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

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Opening Lines with Carol McGrath: The Lost Queen

I’m delighted to be taking part in the #blogtour for Carol McGrath’s latest novel,

The Lost Queen!

Grab a cuppa, take a seat, and enjoy the #openinglines from this fabulous #historical novel…

BLURB: The Lost Queen

1191 and the Third Crusade is underway . . .

It is 1191 and King Richard the Lionheart is on crusade to pitch battle against Saladin and liberate the city of Jerusalem and her lands. His mother, the formidable Eleanor of Aquitaine and his promised bride, Princess Berengaria of Navarre, make a perilous journey over the Alps in midwinter. They are to rendezvous with Richard in the Sicilian port of Messina.

There are hazards along the way – vicious assassins, marauding pirates, violent storms and a shipwreck. Berengaria is as feisty as her foes and, surviving it all, she and Richard marry in Cyprus. England needs an heir. But first, Richard and his Queen must return home . . .

The Lost Queen is a thrilling medieval story of high adventure, survival, friendship and the enduring love of a Queen for her King.

FIRST 500 WORDS

Chapter One:

September 1190 Middleton, Hampshire Avelina

The midnight Angelus bells were ringing. I must make haste. Sprinkling fine sand over the words I had just written, I leant back in my chair, my instructions completed.

Was my husband alive or dead? We had been married for less than a year when he had travelled to Outremer to lay claim to his father’s estate, promising to return for me. Three long years had passed, and he was presumed dead in the Holy Land. But I felt that if my Wil- liam no longer walked the earth, I would be sure of it, deep in my heart.

During his absence, I was left managing our estate and there was pressure on me to remarry. His half-brother, Walter of Winchester, was my suitor. He insisted that William had died at the Battle of Hattin three years ago, when Saladin defeated the Christian army close to the port of Acre. Walter pointed out that no ransom demand had been made, as was the custom for captured knights, but I countered that there was no firm proof my husband was dead. When an opportunity presented itself, I determined to discover the truth of it and follow him to Outremer. I believed Walter had lied to me about my husband. He desired this estate.

A group of nuns from nearby Romsey Abbey were to join King Richard’s new Crusade. I decided to travel with them, and once they agreed, I scribed my will, in case . . . In case of what? In case William had indeed died and I might not return safely home either. I stared down at the stylus lying on the desk. My heart skipped a beat, and drawing in my breath, I hesitated. It was not too late to change my mind. Who knew what terrors I would meet on the journey?

I stiffened my spine. My plan was to journey east disguised as a widowed lay nun, travelling on a pilgrimage to pray at the Holy Sepulchre for my husband’s departed soul. With a third Crusade under way, we Christians assumed that the kings of France and England would wrestle Jerusalem back from the enemy, that God was on our side and He would avenge the cruelty we felt had been commit- ted by Saladin after he had captured Jerusalem and the Holy Sepulchre. When the Christian army recovered Outremer’s cities, Jerusalem would be safe for our pilgrims once again.

I glanced at the two anxious faces watching me, those of my steward and my priest. My elbows planted firmly upon the desk, I lifted the document and began to read aloud.

I, Avelina FitzWilliam, give my steward, Robert de Herbert, control over my estate at Middleton until my return from God’s Kingdom of Jerusalem.

If I fail to return within five years, I grant my dower estate of Middleton into the custody of the Abbey of Romsey. This grant includes my husband William FitzWilliam’s lands beyond the sea in Outremer.

