Jenny Kane & Jennifer Ash

Jenny Kane: Coffee, cupcakes, chocolate and contemporary fiction / Jennifer Ash: Medieval crime with hints of Ellis Peters and Robin Hood

Opening Lines with May Ellis: The Clarks Factory Girls at War

This week, I’m delighted to welcome May Ellis, to share the #openinglines of her massively successful saga, The Clarks Factory Girls at War.

Blurb

Can love blossom in times of trouble?

Life-long friends Louisa, Jeannie and Kate are following in the footsteps of their families, working at the Clarks shoe factory.

But when Britain declares war on Germany, the Somerset village of Street is shaken to its core. The Clarks factory is at the heart of life in the village, but the Clark family are Quakers and pacifists. Before long, there are fierce debates amongst the workers and tensions between those who oppose the war and those who believe the village men should go to fight.

Each of the girls must decide her own position but as brothers and sweethearts leave for France, Louisa is relieved that her sweetheart Mattie, a Quaker, who won’t be signing up. But she’ll soon find that they face fierce opposition at home as well as across the Channel.

Will the girls’ friendship be enough to keep them together, as everything around them falls apart?

A heartwarming and gripping new saga series perfect for fans of Elaine Everest and Rosie Clarke.

 *** 

Most of us have worn a pair of Clarks shoes at some point in our lives. Welcome to the village of Street in Somerset where friends Kate, Louisa and Jeannie work together in the Machine Room at the Clarks boot and shoe factory. The Clark family are major employers in the area, providing jobs for over four thousand workers. As Quakers, the Clarks live by the ethos of service and peace, and the local community benefits from their employers’ philanthropy.

Life is about to change drastically for the Clarks factory girls. The story starts on the day after war has been declared.

First 500 words of The Clarks Factory Girls at War by May Ellis.

August 1914

‘I can’t believe we’ve been at Clarks for two years already,’ said Louisa. ‘Do you remember our first day? We thought we were so grown up, didn’t we?’ She laughed. ‘We were so wet behind the ears. We’ve learned a lot since then.’

Her friends Jeannie and Kate laughed with her as the three of them climbed the stone steps to the Machine Room where they worked on the third floor of the main factory building. Above and below them was a steady stream of women and girls, all heading in the same direction. The three of them linked arms, their heads close together so they could hear each other above the noise of boots on the steps and the women’s chatter, as they’d done every day for the past two years since they started work together on this very day.

‘Oh, my word, I was so scared,’ said Kate. ‘I was so glad you two were with me, or I’m sure I’d have turned tail and run.’

That surprised Louisa, because Kate always seemed so fearless. She was the first to argue, the last to back down and she had the loudest laugh of the three of them. ‘Why were you scared?’ she asked.

Kate shrugged. ‘I stood in the doorway, looking around that huge room. It was noisy and smelly and… I don’t know… overwhelming, I suppose.’

‘I know what you mean,’ said Jeannie. She was the quietest of the trio, brought up in a Quaker family, generations of whom had worked for Clarks and worshipped alongside the family who owned the factory. She had a calm and thoughtfulness that Louisa appreciated and didn’t often find amongst her other acquaintances.

‘I always knew a lot of women worked in here,’ Kate went on, ‘including my sister Peg until she got married, but seeing all three hundred of them in the one big room was a shock.’

Jeannie nodded. ‘The smell of the machine oil and the leather made me feel sick. I was sure I’d skewer my hands on the machines the first time I used them, and the foreman scared me to death.’

The industrial sewing machines on which the girls were trained to stitch shoe linings were big and fierce, as was Mr Briars, the foreman. It had taken some getting used to, and many a week had passed before they got the hang of the machines and didn’t lose a good portion of their wages by being charged for wasted thread when they made mistakes and had to unpick their pieces.

‘I’m glad we started together,’ said Louisa, remembering her own nervousness on her first day at work.

‘So am I,’ said Jeannie. ‘Being with you both, my best friends from school, made it more exciting than frightening. And it was lucky Mr Briars used the same system as our teachers of putting girls in alphabetical order, so we got to stay together – Jeannie, Kate and Louisa – J. K. L.’

Louisa squeezed her arm. ‘I …

***

If you’d like to buy a copy of May’s latest novel, you can buy it here:

https://mybook.to/clarksfactorysocial

Author Bio

Readers may have come across May Ellis under her other pen name of Alison Knight. She has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between. She founded Imagine Creative Writing with Jenny Kane with whom she organises regular writing retreats.

