The Perfect Blend: Coffee and Kane


Opening Lines: Be Careful What Your Wish For by Lynne North

It’s Opening Lines time again!

This week I’m welcoming Lynne North to my blog with the first 500 words (exactly) of her children’s novel, ‘Be Careful What You Wish For.’

Let’s dive in…

 

First 500 words of ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’

Finn O’Shea ran as if his life depended on it. This time he thought it might. He squelched along at a gallop, soaked through by the pouring rain that had begun suddenly when he was at the greatest possible distance from home. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Finn groaned when he saw the first flash of lightning. “Oh no!” he said to the dark sky above him.

Lightening wasn’t good. It always chased him. The saying about lightning never striking twice in the same place had been proved wrong by Finn countless times. No matter how he zigged and zagged through the village in stormy weather, the black clouds dogged his footsteps and threw their bolts right at him. They were more used to zigging and zagging than he was, so they usually won. He had only been knocked out once, but he’d had so many jolts he sometimes wondered why he didn’t light up at night.

He veered right, narrowly missed by an almighty flash, then leapt over a huge puddle that threw itself into his path. The lightning had another try to the left, but Finn’s nifty dodge and scream still had him pelting for home. He could see the green front door ahead inviting him to safety. The sight gave him the extra strength to pound his feet, leap and dodge and fling himself head first through the unlocked door. It bashed against the wall with an alarming thump as Finn bent double, his hands on his knees, dripping water all over the hallway and gasping for breath.

Finn’s mum appeared, a shocked look on her face. She stared at Finn, then at the open door beyond him. “Oh, lightning again,” was all she said. She walked past him and closed the door, then added, “Go and get changed, then bring your wet clothes down.”

As Finn took off his soaked pants and top he thought about his attraction for lightning bolts. They didn’t aim for anyone else in the village, so why him? Once he was dry and his mum had taken his dirty, wet clothes away, he asked, “Why me, Mum? Leprechauns are supposed to be lucky. I thought we were born that way. What happened to me?”

His mum handed him a warm drink and sighed. “Well, we’re not exactly all born lucky,” she began, “though I’m not sure the Fates smiled on you at all when you were born. It was more like they had a good laugh at your expense. Your first view of the world was upside down when Mrs Ahearne, the midwife, dropped you on your head. I don’t think it did you any harm though.”

Finn rubbed his head, just thinking about it.

His mum continued. “Contrary to popular belief, leprechauns aren’t born lucky. Fortune is a blessing bestowed by the Good Luck Fairy, providing she’s in an agreeable mood, and more to the point, as long as she’s there.”

Finn frowned. His mum wasn’t making any sense…

Blurb

Be Careful What You Wish For is a children’s humorous fantasy.

Finn is a bored young leprechaun who lives a quiet life with his family and friends in the sleepy village of Duntappin. He wants something exciting to happen, but never having been blessed by the Good Luck Fairy he soon gets far more than he bargained for.  When he least expects his adventure to begin, Finn finds himself a long way from home in dire circumstances. Home begins to seem very appealing all of a sudden. Has he any hope of getting back? This is no fairy tale…

This funny and fast moving story filled by weird and wonderful characters will turn all your expectations on their head, but that’s a good thing, because it makes them all the more amusing.

***

Bio

I am a children’s author who lives in the north west of England. I have been a prolific reader all my life, and for many years have spent most of my free time writing. As well as being educated up to degree level, I have completed courses and received diplomas from ‘The Writing School Ltd’ and ‘The Academy of Children’s Writers’. My aim in life has always been to write, and I have had a sideline of freelance writing for more years than I like to admit to having lived. This has mainly involved published articles in such magazines as ‘Prediction’. I have also completed several children’s novels. ‘Caution: Witch in Progress’ was published by Ghostly Publishing in 2013 and launched at Earl’s Court Book Fair. I released something completely different on Kindle in 2014, a compilation of 13 macabre Twist in the Tale short stories, titled ‘Unlucky For Some’ and definitely NOT for children! If you enjoy scary, check it out! A short children’s fantasy, ‘Emily and the Enchanted Wood’ was released by my new publisher, Crimson Cloak Publishing, towards the end of 2015. A very different children’s humorous fantasy, ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’, was released by Crimson Cloak Publishing on St Patrick’s Day 2016. Crimson Cloak Publishing also re-released ‘Caution’ along with the sword and sorcery fantasy, ‘Zac’s Destiny’, later in 2016. At the end of 2016 my first Role-play gamebook, ‘The Chalice of Jupiter’ became a reality, with more quests to come in the future! I am currently working on my next Crimson Cloak Quest, a short companion book to ‘Caution: Witch in Progress’, and a fantasy novel for young adults titled ‘Dimensions’. I am also working as the Marketing Director for Crimson Cloak Publishing.