I paused and…

If that whetted your appetite, you can buy Carol’s novel from all good retailers, including: – https://tinyurl.com/5n8ab2xv

Acclaim for Carol McGrath’s ROSE trilogy:
‘Powerful, gripping and beautifully told’ KATE FURNIVALL on The Silken Rose
‘A tour de force of gripping writing, rich historical detail and complex, fascinating characters’ NICOLA CORNICK on The Stone Rose
‘A beautifully narrated novel’ K J MAITLAND on The Damask Rose

Bio – Following a first degree in English and History, Carol McGrath completed an MA in Creative Writing from The Seamus Heaney Centre, Queens University Belfast, followed by an MPhil in English from University of London. The Handfasted Wife, first in a trilogy about the royal women of 1066 was shortlisted for the RoNAS in 2014. The Swan-Daughter and The Betrothed Sister complete this highly acclaimed trilogy. Mistress Cromwell, a best-selling historical novel about Elizabeth Cromwell, wife of Henry VIII’s statesman, Thomas Cromwell, was republished by Headline in 2020. The Silken Rose, first in a medieval She-Wolf Queens Trilogy, featuring Ailenor of Provence, saw publication in April 2020. This was followed by The Damask Rose. The Stone Rose was published April 2022. Carol is writing Historical non-fiction as well as fiction. Sex and Sexuality in Tudor England was published in February 2022. The Stolen Crown 2023 and The Lost Queen will be published 18th July 2024. Carol lives in Oxfordshire, England and in Greece.

Find Carol on her website:

www.carolcmcgrath.co.uk.

Follow her on Amazon @CarolMcGrath

https://twitter.com/carolmcgrath

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/carol0275/the-handfasted-wife/

https://scribbling-inthemargins.blogspot.com/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/carol-mcgrath-906723a/

https://www.facebook.com/CarolMcGrathAuthor1/

(This blog is part of a Rachel’s Random Resources tour.)

For the love of Arthur

Over the years I’ve developed something of a reputation for the inclusion of older characters in my contemporary fiction. Without conscious thought on my behalf, I always seem to develop plotlines that involve pensioners – and I love it!

Bert and Mabel in my #MillGrange series are enduringly popular- and Stan in my #Cornish novels has carved a little place for himself in many of my reader’s hearts.

When it came to writing Summer at Sea Glass Cove, I found myself drawn, once again, to an older character – but this time he was not entirely of my own creation.

Arthur – retired fisherman and passionate collector of antique gaming pieces (especially chess pieces)  – was inspired by my daughter, Lucy.

Lucy and I were sharing a scone and coffee moment in a local café, as we often do when she is visiting. I had just written, ‘The End’ on the final novel in #ThePottingShed series, and Lucy asked what I was going to write next. I outlined my idea for Summer at Sea Glass Cove – but at this stage, I only had a plot, locations, and my three lead characters, but I knew it needed another dimension.

My daughter looked at me as if I was crazy – not uncommon – and told me I needed to get an older dynamic because, and I’m quoting Lucy directly here, “you’re really good at doing the oldies, Mum.”

Within minutes – the time it took me to get up and fetch her a second scone – Lucy had invented Arthur, his husband Jeff, and their cat, Shark. And – I have to say – they are my favourite characters in the book. Not just because my daughter helped bring them to life, but because there is something magically endearing about them. As I wrote them onto the pages, I knew they’d be the sort of chaps that would make solid friendships with people of all ages and walks of life.

When Lauren, marine archaeologist, and the novel’s main protagonist, first meets Arthur, she’s in the Museum by the Sea (run by Phil and Sally) –  they are chatting about The Vissen – a wreck that Lauren is currently excavating:

EXTRACT:

…‘Welcome to the best museum in the county.’ Arthur’s eyes twinkled. ‘Pleased to meet you.’

‘Likewise.’ Lauren returned his generous smile. ‘Sally said you’re a regular here.’

‘Once a week, every week since I was a kid.’

‘Really?’

‘Yep. Missed the odd visit when I was at sea, mind.’

‘A fisherman?’

‘Man and boy.’ Arthur brushed down his navy jumper. ‘Was it the top that gave it away? Seen better days but I can’t bring myself to get rid of it.’

Lauren laughed. ‘It does give off that sea fisherman vibe. Aren’t you a bit hot though?’

‘My body stopped bothering to keep me warm the second I reached seventy-five. This jumper will see me out.’ He started to chuckle. ‘Unless Jeff throws it away while I’m not looking!’

