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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

 

 


Guest post from Phyllis Newman: The Vanishing Bride of Northfield House

I have a great blog for you today. Phyllis Newman is here explaining her motivation and how she satisfies her desire to kill…

Why not grab a slice of cake and a cuppa, and have a read?

 

What could be more natural than writing murder mysteries after a long career in finance and human resources? It satisfies in some small way my desire to kill someone!

I spent many decades at a large Midwestern university steeped in the various whims and vagaries of self-centered academics. As an administrator, I witnessed resentment, jealousy, fear, love, compassion, and hate (but no murders, fortunately! Not that promotion and tenure isn’t something to die for.) These emotions form the basis of all motives, the rationale for what we do in any walk of life.

Motivation is a theoretical construct used to explain behavior. It represents the reasons for people’s actions, desires, and needs. Motivation can also be defined as one’s direction to behavior, or what causes a person to want to repeat a behavior. A motive is what leads to all acts of love and devotion as well as every crime.

At the heart of every story you find motivation. Understanding one’s fellow man is essential if you are to write about people believably, for to reveal the rationale behind their behavior is to make them live and breathe. Real world interactions with people—especially those who are dealing with difficult situations—can yield a plethora of revelations about humanity. Every writer must search within themselves to find truth about their characters, and to reflect what they know, to write what they have experienced themselves. Yes, that old chestnut, write what you know! (It only now occurs to me that given the subject matter of THE VANISHED BRIDE OF NORTHFIELD HOUSE, this makes me look like a pretty creepy person.)

Motivation—whether to keep secrets, fall in love, or murder someone—defines the action in any novel but is most particularly important in a mystery. As a writer I must create events and portray thought processes that jumpstart and maintain the action. Without understanding what motivates them, your characters remain flat and unknowable to the reader. A connection with the characters is essential for a reader to identify with and appreciate the story.

 In this newly published novel, my main character Anne Chatham ends up in the English countryside typing scholarly manuscripts of an agricultural nature. What gets her there and into the ensuing intrigues is determined by the sweep of history following The Great War, the social and political upheaval of the times, and a rich tapestry of family lore, dark secrets, and forbidden love.

In THE VANISHED BRIDE, I believe I have delivered a fun-to-read ghost story. It is a creepy supernatural gothic tale with a spirited heroine, intriguing mystery, engaging romance, and spirits who make the action lively. The story is a mix of mystery and romance with touches of supernatural spookiness and gothic horror.

All the characters in The Vanished Bride are haunted, either by disappointment, the unresolved past, unmet desire, or guilt. They are motivated by the same desires, love, hatred, jealousy, and a whole panoply of human emotion, making them like people everywhere. This is a psychological thriller where the details unfold one by one, death by death.

Extract:

My dance partner bowed with the élan befitting a king’s guardsman and, with a little smile, took his leave.

I turned to Martha. “Mrs. Langtry, how nice to see you.”

She gave me a blank stare. “Have we met?” She balanced a plate in her lap littered with the remnants of an artichoke-olive canapé.

The other women, who nibbled on smoked salmon on toast, watched us closely.

“Yes, but it’s been a while. I’m Anne. I work with Mr. Wellington.”

“How are you, dear?” She looked past me into the crowd. “Have a seat and talk to an old lady.” She made a shooing gesture to the tiny woman in black sitting next to her.

The little woman shot me a look of disdain before vacating her chair.

Martha opened an elaborate fan and fluttered it before her face.

Feeling warm, I wished for a fan of my own. But what I really wanted was a mask to hide behind. The scarlet dress made my desired invisibility impossible. I scanned the guests and spied Thomas again, but not his brother.

“Have you seen the bride?” said Martha.

“What?” I asked, assuming one of the revelers was dressed as a bride.

“Just lovely,” said Martha. “All those flowers.”

I searched among the tumult of guests, both the originals and their doubles reflected in the mirrored doors.

“Eleanor has never looked more beautiful,” Martha said, beaming.

I was engulfed by a wave of pure pity. Martha was at another party in another time.

She eyed me with disapproval. “That dress, dear. I hope you don’t think ill of me if I suggest it is most inappropriate.” She shook her head. “Quite improper.”

I felt a stab of humiliation. My confidence wavered. But I called upon Eleanor’s supporting presence and decided to humor my elderly companion. After all, her suffering trumped any discomfort I might feel.

“I must apologize, Mrs. Langtry.” I bowed my head with mock contrition. “I’m a simple country girl and didn’t know what I should wear.”

She laughed. “There, there, my dear. Don’t be disheartened. No one’s looking at you, anyway. They’ll all be looking at her.”

“Of course!” I agreed. “Do you need anything, Mrs. Langtry? May I get you a glass of water?” I touched her hand.

She jerked away from me and snarled, “Don’t do that. How dare you touch me!”

My face stung as I looked about at our companions. No one seemed to notice that Martha was unstable. I said as softly as possible, “Would you like to go to your room? Lie down for a while?”

“Why should I? I’ll miss all the fun.”

I was wondering how much fun she could possibly be having when she turned to me, leaning close, and whispered like a conspirator.