Links

Blog   http://www.lynnenorth.co.uk/blog/

Website   http://www.lynnenorth.co.uk/

Author page on CCP  http://www.crimsoncloakpublishing.com/lynne-north.html

Universal Link to Amazon: http://myBook.to/WishFor

Pinterest:  https://uk.pinterest.com/lynnenorth/be-careful-what-you-wish-for/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/Lynne.North.Author/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Lynne_North

***

Many thanks for your 500 words Lynne!

I hope you all enjoyed that. Next week we have Catherine Kullman visiting with her 500 opening words.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 


An Artisan Lovestyle: A Few of Our Favourite Things

Today I’m delighted to be hosting Kiltie Jackson on my blog today as part of her blog tour.

Why not get comfortable, put your feet up and listen in as good friends Sukie and Elsa get chatty…

Good morning Readers, I hope you are all well.

Today, I am joined by Sukie and Elsa – the leading ladies from ‘A Rock ‘n’ Roll Lovestyle’ and ‘An Artisan Lovestyle’.

Sukie and Elsa have been best friends since they first met at the age of seven. This does not necessarily mean they share the same views and so I thought I would ask them a few questions to see how they ‘rock ‘n’ roll’!

Ladies, what is your favourite Animal?

Sukie – Cats! Definitely cats! I do love all animals but my two boys, Tony and Adam, are the best. They are my world and I adore them.

Elsa – Dogs! Definitely dogs! Like Sukie, I also adore all animals but my dog Puddle is very loving and he has helped me through some very hard times.

What about TV shows? Do you watch much TV?

Elsa – I enjoy crime dramas. NCIS is a must-see and I’m also rather partial to CSI too. The New York one was my favourite. I’m not really one for watching soaps – they’re far too morose.

Sukie – I love The Big Bang Theory! Sheldon Cooper totally rocks! He’s amazing. My other must see is Outlander. All those men in kilts… Bring them on!

Elsa – Oh yes, I agree! Outlander is fantastic. Give me a bit of Jamie Alexander Malcom MacKenzie Fraser any day!

Sukie – As you can see, Elsa’s a fan! (laughs)

Now tell me about your favourite films.

Elsa – (groans) Seriously? Did you have to ask that one?

Sukie – (laughing) My favourite film is The Sound of Music and Elsa has grown up being bored silly over my obsession with it. I finally got to visit Salzburg a few years ago and it is the most wonderful place on earth. I love it!

Elsa – Bored doesn’t even begin to cover it! (She rolls her eyes!) My personal favourite is Love Actually. The way Richard Curtis managed to weave all the stories together is fabulous. It always makes me smile. I can watch it any time, not just at Christmas.

Ok, I think we shall move swiftly onto your favourite meal?

Sukie – Pasta! Anything Italian works for me although pasta based is my number one choice. When I visited Venice, I had the pleasure of eating freshly made pasta in a small, outdoor, sunlit, courtyard and it was quite an experience.

Elsa – Chinese food! It has been since I was a kid. I have tried a number of different dishes but I confess I always end up going back to Sweet and Sour Chicken. Not the balls in batter, they’re bleugh! (She pulls a face.) No, I much prefer the chicken cooked in the sauce. My local restaurant calls it Cantonese style.

And do you both do desserts?

Sukie – I have to confess that I am a bit of an ice-cream fiend! My favourite is rum ‘n’ raisin but I will eat most flavours. Even in the middle of winter, I will still eat it!

Elsa – My preference is hot, dense puddings with lots of thick, yellow custard. My all-time favourite is apple crumble although I don’t have it very often. Too much effort is needed to burn off all those calories.

Sukie, you’ve mentioned both Salzburg and Venice – are these your favourite holiday destinations? What about you Elsa, where do you like to go?

Elsa – (looks pointedly at Sukie) Keep it short!

Sukie – (throws her head back in laughter) Salzburg is my destination of choice. Everything about it makes me smile and I am more than a little fond of it.

Elsa – Wow! Is that all you’re going to say?

Sukie – I can add more if you like?