In her mid-forties she went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time.

She signed her first three-book publishing contract with Accent Press a year after she completed her master’s degree. Three further books were published by Darkstroke books in 2020-21. The Clarks Factory Girls at War, written as May Ellis and published by Boldwood Books, is her seventh novel and the first in a five-book series.

This new May Ellis saga series with Boldwood Books focusses on three friends, Kate, Louisa and Jeannie, who work at the Clarks shoe factory in Somerset in the First World War.

Social Media Links

https://www.facebook.com/alison.knight.942

https://www.alisonroseknight.com/

Many thanks to May, for sharing her opening lines.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 

Shipwrecking it: Summer at Sea Glass Cove

Lauren Sunshine arrives at Lymeton (known to the locals as Sea Glass Cove), in Dorset as the chief marine archaeologist in charge of excavating a shipwreck off the Jurassic Coast.

In my fictional world, Lauren and her team are investigating the wrecked Tudor ship, The Vissen. This is a Dutch merchant vessel known as a fluyt – and would have been one of the first ships to cross the channel simply to trade rather than to carry passengers and carry cargo.

***

Here’s a mini extract from Summer at Sea Glass Cove…

Sitting on the sand, Lauren gazed at the sea. For a moment she followed the ebb and flow of the tide before closing her eyes. Behind her eyelids she pictured the underwater world in which sat the wreck of the Vissen; a Dutch Fluyt cargo vessel which had set out from Holland in 1590 and never made it home. Lying in approximately nine metres of water, with its long axis orientated north-east to south-west, the stern had broken free from the main body of the ship, lying at an awkward angle which was proving a challenge for her and her divers, and a haven for the local marine life who’d changed the fallen ship into an artificial wooden reef.

As she considered the hidden timbers, Lauren found herself picturing the vessel as it had once been. One of the first fluyts – a new type of ship, designed specifically for transporting goods, rather than, as with almost every vessel before, an all-purpose ship that could be used either for trading or as a warship in times of need. It must have been the pride of the fleet.

Now, this once magnificent ship was losing its 434-year battle with the elements. The combined forces of immersion in salt water, the abrasion of the seabed’s sediment, and the exposure of the timbers to the air at low tide were making it increasingly vulnerable. To Lauren, it was a mystery why the Marine Heritage Trust hadn’t acted sooner to save the many artefacts that had gone down with the ship.

Not such a mystery. She opened her eyes. There’s a great many wrecks off the UK coast, and only one pot of money.

Refocusing on the world above sea level, Lauren took in the picture postcard  view. The sun blazed across a baby-blue sky, despite it being almost six o’clock. The sand, a dusky yellow, was light and clean, and the sea glistened as though dotted with crystals, making the tips of the wreck’s timbers, which just protruded from the water, look mysterious, magical, and enticing all at once. To her right, a row of cliffs that had been there since the Jurassic period and beyond, rolled around the coastline towards nearby Lyme Regis, while to her left, the town of Lymeton sat like a younger sibling to its more famous neighbour. She knew it would be easy to fall in love with the place, with its myriad of craft shops, cafés, ice cream parlour, and stunning scenery….

I’ve always been interested in shipwrecks. They have a tragic magic about them; forming a time capsule of history for us to explore and learn about our past. While the ships themselves can be fascinating, it is the small, personal, finds that appeal to me the most. The items which can tell us about the people who sailed; the buttons, hairbrushes, cutlery, chess pieces, and so on.

It is the discovery of chess pieces that puts The Vissen’s wreck on the map and introduces Lauren to my favourite character in Summer in Sea Glass Cove – Arthur; gaming piece collector extraordinaire.

To meet the adorable pensioner, Arthur, his partner Jeff, and their cat, Shark, then you can find them within the pages of Summer at Sea Glass Cove.

Blurb

Welcome to Sea Glass Cove!

Marine archaeologist Lauren Sunshine is used to life on the go. Her suitcase is always packed ready to explore the country’s underwater heritage so when a shipwreck is found off the Dorset coast, she is thrilled to be leading the excavation team.

Philippa Silver, ‘Phil’ to the folk of Sea Glass Cove, has devoted her life to the Museum by the Sea. But funding is tight, and despite subletting half of the museum to her best friend Jules’s sea glass shop, she fears for the museum’s future.

