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

Author: Jenny Kane Page 1 of 93

Sshhh- Guess what… it’s OK to write erotica

Several years ago I wrote an article for the Romance Matters magazine (the Romantic Novelist Association’s magazine), entitled I Want to Write Erotica; Sshhh- Don’t Tell Anyone…

The situation at the time was that, writing erotica was something to be slightly ashamed of – as if it wasn’t real writing.

Since then, attitudes have improved – but only a little. That some people don’t want to read or write erotica is perfectly normal – I wouldn’t want to read or write horror. However, I’d never give someone a hard time if they did want to read or write horror.

Sadly, the same isn’t always be said for erotica. It’s OK to be relaxed about being able to write about scaring someone to death, or a mutilating serial killer, but it’s not OK to be relaxed about fictional people enjoying an imaginative sex life. (Obviously, erotica that crosses legal boundaries is NOT welcome- and that is another story).

It never ceases to amaze me, when I’m at conferences or writer meetings, how often I’m sidled up to by other romance or contemporary fiction writers and asked in hushed tones, ‘Um, I’d um…, like to write erotica. Could you give me a few tips? You won’t tell anyone will you?’

Erotica is frequently seen as either ‘the easy option,’ ‘the poor woman’s romance’, or worse still, as ‘seedy’. The only way to combat these three misconceptions is to write the best erotica possible, and to remind ourselves that writing it is not only great fun, but nothing to be ashamed of.

Lovers of erotica have similar expectations to romance readers; a strong storyline that includes attraction, a plot twist with obstacles to overcome before the leading characters ultimately get together. In erotica however, you have the freedom to delve further into the emotions involved; moving from the feelings of the heart to our basest desires – often sidestepping relationship issues altogether.

The sexual content of any erotic story must be integral to the plot from the beginning. While a love story will drive a romance, and the solving of a murder will be the focus of a crime novel – sex (and the force behind it in each individual case) has to drive the plot of erotica.

In recent years there has been a temptation to take previously written romances and add sex scenes at will.  This “sex sells so let’s shove in some kink” policy rarely makes for a satisfying read.

No erotic story should include a sex scene that doesn’t move the story forward. It may seem odd to say it, but gratuitous sex rarely enhances the erotic read experience; nor does it add weight to the plot. If you want sex for the sake of sex then read porn. (Which, I’m pleased to say is largely  of a higher quality than it used to be.)

Erotica done well is far from the easy option. Having said that, it is easy to write erotica badly. Amazon is littered with low grade hot-romance (this is romance with sex thrown in- usually of the BDSM variety), along with books by authors who have had one successful erotic story, and then have rewritten it over and over again; changing only the characters names and location each time.  (This latter policy might make you money- but at the cost of quality and professional pride.)

The beauty of writing romance is that you can leave what goes on in your characters private moments behind closed doors. Conversely, the joy of erotica is that you can open those doors, and create stories that push both your own and your reader’s boundaries by writing words you’d probably never say, about things you’d probably never do.

Erotica is nothing to be afraid of or ashamed of. But, like any other genre, it is only something you should write it if you want to- not because you think it’ll help sell your books. Trust me- it won’t.

Erotica should be treated with as much respect by writers as when they are approaching the genres of crime, thrillers, romance, paranormal, and so on.

Above all, the golden rule of writing erotica is that (like with any book in any genre), it is your audience’s imagination you need to turn on- anything else you turn on is merely a bonus!

Happy writing,

Jenny  (a.k.a Kay Jaybee – over 18’s only)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s focus on: Another Cup of Coffee

Paperback cover

Thirteen years ago Amy Crane ran away from everyone and everything she knew, ending up in an unfamiliar city with no obvious past and no idea of her future. Now, though, that past has just arrived on her doorstep, in the shape of an old music cassette that Amy hasn’t seen since she was at university. Digging out her long-neglected Walkman, Amy listens to the lyrics that soundtracked her student days. As long-buried memories are wrenched from the places in her mind where she’s kept them safely locked away for over a decade, Amy is suddenly tired of hiding. It’s time to confront everything about her life. Time to find all the friends she left behind in England, when her heart got broken and the life she was building for herself was shattered. Time to make sense of all the feelings she’s been bottling up for all this time. And most of all, it’s time to discover why Jack has sent her tape back to her now, after all these years… With her mantra, New life, New job, New home, playing on a continuous loop in her head, Amy gears herself up with yet another bucket-sized cup of coffee, as she goes forth to lay the ghost of first love to rest…

Available from:

In eBook and paperback format from Amazon UK,  Kobo, Nook, and all good book stores.