Elsa – No, you’re good! MY favourite place is somewhere I’ve not yet been. I really want to visit Paris. It has such a long, artistic history and it is home to so many wonderful works of art – both painted and sculpted. I would need at least a month, I think, to see everything I want to see.

Snow or Sand?

Sukie – Snow!

Elsa – Sand!

(They both laugh.)

Sukie – How on earth are we friends? We hardly share any likes?

Boy Bands or Rock Bands?

Sukie – Oh, rock bands all the way for me! I’m very much a Green Day fan along with Royal Blood, Within Temptation and the Foo Fighters.

Elsa – I was very much into the boy band The Astons, and then Pete Wallace when he went solo, but I have to concur with Sukie that rock bands are better.

Sukie – We finally agree on something.

(The ladies throw a high five.)

So, to change the vibe a bit – what about breakfast cereal?

Sukie – Toast. I’m not into cereals. I much prefer a couple of slices of wholemeal with butter and some lime marmalade.

Elsa – I don’t eat in the mornings. A few strong coffees until about 10.30 am when I will have a muesli bar or something similar.

And lastly, to finish off, your favourite item of clothing?

Sukie – Hmmm… That’s a tough one. I’m not really a clothing kind of person… I suppose it would have to be my vintage 1950’s dress. It’s scarlet linen with a lovely, full, ballerina skirt. I don’t get to wear it often but, when I do, I always feel very dressed up.

Elsa – I’ve always preferred designer clothes and I confess to having a wardrobe full of the top names but, the item of clothing which is most special to me, is a long, Doctor Who style scarf that my grandmother knitted for my mother many years ago. I believe it was Tom Baker who was the Doctor at the time and my mum had a thing about his scarf so my gran made one for her. It’s very long – especially on me coz I’m quite small – but it is great for keeping warm when I’m walking the dog in the winter. I guess it’s a sort of family heirloom.

Ladies, thank you so much for being here today and for answering my questions.

Sukie & Elsa – Thank you for having us as your guests.

***

Blurb- An Artisan Lovestyle

Are you ‘living’ your life or just living your life?

Elsa Clairmont was widowed barely five years after marrying her childhood sweetheart. She has struggled to come to terms with the loss and, six years later, has almost ceased to live herself. She does just enough to get by.

Danny Delaney is the ultimate ‘Mr Nice Guy’. He’s kind, caring and sweet. A talented artist in his teens, his abusive mother ruined his career in art and he turned his back on his exceptional gift. Now, he does just enough to get by.

On New Year’s Eve, both Danny and Elsa die in unrelated accidents.

Thanks to some poker playing shenanigans, Elsa’s husband Harry, and Danny’s old Art teacher, William, manage to orchestrate a deal with Death that allows Danny and Elsa to live for one more year on the condition they both agree 
to complete three tasks.

They have until the last chime of Big Ben on the 31st December to fulfil their quests.

If they succeed, they stay in the world of the living.

If they should fail however…

‘An Artisan Lovestyle’ is a story of personal growth and self-discovery as two people find themselves forced to make overdue changes in their lives, changes in other people’s lives, and all with the added challenge of finding true love before their time runs out.

Will they do it?  Can they do it? After all, it’s a matter of Life or Death…

Purchase Link – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07D23TM38

***

GIVEAWAY

Win a £40 / $40 Amazon Voucher (Open Internationally)

Enter via this link- http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c69494104/?

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

***

BIO

Kiltie grew up in Glasgow in Scotland,
This is a very unique city with a very unique way of looking at life.

When she was old enough to do so, she moved to London and then, after several years of obtaining

interesting experiences – which are finding their way into her writing – she moved up to the Midlands.  Kiltie currently lives in Staffordshire with five cats and one grumpy husband.
Her little home is known as Moggy Towers, even though despite having

plenty of moggies, there are no towers!

The cats kindly allow her and Mr Mogs to share their house on the condition

they keep paying the mortgage!

She loves reading, watching movies, and visiting old castles.
She really dislikes going to the gym!

Her biggest desire is that one day she can give up the day job and write her

stories for a living.

