The Perfect Blend: Coffee and Kane


Opening Lines: CRONE by Jeannie Wycherley

Welcome to my brand new ‘Opening Lines’ blog series.

Each Thursday an author will share a little about their work – and JUST the first 500 words of one of their novels – even if that means leaving things mid-sentence…

I’m delighted to welcome Jeannie Wycherley as my first guest of the series.

Over to you Jeannie…

Crone is my debut novel, set in and around Ottery St Mary and Sidmouth in Devon (the fictional Abbotts Cromleigh and Elbury of the novel). It’s a story that emanates very much from the landscape. The physicality of Aefre, whom we meet as she is being reborn in the opening lines, is actually drawn from the detritus of the forest floor.

Birth and death are central to the novel, and in between those events some of the intriguing characters, such as the enigmatic Mr Kephisto (also known as the Story Keeper) live extremely long lives. Crone is a dark fantasy novel, so as the author I was able to play with the longevity of each character’s existence, but at its heart it is actually a mystery with supernatural elements, and I have been contacted by many readers who start their email with the words, “This isn’t the sort of book I would normally read, but …” I am so thrilled that Crone has drawn such a diverse audience and appeals to such a cross section of readers.

It was vitally important to me to maintain truth within the supernatural, so yes, you have to suspend some disbelief as you do in any fantasy novel, but all the magic involved, among the elderly Guardians who are hunting Aefre for example, is ultimately feasible. I wasn’t interested in writing about sparkly wizards, and glittery unicorns. This is witchcraft with dirty hands and broken nails. It’s about real human experience. But ultimately, it is the age old story of a mother’s love for her child.

Crone Blurb

Heather Keynes’ teenage son died in a tragic car accident. Or so she thinks. However, deep in the wilds of the Devon countryside, an ancient evil has awoken … and is intent on hunting the residents of Abbotts Cromleigh.

No one is safe.

When Heather delves into a series of coincidental deaths, she is drawn reluctantly into the company of an odd group of elderly Guardians. Who are they, and what is their connection to the Great Oak? Why do they believe only Heather can put an end to centuries of horror? Who is the mysterious old woman in the forest and what is it that feeds her anger?

When Heather determines the true cause of her son’s death, she is hell-bent on vengeance. Determined to halt the march of the Crone once and for all, hatred becomes Heather’s ultimate weapon.

Furies collide in this twisted tale of murder, magic and salvation.

 

 

500 words – Opening Lines

Prologue

The cracking and snapping of dry bones reverberated through the stillness of the night. In the freezing air, at the very heart of the wood, in the slumped ruins of a long-forgotten dwelling, something dark began to manifest itself.

Little more than a mummified corpse, she unfolded her outer layer in a shower of dust and dry mould. Her skin, what remained of it, creaked like ancient leather and her flesh stretched taut over foul stringy innards. Then reaching, stretching, groaning, retching—she hauled herself upright. Once risen, she floated inches above the ground, while the mist—salty from the nearby sea—enveloped her like a pall and covered her foul nakedness.

She slipped out of her shack, and the wildlife in the undergrowth shrank from her black charisma, keeping their distance from her rancid stench, the stink of putrefaction.

In the treetops, caught out by her rapid manifestation, an owl blinked uneasily. Fearful, he observed her as she moved beneath him, then hopeful of evading her gaze he casually pivoted his head, pretended she was unseen and he was unseeing. But Aefre, even in her newly woken state, was both observant and deadly.

She was fast, lashed out at the owl, a missile of energy directed from her mind. His body exploded in a cloud of downy feathers. Her deformed claw-like fingers caught his remains as he fell from his perch, and she stuffed him into her mouth, whole. She chewed once, twice. Swallowed. A single line of blood dribbled from her chin, and the thinnest layer of fresh skin started to form a mouldering translucent veneer.

There was a halo of light to the east. Civilisation. For Aefre, the time was ripe. She was awake. It was time to bask in the thrill of the hunt. This time she would locate her sisters and join them in a merry dance of carnage.

First things first, however. She needed sustenance. She headed for town. She would find everything she needed there.

***

The boys tumbled out of the multiplex, blinking in the garish sodium lights of the car park, high on an adrenaline kick after enjoying the latest blockbuster. Max was grateful that James now had a driving licence and a car to go with it and they weren’t dependent on the non-existent bus service. It was hell being stuck in Abbotts Cromleigh with nothing to do.