Phil hopes the wreck discovery could bring more visitors – but there’s a problem – the museum’s too small to house its treasures. Thankfully, new friend Lauren seems as determined as she is to save the museum.

But, when Phil’s brother Ollie catches Lauren’s eye, she begins to wonder if she has more than one reason to be interested in life at Sea Glass Cove…

Available from:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Kobo

WHSmith

Waterstones

Happy reading!

Jenny xx

 

OUT NOW: Summer at Sea Glass Cove

IT’S PUBLICATION DAY!!

Summer at Sea Glass Cove is out now!

The novel was an utter joy to write. Wrapped around the friendships forged when a shipwreck excavation off the coast of Lymeton Cove, near Lyme Regis, takes chief marine archaeologist, Lauren, into a local art gallery, it takes us into the world of  sea glass jewellery and a very small museum…

Blurb

Welcome to Sea Glass Cove!

Marine archaeologist Lauren Sunshine is used to life on the go. Her suitcase is always packed ready to explore the country’s underwater heritage so when a shipwreck is found off the Dorset coast, she is thrilled to be leading the excavation team.

Philippa Silver, ‘Phil’ to the folk of Sea Glass Cove, has devoted her life to the Museum by the Sea. But funding is tight, and despite subletting half of the museum to her best friend Jules’s sea glass shop, she fears for the museum’s future.

Phil hopes the wreck discovery could bring more visitors, but there’s a problem – the museum’s too small to house its treasures. Thankfully, new friend Lauren seems as determined as she is to save the museum.

But, when Phil’s brother Ollie catches Lauren’s eye, she begins to wonder if she has more than one reason to be interested in life at Sea Glass Cove….

Why Sea Glass Cove? Well, mostly because sea glass is so beautiful and I’ve always loved it. Therefore, featuring it in a novel was bound to happen sooner or later.

In my fictious location, Lymeton Cove (nicknamed Sea Glass Cove by the locals), sea glass flecks can be found twinkling in the sand. Consequently, the village of Lymeton plays host to a fabulous shop called All at Sea, where local craftsman, Jules, makes and sells sea-glass jewellery and all manner of things from driftwood that has washed into Lymeton and Lyne Regis’s shore lines.

As you will have seen, if you read the opening lines from Summer at Sea Glass Cove in my previous blog, the novel opens when Lauren visits Jules’s shop for the very first time. Not only does she fall in love with his amazing craftsmanship, she also notices one or two things that really ought to be in a museum – the shelving units made out of old ship planks for a start…

You can buy your copy of Summer at Sea Glass Cove from all good retailers (ebook and paperback) from today, including:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Kobo

WHSmith

Waterstones

Many thanks for pooping by today. Happy reading!!

Jenny xx

 

 

Meet Lauren Sunshine: Summer at Sea Glass Cove

Tomorrow sees the launch of my latest novel –

Summer at Sea Glass Cove!!

Let me introduce you to Lauren Sunshine…

Thirty-two year old Lauren Sunshine has already heard every joke you can think of that could be connected to her surname.

Lauren is single. Having vowed never to bother with men again after a disastrous relationship, she’s determined to be a career girl.

A marine archaeologist, who is visiting Lymeton – known to the locals as Sea Glass Cove – for the first time, Lauren is in the process of managing the exploration of the sunken Tudor merchant ship (The Vissen), a few miles off the coastline.

Nervous, but excited, to be in charge of such an important offshore investigation/ excavation, Lauren is working with her right hand man, Dave – a seasoned marine archaeologist – and two students from the local university: Ali and Jack.

When we first meet Lauren she is exploring the village during her lunch hour – and is amazed to find a small museum tucked away at the back of a craft shop. She instantly falls in love with the Museum by the Sea and the All at Sea shop – and forms a bond with Phil (Philippa) and Jules who work there.

But, as can imagine, for Lauren and her new friends, life won’t all be plain sailing…

Extract.

(Lauren has just walked into the museum for the very first time, and is about to meet the Museum by the Sea’s rather acerbic assistant, Sally…)

Stepping through a single green door, which led from the cramped reception into the main body of the museum, Lauren was glad to be alone.

            She found herself standing at one end of a long, slim, clean and well-lit room. Narrow, waist high display cases ran through the centre of the room, while mounted cabinets filled every available wall space, each of them a museum piece in its own right. The units’ contents, clearly labelled, were laid out in an eye-catching fashion, despite being packed to capacity. Instantly, Lauren could see what Phil meant about the difficulty of school visits. There was no way more than six people could fit  at once without everyone having to breathe in.