‘Jeff?’

‘My husband. He hates me wearing something so tatty. When I point out that I’m looking rather tatty myself these days, he rolls his eyes and goes to talk to the cat.’

Phil laughed. ‘I don’t know how he puts up with you.’

‘Nor me.’ Arthur tapped the tray before them. ‘Now then, Lauren, what do you make of this lot?’

Stepping forward, Lauren lowered her coffee cup and looked at the artefacts spread out before her. ‘Gaming counters!’

Arthur’s eyebrows rose so high, they were almost hidden by his navy cap. ‘I’ve not heard those two words spoken with such enthusiasm before.’

Knowing she ought to keep the discovery of the Vissen’s chess pieces to herself, Lauren went to pick up a pawn. ‘May I?’

‘Certainly.’ Exchanging a glance with Arthur, Phil asked, ‘You know about these things, Lauren?’

Cradling the bone pawn in her palm, Lauren admitted that she did, and asked, ‘Where’s this from?’

‘It was washed up on Lyme Bay.’ Arthur picked up another piece. ‘I think this one’s from the same set. Possibly a queen – maybe a bishop. The sea has worn it too much to say for sure. I’d put my pension on it being Tudor though.’

‘Do you know about chess sets then, Arthur?’ Lauren laid the pawn down next to a collection of pottery dice.

Sally burst out laughing. ‘That’s like asking if the Pope reads the Bible.’ …

If you’d like to find out what happens next – and why chess pieces are so important to Lauren and her new friends – you can find Summer at Sea Glass Cove in all good bookshops and online retailers, including:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Kobo

WHSmith

Waterstones 

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…

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

10 years of Romancing Robin Hood!

Unbelievably, it is 10 YEARS, since the first edition of my part contemporary romance / part medieval crime novel, Romancing Robin Hood was published!

Since that time, it has been through two incarnations, with two different publishers.

At first it looked like this…

At the moment, it looks like this!

Will the cover change again? Quite possibly, for my previous publisher has retired from the business, and I’m on the hunt for a new one…so who knows! In the meantime, Romancing Robin Hood, is available – with the above cover – as a self published tale.

Here’s the Blurb:

When you’re in love with a man of legend, how can anyone else match up?

Dr Grace Harper has loved the stories of Robin Hood ever since she first saw them on TV as a teenager. Now, with her fortieth birthday just around the corner, she’s a successful academic in Medieval History—but Grace is stuck in a rut.

Grace is supposed to be writing a textbook on a real-life medieval criminal gang—the Folvilles—but instead she is captivated by a novel she’s secretly writing. A medieval mystery which entwines the story of Folvilles with her long-time love of Robin Hood—and a feisty young woman named Mathilda of Twyford.

Just as she is trying to work out how Mathilda can survive being kidnapped by the Folvilles, Grace’s best friend Daisy announces she is getting married. After a whirlwind romance with a man she loves as much as the creatures in her animal shelter, Daisy has press-ganged Grace into being her bridesmaid.

Witnessing Daisy’s new-found happiness, Grace starts to re-evaluate her own life. Is her devotion to a man who may or may not have lived hundreds of years ago really a substitute for a real-life hero of her own? Grace’s life doesn’t get any easier when she meets Dr Robert Franks—a rival academic who she is determined to dislike but finds herself being increasingly drawn to… If only he didn’t know quite so much about Robin Hood.

Suddenly, spending more time living in the past than the present doesn’t seem such a good idea..

Available from all good retailers, including : Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AU

Romancing Robin Hood is a contemporary romance about history lecturer Dr Grace Harper, who is passionate about Robin Hood and the historical outlaws that may have inspired him. Not only does this novel tell the story of Grace’s fight to find time for romance in her busy work filled life, it also contains a secondary story about the fourteenth century criminal gang Grace is researching- the Folvilles. This family, based in Ashby-Folville in Leicestershire, were a group I researched in-depth as a student many moons ago.