Max was completing his A levels this year, and come September he would be off to University in a city where you didn’t need a car. Everything he needed would be on his doorstep. Live music venues, sporting facilities: Sheffield promised to be everything his small Devon home town couldn’t be.

He’d miss The Storykeeper though. Sheffield had bookshops, sure, but The Storykeeper was something special. It was housed in a higgledy-piggledy Elizabethan structure that had been added to time and again over the years, and thus appeared to stretch back and up endlessly. Shelves meandered like mysterious rivers throughout the building…

Buy link

Crone: myBook.to/CroneJW 

Jeannie Wycherley Bio

Jeannie Wycherley is the author of Crone (2017) and Deadly Encounters (2017) and numerous short stories that favour the weird including A Concerto for the Dead and Dying (2018). Crone is the recipient on an Indie B.R.A.G Medallion, and a Chill with a Book Readers’ Award. Jeannie’s next novel Beyond the Veil is due April 2018. Jeannie runs a gift shop with her husband in Sidmouth, adores her dogs, and make her evening meals in a cauldron. She lives somewhere between the forest and the sea in East Devon, England and draws literary inspiration from the landscape.

Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Thecushionlady

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

Website: https://www.jeanniewycherley.co.uk/

Thank you for such a fabulous blog, Jeannie. Intriguing first 500 words…

Next week, Opening Lines, will feature contemporary fiction/romance writer, Nicola May.

Happy reading,

Jenny

 


PRE-ORDER AVAILABLE: The Winter Outlaw

The Kindle edition of ‘The Winter Outlaw

(Book 2 of The Folville Chronicles)

Available for pre-order.

The Winter Outlaw

Blurb

1329: It is the dead of winter and the notorious Folville brothers are on edge. There are rumours of an unknown outlaw terrorising the Leicestershire countryside. Could this man be Adam Calvin, who is being pursued for a crime he did not commit?
Mathilda of Twyford, newly betrothed to Robert de Folville, believes Adam’s story. But after
an attack on the household’s trusted housekeeper, it falls to Mathilda to work out who can be trusted and who can’t… With the Folvilles’ past about to trip them up, it’s going to take a level head and extreme bravery if Mathilda and Robert are ever going to make it to their Winter Solstice wedding.

The Winter Outlaw is the sequel to The Outlaw’s Ransom.

***

Pre-order links-

UK-
US –

I hope you enjoy the second of Mathilda of Twyford’s adventures!

Happy reading,

Jen x

The Winter Outlaw


Opening Lines: The Outlaw’s Ransom

Today I am launching a brand new blog series: ‘Opening Lines.’

Every Thursday I will be featuring a different author and the first 500 words from one of their novels.

I thought I’d kick off the series today with the opening lines from my own latest release, The Outlaw’s Ransom– The Folville Chronicles.

Mathilda thought she was used to the dark, but the night-time gloom of the small room she shared with her brothers at home was nothing like this. The sheer density of this darkness enveloped her, physically gliding over her clammy skin. It made her breathless, as if it was trying to squeeze the life from her.

As moisture oozed between her naked toes, she presumed that the suspiciously soft surface she crouched on was moss, which had grown to form a damp cushion on the stone floor. It was a theory backed up by the smell of mould and general filthiness which hung in the air.

Trying not to think about how long she was going to be left in this windowless cell, Mathilda stretched her arms out to either side, and bravely felt for the extent of the walls, hoping she wasn’t about to touch something other than cold stone. The child’s voice that lingered at the back of her mind, even though she was a woman of nineteen, was telling her – screaming at her – that there might be bodies in here, secured in rusted irons, abandoned and rotting. She battled the voice down. Thinking like that would do her no good at all. Her father had always congratulated his only daughter on her level-headedness, and now it was being so thoroughly put to the test, she was determined not to let him down.

Stretching her fingers into the blackness, Mathilda placed the tips of her fingers against the wall behind her. It was wet. Trickles of water had found a way in from somewhere, giving the walls the same slimy covering as the floor.

