rejection letters pilling up? Read your opening paragraphs at this informal session and find out how to make your work stand out from the crowd. Come away with bags of hints and tips on how to find the best route to publication for you. Award winning writers themselves, Margaret James and Cathie Hartigan have many years of experience as creative writing teachers and competition judges. Apart from their own successful novels, they are co-authors of the #1Best Selling The Creative Writing Student’s Handbook.

4.30 – 6pm.

Elsie May’s Cafe, Phoenix Lane.

 £7.50 per child.

Elsie May’s Magical Teatime Stories: Family Event
Magical storytelling event aimed at under 10s and their families, older children welcome too. Come in your best party clothes for interactive stories, munch on high tea, make party hats, and experience magical surprises. Perhaps a tiger will come to tea!

High teas also available for adults by arrangement.
Book via facebook.com/elsiemaystiverton or call 01884 235935

7.00 – 8.00pm.

Tiverton Library. Tickets: £5

Crime Night: Rebecca Tope, L V Hay and James D Mortain
From Cosy crime in the Cotswolds, the suspense of an unsolved death in Brighton and strange goings on in North Devon our panel has something to offer all crime fiction buffs.

Saturday 24th June

All day

Brendon Books @ CreaTIV Hub, Fore Street.

New books available from the TivLitFest Book Shop, pick up titles from participating authors.

All day

Pop-up book swap @ CreaTIV Hub, Fore Street.

Pre-loved give a book, take a book event brought to you by CAG Devon Sustainable Villages.

 All day

The Oak Room Café

will be open all day for refreshments and book chat. Coffee and a cake anyone?

Meet at 10.30am.

Tiverton Library. Free: no ticket required.

Secret Story Trail: Family event
Start the trail with Amy Sparkes reading Ellie’s Magic Wellies, then visit some secret locations for more tales from Loreley Amiti and Olli Tooley. The trail ends with Exmoor Ponies writer Victoria Eveleigh at The Oak Room from 11.45am. Come in wellies or fancy dress. Free face painting from Alannah and craft session. NB. The end of the trail is not suitable for buggies. All children to be accompanied by an adult.

Start the trail with Amy Sparkes reading Ellie’s Magic Wellies, then visit some secret locations for more tales from Loreley Amiti and Olli Tooley

Loreley Amiti

11.00am-1.00pm.

Tiverton Library. Tickets: £15.

WORKSHOP: Writing for Children – Breaking Through with Amy Sparkes
A workshop with successful children’s author Amy Sparkes whose work has been published by Scholastic, Egmont and HarperCollins.

2.00-3.30pm.

Tiverton Library. Tickets: £3

Dan Metcalf – Code Breakers Workshop (age 7-11 years): Family Event
Meet author Dan Metcalf, listen to him read one of his books from the Lottie Lipton Adventures series and try your hand at code-breaking . Great fun for children aged 7-11 years.

2.00-3.00pm.

Tiverton Castle.

Tickets: £5 including refreshments

Historical Anecdotes and Research
Conversations with M J Colewood about the Chester Bentley medieval mysteries and local historian Douglas Rice about ‘The Siege of Tiverton Castle’. Sorry no wheelchair access inside the castle.

3.45pm (approx. 1 hour).

Meet at Tiverton Castle.

Free – no ticket required.

Guided History Walk – Tiverton Civic Society
Historical walking tour. Learn about Tiverton’s merchants and wool and textile heritage. The walk will end at The Oak Room where you will have the opportunity to buy refreshments.

3.30-5.00pm.

The Oak Room. Tickets: £15.

WORKSHOP: Exploring the young adult market with Alison Knight.
The market for books written for young adults (12-18 year-olds) is growing, thanks to the popularity of authors like JK Rowling, Bella Forrest and Anthony Horowitz.  As well as creating fantasy worlds that have caught the imagination of millions of teenagers and adults alike, a wide range of YA fiction also tackles life problems head on, providing emotional support and growth for young people.  Author Alison Knight will lead a workshop looking at YA stories, with writing exercises for teens and adults who are interested in writing for this market. This session is suitable for beginners and experienced writers and anyone who wants to know more about the growing YA book market.  Bring along your favourite YA book to add to the discussion! Sorry no wheelchair access at The Oak Room.

4.30 – 6.00pm.

Elsie May’s Cafe, Phoenix Lane. 

£7.50 per child

Elsie May’s Magical Teatime Stories: Family Event
Magical storytelling event aimed at under 10s and their families, older children welcome too. Come in your best party clothes for interactive stories, munch on high tea, make party hats, and experience magical surprises. Perhaps a tiger will come to tea!

High teas also available for adults by arrangement.
Book via facebook.com/elsiemaystiverton or call 01884 235935

Judi Spiers and Christopher Biggins

7.00 – 10.30pm.

The Oak Room.

Tickets £10 (includes canapes).

TivLitFest Party with Christopher Biggins, Judi Spiers & Lucy English
Showbiz legend Christopher Biggins in conversation with Judi Piers, award winning performance poet Lucy English, acoustic vibes from local music acts. Join us at this fabulous festival fundraiser and mingle with other festival supporters. Licensed bar. Over 16s only please. Sorry no wheelchair access.

Sunday 25th June

12.30 – 2.30pm.

Tiverton Town Hall. Tickets: £15

WORKSHOP: Who, what, when, where! Jenny Kane & Alison Knight
Experienced novelists Alison Knight and Jenny Kane will help you to shape four of the most vital elements for any story; be it long or short. Characters, situation, time period, and location.  For beginners and those who wish to finesse their writing technique.

2.45 – 4.00pm.

Tiverton Town Hall. Tickets: £5

Female Author Panel
Exeter Novel Prize winner Su Bristow, #1 Bestselling writer Cathie Hartigan, Jan Ellis and Alison Knight. Listen to this lively panel of women writers talk about their work and books. Refreshments available from Gin & Jam WI.

4.30 – 6.00pm.

Elsie May’s Cafe, Phoenix Lane.

£7.50 per child.

Elsie May’s Magical Teatime Stories: Family Event
Magical storytelling event aimed at under 10s and their families, older children welcome too. Come in your best party clothes for interactive stories, munch on high tea, make party hats, and experience magical surprises. Perhaps a tiger will come to tea!
High teas also available for adults by arrangement.
Book via facebook.com/elsiemaystiverton or call 01884 235935

 5.00 – 6.30pm.

Tiverton Town Hall. Tickets: £5.

Maeve Haran and Liz Fenwick in conversation with Judi Spiers
This event is sponsored by Five Cedars Health & Beauty.
International Bestseller Maeve Haran and author of sweeping Cornish sagas Liz Fenwick will be in conversation with Judi Spiers, discussing their new books An Italian Holiday and The Returning Tide. Refreshments will be available from Gin & Jam WI.

7.30-9.00pm.

Tiverton Rugby Club.

£9 in advance, £10 on the door.

Johnny Kingdom’s West Country Tales: Festival Finale
An evening with man of Exmoor Johnny Kingdom. Watch clips from his wildlife filming and listen to some West Country Tales from the very entertaining and much loved Johnny. You will also have to opportunity to buy his books, DVDs and prints and chat to the man himself! Licensed bar. Free Parking.

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All further details are on the Tiv Lit website. www.tivertonlitfest.co.uk

You can order tickets online or you can buy tickets in person from Tiverton Library or Reapers Health Food shop on Bampton Street, Tiverton.

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See you there!!

Jenny xx


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

 


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