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Guest Post from Sonja Price: A Flight of Fancy

I’m delighted to welcome fellow novelist Sonja Price to my site today to talk about her amazing novel, The Giants Look Down.

Why not grab a cuppa, put your feet up for five minutes, and have a read.

Over to you Sonja…                              

I’ve never been to Kashmir, but I’ve based my novel THE GIANTS LOOK DOWN there. What a cheek you may say! But writers go where their imaginations take them and once mine had been ignited – by a report on the car radio of the Great Earthquake of 2005- I couldn’t put the spirit back in the bottle. I discovered that the Vale of Kashmir is breathtakingly beautiful. Some of the highest mountains in the world cradle a valley lush in sycamore woods and fields of saffron interspersed with a necklace of lakes. A spectacular place to set a story, it also boasts a rich history of maharajas, princes and princesses. But this paradise has been spoilt by strife since the mostly Muslim Vale of Kashmir chose to become part of its Hindu neighbour, India. Two wars have been fought over it and India and Pakistan still stand their ground on a glacier at the highest battlefield of the world, where avalanches claim more lives than armed conflict.

There must be a story in there somewhere, I thought! What would happen if a 10-year-old Hindu girl called Jaya decided to become a doctor much to chagrin of her mother and the patriarchal society of 1960s Kashmir? My aim was solely to entertain and amuse the reader.  I did not want to take sides yet at the same time I tried to depict the situation as sensitively and genuinely as possible and drawing attention to the plight of Kashmiris could surely not be a bad thing in itself, I thought.

I wanted to show Jaya growing up and negotiating the rapids of love when she falls for the son of the family she later stays with in Scotland. Does she have to choose between dashing Alastair, a student of architecture and lover of jazz music, and her dream of becoming a doctor and returning to Kashmir to build a clinic far up in the mountains? Well you’ll just have to read the book to find out!

Going to Kashmir, if only in my mind, albeit with the help of online resources, picture books and interviews with Indians, has been a wonderful journey that started in my car!

Blurb: At the age of 10, Jaya Vaidya decides to follow in her father’s footsteps and become a doctor against her mother’s wishes and all that the patriarchal community of 1906s Kashmir expects of her. When disaster strikes, Jaya is faced with obstacles as insurmountable as the Himalayas. She is transplanted to Scotland, where she has to navigate both a foreign culture and the rapids of love. Just how far will she go to achieve her dream? (Published by Robert Hale, 2016)

Find a copy of THE GIANTS LOOK DOWN here:

AMAZON UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Giants-Look-Down-Sonja-Price/dp/0719819954

Author Bio: I live in Somerset but am always hopping on and off planes because I teach English at Jena University in Germany. I studied at the University of East Anglia and completed a PhD in English Literature. I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and my short stories have appeared in Stories For Homes, the Shelter Anthology of Short Stories and In these Tangles, Beauty Lies, an anthology in aid of the Beanstalk Trust for children with reading difficulties. My debut novel The Giants Look Down came out in 2016 and made me a finalist for the Joan Hessayon Award.

Links

Website:                      www.sonja-price.com

Twitter:                       @PriceSonja

Facebook:                   Sonja Price Author

You can find THE GIANTS LOOK DOWN as a paperback or e-book on:

AMAZON UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Giants-Look-Down-Sonja-Price/dp/0719819954

Many thanks Sonja, for a brilliant blog.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x


Abi’s House: Cornish Romance

My Cornish novel, Abi’s House, was never meant to be a romance. I hadn’t noticed it was until after I’d written it. Yet, within this tale of friendship and self discovery there lies a good old fashioned love story. 

Abi's House_edited-1

Here’s a reminder of the Abi’s House blurb!!

Newly widowed at barely thirty, Abi Carter is desperate to escape the Stepford Wives-style life 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 as a child 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, is new to the village. He 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?

Check this out this video about Abi’s House!!-  YouTube link https://youtu.be/VAumWAqsp58

So if you love the Cornish countryside, a touch of romance, a story with twists and turns- and a cute Labrador…then this is the book for you!