            Savouring the sense of history that emanated from the walls, Lauren found herself eye to eye socket with the skeleton of a pterosaur, which hung from the ceiling. Having greeted him warmly, Lauren moved on to a display of fossilised insects, and soon became engrossed in reading the associated information panels.

            ‘This stuff is fabulous,’ she muttered as she moved onto a cabinet full of musket shot, cannon balls, chess pieces and pewterware, all washed up from local wrecks. ‘Criminal to be so hidden away. They need more space.’

            ‘Chance would be a fine thing!’ A young woman, a set of keys swinging from her fingertips, stepped through the door. ‘Phil said we had an important visitor.’

            ‘I’m just an archaeologist. This is such a fabulous place. I’m so glad I found it.’

            ‘You didn’t. Jules told you about it.’

            Surprised by the woman’s bluntness, Lauren spoke fast. ‘Well, yes, that is true, but…’

I’m so excited about the launch of this book!

(I can’t wait for you to meet Arthur and Jeff!! – Just saying!)

If you visit this blog tomorrow, you will learn a little more about sea glass cove.

In the meantime, if you would like to get ahead of the game, and pre-order the book, you can buy it from all good retailers, including:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Kobo

WHSmith

Waterstones

Happy pre-ordering,

Jenny x

 

Welcome to the Jurassic Coast

My latest work of #contemporayfiction, Summer at Sea Glass Cove comes out on 6th June.

This is my third novel with a seaside connection. The first two, A Cornish Escape and A Cornish Wedding, were set in Sennen Cove, which lies within the Penwith area of Cornwall. This time, the action takes place in Dorset, on the world famous Jurassic Coast, in the fictional village of Lymeton Cove – which I have placed a short distance from, the very real, Lyme Regis.

Famous for its stunning geology, and the vast numbers of fossils that have been found along its coastline, the appropriately named, Jurassic Coast, has long been a place of pilgrimage for geologists, palaeontologists, archaeologists, and anyone with a love of dinosaurs, the prehistoric world – or indeed the seaside!

As a former archaeologist and historian, I’ve long been fascinated with all aspects of our countries past, a passion I’ve shared with my lead characters Lauren and Phil.

Summer at Sea Glass Cove

Blurb

Welcome to Sea Glass Cove!

Marine archaeologist Lauren Sunshine is used to life on the go. Her suitcase is always packed ready to explore the country’s underwater heritage so when a shipwreck is found off the Dorset coast, she is thrilled to be leading the excavation team.

Philippa Silver, ‘Phil’ to the folk of Sea Glass Cove, has devoted her life to the Museum by the Sea. But funding is tight, and despite subletting half of the museum to her best friend Jules’s sea glass shop, she fears for the museum’s future.

Phil hopes the wreck discovery could bring more visitors, but there’s a problem – the museum’s too small to house its treasures. Thankfully, new friend Lauren seems as determined as she is to save the museum.

But, when Phil’s brother Ollie catches Lauren’s eye, she begins to wonder if she has more than one reason to be interested in life at Sea Glass Cove….

***

It isn’t just Lauren and Phil who are passionate about history. Local pensioner, Arthur, has a passion for the past too. His love of gaming pieces through history, especially chess pieces, helps forge a friendship between himself and Lauren which becomes vital in the quest to save the museum, when its future falls into jeopardy. Add to that, the excavation of a shipwreck, and its all set to be a summer of discovery at Sea Glass Cove.

And we haven’t even discussed the sea glass itself yet…

You can pre-order Summer at Sea Glass Cove from all good retailers, including:

Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Happy pre-ordering,

Jenny x

 

Opening Lines: Summer at Sea Glass Cove

Summer at Sea Glass Cove will be published

NEXT WEEK

on 6th June!

Today I’m sharing its #openinglines.

Blurb

Welcome to Sea Glass Cove!

Marine archaeologist Lauren Sunshine is used to life on the go. Her suitcase is always packed ready to explore the country’s underwater heritage so when a shipwreck is found off the Dorset coast, she is thrilled to be leading the excavation team.

Philippa Silver, ‘Phil’ to the folk of Sea Glass Cove, has devoted her life to the Museum by the Sea. But funding is tight, and despite subletting half of the museum to her best friend Jules’s sea glass shop, she fears for the museum’s future.

Phil hopes the wreck discovery could bring more visitors, but there’s a problem – the museum’s too small to house its treasures. Thankfully, new friend Lauren seems as determined as she is to save the museum.

