The Perfect Blend: Coffee and Kane


Opening Lines: Here Casts No Shadow by Bronwen Griffiths

This week’s Opening Lines blog comes from Bronwen Griffiths. I’m delighted to be able to introduce the first 500 words (exactly) from

Here Casts No Shadow.

 

Here Casts No Shadow is a novel about war and conflict – told from a woman’s perspective.

I have no direct experience of war but I was on holiday in the southern Libyan Desert in February 2011 when the uprising against Gaddafi began. After a hair-raising time driving through military check-points, our small group was air-lifted out of the country by the Italian military. The consequences of that experience were life-changing, and fed into my first novel.

Here Casts No Shadow is set in a fictitious county also beset by war and ruled by a ruthless dictator. The inspiration for the book has come, in large part, from my campaigning work for Syria, and with Syrian refugees. But for me, what’s most important is that it’s the story of one woman and her fight for justice – a woman who must also face her own demons before she can move forward in life.

 

First 500 words

I’m in my apartment overlooking the square, watching the snow fall. The snow is like stars, you once said. Not stars, but birds, I argued; tiny flying birds.

You were so impatient that day. Do you remember? You kept asking me when the snow would come. ‘Will it be like a fairy tale? How many days will it snow?’ You wouldn’t stop. You were like that. A chatterer. Always asking questions. I never imagined a time when you wouldn’t talk at all.

A Saturday. Early January. Kaz in bed with a cold. Baby Moe yelling his head off downstairs in the kitchen. Ma banging pots. Pa out in the garden shed doing whatever he did out there. You were stood on tiptoes, at the window, your nose pressed against the glass. I was sprawled on the rug, pen in hand, planning a house –a house for Tam and me to live in overlooking the lake where Grandma lived. I so loved Tam. You just can’t imagine it, Pearl, how he dizzied me, how my heart danced every time I set eyes on him. I still love him, though he is long gone now. He kissed me once, in the summer before everything turned. It was one of those hot summer days, the likes of which we never have here; the soles of my shoes stuck to the asphalt, the air shimmered like gossamer. Tam ran down the university steps, where I waited for Kaz. He ran down those steps, flung his arms around my shoulders and kissed me smack on the lips. The kiss didn’t mean much, I knew that. I was only Kaz’s sister, someone Tam liked to flirt with. But I kept hold of the hope his kiss brought me. Maybe one day, I thought, maybe one day life could bring another possibility like that.

You never knew how I felt about Tam. You were too young. You still don’t know. There’s so much you don’t know. So much I should tell you.

 

We’d been out in the garden making snow angels and throwing snowballs, and dancing about like dervishes. Even Kaz had come out to join us, in spite of his cold. But Pearl slipped and got wet; she cried and said she was turning into ice, so Kaz took her back into the house. I was going to follow but then I saw a tall figure at our back gate. My heart jumped – just like the fish Kaz and I had seen leaping for insects by the old stone bridge – because it was Tam.

‘Hi, Mira.’ Tam was breathing fast, as if he’d been running. ‘Is Kaz home?’

‘He’s gone inside with Pearl.’ Don’t you want to talk to me?

Tam was dressed as always: in a long black coat and steel-tipped army boots without laces. He wore these clothes winter and summer. His one concession to the weather was a striped woollen hat: the dark, damp tendrils of his hair curled out from underneath it…

***

Here Casts No Shadow is available from all good bookshops as well via…

https://www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop/contemporary/here-casts-no-shadow/
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Here-Casts-Shadow-Bronwen-Griffiths/dp/1789013380

Bronwen Griffiths is also the author of A Bird in the House, (2014) and Not Here, Not Us – short stories of Syria, (2016). Her flash fiction and short stories have been widely published. She lives on the Sussex/Kent border.

www.bronwengriff.co.uk

https://twitter.com/bronwengwriter

***

Many thanks for your great opening lines Bronwen.

See you next week for some more opening lines.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 

 


Christmas in the Cotswolds: Choirs, mulled wine and a carpenter

Christmas in the Cotswolds is a festive novella featuring characters from the Pickwicks Café. (Previously featured in Another Cup of Coffee and Another Cup of Christmas)

Rather than being set in Richmond, this standalone festive tale takes Megan, Pickwicks’ regular waitress, away from her day job, on a mercy mission to the Cotswolds…

Blurb Izzie Spencer-Harris, owner of the Cotswold Art and Craft Centre, is due to host the prestigious Cotswold Choir’s annual Christmas carol concert in her beautiful converted church. Or at least she was, until a storm smashed a hole right through the chancel roof. Days from Christmas, Izzie suddenly finds herself up to her neck in DIY, with her last dodgy workman having walked off the job. She does the only thing she can … calls in her best friend Megan to help.