Kiltie’s debut novel, ‘A Rock ‘n’ Roll Lovestyle’, was released in September 2017

 and won a “Chill With A Book – Reader Award” in December 2017.
She first began writing her debut novel eleven years before it was released

but shelved it as she didn’t think it was very good.
In November 2016 when, having read more on a best-selling author who had begun her own career

as a self-published author, she was inspired to revisit the unfinished manuscript

and finally finish what she had started.
Since beginning to write again, the ideas have not stopped flowing.
‘An Artisan Lovestyle’ is the second book in the Lovestyle Series. Work is due to begin on book three (not yet titled but also part of the Lovestyle Series)
in the Summer of 2018.
She currently has a further ten plots and ideas stored in her file

(it’s costing a fortune in USB drives as each story has its own memory stick!)

The ideas still keep on coming.
Kiltie now lives her life around the following three quotes:
“I love having weird dreams, they’re great fodder for book plots!”
“Why wait for your ship to come in when you can swim out to meet it?”
“Old enough to know better, young enough not to care!”

Website www.kiltiejackson.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/kiltiejackson

Twitter – https://twitter.com/KiltieJackson 

***

Many thanks for visiting today Kiltie,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx


Opening Lines: The Wedding Date with Zara Stoneley

It’s ‘Opening Lines’ time. Today I’m welcoming Zara Stoneley to my site to share the first 500 words (exactly) of her romantic comedy, The Wedding Date.

So, put your feet up for five minutes, find some shade and have a read.

Blurb- THE WEDDING DATE

One ex.
One wedding.
One little white lie.

When Samantha Jenkins is asked to be the maid of honour at her best friend’s wedding, she couldn’t be happier. There are just three problems…

1) Sam’s ex-boyfriend, Liam, will be the best man.
2) His new girlfriend is pregnant.
3) Sam might have told people she has a new man when she doesn’t (see points 1 and 2 above)

So, Sam does the only sensible thing available to her… and hires a professional to do the job.

Actor Jake Porter is perfect for the role: single, gorgeous and cheap! Sam is certain it’s the perfect solution: no strings, no heartbreak and hopefully no chance of being found out.

But spending a week in the Scottish Highlands with Jake is harder than she imagined. He is the perfect boyfriend, charming, sexy and the hottest thing in a kilt since Outlander! And his dog Harry is quite possibly the cutest things Sam has ever seen!

As the wedding draws closer, Jake plays his part to perfection and everyone believes he is madly in love with Sam. The problem is, Sam’s not sure if Jake is acting anymore…

First 500 words of ‘THE WEDDING DATE’ 

ACT 1 – THE INVITE

Chapter 1

Reasons I, Sam Jenkins, cannot go to this wedding:

  1. I’m too fat, and just don’t have time to get down to a look-okay-in-a-posh-summer-frock weight.
  2. Lemon is so not my colour (which is the colour theme – Jess knows my aversion to over the top dresses and so has gone for a theme rather than providing the type of dress she loves and I hate). Mum says it drains me.
  3. I have far too much work to do. And house-cleaning, and gardening.
  4. I don’t have a date.
  5. The last man I dated ripped my heart out, stamped on it and is going to be the best man.

Reasons I have to go to this wedding.

  1. Jess was is my best friend.

I could add ‘and my hair looks crap’ but that one is easily handled. Much more easily handled than losing the chocolate-cake-and-chips stone in weight that has very comfortably settled itself round my stomach like an unwelcome lodger who intends to stay. Healthy food is on my to-do list, it just hasn’t made it on to my shopping list yet. I mean, you have to prioritise, don’t you? And I’m not quite ready.

Now don’t get me wrong, I can be pretty determined when I want to be, and show amazing self-control (last summer I lost 5 lb in weight the week before we went away, which meant the 7 lb I put on during the week was totally acceptable), but there are times in life when only a super-size bag of crisps and a bottle of wine will do, and the last few months has been one of those times. It has also been a time for espresso martinis and bumper bags of gin and tonic popcorn.

I was dumped, and now this.

A wedding invite. Well, advance warning of a wedding invite to be more precise.

Normally I love a good wedding, who doesn’t? But, right now, cheering on any happy couple would make me feel slightly hopeless and weepy for all the wrong reasons. And this is worse. This is the worst.

This isn’t just any wedding invite; it’s from Jess. My bestie.

We’ve known each other forever. She told me some time ago to ‘save the date’ (when I was still the deluded half of a happy couple), and now she’s emailed to tell me why.

She is getting married! The invite is in the post! It will be here any day! She is excited! Dan is excited! Everybody is excited! Her mum has already bought a hat!!! The wedding is going to be A-MA-ZING!! (The exclamation marks are hers, not mine – she is excited.)