But, when Phil’s brother Ollie catches Lauren’s eye, she begins to wonder if she has more than one reason to be interested in life at Sea Glass Cove….

FIRST 500 WORDS:

As Lauren stepped through the low stone-framed doorway, the instant dip in temperature after the relentless heat of the midday June sun felt like balm against her tanned skin. Sliding her sunglasses up, so they secured her sea-soaked hair away from her eyes, she gave a small sigh of pleasure.

The shop was beautifully laid out. Shelves of various shapes and sizes lined the walls, each one carved out of driftwood. Upon these were displayed unique items of jewellery, all made out of sea glass. Every polished shard radiated its own aura of light which, as Lauren meandered between the shelves, she noticed changed colour depending on where she was standing.

Drawn to a large, teardrop-shaped pendant in the window, Lauren marvelled at its vivid sapphire glow. As she stepped closer the light changed, and it became an emerald green. Catching her breath, caught between the desire to discover if the glass was as smooth as she suspected, and knowing she ought not touch, she became conscious of a voice nagging at her.

Ships’ planks.

A frown puckered her forehead as her attention shifted from the pendant to a distinctive groove in the shelf upon which it was being displayed.

Tudor?

Instead of reaching out to feel the cool glass beneath her fingertips, Lauren gently caressed the bowed wood.

A nail once sat there – a long one – iron. It would have secured this plank to the next and…

Lauren focused her attention onto the eclectic shelf collection rather than the exquisite jewellery. That one’s more modern – from a warship – twentieth century. I wonder which…

‘It’s from the HMS Formidable – at least, that’s where I’ve always assumed it washed in from.’

As Lauren spun around, she found herself face to chest with a faded blue shirt. Stepping back so she could see the wearer properly, she saw a welcoming grin and a multi-coloured bandana that neatly trapped his shoulder-length greying hair.

‘You know these are ships’ planks then?’

‘From local wrecks to be exact.’ He put out a hand for her to shake. ‘I’m Jules. Not often someone looks more closely at my shelving than my jewellery.’

‘I don’t often see ships’ planks used like this.’ The urge to ask him what the hell he thought he was doing using historical artefacts in this manner was stifled by the strength of his smile.

‘If I hadn’t picked them up, they’d only have been washed out again, or worse – someone would have used them for firewood. Anyway, they’re in keeping with the theme of the shop.’

‘Jewellery?’ Lauren’s eyes strayed back to the pendant. It had developed a lighter, more peppermint sheen.

‘More using nature’s bounty – well, the sea’s bounty to be specific. These are all made from sea glass. And over there—’ Jules gestured to the back of the shop ‘—I have a few sculptures made from driftwood, along with some more useful stuff – coasters, doorstops, door handles and such like – all carved from driftwood.’

Turning to follow his…

If that has tickled your reading tastebuds, then you can #preorder your copy of Summer at Sea Glass Cove from all good retailers, including:

Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Happy pre-ordering!

Jenny x

Opening Lines with Anna Legat: The Queen’s Avenger

It’s #openinglines time, and today I’m delighted to be welcoming Anna Legat to my blog to talk about her brand new novel, The Queen’s Avenger.

Over to you Anna…

A few years ago, I read a biography of Mary Stewart, Mary Queen of Scots: A Study in Failure. The book was a scathing assessment of the tragic monarch. The author, a modern-day historian, critically analysed Mary’s reign and concluded her a failure. But there was something missing. It was Mary herself. She had been lost in the paperwork. I set out on a mission to find her.

I read many other biographies. Some were much more forgiving, even favourable; others not so. The accounts of key events from Mary’s short life, and their interpretations, varied widely. After all, Mary Queen of Scots is one of history’s most hotly debated figures. Her contemporaries were unkind, if not openly hostile, towards her. Much evidence of her alleged wrongdoings was fabricated by her enemies. Posthumously, she was firstly vilified as an adulteress and regicide, then romanticised as a tragic heroine who ruled solely with her heart. She was neither.

Having travelled across Scotland in her footsteps, I immersed myself in her word and tried to explore it through her eyes. An image formed in my mind of Mary as a queen as well as woman. The outcome is The Queen’s Avenger, Mary’s story told from the perspective of her devoted guardian and confessor, Father Ninian Winzet, who having failed to protect her, embarks on a mission to avenge her.