In the novella she is writing, Grace’s fourteenth century protagonist Mathilda is getting to know the Folville family rather better than she would have liked. As well as living with them, she suddenly finds herself under a very frightening type of suspicion. I rather enjoyed weaving this sub plot around the main romance of the modern part of Romancing Robin Hood. This was the first time I’d ever written any sort of crime, and I’d had no idea killing someone off could be so much fun!! It was rather like doing a jigsaw from in the inside out, while having no idea where the corners are! I loved it so much, that it led to me writing all four of the #FolvilleChronicle novels.

In fact, the writing of Romancing Robin Hood has led me on many an adventure; none of which I saw coming. It was this novel that inspired Barnaby Eaton-Jones to invite me to the Hooded Man event in 2016 to sell my books – this celebration of all things Robin of Sherwood,  changed my life forever. After the success of my sales and the wonderful feedback from the guests there,  I was invited to have a go at writing audio books and novels for the ongoing series; a series which just happened to be my favourite of all time.

Now, 8 years later, here we are celebrating the show’s 40th anniversary, and I’m still writing scripts and books for the fans to enjoy. And I love it!!!

Not only that, but my many visits to Robin Hood events and conventions have led me to begin a brand new series of #cosycrime novels- the first being Manuscript Mysteries at The Robin Hood Club.

Manuscript Mysteries at the Robin Hood Club

I had no idea, when I wrote Romancing Robin Hood, that it would take me so far from being a romcom writer. While I still love writing romcoms and romances, I am now also a crime writer, a cosy crime writer, and audio script writer and more…

Best of all – I’m a happy writer.

Thank you to everyone for their ongoing support!!

Jenny xx

Opening Lines with May Ellis: Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls

I’m delighted to welcome May Ellis, a.k.a Alison Knight, to my place today to share the #openinglines from her brand new novel, Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls.

Over to you May…

Hello Jenny,

Thanks so much for inviting me to share the opening lines of my new historical saga, Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls. This is the second in my Clarks series, but it was actually the first one I wrote! I’d been asked by my publishers, Boldwood Books, to write about the Clarks shoe factory in the First World War and I actually decided to start it a little way into the conflict because the Clark family were pacifists and influenced many people in Street, Somerset, where their headquarters are still based. By 1915, the government were hinting that conscription would be brought in if not enough men enlisted voluntarily. My editor loved this book, but wanted me to write a prequel, showing the story prior to 1915. Thus, The Clarks Factory Girls at War became the first book in the series and Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls is the second. I’ve just finished writing book three and am starting on book four, so watch out for more stories about Louisa, Kate and Jeannie in the future.

I hope you enjoy the opening lines of Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls.

With love,  May Ellis

BLURB for Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls by May Ellis

1915: As war continues to rage across the Channel, the families of the Somerset village of Street can no longer avoid its long shadow.

Workers in the Clarks shoe factory, at the heart of the village, have left for the army in droves, and news from the Front seems to grow darker by the day.

When life-long friends Louisa, Jeannie and Kate receive the news they had been fearing, all hope seems lost. And Louisa’s world will be rocked further when she makes another discovery, one that will see her cast out by her family, changing her life forever.

Kate and Jeannie are determined to be strong for their friend, but each of them has their own problems to bear, and when Jeannie’s beloved brother Lucas enlists, she fears history is about to repeat itself.

Can the Clarks factory girls help each other through the darkest days and keep hope alive?

The second in the heartwarming and gripping new saga series perfect for fans of Elaine Everest and Rosie Clarke.

***

First 500 words…

September 1915

Louisa smiled as she ran a loving hand over the crisp cotton bedsheets that she had just placed in her bottom drawer. In the weeks since her sweetheart Mattie had been away fighting in France, she had been working hard, adding to her collection of household items so that when he came home they would be ready to start married life together.

Her smile turned to a grin as she remembered him teasing her about the first things she’d bought. ‘I’ve got a nice tea set, some pillowcases and a tin-opener so far,’ she’d told him.