Reviews:

‘This book is definitely my cup of coffee

Gosh, where to start with this review?!

The characters: you laughed with them, cringed, hated, wanted to shout at the book because you cared so deeply. Every character had their own story, and I loved that this was intertwined with Amy’s story, waiting to see how it panned out. Big round of applause for Kane for the characters on its own.

Another Cup of Coffee itself: very realistic and a delight from start to finish. I felt like I was sitting on the outside looking in all the time, and I’d known this group of people for my entire life.

A wonderful piece of literature which will fill your heart with warmth as you get sucked in to every aspect. My heart has grown 100 sizes, much like The Grinch (too early for Christmas references?!). This could also be due to the amount of coffee I consumed due to having FOMO every time one of the characters were having coffee. Which was basically every other page (help)…

The romance aspect wasn’t too in your face, if you know what I mean? Kane tackles issues such as still being attached to someone so long after they have left, the “how am I gay if I’ve loved a woman?” question and running away from your problems.

I didn’t feel like I was reading a piece of fiction – I felt like this was a real-life story told at a dinner party around coffee, with an ending that can only be adored.

A timeless piece and one worth picking up big time.

This book is definitely my cup of coffee (sorry, I had to). Bookmark That approved. Loved!’ BookMarkThat UK

Ebook cover

‘Delicious, delightful and simply irresistible, I devoured Jenny Kane’s wonderfully romantic tale, Another Cup of Coffee, in a single sitting!

Thirteen years ago, Amy Crane had looked at her life, her family and her friends and decided that she wanted and needed a change. A fresh start where nobody knew anything about her and where she had no ties or commitments was of paramount importance, so she ran away from everyone and everything and made a new life in a new city where nobody knew the first thing about her. Amy had thought that her old life had been consigned to the past and that she needn’t be troubled or worried by the stirrings of memories of a time she would much rather forget. However, the past does have a habit of rearing its head again when one least expects it, as she discovers when an old music cassette which she has not seen since her university days turns up, bringing to the fore feelings, emotions, fears and resentments which she had thought long buried.

Digging out her walkman and listening to the soundtrack of her university days is an experience that leaves a profound effect on Amy. Realizing that she cannot continue to hide from her past, she decides to tackle her fears head on and to confront all those uncomfortable feelings which she has kept locked away for thirteen years. Amy is well aware that her decision to face her old demons is not going to be a walk in the park, but how can she achieve closure, if she continues to hide herself away?

The time has come for Amy to track down the friends she had turned her back on thirteen years ago, piece together the pieces of a life that had come to a sudden and shattering halt and uncover the reason why Jack has, after all this time, decided to send her a tape and forced her to reexamine and reevaluate her life and her relationships. Had Amy done the right thing in walking away from her relationship? Should she have fought for the one she loved? Or should she let bygones be bygones?

Armed with a bucket sized cup of coffee, will Amy manage to lay old ghosts to rest? Or will she find the answers to all the questions she has been asking herself for well over a decade?

An absorbing read which I thoroughly enjoyed, Another Cup of Coffee is an uplifting and feel-good romance about facing the past, second chances and first love that I simply couldn’t put down. Jenny Kane’s story is fast-paced, emotional, feel-good and compelling and once you start reading Another Cup of Coffee, you will find yourself completely and utterly hooked.

A fabulous read that I absolutely loved, Another Cup of Coffee is a wonderful book from a talented writer I have added to my list of must-buys: Jenny Kane!’  Bookish Jottings