Normally I’d be pretty thrilled too – after all, I love her to bits. I want her to be happy, I truly, truly do, and she will be. But normally was the time before Liam shredded my heart, hopes, and the perfect future I’d created in my head, as thoroughly as…

***

‘The Wedding Date’ is available now from Amazon and all other good retailers as an ebook and in paperback.

***

BIO

Born in a small village in Staffordshire, Zara wanted to be James Herriot, a spy, or an author when she grew up. Writing novels means she can imagine she is all these things, and more!

She lives in a Cheshire village with her family, a naughty cockapoo, and a very bossy cat, and loves spending time in sunny Spain.

Where you can find her-

Website: http://www.zarastoneley.com
Twitter: @ZaraStoneley
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ZaraStoneley

Instagram: zarastoneley

***

Fabulous stuff! Thanks Zara.

Next week please join Lynne North for the opening lines of one of her children’s novels.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx


Opening Lines: Counterfeit! by Elizabeth Ducie

‘Opening Lines’ time is upon us! This week I’m delighted to welcome the multi-talented Elizabeth Ducie to my blog to share the first 500 words from her thriller, Counterfeit!

Over to you Elizabeth…

 

Before I started writing fiction, I spent more than thirty years in the sometimes murky world of international pharmaceuticals. I visited more than fifty countries, many of them in less-developed parts of the world. Much of my fiction starts with a location and expands to characters and their stories.

Counterfeit!, which was published in 2016, began life as a 6K word short story assignment during my MA at Exeter University. Later, I expanded it into a thriller featuring three storng female protagonists (having been influenced by The Women’s Murder Club series by James Patterson). I thought it was going to be a standalone novel, but as soon as I wrote the closing line, I knew it was just the start of a series. The follow-ow, Deception!, came out in 2017 and the final part of the series, Corruption!, is due out this September.  Although the storyline is fictional, some of the events, espeically in Counterfeit! are based on real situations and conversations.

Blurb

Fake medicine kills. No-one is safe.Regulator Suzanne Jones’ mission to stop counterfeiting in Africa becomes personal when a colleague buys a bottle of fake cough syrup with tragic consequences. But her investigations bring danger ever closer. In Uganda a factory burns; Suzanne’s friend goes missing; and in Swaziland and Zambia, children die.
Who is supplying the fake drugs? What is the Eastern European connection? Can Suzanne stop the counterfeiters before more people die? 

***

First 500 words of Counterfeit!

Zambia; December 2003

Kabwe Mazoka walks up the hill, scuffing his feet in the rutted and baked red earth. It’s been dry for months, but today thick clouds mask the sun and when the rains come, this will be a water course, pouring mud and stinking filth into the main street below. He turns through a broken-down gate and walks across the yard. A mangy dog, tied with rope to a ring on the fence, jumps to its feet yelping before sinking back on its haunches, eyeing him warily.

The building was painted white once. Pale flakes cluster around rusty lines where the reinforcing bars are breaking through the pitted concrete. In the single row of windows running below the flat roof, most of the panes of glass are missing.

A line of women sit in the dirt against the wall, taking advantage of the shade from the over-hanging roof. As Kabwe unlocks the shiny new padlock on the door, they rise and slowly follow him into the building. The first raindrops splash into the dust.

The downpour hits the corrugated iron roof like stones from an angry crowd. Kabwe uses a metal pole to stir the thick, creamy liquid in the cleaned-out oil drum.

The men were coming back today, bringing brightly coloured labels and delivery instructions. They would be cross if the bottles weren’t filled ready for labelling and packing. He didn’t want them to be cross again.

They’d been cross when he suggested testing the ingredients before making the medicine. They showed him pieces of paper with green stickers and words in another language. They told him to ‘just get on with it.’ So he did.

When Kabwe ran out of the glycerol used to sweeten the cough medicines, they brought him drums in a battered lorry and told him to ‘get them unloaded and stored in the lock-up.’ The drums were different from the ones he’d had previously. These were red. Last time they were blue. The name was different too, longer. They told him it was just the chemical name for the same material. He pointed to the place where warning symbols and storage conditions were usually printed. The labels had been scratched and scraped; none of the words were legible. The men laughed at him and told him to ‘just get on with it.’ So he did.

Today, the men arrive just as the last of the brown bottles is being filled. They’d been pleased with Kabwe when he managed to source these from the local glass plant. For eleven months each year, the plant makes beer bottles, then the mechanics switch the moulds and they make medicine bottles, a year’s supply in just four weeks. They need a lot more beer bottles than medicine bottles in Africa.