Leaving Peggy and Scott to run Pickwicks Café in her absence, Megan heads to the Cotswolds for Christmas. Within minutes of her arrival, she finds herself hunting down anyone willing to take on extra work so close to Christmas. It seems the only person available to help is Joseph Parker – a carpenter who, while admittedly gorgeous, seems to have ulterior motives for everything he does … With Izzie’s bossy mother, Lady Spencer-Harris, causing her problems at every turn, an accident at work causing yet more delays, and the date for the concert drawing ever nearer, it’s going to take a lot more than Mrs Vickers’ powerful mulled wine to make sure everything is all right on the night …

cotswold-in-snow

I’ve always loved the Cotswolds, and was lucky enough to grow up not too far from their villages filled with yellow stoned picturesque cottages and stunning churches. For me, once I’d decided to take Megan away from Pickwicks for a while, the Cotswolds was the obvious choice of location. It is precisely the type of area I can imagine Izzie setting up an arts and craft centre, which- were it real- I have no doubt would flourish! I’d go there for sure. It has a café after all!

jennykaneschristmascollection200

If you’d like to have a read, you can buy my latest novella from all good e-retailers including-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christmas-Cotswolds-seasonal-short-story-ebook/dp/B00PK2MA3I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415899501&sr=8-1&keywords=Christmas+in+the+Cotswolds+jenny+kane

http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Cotswolds-seasonal-short-story-ebook/dp/B00PK2MA3I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1415899535&sr=8-1&keywords=Christmas+in+the+Cotswolds+Jenny+Kane 

Or you can buy it as part of the Jenny Kane Christmas Collection (which also contains Another Cup of Christmas and Christmas at the castle)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jenny-Kanes-Christmas-Collection-Short-ebook/dp/B01M0ICD7A/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1474386377&sr=8-2&keywords=jenny+kane%27s+christmas+collection

https://www.amazon.com/Jenny-Kanes-Christmas-Collection-Short-ebook/dp/B01M0ICD7A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474387008&sr=8-1&keywords=jenny+kane%27s+christmas+collection

Happy reading,

Jenny x


Catching up with Mathilda: The Outlaw’s Ransom

With Edward’s Outlaw, the third book in The Folvilles Chronicles series only days away from publication, I thought I’d take a look back at Mathilda of Twyford’s first adventure-  Book One in the series: The Outlaw’s Ransom

Blurb

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

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

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

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

Here’s a little extract for you…

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Kindle-

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

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

Paperback-

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

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

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

If you enjoy Mathilda’s first adventure, then you can rad more in The Winter Outlaw (The Folville Chronicles- Book 2), and Edward’s Outlaw (The Folville Chronicles- Book 3), which will be out on 3rd December.

***

Happy reading,

Jen xx


Opening Lines: STORM LOG-0505 by James D Mortain

This week’s Opening Lines come from fellow Devon based author, James D Mortain. It’s a pleasure to welcome James back to my blog to share the first 500 words from the very start of his acclaimed trilogy.

I am very grateful to have been invited back onto Jenny’s blog, this time with ‘Opening Lines’ to the first instalment of the Detective Deans Trilogy, STORM LOG-0505.

Here are the first 500 words…

Prologue

What made someone the ideal victim? he speculated.

Were they created that way, right from the start? Was it a case of nature or nurture? On the other hand, was it all down to luck, perhaps? Maybe they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. He chuckled. There was no such thing as the wrong time. Everyone had a time, regardless of how it may play out.

He stared down intently at the washed-out family snap as if it was the first time he had seen it. The truth was, he had studied this photo many times before and with equal fascination.

He was alone. There was no noise from the TV or radio, only the sound of his own trancelike, metronomic breathing, eyes refusing to deviate from the photo as he gazed down at Mum, Dad and himself.

To anyone else it would be a classic family photograph: two children, a boy of about six and a girl of about eight, wearing woolly hats and scarves, frolicking in the snow with their parents. For him, though, it was more. It had always meant much more.

Back, then, to the question. He smiled, and closed the two halves of the black faux-leather photo album, carefully placed it into the box and slotted it in the correct position, the right way around, between number 3 and number 5.

He snorted joss stick-scented air through his flared nostrils and cast his mind back. The first was easy – he had been left with little alternative. The second fell somewhere between curiosity and education. And what of the next? He had been counting down her final days since they first met. She was… ideal, but she was not going to be alone. The one after her, he would leave to fate, and for the sporting hell of it.

 Chapter 1

 Carl considered himself fortunate to be with Amy. She was widely regarded as the university babe, especially amongst his mates. He would just smile, go along with what they would say, join in the banter so as not to lose face. If only they knew.

She was stunning, and fun – too stunning, and much too fun. He wished she were less popular, especially with the blokes. He despised the heads that would turn, the eyes that would undress her, the endless attempts to lure her. He carried a snail’s shell of doubt and suspicion. They had been together almost a year, and each month, each week and each day was increasingly destroying who he used to be. Who he should be.

His last conversation with Amy was on Friday afternoon in the university’s east car park.

‘So, you’re off to Devon again tonight,’ he said glumly.