‘Reading Another Cup of Coffee is almost like being a fly-on-the-wall of the lives of the book’s main characters. Kane makes use of her clear writing skills by having the reader shadow Amy’s, Jack’s and Kit’s lives as they try to make sense of the changes that begin to form an iron grip around their relationships. A simple tape is all it takes to shake Amy out of her self-imposed solitude and casts the first stone in a sea of change for all involved. I found her an incredibly complex character and it’s very telling how an event can have some people bouncing back after a broken heart, whilst for others, it can alter the direction of their entire life. Jack, himself, is not so complicated. His eternal confusion over his feelings leads to a self-absorbed character that hurts the people he loves the most, albeit unintentionally.  I did like him though and found myself willing him to make the right choices. Kit was my favourite throughout. She really reminded me of a well-known writer but my lips remain sealed on whom! Although her emotions were as much of a jumbled mess as the other two, she seemed more rounded and open to the changes happening around her. The dynamics of the friendship-triangle, along with the old and new friends surrounding the trio, had a nice comfortable feeling to it. Throughout the book you are aware that feelings run extremely deep but the friends will always have each other’s backs, no matter what.  As the story moves on, you, as the reader, are privy to the realisations and resolutions that begin to form and take place, which lead to a very satisfying conclusion. I did develop a borderline caffeine addiction whilst reading this but, thanks to the great storyline, it’s totally worth it!’ BestChickLit

****

‘…The characters seem so real. It was as if I have known these characters and actually lived their story right along with them. She sure does know how to draw in a reader. I can’t wait for Jenny’s next story to come out. I am sure she is going to be a star!’ Goodreads

****

‘…A good story of real people. It has light humorous moments and piquant passages. “Another Cup of Coffee” is definitely refreshing…’ Amazon UK

****

‘The sign of a great book….I sat up until 2.00am reading Jenny Kane’s Another Cup of Coffee….’ Twitter

****

‘I couldn’t put this book down. couldn’t wait to turn the page for the next adventure into the lives of these friends. Thank you, please write more books like this, easy too read with a brilliant storyline.’ Amazon

 

Focus On: Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange

With the sun hiding here in Devon this morning, I thought it would be nice to take a little look at the first in the #MillGrange #series – Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange – to cheer us all up.

Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange

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 from all good bookshops, and as an ebook, from Nook, Kobo, as well as Amazon UK and Amazon US,

                                                           

Here are a few of the very kind reviews, Midsummer Dreams, has prompted.

‘… I particularly liked the book’s setting – Mill Grange is vividly drawn, the details of its renovation, the impending opening celebrations and the question mark over its future driving the overarching story. The surroundings of Exmoor are well used too – there’s that really strong sense of place that I always look for and enjoy.

The romance elements are something I equally enjoyed – both romantic threads have their unexpected twists and turns, and both are entirely satisfying (and particularly heartwarming) in the way they’re resolved.

But there’s also a fair bit of well-developed tension too – both over the future of Mill Grange and the dogged and determined pursuit by Thea’s increasingly sinister ex. And there’s one particular episode that had me on the edge of my seat, real danger particularly well handled and very well written.

And while I’m talking about the writing, I will mention how much I loved that too. The author has a style that’s very easy to read, comfortable to relax and disappear into – this was perfect summer reading, and most definitely recommended…’ Being Anne

‘Another book that feels like a cuddle from Jenny.

Set against the romantic backdrop of Exmoor this book helps you escape for a few hours. We meet new friends working to restore one of Exmoor’s treasures. A lovely cast of characters had me rolling my eyes at their antics and cheering for a certain couple. Looking forward to see what else is going to happen at Mill Grange.’ Goodreads

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 Devon, it feels like the perfect opportunity to start afresh…
I hadn’t realised when picking this book that it was set in the lovely Exmoor, not too far from where I live. The various mentions of local landmarks, from Tarr Steps to Cold Harbour Mill, just added to the warm feeling I got from reading this great story… My first #jennykane read but definitely not my last.’  Goodreads

‘A lovely book set in a beautiful stately home which you can imagine yourself there as you read.’ Netgalley

‘Very enjoyable. Being part of a small team dealing with a local restoration project and volunteers made this book all the more enjoyable.  I know I have met a few Mabel’s in my life. As with all Jenny’s books she easily captures your imagination and makes you feel like you are there getting stuck in.’ Netgalley 

50 Things: Part 10

So, here we are – the final 50 Things list.

It has been so much fun putting all these lists together – reflecting on my 50 years (almost!) on this earth, and the many things I’ve done – or not done- plus a few of the things I’ve learned along the way.

As I write this, I can hear the call of my suitcases waiting to be packed for a long overdue holiday – but just before I hit the road, ready to celebrate my 50th birthday with long country walks and lots of cream teas – I’ll leave you with this…

5 TOP TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS

Write what you want to write/Love not money

Write what you want to write, not what you think you ought to write, or what other people tell you to write.

Writing is a very personal thing – it has to touch you in some way to work. If you aren’t fully engaged with what you are writing, then it won’t happen.