Blurb

1592.
The Reformation has engulfed the Holy Roman Empire. The power of Catholic church is not what it was.
   At St James’s Monastery in Ratisbon, its Scottish Abbot, Ninian Winzet, dies.
   Brother Gunther, a young Bavarian monk, discovers a hidden vault in Winzet’s scriptorium containing Winzet’s deathbed confessions.
   The revelations are shocking. If made public, they could not only ruin the late Abbot’s reputation but also harm the monastery and the whole Benedictine Order.
   Winzet, a Scot by birth, tells a tragic story of Mary Stewart, a catholic queen in protestant Scotland, hounded to death by opponents both within and outside her kingdom.
   Having sworn to protect her and failing to deliver on his pledge, Winzet dedicates his life to exposing her enemies. But they are influential and practised at concealing their crimes. They are also unscrupulous and will stop at nothing.
   When Mary’s husband, King Henry, is assassinated, she is framed for his murder, imprisoned and forced to abdicate. She flees to England – only to be imprisoned by her cousin, the Queen Elizabeth.
   Winzet’s dogged investigation leads him to the real killers and their paymasters. But what recourse is there for justice?
   Thwarted in his efforts, the Abbot embarks on a mission of bloody revenge to exact his own version of justice on the men who destroyed his queen.
   Gunther is resolved to keep Winzet’s confessions secret, but he discovers that is not the only person who knows of their existence.

On his deathbed, he writes his confessions. A young Bavarian monk discovers them.

FIRST 500 WORDS…

29th September 1592, Ratisbon, Bavaria

Brother Gunther’s attention was straying. He forced his gaze up to the apsis to seek inspiration for his night prayer, but none came. The scene of the Crucifixion at the high altar – the Lord’s earthly form prostrate on the Cross, his spirit departed –­­­ served only to remind Gunther of the passing of Abbot Ninian. His thoughts drifted further to the scrolls hidden behind the wall panel in his scriptorium. Gunther was eager to get back to them.

He had uncovered them accidentally after Mass this morning. He had been assigned the task of cleaning the late Abbot’s chambers by Father Archibald who was to succeed Ninian. The office was yet to be conferred upon him by His Holiness in Rome, but that was a mere formality. Father Archibald was desirous to take residence in the elevated tower apartment as soon as possible.

Never before had Gunther been granted access to the Abbot’s lodgings. He had found his bedchamber basic in comforts, befitting the Benedictine vow of poverty and abstention: a simple bed, an enamel washbasin, a prie-dieu with a cushion to kneel upon in prayer and a wood carving of Holy Mary, her robes painted pale blue, trimmed with gold. A scourge whip with nails set in leather straps lay beside a lantern and a Holy Book on a small sideboard. A Cross of rosewood hung dominant above the door.

Abbot Ninian had been an avid advocate of ascetism. In his teachings, he would often warn the brothers against material and carnal temptations. It appeared he had lived by what he had preached.

The late Abbot’s scriptorium however painted a very different picture of his character. Gunther would have no words to describe the pandemonium he had walked into as he stepped over the threshold of the airless chamber, small as it already were, and made even smaller by the accumulation of clutter. The desk, central to the room, was grunting under the weight of heavy volumes, parchments, quills broken and spent, papers crumpled by a frustrated hand, discarded and forgotten, inkwells with the tar of dry ink hardened inside, a knife for sharpening quills, a double candlestick caked in yellow beeswax, two oil lamps, one chipped, with a missing handle, the other new, its belly glistening. The walls were draped with pine shelves heaving under the weight they carried, darkened with age, cramped with books written principally in Latin, but also a few in German, French and Italian, as well as copious pamphlets and ledgers, some bound in leather, some in wood. The smell in the scriptorium was that of mould and decay, and something sour that Brother Gunther associated with death.

He had cleared the desk and scrubbed it, spots of hard-set wax peeling off the surface like old skin from a snake. He had refilled the inkwells and sealed them with stoppers. He had gone about washing the wood-panelled walls and wiping layers of dust from the skirting boards when his eyes became drawn to an ill-fitting…

Mary Queen of Scots

Buy The Queen’s Avenger  https://mybook.to/TheQueensAvenger

Bio

Although she writes in a wide range of genres, Anna Legat is best known for her DI Gillian Marsh detective series and The Shires, her cosy murder mysteries. Anna is also the author of the historical thriller, Buried in the Past. She lives near Bath.