Continuing to trace the outline of the rough stone wall, Mathilda kept her feet exactly where they were. In seconds her fingertips came to a corner, and by twisting at the waist, she quickly managed to plot her prison from one side of the heavy wooden door to the other. The dungeon could be no more than five feet square, although it must be about six feet tall. Her own five-foot frame had stumbled down a step when she’d been pushed into the cell, and her head was at least a foot clear of the ceiling. The bleak eerie silence was eating away at Mathilda’s determination to be brave, and the cold brought her suppressed fear to the fore. Suddenly the shivering she had stoically ignored overtook her, and there was nothing she could do but let it invade her…

Here’s the blurb to The Outlaw’s Ransom-

When potter’s daughter Mathilda is kidnapped by the notorious Folville brothers as punishment for her father’s debts, she fears for her life. Although of noble birth, the Folvilles are infamous throughout the county for using crime to rule their lands—and for using any means necessary to deliver their distinctive brand of ‘justice’.

Mathilda must prove her worth to the Folvilles in order to win her freedom. To do so, she must go against her instincts and, disguised as the betrothed of Robert de Folville, undertake a mission that will send her to Bakewell in Derbyshire, and the home of Nicholas Coterel, one of the most infamous men in England.

With her life in the hands of more than one dangerous brigand, Mathilda must win the trust of the Folville’s housekeeper, Sarah, and Robert Folville himself if she has any chance of survival.

Never have the teachings gleaned from the tales of Robyn Hode been so useful…

You can buy The Outlaw’s Ransom for your Kindle or as a paperback from-

Kindle-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07B3TNRYN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519759895&sr=8-1&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B3TNRYN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519760741&sr=8-1&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

Paperback-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Outlaws-Ransom-Folville-Chronicles/dp/1999855264/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520007697&sr=1-2&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

https://www.amazon.com/Outlaws-Ransom-Folville-Chronicles/dp/1999855264/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520007771&sr=1-1&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

(Please note that if you have read Romancing Robin Hood by Jenny Kane and Jennifer Ash- then you will already be familiar with the story with The Outlaw’s Ransom)

***

If you enjoyed reading my opening lines, then keep an eye on this blog every Thursday for more ‘Opening Lines’.

Happy reading,

Jen xx


The Winter Outlaw is coming…

You may be thinking it’s one book after another from me at the moment- and you’d be right!

Romancing Robin Hood and The Outlaw’s Ransom have recently flown forth from Littwitz Press. These novels were both re-releases. They have been reedited, recovered and given a whole new lease of life.

Today, however, I can proudly reveal the cover of a BRAND NEW NOVEL.

Isn’t it beautiful!

Not seen before, The Winter Outlaw, is the second book in ‘The Folville Chronicles.’  It follows on from The Outlaw’s Ransom (or Romancing Robin Hood– which includes a slightly briefer version of The Outlaw’s Ransom within its pages).

Continuing the story of Mathilda of Twyford, potters daughter and hostage to the infamous criminal gang, the Folville brothers, The Winter Outlaw, is a non-stop medieval adventure.

So buckle up…because the winter outlaw is coming…

Happy reading,

Jen xx

PS- pre-order links VERY soon x

 

 


Best Foot Forward by Bea Stevens

I’m delighted to have Bea Stevens with me today, sharing a little from her brand new romance:

Best Foot Forward.

Blurb

Liberty ‘Libby’ Lawrence adores designer labels – even though she can’t afford many. And she especially loves shoes. Her favourites are Christian Louboutins – though not those fake ones Bianca Morrison-Wright gets from the market (the red paint rubs off the soles and everything!)

She’s working as a manager (albeit junior manager) at a London hotel, when the boss announces that there has been a theft from his office. Libby couldn’t help noticing some strange marks on his carpet when she was called in for a reprimand recently (not that it was her fault, or anything) which lead her to surmise who the thief is.

Detective Sergeant James Harper, the hunky policemen who is assigned the case, seems interested in her theory – until she names her number one suspect. Libby is devastated, not only because he doesn’t believe her but – more importantly – that this guy knows NOTHING about shoes!

As Libby struggles to convince the sergeant that her hunch is right, her boss that she’s ready for promotion and herself that she’s not really falling for the gorgeous copper, she realises that maybe she’s wrong about the theft, she’s not suited to the hotel industry and that the handsome hunk is married!

Excerpt

I’m busy watching a yummy copper-haired guy who’s just walked through from the bar and is looking around. It’s him. It’s Mr Handsome Hunk himself.

Oh my God.

My heart pounds like a bass drum.

Cassie’s nearest and goes up to him, seating him on table twelve, just next to the deuce by the window. That’s a table of two, by the way, not just a tennis term.