You can buy Abi’s House from all good bookshops and via online retailers, including…

Kindle

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Abis-House-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B00UVPPWO8/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1426711175&sr=1-1&keywords=Abi%27s+House+Jenny+Kane

http://www.amazon.com/Abis-House-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B00UVPPWO8/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426711253&sr=1-2&keywords=Abi%27s+House+Jenny+Kane

Paperback

http://www.amazon.com/Abis-House-Jenny-Kane/dp/1783753285/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426711253&sr=1-1&keywords=Abi%27s+House+Jenny+Kane

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Abis-House-Jenny-Kane/dp/1783753285/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1426711343&sr=1-1&keywords=Abi%27s+House+Jenny+Kane

The sequel to Abi’s House, Abi’s Neighbour, is also contains a love story- but this time it’s the older generation having all the fun!

Here’s the blurb to Abi’s Neighbour- 

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.

***

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

 


Blowing the Dust Off: Caroline Dunford’s Playing for Love

It’s Day 10! The final day of my ‘Blowing the Dust Off’ series. Today Caroline Dunford is sharing the inspiration behind her novel, Playing for Love.

Grab a cuppa and enjoy…

 

Inside the Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe

The Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe is well underway. Everywhere buildings are adorned in colourfully dressings, psychedelic-coloured billboards and hundreds of careful designed posters promoting what seems like an infinite number of shows. Tourists compete for pavement space with performers wearing garish wigs, riding unicycles, juggling livestock and handing out flyers for their unique greatest spectacle ever. It’s possible to walk through the city centre with some ease if you’re up early enough. Most of the throngs are then interred in the many pop-up coffee shops depleting the planet of bacon.

There’s a lot of excitement in the air, but old hands know that not of it is justified. The festival can be the place where inspirations and aspirations (to be great actors, playwrights and comedians) famously come to die. A kind of graveyard of dreams if you like. But every year a few shining stars do rise out of the mishmash of cultural fodder and go on to be household names.

As an Edinburgh resident, I have mixed feelings about this time of year. I used to review for some of the Scottish Newspapers and remember with some fondness when I’d see five shows a day and then send in copy at 3am for the morning edition. But every year the Festival and Fringe has grown larger. Sometimes we even have a Fringe to the Fringe. The latter being the idea of bringing back cheap shows that you would try on a whim. This is where we force feed a heavy dose of cynicism. The average ticket at the Fringe will leave you with a battered wallet, while a Festival show will typically send your wallet to the ICU. The city literally doubles in population during the festival weeks and with that comes an inevitable degree of overcrowding and traffic jams.

The Festival and Fringe are victims of their own successes. People come from further and further away, prepared to spend more and more, to get the real Edinburgh atmosphere. There are still the small student productions out at the most far flung edges of the city, but realistically these are lucky if the audience outnumbers the cast.

The heart of the Festival and Fringe remains, if you know where to look. It’s the one time of year when you can see a naked man in a see-through mac with a parrot on his head and people will throw money at him, rather than escort him off to the local police station. There is still a magical madness hidden among the profiteering and consumerism. And it’s in all this bustling mayhem I set Playing for Love, about a young, reclusive writer, turned playwright, who comes to the Edinburgh Fringe to see her play staged and discovers this madcap world. Nothing is quite what it seems and even the most ridiculous explanations are far from the real truth. It’s funny. It’s sad. And it’s romantic. Rather like Edinburgh itself at this time of year.

So, if you can’t make it to Edinburgh, or you are here and want a bit of an insider’s (fictional) guide then you can buy it in eBook in paperback at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Playing-Love-Warm-hearted-beautiful-Edinburgh-ebook/dp/B011OG0L3O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1502641697&sr=8-1&keywords=caroline+dunford+playing+for+love

 My website: https://caroline-dunford.squarespace.com/

My Twitter: https://twitter.com/verdandiweaves?lang=en

 

Bio:

My earliest memories are of wanting to be a writer. I found that through story I can explore the world around me and understand the thoughts and journeys of others. There is an old adage about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes to appreciate their choices. As a writer, I spend a lot of time walking in someone else’s shoes (figuratively, of course). 

I’m content when writing. Occasionally, I get frustrated when my characters refuse to conform to a carefully crafted plot, but in general sitting at my keyboard is where I feel most at home. In truth, I seldom stop thinking about stories, so when I sit down to write I tend to do so very quickly. On average, I produce between 300,000 and 400,000 words a year.

