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Currently Browsing: Contemporary fiction

Opening Lines: Light From Other Windows by Chris Chalmers

Opening Lines time is here! This week Chris Chalmers is with me to share the first 500 words of his novel, Light From Other Windows.

Light From Other Windows — Blurb

How many secrets can a family hide?

19-year-old Josh Maitland is at the end of a gap-year trip round the world when the tsunami hits the Canary Islands. His family are devastated at the loss of someone they thought would outlive them all: mother Diana, advertising executive and shatterer of glass ceilings; older siblings Rachel and Jem, each contemplating a serious relationship after years of sidestepped commitment; and stepfather Colin, no stranger to loss, who finds himself frozen out by his wife’s grief.

Only with the discovery of the private blog Josh was writing for his friends does the significance of his travels become clear. It reveals secrets he knew about everyone in his family — and one about himself that will change the way they think of him forever.

Can bring tears to your eyes on one page and make you laugh the next.” SUZI FEAY, literary journalist

“Once again Chris Chalmers combines sensitivity and wit in his observation of human behaviour with a cracking storyline. Unputdownable.” PENNY HANCOCK, bestselling author of Tideline

You can choose your friends but…

How I was inspired to write Light From Other Windows — by Chris Chalmers

In every novel I’ve written, there’s been someone or something I can point to and say ‘Yep — that’s me!’ In the case Light From Other Windows, it’s not a character so much as a position within the family.

Nineteen-year-old Josh Maitland is the youngest child of three by a good decade. His older brother and sister feel more like secondary parents than siblings — and that was certainly the case when I was growing up. I was always “the little one”, which was nice in a way when I was very young; when I was eight or nine, my big sister was earning a living and kind enough to give me pocket money. And since she and my brother had long since left home I was ostensibly an only child, with all the advantages of full parental attention that can bring.

The trouble is, roles within the family have a habit of sticking. In my case until I was in my thirties, with a successful career and home of my own, when I realised my siblings still saw me just as they always had. It wasn’t malicious. Far from it, they’re both lovely people. But it took a flashpoint to end it; an argument in which the worm turned and told them he’d had enough of being treated like a man-child. My brother and sister were very contrite. In their defence, I don’t think either of them knew they had been doing it.

So that’s the dynamic I was working with in this book. The events are fiction. Unlike Josh, I didn’t go on a gap-year trip round the world, and mercifully I’ve never been caught in a tsunami. But the subtle way the members of the Maitland family perceive each other is very much based on personal experience.

Accidents of birth have a lot to answer for — and so do accidents of promotion (excuse the clunky segue). Light From Other Windows has been out for a while, but with the support of Amazon and its inscrutable algorithms, it has found a very healthy readership. If it’s new to you and you’d like to know more, here are the first 500 words:

 

First 500 words…

PROLOGUE

Funny. The bedroom still had his smell.

She paused in the doorway. The room was bathed in a milky January light; utterly lifeless, like someone had pulled the plug. It was never this quiet when he was here. The little blue chest of drawers was on the desk, just like he said. She left the door ajar and kept to the rug, avoiding the bare boards.

A wad of papers was tucked inside the bottom drawer, and as she yanked it out the drawer came with it. She pushed it back as she unfurled the papers. Licking her thumb, she flicked through for the right one… Ripped-out page from a glossy mag — something about the next iPad… Three old greetings cards (— one from her, ah!)… Flier for some club they’d never been to –  And something else, creased into quarters…

One glimpse of the lion-and-unicorn crest in the corner was enough.

Gotcha!  

She folded up the birth certificate, tucked it into the waistband of her skirt and slipped the rest back in the drawer. As she turned, his posters stared back at her from the wall. A couple of them — more of those god-awful rappers — were new, but some of those rugby pics had been there since they were twelve or thirteen. Mad…

Mad, but typical. He didn’t care! Even his ancient teddy was still there, wedged between the wardrobe and the wall, one paw sticking out like it was hitching a ride from the Teletubbies. When was he going to get rid of —

Laughter! Seeping up from downstairs. Four strides and she was back on the landing. A quick peep over the banister —

All clear. She nipped into the bathroom and flushed.

The casement window on the turn in the stairs sparked a memory: a circular rainbow. She could see the bracelet of sherbet sweets looped over the latch so clearly she could still taste its plasticky fizz… They’d been playing Treasure Hunt at one of his birthday does, his big bro and sis roped in to organise party games and hating it…

The house was shabbier back then.