Your writing is yours- keep it fun!

(And don’t write to make money – you’ll be very disappointed)

Give yourself permission not to be perfect.

Perfection does not exist – and trying to find it will stop your writing in its tracks.

Get that first draft down – do not worry about how good or bad it is – just write it.

All you are doing at this point, is learning your story and getting to know you characters/location/plot.

Then, once it’s on paper, you can start to improve your story. Slowly, through the editing process and the skill of other editors, it will get better and better, until it’s ready to be released. Even then, there will be things that have been missed. While you want your words to be as good as possible – remember, we are humans, not machines.

Editing

Never skip this process. While seeking perfection too soon is a bad thing – not taking the time and trouble to edit properly will stop a good story in its tracks.

Read

The more you read, the better you’ll write.

Word repetition

We all have words we use too frequently on the page. Often, it’s simple words such as – just, long, both, still, look, smile – that we overuse.

Repeated words can slow pace and become dry on the page. Learn which words you are prone to overusing and keep a list of them. Then, once your draft is down, search through your work for them. Cut those you don’t need, or swap them for other words. (Get a good thesaurus- don’t just reply on the computer to help you find alternate words.)

Keep an extra sharp eye out for overused connectives. (Such as – and, but, because, so.) While we need these in our work – too many can slow pace. Ask yourself if you need each one, or if a full stop, comma, or an extra piece of action, would work instead.

When you do swap one word for another, make sure you read back through your sentence/paragraph, to make sure your word change hasn’t accidentally altered the context of what you were trying to say.

Finally – an extra general point. Life is not a competition. The only person you need to be better than today, is the person you were yesterday. That’s tough enough.

So – there we are – 50 Things, across 10 lists.

I hope you enjoyed reading them, as much as I enjoyed writing them.

I will leave you now, and get on with my holiday!

Jenny x

 

 

 

50 Things: Part 9

It seems fitting that my final two 50 Things lists return us to the world of writing.

So – list number 9 is…

5 THINGS I WISH I’D KNOW BEFORE I BECAME A WRITER

It’s a job!

Some people , no matter how many hours they see you put in, or how many books you sell (or not), will have serious trouble accepting that being a writer is a job. They equate you working from home or in a cafe (or wherever), as you enjoying a time consuming hobby. This – in their eyes- means you are free to be interrupted all the time, to have time off at will, and always there to do them the odd favour.

I have distant relatives that still tell me I need to get a ‘proper job’ and ask if I’m ever going to ‘make it’ (Making it meaning being famous or having a book adapted into a TV show or film.) I wish I’d known just how frustrating that was before I started!

Long hours

It is often said that writers are never off work. And it’s true – if we aren’t writing, we are thinking about writing. Everything in the world is potential inspiration.

Having said that – how long we work is down to our deadlines, publishers deadlines, editors deadlines and the fact that, the more books we have the more income we make. Once a writer’s faithful readers have all read their latest book, to keep the income flowing, you need to write another one – the cycle of supply and demand is there as it would be for any kind of product production job.

Personally- and I am aware I’m a workaholic – I work about 65 hours a week – often more. Weekends are rare. This isn’t a complaint – I love my job. It is however, a warning – to be successful, the hours need to be put it.  Imagine you are setting up a business – you are self-employed, and to make the business float, you need to work hard and long. It’s exactly the same for a writer.

It’s addictive

There is no drug on earth like making people happy with words. Sharing a story with someone is very special. And, when a good review comes in, or an editor/publisher/agent like your work- the rush is amazing. I have been a slave to the addiction for nearly 18 years.

Once you’re on the rollercoaster, it’s very hard to get off- or even slow down.

People can be cruel

I mentioned the joy of good reviews – but the pain of the bad ones can take a hell of a lot of getting over. While one nice review will make you happy for an hour or so – a bad one will niggle for days- weeks even.

Obviously, we can’t expect everyone to like out work – this means poor reviews. That’s part of the job. What isn’t great, is when reviewers award a one or two star review because the book arrived in poor packaging (Do I package the books? Nope) – or because they accidentally ordered the wrong book. (Go to a book shop instead if you can’t manage making online sales).

Worse still, are the reviews that attack the writer, rather than critically assessing the book. I’ve been called some horrendous things over the years by people who have no idea who I am, or what I’m like. Assumptions are made and opinions are freely shared – in a very unhelpful/hurtful way. Authors are humans- that can be forgotten all too often.