Join Anna Legat on Twitter @LegatWriter, FB @AnnaLegatAuthor and Instagram at @LegatAuthor

***

Many thanks, Anna.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

Opening Lines with Morwenna Blackwood: Cover Your Tracks

#Openinglines time is upon us once more, and this week I’ll thrilled to welcome back the fabulous  Morwenna Blackwood; friend, author, and #novelinayear alumni, to share the first 500 words of her latest publication, Cover Your Tracks.

Blurb:

It’s 1984. Newly appointed chief reporter, Simon, stands in a derelict area behind a condemned railway station. A train driver has been found, hanging.

The apparent suicide leads Simon into an investigation of class-wars, corruption, and devestating home-truths. And then he disappears.

Two decades later, Nia, the daughter he never knew he had, is trying to find out what happened to him. Will she exposed the truth, and get her life back on the rails? Or will she end up having to cover her own tracks?

FIRST 500 WORDS:

Simon, 1984.

It’s a cliché of a scene; the police officer I spoke to on the phone was right. A thick rope tied to a branch of a gnarly old tree, and dangling from its other end is a middle-aged man, dressed in jeans and a lumber shirt. On the ground a little in front of him, among fallen acorns, lies the plastic milk crate he’d kicked away when he’d reached the point of no return. Critical mass. The half-empty bottle of amber-coloured spirits by the foot of the tree must have helped him along his way.

A weird sort of detachedness comes over me as I regard the man. It occurs to me that I should be shocked, or upset, or something, but all I can think about is the fact that he’s still hanging there. Presumably, someone comes to take the body down and wheel it off to the morgue before they allow the press in, don’t they? But I keep forgetting that I’m in the South-West now. Things are different in the countryside. Usual rules don’t apply, I suppose because no one’s watching. No one cares but the locals.

My sight drifts in and out of focus as I watch the dead man swinging slightly in the cold wind, and I wonder for the umpteenth time whether I’ve made the right decision moving down here. Despite myself, I take my hat off in respect – for the dead man, or my former life, I’m not sure.

“Blimey, boy!” The policeman pronounces it bey. “You’re either made of strong stuff or you’re a serial killer in disguise!” The rotund, moustached man pulls a cigarette out of his pocket and tilts the packet in my direction. I smile and reach out to take one, but he pulls the packet back, uncertainty flitting across his face. “Actually, are you old enough, boy?”

It’s become an automatic response to laugh and make light of it when people say things like this. I expect the growing knot of seething fury I keep locked up in my stomach will give me an ulcer one day.

“Yes, I’m 21, Officer. Mr Locke wouldn’t send the YTS lad to a suicide.”

Mr Locke – Derek – is the editor – or, rather, the commander and chief – of the Eskwich Gazette, the local rag I work on now. I could have taken the job I was offered in Winchester, or even tried to make it in London. But I went for the chief reporter’s position on the Swansbourne Gazette, and moved down there, and then the Esky Gazette called me – although that doesn’t count as being headhunted, according to my father – and now I take a train and a bus here and back every day for the privilege of a few more pounds a year. I ought to get a place here in Eskwich, really, but I enjoy living in my little flat above the chippy – it’s comforting, somehow, listening to the sea, and the trains going past. It makes…

***

You can buy Cover Your Tracks from all good ebook retailers, including: Cover Your Tracks eBook : Blackwood, Morwenna: Amazon.co.uk: Kindle Store

Bio

When she was six years old, Morwenna wrote an endless story about a frog, and hasn’t stopped writing since.

She’s the author of bestselling noir psychological thrillers, The (D)Evolution of Us, Glasshouse, Underrated and Skin and Bone; and has written short stories and a collection of poetry. Morwenna has an MA in Creative Writing, and can usually be found down by the sea.

She often thinks about that frog.

Links

www.morwennablackwoodauthor.com

https://www.amazon.com/author/morwennablackwood

https://www.threads.com/morwennablackwood

https://www.instagram.com/morwennablackwood_

https://www.twitter.com/morwennablackw1

mybook.to/devolution

mybook.to/glasshousenovel

mybook.to/underrated

mybook.to/skinandbone 

***

Many thanks, Morwenna.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Summer at Sea Glass Cove: Three weeks to go

It’s only three weeks to go until the launch of my latest #feelgood novel, Summer at Sea Glass Cove, is published.

Set on the beautiful Jurassic Coast in Dorset, you can expect a mix of #romance, #newlife adventure, #archaeology and #friendship.

Blurb

Welcome to Sea Glass Cove!