As she reached the bottom stair, she slid the paper out of hiding and into the pocket of her jacket hooked over the banister. Her hand was on the kitchen door as she checked her watch.

Best not hang around too long. She just had time for a cup of tea if she was going to catch the Post Office.                                                       

CHAPTER ONE

“And finally –” said Diana Maitland, “Brad and Dan?”

Johnnie Grange, her deputy in the advertising agency’s Creative Department, was lounging with his bony knees splayed in a chair on the other side of her desk. The tongue of his ever-present raffia belt dangled tumescently.

“Doing enough to get by, I guess,” he said. “Though that last viral for Nissan kicked the budget into touch…”

Diana looked up from her list. Her ash-blonde bob and Moschino jacket suggested the kindlier judge on a reality show…

Chris Chalmers lives in South-West London with his partner, a quite famous concert pianist. He has been the understudy on Mastermind, visited 40 different countries, and swum with iguanas. Aside from his novels, his proudest achievement in writing is making Martina Navratilova ROFLAO on Twitter.

You’ll find him on Facebook @chrischalmersnovelist, on Twitter @CCsw19, and at www.chrischalmers.net

BUY LINK, paperback and ebook:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Light-Other-Windows-Chris-Chalmers-ebook/dp/B013GNUDD6/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8 

***

Many thanks Chris.

Come back next week to read 500 words from Suzi Stembridge.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx


Opening Lines: Full Circle by Regina Timothy

Opening Lines time is here!

This week I’m delighted to welcome Regina Timothy to my blog with the first 500 words of her contemporary novel, Full Circle.

Blurb

Eight years after the 9/11 attacks, Samia-Al-Sayyid an Iraqi immigrant is living a quiet life in New York City after she fled her home to avoid imminent death.

She works hard for her cold, heartless, high-strung boss, loves her seventeen-years-old-son, and cherishes the close friendship she has formed with her best friend Susan.

Nothing can go wrong, or so she thinks – until the estranged brother she left back in Iraqi shows up on her door step. Then she finds herself in a cab, on her way to the hospital to identify her son, a terror suspect who has blown the city, and with it her boss’ husband, and her best friend’s son. With everything lost, she is forced to flee to Iraq where she confronts her past. Will she make peace with her past? Can she get forgiveness for all the damage she has caused?

Full Circle is a contemporary fiction tale of friendship, family, and hope. It explores the devastation of loss, the great capacity to forgive and the lengths our loved ones will go to protect us.

Here are the first 500 words (exactly)

15th November 2001

Three months had passed. Three months since Samia received her last paycheck. Three months since the attack that robbed her of the little haven she had created for herself and her ten-year-old son, Aazim. Three months since she stood in her old employer’s study and with horror saw the twin towers crumble into nothing, and with them Mercy’s only daughter Carol.

She could picture that day in her mind like it was yesterday. Tuesday, 11th September 2001. It had been a beautiful sunny morning when Samia rode the elevator to the sixth floor of her employer’s apartment building in Greenwich Village on 42 West 9th Street.

But all that changed the minute she stepped into Mercy’s home office and found her pacing up and down the floor, phone in hand. “Carol, Carol can you hear me?” she yelled over the phone. She glanced at Samia as she placed the coffeepot on the table and motioned her to stay. She covered the mouthpiece with her hand and whispered, “Something’s happened to Carol.”

“What?” Samia asked as her heartbeat quickening. Her eyes fell on a photo of Carol on Mercy’s desk. It was the same photo Samia had in her living room along with hers and Aazim’s; a headshot taken in an open field on a windy day, her wheat-colored hair mussed, and a gentle smile playing on her cherry lips as her sea blue eyes looked straight into the camera.

Samia turned to Mercy, who walked up to the phone base and put the call on speaker. Her heart thumped painfully in her chest, and she felt icy cold fear coursing through her veins.

“Baby, can you hear me?” Mercy’s voice crackled with emotion.

“Yeah,” Carol answered. She coughed and sputtered for a few minutes. “Something has happened, Mom; something is wrong.” Carol stammered. “I… I don’t know what, but there is rubble and dust everywhere. The ceiling above us fell in. I don’t know what is happening.”