I’m unusual in that I write across a wide range of genres from historical crime to contemporary thrillers to YA science fiction. I’ve also written a number of plays that have been produced, some of which have toured internationally, and I’m exploring audio and screen dramas. Switching from prose to script is no mean feat but it’s refreshing and helps me think about telling stories in new ways.

***

Many thanks Caroline. A great way to round off our look at novels from 10 different author’s creative archives.

Happy reading everyone- and thanks for joining in this blogging adventure.

Jenny xx

 


Blowing the Dust Off: Richard Gould’s A Street Cafe Named Desire

It’s Day 9 of my ‘Blowing the Dust Off’ series of blogs. Today I’m welcoming the lovely Richard Gould to my place to talk about his romance, A Street Café Named Desire.

Grab a cuppa and enjoy…

Why did I write this book?

Although on the surface not a philosophical question, there are in fact several deep levels of answer.

The starting point for the novel was a school reunion for ex-students from an international school I’d taught in. It had been a close community and like many other teachers, I’d kept in touch. I joined them for a weekend in Henley – and this is where the story begins.

It struck me that some of the participants were virtually unchanged over the twenty-five or so years since being at school – looks and personalities – while others were unrecognisable. I decided to feature two (entirely fictional, or are they?) protagonists who had not been part of the social set when young. What had their random journeys through life been like and what would happen now that they had met again?

I’m male, I guess the photo is a giveaway.

Being male, by the law of averages, I shouldn’t be writing Romance, but a fellow author persuaded me that my writing about relationships constituted Romance. She suggested I join the Romantic Novelists’ Association and I did as ordered and signed up for the New Writers’ Scheme. I’d already self-published with a fair bit of e-book success, (it was so much easier five or so years ago!), but the positive feedback I got from the NWS reviewer encouraged me to renew my search for a publisher. Accent Press took me on and A Street Café Named Desire was my first novel with them.

Is my novel within the Romance genre? I concede that it is, though I did have many distraught days and sleepless nights after it was put into a ‘Chick Lit Lovers Bundle’. As is the case for most of my writing, in A Street Café Named Desire I flip the ‘traditional’ Romance plot by having an insecure male seeking a relationship with an alpha female, his path fraught with all the difficulties typically thrust upon the female within this genre. Most of my readers are female and the feedback I’ve received indicates that a male take on relationships is both evident and refreshing.

Who am I? OK, so now we are getting mainstream philosophical. Several agents suggested I use a pseudonym. I’ve declined the offer, but by using ‘R J’ instead of ‘Richard’ in my author name I’m sort of concealing gender – it’s my cowardly compromise.

Didn’t someone famous once say something like what’s in a name? I thought long and hard about using A Street Café Named Desire for the title, as did my publisher. At the start of the novel, David, the male protagonist, is stuck in a dull accountancy job that he dislikes intensely. His dream is to open an arts café. His second dream is to have a relationship with Bridget, the alpha female. Café + Desire seemed to fit, as did paying homage to the steamy play.

The Amazon link to A Street Café Named Desire is here: http://Mybook.to/streetcafe and it’s priced at only £0.99/$0.99 during the week of Jenny’s ‘Blowing the Dust Off’ blog tour.

A Street Café Named Desire – the blurb

A man’s quest for two dreams – a relationship with the gorgeous Bridget and opening an arts café.
David meets Bridget at a twenty-five year school reunion and instantly develops a teenagesque passion for her. There’s a juggernaut-load of baggage to overcome ahead of having any chance of a relationship – a demanding soon to be ex-wife, a tyrannical new boss, an accountancy job he detests, stroppy teenage children, and encounters with the police. There’s a further distraction because his plan to quit his job and set up an arts café is proving to be rather more challenging than anticipated.

One of my favourite reviews:

“This is such a gentle and easy book to read, it is almost surprising the impact and resonance it has long after finishing it. The story is a familiar one, but it is told with humour, humility and humanity and at the end I was left feeling hopeful and satisfied.”

And one of my favourites about me:

“R.J. Gould’s voice is a unique one, not only because he is a man writing romance and contemporary fiction. This author offers readers a fantastic insight into the otherwise closed lives of families who make us laugh, groan, roll our eyes but ultimately, can relate to.”