Mattie had burst out laughing.

‘What’s so funny?’ she had asked.

He had shaken his head, still chuckling. ‘Nothing at all, love. I’m just thinking that at least we can have a cuppa, open a tin of sardines and then have somewhere to rest our heads. I can’t wait to use them.’

‘Oh, you,’ she had giggled, poking him in the ribs. ‘My ma always said you need to be able to feed and water your man, then he’ll need his rest.’

‘Sensible woman, your ma.’

Now she had sheets and blankets as well as the pillowcases. She felt her blood warm as she imagined them lying together in their marriage bed.

‘Oh, Mattie,’ she sighed. ‘I miss you so, my love. I wish this awful war would end.’

She tucked his latest letter into the beribboned bundle she kept in the drawer with their treasures. He had kept his promise, writing to her most days, even though it sometimes took a while for them to reach her. His letters were full of love and their plans for the future, interspersed with funny stories about army life. She knew he was playing down the hardships of life in the trenches, not wanting her to worry – although how could she not? She suspected that making things seem amusing helped him to cope with the harsh realities of war as well.

Her own responses to him were written in the same vein – silly stories about life working at the Clarks shoe factory and outings with her friends, Kate and Jeannie. She tried not to mention her parents and their disapproval of her relationship with Mattie on account of their different religions. She was still convinced that it was her Anglican father’s influence that had persuaded Mattie, a Quaker, to enlist. It still made her stomach churn when she thought of it.

She took a calming breath and closed the drawer. It was nearly time for church. She would pray to God to keep Mattie safe and bring him and all the other lads home soon.

As she left her room and walked downstairs, there was a knock at the front door.

‘Whoever can that be at this time on a Sunday morning?’ muttered her mother as she went to open it.

As Louisa reached the hall, she recognised the voice of Peg Searle – Kate’s sister.

‘Good morning, Mrs Clements,’ she said. ‘Would it be …

***

You can buy May’s latest novel from all good book and ebook retailers, including:  https://mybook.to/thefactorygirlssocial

BIO

May Ellis lives in a road named after a Clarks shoe on the site of a former shoe factory, so it was inevitable that this writer would want to write about the people who worked for Clarks in days gone by.

Courage for the Clarks Factory Girls is the second in a series of stories about Louisa, Jeannie and Kate, who work together at Clarks during the First World War, the first being The Clarks Factory Girls at War.

May Ellis is published by Boldwood Books. She also writes as Alison Knight and is a co-founder of Imagine Creative Writing with fellow author Jenny Kane.

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

Many thanks May.

Happy reading everyone.

Jenny x

Summer Reading

As I take a little time away to have a short holiday and teach at the Penzance Literary Festival, I thought I’d leave you with a reminder of a few of my #summer based reads.

***

Summer at Sea Glass CoveWelcome 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 

***

A warm-hearted, feel-good romance from Jenny Kane, a Kindle #1 bestselling author.

Thea Thomas needs to get away from her old life… and the interfering ex who won’t leave her alone. When she lands a job heading up the restoration of Mill Grange, a stunning Victorian manor in Somerset, it feels like the perfect opportunity to start afresh.

What Thea didn’t anticipate was how hostile the volunteer team, led by the formidable Mabel Hastings, would be about accepting new leadership. And with the deadline looming before the grand opening, Thea is in desperate need of more volunteers.

A broadcast appeal on the local news attracts the interest of arrogant but undeniably attractive celebrity historian Shaun Cowlson, who wants to make a TV programme about the restoration. It’s hard enough adding one more big personality to the mix – but then her ex turns up as one of the volunteers! What seemed like a dream come true is fast becoming a total disaster! Can Thea find a way to save the manor?

Available as a paperback, audiobook and ebook from Nook, Kobo, as well as Amazon UK and Amazon US, Amazon.ca, Amazon.com.au, and Amazon.com.NZ 

***

When you’re in love with a man of legend, how can anyone else match up?