“Stay calm, everything will be okay,” Mercy said as she paced in front of the large window overlooking the balcony opposite the desk. “Where are you now?”

“I’m in an office under a desk,” Carol responded before another bout of coughing took over.

“Are you hurt?”

“I… I don’t think so; let me check.” Silenced ensued before she came on again. “No, I’m not hurt.” They heard a groan and movement. “Help!” Carol shouted. “Somebody help me! Mom, I think someone’s out there. I’ll go see, hold on.”

“Okay, baby, just be careful,” Mercy replied. She stopped in front of the telephone listening to Carol shuffle things out of her way and crawl from under the desk. “Oh my God!” Carol exclaimed. Mercy stared at Samia, who stood frozen on the other side of the desk as they waited for Carol’s voice.

“Oh my God!” They heard Carol’s voice again.

“What’s wrong?” Mercy froze.

“It’s horrible, it’s just… I think I saw a person’s hand. And there is a gaping hole in…

***

You can buy Full Circle from all good retailers, including- http://amzn.to/2EdNl5L

Bio

Regina lives in a picturesque village in Kenya where she enjoys amazing landscapes, exotic wildlife, and beautiful sunsets and sunrises. She always had active imagination. By chance, she started blogging in 2010, which rekindled her love for writing and telling stories. When not writing she enjoys watching classic movies (she’s a movie buff), going to the theater and auto shows.

You can join her on the following platforms:

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17539626.Regina_Timothy

Librarythings – https://www.librarything.com/profile/Regina-Timothy

Twitter – https://twitter.com/gina_wann

Blog – http://reginatimothy.wordpress.com 

***

Thanks for your great opener Regina.

Don’t forget to come back next week for some words from Chris Chalmers.

Happy reading,

Jenny x


8 Reasons to go on an Imagine writing retreat

After the wonderful success of our trip to Northmoor House last October, Alison Knight and I are proud to open the booking for Imagine’s second writing retreat…

8 reasons to go on an Imagine Writing Retreat…

1. Writers need writers! No one understands writing and a writer’s life like another writer. Mutual support is the name of the game!

2. Located in the stunning Victorian manor, Northmoor House, Imagine’s retreat gives you the chance to stay in a home untouched by time (Don’t panic, there is Wi-Fi). You can even indulge in the waters of an original Victorian bathtub…don’t forget your bubble bath!

3. With so many of the manor’s period features still in place, Northmoor is the ideal location for sparking inspiration and dreaming up new plotlines.

4. On the edge of Exmoor, near the popular village of Dulverton, there are plenty of beautiful places to explore should you, or any non-writing friends or partners, wish to. There are miles of good walking land on hand. The pre-historic Tarr Steps are but minutes away, and the cafes in Dulverton are excellent. I can personally recommend the poached eggs on crumpets in The Copper Kettle.

Tarr Steps

5. However, you might not want to stray into the village for food because we have employed an excellent local caterer, who is providing a delicious menu that will cater for all dietary requirements. All food is locally sourced.

6. Come along for a confidence boost! At Imagine we pride ourselves on helping everyone to get their words onto the page. We are here for beginners and experts alike.

7. Meet celebrated novelist Kate Lord Brown! Kate will be our guest speaker on the Tuesday evening.

8. Let’s face it – Monday to Friday in a beautiful Victorian Manor, with time to write, all food provided, plus help on tap, a chance to meet Kate Lord Brown, and the opportunity to share writing ideas over a glass of wine (or two) – for only £550 (£50 less if you book before 28th February) is a BARGAIN.

***

Full details are available at https://www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk/writing-retreats 

If you have any queries please email Alison or myself at imaginecreativewritng@gmail.com

 

PLEASE REMEMBER THAT THE EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT ENDS ON 28th FEB 2019

Happy writing everyone,

Jenny xx


A VERY BOOKISH CHRISTMAS

I just wanted to pause from the merriment to wish you…

A VERY BOOKISH CHRISTMAS!

Edward's Outlaw

Many many thanks for all your support over the last year.

I hope you are all having a truly peaceful and huggled Christmas, with extra coffee and a mince pie or three.

I will be back with you on 27th December, with another brilliant opening lines blog from Linda Huber.

Much love,

Jenny xx


Opening Lines: Just Sam by Kristy Brown

This week I’m sharing the opening lines from the YA romance, Just Sam.