A Street Café Named Desire – an extract

My dip into the novel is taken from the end of the first chapter when David first meets Bridget, having unenthusiastically mingled with other ex-schoolmates earlier that evening:

‘Well, look who we’ve got here.’ The voice of Bill Thatcher hadn’t changed.

‘It’s our little David,’ another unchanged voice, this was Ben Carpenter.

An overzealous slap landed on David’s back. ‘You buying the drinks, mate?’ Ben asked.

David realised he was no longer scared of them. How could you be, looking at the two pot-bellied, balding, greying men with sallow puffy faces? They had lost their menacing edge. Also, he was prepared to admit when he’d had time to reflect, he wasn’t scared because he didn’t much care what happened, not after what he had been subjected to over the past few weeks.

He eyed Ben. ‘Why don’t you get me one?’

Ben looked aghast. ‘What?’

‘I’ll have a bottle of Bud, thank you.’

‘Is little David acting tough?’ Bill enquired.

‘I think he is,’ added Ben.

‘It’s not a case of acting tough, it’s about growing up. And I seem to have made a better job of it than you two. I suppose keeping fit helps, the judo.’

‘You do judo?’ sneered Bill.

‘Yes. And not drinking as much beer as you has assisted.’ With that, David gave Bill a generous whack on his pot belly. When he analysed his action afterwards, readily admitting it had been a step too far, he wondered whether the annoying physical maltreatment by Helen might have been part of the reason for his own mild assault. But probably it all came down to his profound unhappiness – he couldn’t care less about the outcome of his actions. Not at that instant at any rate. But he did care a few nanoseconds later when Bill floored him with a right hook to the chin.

Bill looked down at him with contempt. ‘You gonna try your judo on me, little David?’

Of course there never had been any judo, only badminton which had kept him in reasonable shape but clearly hadn’t prepared him for fighting. David gazed up at a gathering of his ex-classmates in a circle around him, some with a look of concern, but most smiling. Helen and Sharon were in the smiling group, but at least Helen did have the decency to tell Bill and Ben to lay off as it was a festive occasion. The crowd dispersed and David stood gingerly. He made his way to a chair by the window. In the short interval between boredom and humiliation dusk had enveloped the trees. Now they stood as forlorn grey silhouettes. Despite there no longer being anything of interest to see, he chose to stare out the window rather than look inside the room at the alcohol-fuelled gathering.

‘One Bud coming up.’

He turned. The woman handed over the bottle and sat next to him, a glass of white wine in her other hand. ‘You OK?’

‘Just my pride hurt a bit. Well my chin, too.’

‘Poor you. Those two were appalling twenty-five years ago and they haven’t improved by the look of things.’

David recognised the voice, the engaging Scottish lilt from all those years ago.

‘I’m Titless,’ the woman added.

He glanced from her face to her upper body and saw shapely curves. When he looked up she was smiling and he reddened.

‘Not anymore, but I was then. I took a while to develop. Too long for Bill and Ben, so that was their nickname for me.’

‘I remember you. Bridget.’

‘Congratulations. You’re the first to know my name tonight, not that I’ve spoken to many.’

‘Well, you’ve changed beyond all recognition.’

Like every parent, David had told his children the story of the ugly duckling that turned into a beautiful white swan, and while he appreciated the moral symbolism, he had never seen such a transformation in real life until now. Bridget had been an unsociable, awkward girl, liable to blush the instant someone addressed her. She had appeared friendless and was known as ‘Spotty Swot’ amongst his circle of friends. He hadn’t been aware of the ‘Titless’ nickname, not surprising as he kept well away from the gang. Her legs, he remembered, had looked too spindly to support her. He’d felt sorry for Bridget, a rather sad-looking loner, but he’d been too shy to do anything about it.

The woman by his side was divine – a goddess. Not in a garishly sexy way – just downright beautiful. Every facial feature of textbook perfection. A narrow face with high cheekbones; a little, upturned nose; pouting lips; soft, powder blue eyes. Eyes that were now smiling at him.

‘I feel like I’m being inspected. Do you approve?’

‘Yes, yes. You look lovely, if you don’t mind me saying.’

‘Thank you, I never say no to a compliment. I was wondering though – what on earth made you come along to this awful reunion?’

‘It’s a long story.’

‘It’s a long evening.’