Dr Grace Harper has loved the stories of Robin Hood ever since she first saw them on TV as a teenager. Now, with her fortieth birthday just around the corner, she’s a successful academic in Medieval History—but Grace is stuck in a rut.

Grace is supposed to be writing a textbook on a real-life medieval criminal gang—the Folvilles—but instead she is captivated by a novel she’s secretly writing. A medieval mystery which entwines the story of Folvilles with her long-time love of Robin Hood—and a feisty young woman named Mathilda of Twyford.

Just as she is trying to work out how Mathilda can survive being kidnapped by the Folvilles, Grace’s best friend Daisy announces she is getting married. After a whirlwind romance with a man she loves as much as the creatures in her animal shelter, Daisy has press-ganged Grace into being her bridesmaid.

Witnessing Daisy’s new-found happiness, Grace starts to re-evaluate her own life. Is her devotion to a man who may or may not have lived hundreds of years ago really a substitute for a real-life hero of her own? Grace’s life doesn’t get any easier when she meets Dr Robert Franks—a rival academic who she is determined to dislike but finds herself being increasingly drawn to… If only he didn’t know quite so much about Robin Hood.

Suddenly, spending more time living in the past than the present doesn’t seem such a good idea..

Available from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AU 

Happy holiday reading everyone,

Jenny x

A Tiny Taster: A Cornish Wedding

This week, I thought I’d share a ‘Tiny Taster’ from A Cornish Wedding 

Sequel to A Cornish Escape, this feel good romance returns you to the world of Abi, Max, Beth and Stan in sunny Sennen Cove.

Blurb

Perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Heidi Swain and Milly Johnson, A Cornish Wedding is the best kind of summer escape.

Abi has what she’s always dreamed of: her perfect Cornish cottage, great friends and a gorgeous boyfriend. But her idyll is shattered when a new neighbour moves in next door.

Rude and obnoxious, Cassandra doesn’t make a good first impression on Abi. But with the unexpected wedding of one of Abi’s friends to prepare for, Abi has bigger things to worry about.

However, avoiding her new neighbour proves harder than expected and Abi and Cassandra soon realise they might have more in common than they first thought. . .

But with the wedding only weeks away, can they set aside their differences before the big day?

Sennen Cove

Here’s a Tiny Taster…

Cassandra stared at the ‘For Sale’ sign in the front garden. A fresh slogan had been pasted proudly across it, proclaiming Another House Sold!

She frowned. The estate agents must have made a mistake. Justin had talked about renting the cottage, this poky little two-bed terrace in some Cornish backwater, but he’d never once suggested buying it.

Sitting on the low stone wall that ran in front of the row of cottages, with her back to the sold sign, she let out a string of vehemently whispered expletives. Resisting the temptation to throw a pebble at the seagulls which were squawking their hearts out on the roof behind her, she steadied her breathing, like she did when faced with a particularly demanding client.

Shrugging off her suit jacket in deference to the early summer sunshine that poured from a cloud-free sky, Cassandra tried to focus, but doubts continued to assail her. She hadn’t misunderstood Justin, had she?

They’d been laughing over the breakfast table at one of the most exclusive hotels in London when the subject of Cornwall had first come up. Making plans for their future life together, they’d celebrated in grand style the fact that Justin had, after six years of secret trysts and stolen nights together, decided to leave his wife; the dreadful Jacinta.

Excitedly they’d plotted and planned over plates of eggs Benedict and smoked salmon, raising their glasses of Buck’s Fizz to Justin’s promotion to senior partner at the law firm. A promotion which meant that, providing they merged their finances, Justin could afford to get a divorce without being catapulted into penury.

There was only one snag…

If you’d like to read A Cornish Wedding, (previously published as Abi’s Neighbour), you can buy it as a paperback or ebook from all good retailers, including

Universal link – mybook.to/CornishWedding

Happy reading everyone.

Jenny xx

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

 

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