In short – if you have nothing good or helpful (sometimes poor reviews can help- as long as they are constructive) to say – say nothing.

Ups and Downs

I’ll be honest – there are as many low periods as high periods. But the ups are so good, that if you are destined to write, you’ll press on regardless. Only a thick skin and a burning desire to write will get you through the rejections, the broken promises and the number of times things that ‘almost’- but then ‘don’t’ happen.

Having said that, when you get a ‘yes’ – when a publisher calls you back, when an agent accepts you, when a box of your own books arrives through the post – whether they can via self-publishing or a traditional publisher – the feeling is like no other.

When someone tells you, you made them laugh, smile, cry (in a good way), or generally made them happy – that’s so special.

Back when I was Kay, I would receive messages of thanks – I’d saved a marriage or improved a relationship, via my erotica – now that’s amazing.

These are the ups I hang on for – the moments that keep my fingers tapping at the keyboard.

 

And so- one more list to go before I hit 50… 

Jenny x

 

50 THINGS: Part 8

Over the past (almost) 50 years, I’ve been lucky enough to have had some seriously exciting adventures. Choosing the 5 that have impacted my life the most is rather difficult- but I’ll give it a go.

5 ADVENTURES I’VE ENJOYED/SURVIVED

Archaeological wanderings

As many of my regular readers will know, I had no intention of being a writer when I was younger. I was going to be an authority on Robin Hood or an archaeologist. In the end – through sheer hard work and bloody-mindedness – I (for a few years at least), became both.

My years as an archaeologist- working out of the University of Leicester – sent me all over the place. The three stand out digs being on Lindisfarne (an island just off the Northumbrian coast.), Caerwent in Wales, and Lepti Minus in North Africa.

In these places, respectively,  was part of a team uncovering an Anglo Saxon farmstead, a Roman city (specifically the forum), and a Romano African city (the bathhouse and mausoleum).

The memories from these three excavations alone could fill a novel – in fact those of you who have read my work will know that those characters with an archaeological leaning, often recall the digs I’ve been on myself.

It isn’t just the amazing fines (or lack of in the case of Lindisfarne) that stand out my mind. It’s the camaraderie of a dig site situation – the fun alongside the hard work. I will never forget watching the sunset and rise over Lindisfarne castle with my best mate at uni – Brendon. (You are missed!)

I’ll never forget the snake that appeared out of the trench I was digging in Lepti Minus- making me shoot back from the dig site with some speed! Nor will I forget the local children who – poor as church mice- still had the biggest smiles and the kindest hearts.

And how could I forget, my weeks in Wales with no toilets or washing facilities bar a tiny roadside public loo and washbasin…the Ritz it wasn’t! To say we all smelt slightly is to underplay the situation! Luckily, a local swimming baths took pity on us, and let us use their showers for 50p each.

Writing a novel

For me this was a massive deal (as it is for everyone). I’d had 40 short stories published, but the idea of a novel was so daunting. I was convinced that I’d never make up enough worthwhile words to create a whole story.

I rewrote that first novel so many times, I can’t even remember how long it took me- but it was a real adventure in the true sense of the word. Ups, downs, disappointments, moments of joy and then – finally, the moment I’d dreamt of came – a box of books arrived at my front door – and I’d written every word within. I’m not given to outward displays of emotion, but that day I was a tumult of laughter and tears of disbelief.

I didn’t think there would be another book after that – I truly thought no one would buy it, and that would be it. The only reason I kept going was because kind people, like yourself, read my books – so thank you.

And the title of my first full length novel? Well, that was called The Fifth Floor – it is extremely “adult”, and was written by my “erotic side” – Kay Jaybee. (Please only take a peep at it, if you are over 18 and very broad minded.)

Bringing up my children

What greater adventure is there than raising children? Terrifying, exciting, worrying, heartwarming, joyous, wonderful, rewarding and utterly exhausting.

My daughter and my son  – now adults – are incredible, kind, clever, and huge fun to be with.

I would not change a thing.

My first erotica event

Never has ‘eye opening’ been a more apt description of a situation.

Olympia, London: ‘Eroticon’ – a massive venue full of traders from all walks of erotic life. I was there, with my good friend Kd Grace, to sell our erotic novels with our former publisher, Xcite.  I had no idea what to expect – although I suspected it would all be rather pink and neon.