Marine archaeologist Lauren Sunshine is used to life on the go. Her suitcase is always packed ready to explore the country’s underwater heritage so when a shipwreck is found off the Dorset coast, she is thrilled to be leading the excavation team.

Philippa Silver, ‘Phil’ to the folk of Sea Glass Cove, has devoted her life to the Museum by the Sea. But funding is tight, and despite subletting half of the museum to her best friend Jules’s sea glass shop, she fears for the museum’s future.

Phil hopes the wreck discovery could bring more visitors – but there’s a problem – the museum’s too small to house its treasures. Thankfully, new friend Lauren seems as determined as she is to save the museum.

But, when Phil’s brother Ollie catches Lauren’s eye, she begins to wonder if she has more than one reason to be interested in life at Sea Glass Cove…

***

Set in one of my favourite part of the world, writing Summer at Sea Glass Cove was an utter joy to write.

I hope you’ll enjoy it to.

Coming 6th June 2024, you can pre-order from all good bookshops, including Amazon UK and Amazon US

Here are a few of the lovely pre-release reviews my readers have posted on Netgalley

A really enjoyable story about a small village museum at risk of closure and the locals and marine archaeologists there for a dig that try to save it. Such great characters and interesting history. I found it a lovely read. Made me wish I could go sit in a snug by a fire with a pint. – Netgalley

What a unique and beautiful concept for a novel ! I’m so excited to join marine archaeologist Lauren on an adventure with Sea Glass Cove aficionado Philippa to help save the museum. – Netgalley

I am a big fan of Jenny Kane and it got better and better.. You learn a lot about marine archaeologist. You have secret love and new love. An ace pub. Corrupt councillors . .Two of my favourite characters were Arthur and Jeff. Read it  – Netgalley

***

Happy preordering,

Jenny xx

Tiny Taster: Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange

With Spring in full swing – and hints of summer around the corner – I thought I’d share a tiny taster from the third novel in the #MillGrange,

Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange.

Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange

BLURB

Helen Rogers has been lying to herself over her feelings for Tom since the moment they met. And for good reason; not only are they colleagues, working together with the archaeology groups at Mill Grange, but her sabbatical is almost over and she’ll soon have to return to Bath.

Tom Harris knows he’s falling in love with Helen. How could he not? She’s smart, kind and great with his son Dylan. But with his ex-wife suddenly offering him a chance to spend more time with Dylan, and the staff of Mill Grange about to host a wedding, everything else has to be put to one side. Even his feelings for a certain archaeologist.

As Helen’s time at Mill Grange runs short, the two are forced to consider what matters most…

Set in the beautiful Exmoor countryside, on the border of Devon and Somerset, Spring Blossoms, continues the story of Thea, Shaun, Sam, Tina, Mable and Bert – as well as Helen and Tom, who were newcomers to the house in Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange.

Here’s a tiny taster…

‘Do you honestly think I’ll need eighteen pairs of knickers? It’s the Cotswolds, not the Kalahari.’

Thea scooped the entire contents of her underwear drawer onto the bed as Shaun flung open a suitcase.

‘No, I think you’ll need thirty pairs or more, but as you only have eighteen, then pack them.’

‘Seriously?’ Thea eyed some of her older undies with suspicion. The greying fabric had been consigned to the back of the drawer to be used in emergencies only, although now she thought about it, she wasn’t sure what that emergency might be. An archaeological excavation in the middle of nowhere, perhaps?

‘You know what it’s like on a dig. Laundry facilities only happen to other people. A flushing toilet can be a luxury sometimes.’

‘Won’t the local village have a launderette?’

‘It’s the Cotswolds, Thea. The people who can afford to live there don’t need launderettes.’ Shaun winked. ‘I tend to wring out my smalls in the nearest public toilet sink or a bucket of cold water.’

Thea laughed. ‘I used to do that when I was a student on excavation.’ Stuffing every pair of socks she owned into the suitcase, she added, ‘Age has softened me!’

‘You’ve got used to manor house living, that’s what it is.’ As Shaun threw a pile of t-shirts onto the bed, he caught a glimpse of anxiety crossing Thea’s face. ‘I was…

***

You don’t have to have read Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange or Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange, to enjoy Spring Blossoms, although you’d probably get more from the story if you have.

If you would like to buy an e-copy, paperback or audio version of Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange, you can purchase a copy from all good retailers, including…

Happy reading,

Jenny x

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