I quickly pick up a menu and head over, trying not to catch the attention of the two reporters on the next table. Cassie’s eyes flash at me as our paths cross, and I suspect she’s thinking the same as me – what a stud!

‘Good afternoon, sir.’ I smile as I hand him the menu. ‘The soup today is potato and leek, and I’m afraid we’ve run out of lamb.’

He doesn’t even smile as he takes the menu from me. There’s a thud in my stomach.

‘Pity, I quite fancy lamb today.’

I daren’t tell him what – or rather who – I fancy.

‘Sorry, sir.’

He frowns; I hope it’s not because of the lamb.

‘Just be careful of the vegetables,’ Ben calls over from the next table.

‘You’re okay if you just want a pea, though,’ Rob chimes in with a chuckle.

Very funny. I shoot them a dirty look, stick my nose in the air and walk away. Or at least, I would have walked away if my heel hadn’t got caught in the tablecloth as I spun around. I yelp as my ankle twists and there’s a clatter of silverware as the contents of table twelve hurtle through the air, firing all around me like bullets as I fall with a hefty slam, ending up sprawled across the floor in between the two tables.

‘Libby, are you okay?’ Cassie’s there in an instant. I peer up gingerly, having covered my head with my arms in case the wineglasses came crashing over me.

‘I think so,’ I say, sitting up carefully.

The reporters on table fourteen are laughing hysterically, while the man on twelve is shaking his head and holding two glasses in his hands.

‘I’m really sorry.’ I slowly stand while Cassie gathers the cutlery.

‘I saved these.’ The man hands me the two wineglasses. ‘Perhaps I could sit at table thirteen instead?’

‘I’m afraid we don’t have one,’ I murmur. ‘It’s considered, um…unlucky.’

***

If that’s whetted your appetite, you can buy Best Foot Forward here: https://tinyurl.com/y7hajzqm

***

Bio

Bea lives in the beautiful countryside of Shropshire, England, but is never averse to taking a trip to the local (and not-so-local) towns to check out the big stores for new shoes and bags (all in the name of research, of course J).

She has worked mainly in catering and admin, but had to give up her job when her fight against breast cancer took another downward turn. An eternal optimist, she took the opportunity to write – something she has always loved. Every cloud… and all that!

She hopes very much that you share her sense of humour and that you enjoy her first Chick Lit novel, Best Foot Forward.

Please feel free to contact her at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBeaStevens/ 

***

Many thanks for sharing your lovely new novel with us today Bea.

Good luck, and happy writing.

Jenny xx

 


Coffee and Champagne: Lazy weekend reads

I went on quite a journey with the main characters in the ‘Another Cup of….’ series of books, from the full length novel Another Cup of Coffee, through three Christmas novella’s, (Another Cup of Christmas, Christmas in the Cotswolds and Christmas at the Castle), and then the final full length novel, Another Glass of Champagne!

Amy, Kit and Jack were all in the their thirties when I began to tell their intertwined stories of love, friendship and coffee sipping. By the time I’d finished the adventure they were in their forties, and facing the fact that age doesn’t give you the answers to your problems. In fact, all it does is add to them…

Blurb

A warm-hearted, contemporary tale about a group of friends living in a small corner of busy London, by bestselling author Jenny Kane.

Fortysomething Amy is shocked and delighted to discover she s expecting a baby not to mention terrified! Amy wants best friend Jack to be godfather, but he hasn’t been heard from in months. When Jack finally reappears, he s full of good intentions but his new business plan could spell disaster for the beloved Pickwicks Coffee Shop, and ruin a number of old friendships…

Meanwhile his love life is as complicated as ever and yet when he swears off men for good, Jack meets someone who makes him rethink his priorities…but is it too late for a fresh start?

 Author Kit has problems of her own: just when her career has started to take off, she finds herself unable to write and there s a deadline looming, plus two headstrong kids to see through their difficult teenage years…will she be able to cope?

A follow-up to the runaway success Another Cup of Coffee.

***

Why not put your feet up and indulge in some coffee and champagne this weekend?

If you’d like to see how the story ends, then you can buy Another Glass of Champagne from all good bookshop and e-retailers. (You don’t need to have read the previous novels to enjoy this one)

Buy Links – Another Glass of Champagne

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Another+Glass+of+Champagne+Jenny+Kane

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/188-7813436-7626710?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Another+Glass+of+Champagne+Jenny+Kane

***

Happy reading,

Jenny x


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