I was right about the pink and neon – but wow- what an amazing set of people. Never have I been among so many folk so utterly at peace with themselves. The phrase ‘being comfortable in your own skin’ actually meant something there.  No one was pretending – no one was hiding who they were or what they liked (within the context of the event) – and so there was an air of honesty about the entire event. It was joyous, fun and I will never forget it.

It was here – to my lasting amazement – that  I was targeted up by a modelling studio- leading to a few photographic adventures as well!

I won’t go into the things I saw at my various erotic gigs, as that would not fit into a ‘Jenny blog’ – but I am sure you can draw your own conclusions. Suffice to say, I’ve never been to an erotica event that hasn’t been welcoming, fun and – in all things – kind.

Meeting my heroes

As many of you know, I’m lucky enough to write scripts and novels for the original cast of the 1980’s show, Robin of Sherwood.

If this wasn’t adventure enough (and my word it is a rollercoaster of a job!), it was the meeting of the actors and crew of the show that lightened up my teenage years that will forever stay with me.

I’m not the world’s most confident person, and rather shy to say the least – so when I first went to a Hooded Man event I was a bag of nerves. I only had one relevant book to sell at the time – Romancing Robin Hood. I was sure no one would come to talk to me when they had the entire cast of Robin of Sherwood to hang out with – but how wrong I was!

The first visitor to my stand was Jason Connery – the Hooded Man himself! I’d like to report that I said something witty – but I didn’t. I was totally tongue tied and probably went bright red! (I’ve made up for that since I got to know him a little bit!)

Both cast and crew were welcoming and encouraging – which is just as well, seeing as I now work for them!

However, it was the audience at the HM event that first changed my writing direction. Without their encouragement, The Folville Chronicles would never have been written. So thank you folks. You’re all amazing.

So, we have two more lists to go before I hit 50 on the 13th July… See you soon.

Jenny x

50 Things: Parts 6 and 7

Today, I’m confessing to…

5 POPULAR FILMS I’VE NEVER SEEN (AND HAVE NO URGE TO SEE)

Jaws

Dirty Dancing

Gremlins

Back to the Future

Pulp Fiction

What can I say? They simply don’t appeal! Try not to judge me too harshly!

On the other hand- there are some films I love.

These would have to be among my favourites. It was tricky to choose just 5 – but here they are. (Again, don’t judge! Lol)

5 OF MY FAVOURITE FILMS

Muppet’s Christmas Carol

One of my favourite novels in Muppet form – what’s not to like?!

When Harry Met Sally

I’ve seen it so often, and I still laugh each time. It’s just so clever- and as relatable today as it always was.

The Adventures of Robin Hood

Obviously there was going to be a Robin Hood movie in the mix. The Errol Flynn version of the story remains one of my favourites for it’s pure thigh slapping fun- but to mention the fabulous Olivia de Haviland’s take on Marion. Very much a product of its time, I can’t help but love it.

Notting Hill

This is a great ‘feel good’ movie. However, I mostly love it for the ‘dinner party’ scene.

Every time I see this film, it takes me straight back to my own university days- and the random dinner parties we used to have before life had taken us all in different geographical directions.

The Bishop’s Wife

Staring Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Nivan, this black and white Christmas classis is simply fabulous. It is joyous, and I love it.

I could so easily have included The Wicked Lady (Margret Lockwood’s version) or The Man in Gray (James Mason)- but I’d better be good and stick to 5 choices!

If you aren’t too busy despairing at my film tastes, come back for some more ’50 Things’ soon.

Jenny x

 

50 Things: Part 5

Continuing my ’50 Things’ lists today, I’m admitting to a few things that – despite being 50 in nine days – I have never done.

5 THINGS I’VE NEVER DONE

I’ve never been drunk

This is partly for medical reasons – but mostly because I’m a massive self-control freak! While I’m happy for anyone around me to do whatever they like – I keep a very tight rein on my own behaviour. In short- I don’t know how to ‘let go’ – never have had.  I have a sneaky feeling the world isn’t ready for a drunk me anyway!

And – if I’m honest, I don’t feel as if I’ve missed anything!

I’ve never had nail varnish on my toes

I rarely wear makeup (unless I’m modelling). I honestly can’t see where people find the time to put it on! When it comes to making my feet look pretty – frankly, it’s a lost cause!