These bottles are rejects, slightly misshapen, no good for an automated bottling line. But Kabwe’s filling team holds bottles under a tap, one at a time, operating the pump with a foot-pedal. He was able to….

***

Buy Link: http://elizabethducieauthor.co.uk/book/counterfeit-2/

Elizabeth’s Bio

Elizabeth has been writing for more than thirty years; initially producing audit reports, text books, articles and training modules for the international pharmacuetical industry. In 2012 she gave up the day job to concentrate on fiction. She has so far published three novels and three collections of short stories. She is due to publish her fourth novel in September.

She also writes The Business of Writing series to provide a toolbox of skills, allowing writers to spend minimal time getting their business systems right and releasing them for the creative work they love. She regularly lectures at Swanwick Writers’ Summer School and elsewhere.

Elizabeth believes self-publishing is an exciting opportunity and not merely the choice of last resort. In the past seven years, she has published fifteen titles under her own imprint, Chudleigh Phoenix Publications.

Elizabeth’s Links

Website: http://elizabethducieauthor.co.uk/

Blog: http://elizabethducieauthor.co.uk/category/my-blog/

Books: http://elizabethducieauthor.co.uk/my-books/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Elizabeth-Ducie-Author-312553422131146/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ElizabethDucie

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elizabeth_ducie_author/

*** 

Great opening lines! 

Make sure you come back next week for some opening lines from Zara Stonely.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx 


Edward’s Outlaw: and the winner is…

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have recently been running a competition- with the support of my lovely publishers, Littwitz Press- to find a name for one of the characters in the forthcoming novel, Edwards’ Outlaw.

This, the third book in The Folville Chronicles, will be published just in time for Christmas.

I was overwhelmed with name ideas- for which I am very grateful. It has been a lot of fun going through the suggestions.

A few of the names you lovely folk up with already belonged to characters in the book. For example, Barnaby Eaton-Jones suggested Bella (after a cat!)- a name which already features strongly throughout the novel.

Before I tell you the name I did pick- and the winner- I’ll tell you a little about the character.

She’s a young maid in Rockingham castle. The year is 1331- just. It’s early January, the winter is biting, and Mathilda de Folville is in the castle- so trouble isn’t far behind. Within only a few hours of Mathilda arriving, one of the young maids friend is dead…She and Mathilda need to work fast to find out what is going on.

So- what’s this brave young woman’s name?

It’s Bettrys- and it’s an old Latin and Welsh name meaning ‘Bringer of Joy.’ Over the centuries the name has developed into the more popular, Beatrice. Bettrys is 16 years old and doesn’t remember her parents, although she knows her mother was Welsh.

***

Many thanks to Chris Averiss for this excellent suggestion. Edwards’ Outlaw will be dedicated to you- and Bettrys will be one of its stars.

Right then – I’d better get writing, or Edward’s Outlaw will never be ready in time to feature in your Christmas stocking!

Happy reading,

Jen xx

 

 

 

 

 


End of the Month: Cheerio June with Nell Peters

June seems to be all but over? Anyone notice that happen? Nope? Nor me..I was probably in a dark corner somewhere writing a book…

Everyone ready? Got coffee, tea and cake? Great, let’s hand over to Nell. 

Morning all – I trust this finds you in fine fettle?

If it’s OK with Jenny, we’ll dive straight in shall we?

Two American professional wrestlers were born on this day in 1891. Frank Simmons Leavitt was born in New York City to parents, John McKenney and Henrietta (née Decker) Leavitt. He tried out various wrestling names for size: Soldier Leavitt (when he was on active duty both at the Mexican border and in France), Hell’s Kitchen Bill-Bill and Stone Mountain, before adopting Man Mountain Dean after meeting his wife, Doris Dean. I don’t know about mountainous, but at 5’11” and 310lbs, he wasn’t a small guy… As well as his wrestling career, he worked as a stunt double, appeared as himself in five films and studied journalism at the University of Georgia. He died of a heart attack, aged sixty-one.