 

R J Gould Website and social media links

Website:                      http://www.rjgould.info

Twitter:                       https://twitter.com/RJGould_author

Email:                          rjgould.author@gmail.com

Facebook:                    https://www.facebook.com/RJGouldauthor/

Email:                          rjgould.author@gmail.com

 

About R J Gould

R J Gould writes contemporary fiction, using humour to describe past, present and sought after relationships. His characters, some highly eccentric and some plain ordinary, are trying to make the most of their lives while carrying heaps of baggage. They struggle to balance the pressures of work, friends and families as they search for second-chance romance. He is published by Accent Press and is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. His first novel, ‘A Street Café Named Desire’ was released in December 2014 and short-listed for the 2016 Joan Hessayon New Writers’ Award. ‘The Engagement Party’ was published in May 2015 and ‘Jack and Jill Went Downhill’ was released in June 2016. He lives in Cambridge and is a member of Cambridge Writers where he leads the Commercial Editing Group.

Many thanks Richard. Great extract!

Just one more day to go in this fabulous look back at some fellow authors writing archives. Come back tomorrow to see what Caroline Dunford has to share with us.

Happy reading,

Jenny x


Blowing the Dust Off: Alison Rose’s Off the Record

It’s Day 7 of my ‘Blowing the Dust Off’ series of blogs. Today my friend  and creative writing business partner, Alison Rose, is talking ‘Off the Record.’

Grab a cuppa and enjoy…

 

Hello everyone, I’m Alison Rose, and I’m delighted to be Jenny’s guest today in her From the Archives blog.  I met Jenny at a meeting of the Bath and North Wiltshire chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association a few years ago and we’ve been firm friends ever since.  My first book deal was with Jenny’s publisher, Accent Press, and in recent months we’ve become business partners, running Imagine Creative Writing workshops and retreats together.

The book I want to share with you today is my first published novel, Off the Record.  Here’s the blurb:

“This is the chance of a lifetime, so don’t blow it! Journalist Kate Armstrong has always known that music icon Johnson Brand’s platinum-selling first album was written about his break-up with her mother, Alexandra. When Kate’s boss sends her out to interview the star himself, her life is turned upside down when her resemblance to Alexandra prompts Johnson to seek out her mother and renew their relationship. Kate suddenly has a lot on her plate – coming to terms with Alexandra and Johnson’s rekindling relationship, as well as keeping the two of them out of the public eye, all the while trying to resist the advances of Johnson’s playboy son, Paul. She thinks she has everything under control, until a threatening figure from the band’s past rears its ugly head. Will love tear them all apart … again?”

I was inspired to write Off the Record after watching the movie Grease on a rainy afternoon.  Off the Record actually has very little to do with the film, but watching Grease had sparked memories of the year that it came out – 1977 – when I was the English exchange student at a high school in Indiana, USA.  As I watched Grease with my teenaged daughter, I remembered the people I’d known in 1977 and wondered what they were doing now.  One of the boys had been a talented singer and that sparked my idea of a rock star. I was working for a Christian charity at the time and knew a lot of lady vicars… and so it began.

I started asking ‘What if?’ and the characters and story began to form – the divorced, aging rock star; the widowed lady vicar; his record producer son; her journalist daughter.  Could the older couple have anything in common after so many years apart? Would their children be able to overcome their desire to protect their parents and their suspicion of each other? And who was causing so much trouble for them all?

I loved writing Off the Record and I’m proud that it was the first of my books to be published. It was intended to be the story of love rekindled in middle age, but I couldn’t resist the call of the couple’s grown-up children, who shot sparks at each other right from the start.  So in Off the Record you get two love stories for the price of one! I guess I always wanted to be swept off my feet by a sexy rock star and so I had a lot of fun making it happen for Kate and Alexandra.

If you’d like to read Off the Record, here’s the link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Off-Record-Alison-Rose-x/dp/1783752491/ref=sr_1_7?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1502203726&sr=1-7&keywords=off+the+record

Thanks so much to Jenny for inviting me along today and thank you for taking the time to read this.  I hope you enjoy Off the Record too!

If you’d like to know more about me and my writing, please visit my website at www.alisonroseknight.com and if you want to find out what Jenny and I are up to as Imagine… see www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk

Many thanks Alison! Always great to have you pop by.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to find out what Jenny Harper is going to share with us.

Happy reading,

Jenny x


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