I’ve never worn perfume

I’m allergic to manufactured or unnatural scents. I sneeze my head off. Walking through any chemist or department stores cosmetics section is a minefield of potential disaster!

I’ve never had my ears pierced

Never seen the appeal of someone putting holes in my ears.

I never passed my Maths GCSE

But it’s not for the want of trying! I retook this swine of an exam 5 times- and got a ‘D’ every time. It was always going to be something go a lost cause – I’m hopeless with numbers. We simply do not get on. The only time it has really made a difference to my life is that it limited my university choices. However, once the ones I wanted to apply for knew I’d done GCSE Archaeology (I did an archeology degree), they simply flapped away the need for a maths GCSE.

It is a constant surprise to me that both of my children are excellent at maths. My son is so good at it, he went to a specialised Maths school for his A’ levels- and is now training to be an engineer!

Assuming you aren’t shaking your head in despair- pop back tomorrow to discover my top 5 movies…

Jenny x

Interview with Lynne Shelby: Rome for the Summer

I’m delighted to welcome Lynne Shelby to my blog for a chat about her brand new novel, Rome for the Summer.

Pop your feet up for five minutes and join us for a cuppa and some book chat.

Welcome Lynne. So, what inspired you to write your book?

The idea for Rome for the Summer first came to me when I was walking through Rome (my husband and I were heading back to our hotel after a day’s sightseeing) when I overheard two girls – one Italian, one American – talking, the American telling the Italian girl that ‘the job will only be for six months.’ I still have the notes I wrote as soon as were reached our hotel: ‘American in Rome. Why? What job? Is she working in Rome for six months? Or going back to the States for six months? Does she have an Italian boyfriend she is leaving or an American boyfriend pining for her return?’ I didn’t start writing the book immediately – I was writing another book at the time – but back in England, I happened to fall into conversation with a woman sitting at the next table in a restaurant who turned out to be an American professor with a very interesting reason for visiting Europe, which gave me the answer to what the American girl was doing in Rome – and she became my English heroine, Kate, who escapes to Rome for the summer. Then, of course, there is Rome itself – wandering around the narrow, cobbled streets, stopping to eat a gelato by a fountain in a flower bedecked, sun-drenched piazza, certainly inspired me to write a novel set in this beautiful city.

What type of research did you have to do for your book?

I did more research for Rome for the Summer than any other book I’ve written so far, mainly because, while I wouldn’t describe the book as having a dual timeline, some events that took place in 1816 – which my heroine discovers as she explores Rome – are an important part of the story, and I wanted to be sure that the historical scenes described could have occurred in the Regency era. At the beginning of the book, my heroine is working in an art gallery, and although I enjoy visiting art galleries, I’ve never worked in one, so I read up on the sort of tasks working in a gallery would entail. I also needed to find out more about the art world, such as how paintings are valued and sold at auction. I’ve visited Rome several times, and would have loved to go back on a research trip to make sure I’d remembered the layout, and to choose the best area of the city for my heroine to live in, but with travel restrictions still in place when I was writing the novel, I had to rely on photos, maps, guide books, and Google Earth. My social media newsfeeds are now full of adverts encouraging me to attend an auction of Old Masters or purchase a gorgeous apartment in Rome – sadly I will be doing neither!

Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

I prefer to write in the first person, from the POV of my heroine, as I find this allows me to get right inside her head – to the extent that it often feels as if she is doing exactly what she wants rather than sticking to my plot! I also hope that telling the story through my heroine’s eyes will create an immediacy which will help readers to empathise with the character and drawn them into her world – even when it is clear that she sometimes gets things wrong or makes the wrong choice at some points in the story.

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

In the past, when I’ve first started writing a book, I’ve known the beginning and the end, but have had only the vaguest idea what happens in the middle, so I tended to go with the flow, throwing my characters together and seeing what happened. Then, there came a point, usually about two-thirds of the way through, when I started to see the shape of my story, and that’s when I started planning. With Rome for the Summer, I knew far more about the way I wanted the plot to go before I started writing, and made notes for each chapter as I wrote the first draft – although I still needed to do a lot of editing in subsequent drafts!

What is your writing regime?