Many thanks to Kristy Brown for visiting today with her first 500 words.

Over to you Kristy…

“Just Sam.” Is A YA Contemporary romance about a girl who dreams of becoming the next big tennis champion. She suffers a huge loss at a young age, which totally knocks her confidence. We follow Sam on her journey to  believing in herself again. Although she’s into tennis, the reader doesn’t have to be. Sam thinks life is out to get her and her heart is broken, so she feels like she’s in an epic tennis match against life itself. She has to trust in love again and open up her heart.

Blurb – Just Sam

All Sam dreams of is being the next big tennis champion.

But when she suffers a great loss at such a young age, she finds it hard to believe in herself.

She becomes so scared of losing people that she hides her feelings to protect her heart.

Will she ever let anyone close enough to truly love her?

She never realised, her toughest match would be against life itself.

The first 500 words…

1: The Secret Club

I remember watching my first Wimbledon grand slam with mum. I could only have been around four or five, but I knew it was something special. The look on her face was one of pure joy as she sat on the edge of her chair, completely engrossed. Of course, I didn’t understand any of the rules or the weird scoring system, thirty- love and what on earth was a deuce? But as I watched my mother becoming bright red in the face, yelling at the TV and jumping up and down, I knew I wanted to join in with her happiness. I understood that this game was something that she loved.  I remember it like it was yesterday. The way she turned from the screen and smiled at me so widely, that I knew right then, that I too wanted a piece of this special thing called ‘tennis’.

For the next few years we’d sit together and watch the magic of Wimbledon. I waited for it, like I waited for Christmas. Two weeks in a year when my mum became almost giddy and more importantly for me, it was ‘our’ time, our unbreakable thing that no one could ever intrude upon, our little club for two.

Each year, she’d try to explain the rules and stuff to me and as I got a few tournaments under my belt, I finally started to get it. The game took on a whole new meaning when I knew that ‘love’ equalled zero and ‘deuce’ meant forty – all. It was like I’d cracked long division; I’d finally got the tennis code. I became a member of a very elite club and in my head, I was as clever as my mum, cleverer than my perfect sister.

I asked if I could join a tennis club, which seemed to please mum no end. After some ringing around, she found a suitable one just twenty minutes away by car. She asked my sister Claire if she’d also like to come along. I recall holding my breath for the entire thirty seconds that it took her to decide. She, to my utter delight, decided she’d rather hang out at the shops with her friends, which was what she did whenever she wasn’t in school or in bed. Mum told me that teens needed a lot of sleep, but to me, she was just lazy. This meant I got to keep Mum all to myself, at least on a Saturday morning anyway. After every visit, we’d stop at Maccies for a sneaky cheeseburger — another secret for just us.

I was nervous at first. I was eight years old and all the kids there seemed to already know each other and play amazingly well. I never thought I’d match up to any of them.

After my first session, I ran off the court in floods of tears. In my head, I’d believed myself to be the best player ever, because I’d played a few games in…

***

Buy links

https://www.amazon.com/Just-Sam-Kristy-Brown-ebook/dp/B079WYMBQ8

https://www.amazon.com/Just-Sam-Kristy-Brown/dp/1980337527/ref=la_B079YTT7Q2_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520339617&sr=1-1

Bio

Kristy Brown lives in England with her husband and two sons. She trained as an actress and has a degree in Contemporary Arts. After her first child was born she began writing a short story whilst he took a nap. That was the beginning of the “Kiera’s Quest” teen fantasy series, which is published by ‘Muse It Up Publishing.’
Kristy then went on to write “Summer’s End,” a YA Paranormal romance series, which will also be published with Muse It Up Publishing.
“Just Sam,” is a YA/ Teen contemporary romance book set loosely in the world of tennis.
Kristy is currently editing her YA modern retelling of Cinderella, “Cinderfella.” She is also writing the third book in the “Summer’s End” series and has many more stories in mind, yet not enough time in the day!

Amazon author page –https://www.amazon.com/Kristy-Brown/e/B079YTT7Q2/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1 

Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5290332.Kristy_Brown

Twitter- https://twitter.com/KBrownauthor 

***

Thanks ever so much Kristy.

Happy reading everyone,

Come back next week for some more opening lines.

Jenny xx


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