Sharing his date of birth was Robert Herman Julius Friedrich, born in Wisconsin. Friedrich began wrestling at the age of fourteen using the ring name Ed Lewis but was subsequently known as the rather more sinister Ed Strangler Lewis after a match in France where he applied a sleeper hold, and the French, who were unfamiliar with the manoeuvre, thought he was strangling his opponent. Call me picky, but that doesn’t sound very sporting. A four-time World Heavyweight Wrestling Champion, he semi-retired in 1935 but returned to the ring seven years later, despite being legally blind from trachoma. It was another five years before he fully retired from the professional circuit aged fifty-seven, and he died destitute in New York in 1966. Ah bless.

Two more American wrestlers were born on June 30th – in 1985 Cody Garrett Runnels (now known as Cody Rhodes, or The American Nightmare) checked into Marietta, Georgia. He followed in his father – Virgil Riley Runnels Junior, better known as The American Dream (I see what they did there!) or Dusty Rhodes – and his older half-brother Goldust’s footsteps, into the professional ranks of World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. (WWE). Cody’s godfather, Terry Wayne Allan is a retired pro wrestler who fought under the name of Magnum TA – so, it seems an aptitude for the sport and coming up with creative ring names are family traits.

Incidentally, Cody is also an ‘occasional’ actor (whatever that means – maybe he appears annually as the Easter Bunny, the Grim Reaper on Halloween, or even Poldark’s shirt?) and this wrestling/acting combination, with a bit of modelling thrown in, has also been embraced by one Victoria Elizabeth Crawford (ring name Alicia Fox), born on this day in 1986 in Florida. She is the longest tenured WWE female performer, having been with the company since 2006.

Step into the ring – the boxing type this time – heavyweight fighter, ‘The Greatest’ Muhammad Ali (formerly Cassius Marcellus Clay Junior, which he denounced as his slave name) who defeated Joe Bugner in Malaysia on 30th June 1975. Presumably he floated like a butterfly, stung like a bee?

Clay’s name change came about when he converted to Islam, as did Michael Gerard Tyson, who will need fifty-two candles for his cake today. He’s of course better known as Mike Tyson, alias ‘The Baddest Man on the Planet’. (By coincidence, I am known en famille as ‘The Baddest Cook on the Planet.’) One of his several dubious claims to fame was when he was disqualified during a World Boxing Association championship rematch in 1997, for biting Evander Holyfield’s ear – now that’s definitely not sporting! He has a bit of a dodgy history in his personal life too, but we won’t go into that here, as it’s a family show. It was during one of his banged-up spells that he converted to Islam – that’s OK then.

Another sportsman who has spent time on the Very Naughty Step is former National Football League running back, OJ (Orenthal James) Simpson, whose pre-trial hearing for the murders of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman began this day in 1994. Unless you’ve been living on Mars for the last twenty-odd years, you will know that Simpson was found Not Guilty by a criminal trial jury, but was subsequently deemed responsible for both deaths by a unanimous jury deliberating a civil lawsuit, filed by the Brown and Goldman families in 1997. They were awarded compensatory and punitive damages totalling $33.5 million (not far short of $52 million now), but have received only a tiny percentage of that.

OJ did go to jail, however; in 2007, he was convicted of multiple felonies, including use of a deadly weapon to commit kidnapping, burglary and armed robbery. Yikes! He was sentenced to a minimum nine, maximum thirty-three years (how does that work?) in Lovelock Correctional Centre, Nevada and was released on parole on 1st October 2017.

Who keeps up with the Kardashians? The late patriarch Robert K was part of his friend OJ’s defence team during the 90s murder trial. Although he had let his licence to practice law lapse before the case came to court to concentrate on business interests, he reactivated it to sit in as a volunteer assistant on the legal ‘dream team’. I’ve never seen the reality programme (I’m more of a Come Dine with Me fan tbh – love the voiceover) so had to research it (though I drew the line at actually watching!) – there’s a cast of thousands!

There appear to be six offspring – some are Ks and some are Jenners, on account of mum Kris’s two marriages, the first to Robert and the second to Bruce (now Caitlyn) Jenner. All five daughters have names beginning with K like their mum (or mom) and the only son, Rob was obviously named after his dad – lucky escape, as he could have ended up as a Kayne … oh wait, they have one of those by marriage. The show apparently focuses on the personal and professional lives of the Kardashian–Jenner ‘blended’ family, though what any of them actually do I’ve no idea and frankly don’t care. For me, the most surprising thing is that the programme has run for nearly eleven years. Seriously?

Enough of tinsel town. In 1971 Ohio became the 38th US state to approve the lowering of the voting age to eighteen (1970 in the UK), thus ratifying the 26th amendment. (I will refrain from mentioning here that the prefrontal cortex, which amongst other things assesses and judges consequences of decisions made, is nowhere near mature at eighteen, being the last area of the brain to fully develop.)