“You forget,” she said. “I know. I know everything. I saw what really happened.” She drew herself up with smug hauteur. “I’m telling.”

Telling what? She might have been thinking of Eleanor’s wedding—or another event tangled in her jumbled mind.

Martha closed her fan. We sat in silence, peering at the assembled throng as they paused with the music.

A hush fell.

For a moment, anticipation hung in the air.

Then an excited murmur ran through the room.

All heads turned towards the entrance. Charlotte stood at the top of the steps. She was dressed as an ethereal moth. A shimmering white gown rippled across her body, falling from the high collar at her throat to the floor. Her hair was hidden under a close-fitting, beaded skullcap. A pair of gossamer wings with fluttering ribbons completed the effect. The translucent fabric revealed every alluring curve of her body, unaltered by any foundation garments. She looked like a silken goddess, lit from within by moonlight.

The crowd broke into spontaneous applause at her appearance, and Charlotte beamed a glorious smile at her adoring admirers. Cries of appreciation bounced about the ballroom like reflected light.

It was only then I saw Owen. Dressed like Edgar Allen Poe, he wore a close-fitting black suit with a silk bow tied loosely around a high white collar. With his dark, tousled hair and solemn expression, he most assuredly recalled the famous poet.

He stood at the edge of the dancers, his eyes devouring Charlotte.

Something inside me withered and withdrew. With Charlotte’s arrival in her diaphanous costume, I felt sure I looked garish and overdone. Whoever or whatever infused me with confidence had fled.

Perhaps this was just what she’d planned. Her image was that of heavenly angel, otherworldly sylph, ethereal sprite. Mine was smoking demon with my tumble of black hair and crimson gown. I might as well have been holding a pitchfork.

As I watched Owen, who looked mesmerized by Charlotte’s silvery figure, a young man appeared before me, extending his hand. I rose without thinking, without seeing his face, and we spun awkwardly about the floor. A jazz number gripped the crowd, and another man stepped forwards and pulled me into the circle of revelers. I moved to unfamiliar music, rocking and bouncing, ungainly and clumsy, back and forth and around.

Drums pounded and horns blared in propulsive syncopation. I continued to dance and dance, unable to catch the tempo. The beat of the music pulsed throughout the room, the rhythmical throb vibrating the floor, and we swayed and dipped through the whirl of sparkling color and grinning faces. I feared I was making a spectacle of myself, but felt trapped in the crush of dancers.

Charlotte drifted through the mob like a cloud, bestowing kisses, dancing with one admirer, and laughing with another. I heard a babble of praise follow her whenever the music paused.

Everything tilted for a second when a waltz seized the room and rolled over the dancers. Another man took my hand and we eddied and swirled, round and round. Yet another man cut in. I hardly acknowledged my partners, barely felt their hand in mine, the other resting at my waist.

 *** 

Bio:

Phyllis M. Newman is a native southerner. Born in New Orleans, she spent formative years in Florida, Iowa, Mississippi, and on a dairy farm in Ross Country, Ohio. After a long career in finance and human resources at The Ohio State University, she turned her attention to writing fiction. She published a noir mystery, “Kat’s Eye” in 2015, and “The Vanished Bride of Northfield House” in 2018. Today she lives in Columbus, Ohio with her husband and three perpetually unimpressed cats, ghost watchers all.

You may contact/follow/like her at www.readphyllismnewman.com, or Facebook  https://facebook.com/ReadPhyllisMNewman/  ; or Twitter @phyllismnewman2

Readers can find The Vanished Bride of Northfield House at Amazon.com/co.uk, Kindle, and Barnes & Noble

Buy link:    http://www.amazon.com/dp/1939403456

British buy link:  https://goo.gl/uU5QBC

***

Thanks for such a great blog Phyllis,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx


Retreating

It’s time for the Imagine Writing Retreat!

Based in the beautiful Victorian Manor of Northmoor on Exmoor, a small group of writers will be joining myself and my fellow ‘Imaginer’ Alison Knight, for 5 days of writing time, chatter, author talks and – very probably- wine sippage.

I’m banking on being considerably fitter on my return (there are lots of beautiful walks and plenty of stairs up to my attic bedroom)- and, hopefully, I’ll be in a position where my next novel is plotted, my latest proofing commission is complete and all my student workshops for the rest of 2018 are drafted. Do you think maybe I’m asking too much?

Our prime concern however, is to make sure that every single person attending has a fantastic time! We have two amazing guests (Dan Metcalf and Kate Griffin) a quiz, optional one-to-one advice sessions and lots of biscuits. What more could a writer ask?

While I’m on Exmoor the chances of decent Wi-Fi is slim, so there won’t be an Opening Lines blog this week.

If you try to contact me, then please be patient. I will get back to you asap.

See you on the other side…

Jenny xx

 

 

 

 

 


The Folville Chronicles 1: The Outlaw’s Ransom

With the third book in The Folvilles Chronicles series only days  away from being sent to my editor for proofing, I thought it high time we took a look back at Book One in the series: The Outlaw’s Ransom

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 later this year.

***

Happy reading,

Jen xx


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