I’d love to be able to say that I get up at dawn and write 2,000 words before breakfast, but in reality, on a typical writing day, I go to my writing room (aka the spare bedroom) and sit down at my desk by about 9.30. Before I start writing, I read back over what I wrote the day before to get back into my story, and then I write up to lunchtime – although I have been known to keep writing and forget to have lunch if the words are flowing really well – and sometimes go back to my desk to write for another couple of hours in the afternoon. I used to aim to write 1,000 words a day, but as I’m a relatively slow writer, I’ve found it’s more realistic to aim for 500 words and then be delighted when my word-count is over 800. On the occasional day when I hit 2,000+ words, I’m ecstatic!

What excites you the most about your book?

Although Rome for the Summer is a contemporary romance like my earlier novels, I very much enjoyed writing a book with a historical element, a two-hundred-year-old secret, and with more twists in the plot than my earlier books. I’m also excited that the book is set in Rome, and I hope that readers will enjoy visiting the Eternal City as much as I did when I wrote about it, and that they will like my heroine and hero, Kate and artist Jamie, as much as I do!

Purchase Link for Rome For The Summer: https://t.co/GefWLvcH7X

Bio:

Lynne Shelby writes contemporary women’s fiction/romance. Her debut novel, French Kissing, now re-published in ebook as Meet Me In Paris, won the Accent Press and Woman magazine Writing Competition, and her fifth novel, Love On Location, was shortlisted for a Romantic Novelists’ Award. Her latest novel, Rome For The Summer, is out on 23 June 2022. She has done a variety of jobs from stable girl to child actor’s chaperone to legal administrator, but now writes full time. When not writing or reading, Lynne can usually be found at the theatre or exploring a foreign city, writer’s notebook, camera and sketchbook in hand. She lives in London with her husband, and has three adult children who live nearby.

Website: www.lynneshelby.com

Twitter: @LynneShelby5

Facebook: www.facebook.com/LynneShelbyWriter

Instagram: lynneshelbywriter

Many thanks for visiting today, Lynne. Good luck with your lovely new book.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

50 Things: Part 4

Part 1 of my ’50 Things’ series saw me contemplating the things I (personally) needed in my life to be able to write.

Today, the focus is more general

5 THINGS A WRITER SHOULD NEVER DO

(assuming they are writing to build a readership, rather than just for fun)

Never underestimate the importance of reputation

While you need to be able to write well to get on as an author – that isn’t enough.  Building up a readership and good networks with publishers and reviewers is vital to your survival. To do that you need a good reputation.

Always keep deadlines; be known for being reliable.

Don’t be an author who hangs on the coat tails of other people’s successes. Don’t copy in famous people (you don’t know) on FB and Twitter etc, just because you think you write like them, or have characters like theirs in your work.  (unless you have their permission)  Behaviour like this gets noticed – and not in a good way.

Don’t add your successes onto other people social media streams without permission. It’s rude.

Don’t boast.

Don’t lie.

This all sounds so obvious – and a bit killjoy like perhaps – but the fact is, you don’t know who is reading your social media posts or you blog. If you are hoping for an agent, new publisher, or a book club to contact you – your chances are much lower if you have a reputation for poor social media etiquette, or for being unreliable.

Never cut corners

Just don’t. All that work you’ve put into writing a story will be wasted if you are in a hurry.

If you need to edit – then edit.

If your cover needs improving- improve it.

If you need to do one more redraft – do it.

Cutting corners might get your work out faster – but readers aren’t stupid- they can tell if an author has rushed their work. And if you don’t care enough about your work to address every issue and make it as good as you can, then why would a reader care enough to come back to you a second time?

(Of course, no one’s work is ever 100% perfect – but we should try to get as near to perfect as possible)

Never think you’re alone

Writing can be lonely – and writers are often their own worst enemies. We constantly question our ability -living hand in hand with imposter syndrome.

Social media is awash with writer’s groups. You can meet other writers, and have a good old moan about what ever part of the writing process is getting you down. Within minutes you’ll find you are not the only one going through it.

There are also in person local author groups all over the place. Be brave and join one. Chances are, it’ll be full of people obsessing over the same things you are.

Never take any success you have for granted

If you get a good book deal – embrace it. Love it. Enjoy every second of it. But do not take it for granted. One deal, does not mean they’ll be another one.  Never assume you won’t have to work just as hard for the second one. (Sounds cynical – but it’s true)

Never think you have to write if it isn’t fun anymore

Writing is hard work – but it is also great fun. What better way to earn a living than to make up lies all day?

But if it isn’t fun anymore – stop. Life’s too short!

So- that’s 2 lists down – 8 to go!

Jenny xx

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