This was on the same day that the crew of Russian space mission Soyuz 11 were found dead upon their return to Earth – the only people to die in space.  In the early hours, the Soviet Union prepared to welcome its three latest cosmonaut heroes after a record-breaking mission; Georgi Dobrovolski, Vladislav Volkov and Viktor Patsayev had spent more than twenty-three days in orbit, and also occupied the world’s first space station.

The parachute of Soyuz 11’s descent module was spotted and helicopters touched down for would-be rescuers to make their way to the spacecraft, still superheated and charred from re-entry. Nikolai Kamanin, commander of the cosmonaut team, and veteran cosmonaut Alexei Yeliseyev, waited more than an hour for news of a successful recovery, only to hear three numbers: 1-1-1, which translated as the entire crew being dead. The subsequent investigation determined that an air vent had been jerked open during the separation of the orbital and descent modules and that all three men had been dead for some time from suffocation. How dreadfully sad.

Happily, safety in space travel has much improved and UK astronaut, Tim Peake became the first Briton to join a European Space Agency mission in December 2015, when he blasted into orbit aboard a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. He spent six months on the International Space Station (ISS) and during that time the 44-year-old former helicopter test pilot took part in more than two hundred and fifty experiments. He also ran the London Marathon on a treadmill and engaged more than a million schoolchildren with educational activities – I thought he was brilliant. One of the highlights of Peake’s time in space was a space walk with Nasa astronaut Tim Kopra. While their repair work on the outside of the station was a success, mission controllers cut the walk short after Kopra noticed water leaking into his helmet. Peake will return for another stint on the space station, probably in 2019.

At the beginning of this month, the latest successful ISS mission was completed when a Soyuz capsule carrying Russian Anton Shkaplerov, American Scott Tingle and Japanese Norishige Kanai floated down to Earth after more than five months, landing in Kazakhstan. Footage from within the ISS had shown Shkaplerov practicing with a football, which he was reportedly going to take back to Moscow for the opening game of the World Cup.

Back on terra firma, on the last day of June 1984, Joseph Philippe Pierre Yves Elliott (known as Pierre) Trudeau officially stepped down as Liberal (15th) Prime Minister of Canada after serving two separate terms for a total of fifteen years. He was a charismatic personality described as a ‘swinging young bachelor’ when first elected in 1968 – even though he was almost forty-nine – and dated Barbra Streisand. However, he married much younger TV presenter Margaret Sinclair in March 1971 and they had three sons, the oldest being Justin, current PM. He and middle son, Alexandre (aka Sacha) were both born on Christmas Day, in 1971 and 1973 respectively, poor things – as #4 son (born on Christmas Eve) says, you have to wait all year and everything comes at once. The third Trudeau son, Michel was born in October 1975, but was tragically killed aged only twenty-three in a skiing accident. His body was never found.

Nothing to do with June 30th, but Michel Trudeau’s lost-forever body reminded me of Harold Edward Holt, ditto. I came across him a few years ago when I was researching for a book, never having heard of him beforehand. Harold was Liberal (17th) Prime Minister of Australia from January 1966 until his disappearance in December 1967 when he got caught in a rip current, swimming at Cheviot Beach, Victoria.

Although he was a strong swimmer, he had injured his shoulder at the time, but that didn’t stop the conspiracy theorists coming up with such gems as he was abducted by aliens, faked his own death to run off with his mistress, was assassinated by the CIA or (my favourite!) had been whisked away by a Chinese submarine so that he could defect. Holt was big pals with the US President at the time, Democrat Lyndon B Johnson (in contrast to his frosty relationship with UK Labour PM Harold Wilson, whose widow, Mary died earlier this month aged 102!) and supported the American presence in Vietnam, pledging ‘All the way with LBJ’. It wasn’t until 2005 that an inquest ruled Holt’s death as accidental drowning.

Staying Down Under, I’ll just mention here that Olivia Newton John married  businessman, John Easterling on this day in 2008 in Florida – that’s exactly thirty-three years after Cher married singer-songwriter Gregg Allman, having divorced Sonny Bono four days earlier. And the beat goes on…

Toodles!

NP

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Another epic end of the month blog! Thanks so much Nell.

See you next time for our mutual birthday month!!

Happy reading,

Jenny xx


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