She frowned. ‘You know I am.’

‘I was just wondering if something might have changed.’

‘No. But you know I’m back on Monday. We can meet up at lunchtime, if you like?’

Carl looked away.

‘God, what’s wrong with you?’ Amy nipped.

Carl…

 

BLURB

Detective Andrew Deans’ life was unremarkable, until the day he was handed his latest case.

Now, a psychic medium challenges everything Deans has been trained to believe, as the search for a missing student becomes the hunt for a savage murderer.

Forced to leave his wife at a time when she needs him most, Deans travels to a small coastal town where he is exposed to a supernatural dimension he could never have imagined existed.

Closing in on a unique killer, Deans must confront an even greater challenge – he can hear the voice of his dead victim.

Facing his own ‘spiritual awakening’, Deans’ life is in turmoil, but destiny has dealt its hand and Deans has placed those he loves most in ultimate peril.

***

STORM LOG-0505 is available in paperback (ISBN: 978-0993568701), on Amazon Kindle, and free on Kindle Unlimited. Click the links or visit my website to find out more. Amazon UK  Amazon US

Book 2 in the trilogy, DEAD BY DESIGN, is also available in paperback, on Amazon Kindle and free on Kindle Unlimited, and the final part of the Detective Deans Trilogy, THE BONE HILL, is due for release early 2019.

BIO

A former CID Detective with the Avon and Somerset Constabulary, writing came as a something of a spontaneous act, when in 2012, following a chance encounter in a Bath bar with SAS veteran, TV personality and author, Chris Ryan, the spark of creativity ignited. I wanted to create a main protagonist in Detective ‘Deano’ Deans whose strengths and vulnerabilities were in equal measure, but frequently at odds. Using real-life experience within a busy CID department to give gripping authenticity, the Detective Deans Trilogy is an atmospheric, powerful, riveting and often emotional story of life, love, loss, and a touch of the miraculous.

With Chris Ryan’s words, “write what you know” ringing in my ears, STORM LOG-0505 is a true-to-life crime thriller with a pinch of paranormal spice, set between the city of Bath and the North Devon coastline.

Visit my social media pages and check out my website for the latest news and a chance to read all future books for free!

Website: jamesdmortain.com

Email: jdm@manverspublishing.com

Twitter: @JamesDMortain

Facebook: James D Mortain – Books

Instagram: jamesmortain

Thank you, Jenny xx

Thanks for a great blog James.

Come back next week to read 500 words from Bronwen Griffiths

Happy reading,

Jenny x


Edward’s Outlaw: Cover and Blurb Release

What a year it’s been for my ‘Jennifer Ash’ side!

Not only have I had the pleasure (the privilege), of writing a number of audio scripts for ITV’s Robin of Sherwood, I’ve also been very busy with the continuing adventures of Mathilda of Twyford.

Mathilda’s earliest adventure, which features in the first book of The Folville ChroniclesThe Outlaw’s Ransom – was re-released by Littwitz Press. The second book in the series, The Winter Outlaw came out in March. Now, after eight months intense writing, I can announce the forthcoming arrival of the third of The Folville ChroniclesEdward’s Outlaw.

Edward’s Outlaw will be released on 3rd December.

Pre-order for the eBook version of Edward’s Outlaw (Paperback link coming soon)

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KP9LTD9/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1542698930&sr=1-1&keywords=Edwards+Outlaw+Jennifer+Ash

Blurb

January 1330: King Edward III’s England is awash with the corruption and criminal activity that his mother, Queen Isabella had turned a blind eye to- providing it was to her advantage.

Now, having claimed the Crown for his own, Edward is determined to clean up England. Encouraged by his new wife, Philippa of Hainault and her special advisor- a man who knows the noble felons of the countries Midland region very well- King Edward sends a messenger to Roger Wennesley of Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire with orders to work with the county sheriff to arrest five of the Folville brothers…including the newly married Robert de Folville.

Robert takes his wife, Mathilda, to Rockingham Castle for her own safety, but no sooner has he left, when a maid is found murdered in the castle’s beautiful guest suite, the Fire Room. The dead girl looks a lot like Mathilda. Was she the target, or is Mathilda de Folville’s life in danger?

Asked to investigate by the sheriff in exchange for him deliberately taking his time in the hunt for her husband, Mathilda soon uncovers far more than murder…a web of carefully laid deception which trails from London, to Derbyshire, and beyond…

***

After being thrust into solving mysteries in books one and two in order to save her own life, this time Mathilda finds herself in the role of detective. Word of her skill at getting to the bottom of crimes has spread. In fact, the only person that doubts Mathilda’s skills as an investigator is Mathilda herself…

 

I had a wonderful time writing Mathilda’s latest adventure – and setting up the background for book four. In fact, clues to book four (which I will be writing at the end of 2019), have been scattered through the lines of all of The Folville Chronicle novels so far…

Come back for more novel release news soon.

Happy reading,

Jennifer xx

 

 


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