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

Category: Fiction Page 1 of 61

The Genesis of World War When by Elliot Thorpe

This week I’m delighted to be welcoming Elliot Thorpe to my place to tell us about his latest story, World War When.

Over to you Elliot…

I was involved in a book project back in the distant past of 2016, an anthology of stories and verse to commemorate the (then-upcoming) centenary of the end of the First World War. While the project went in other directions, the work I had put into my contributions I didn’t want wasted. Any writer will tell you that an author never throws away an idea! I’d toyed with any number of scenarios and plotlines and saw mileage in expanding beyond the short story remit to a full-length novel.

I’d always found both World Wars to be fascinating, extremely dark chapters in recent history that have hopefully taught us lessons. I’d never written anything directly linking to modern warfare before, although I did delve into the skirmishes between the Ottoman Turks and the Wallachians in a horror novel in 2013. That previous novel, currently out of print, took a hugely fantastical liberty with the source material – something that seemed permissible bearing in mind that the protagonists and antagonists lived in a world wholly unlike our own some 500 years ago.

The idea then of taking a slice of history that is well-known, deeply researched, intimately documented and only a handful of years falling out of living memory I have to confess gave me moments of internal conflict. I didn’t want to make light of the events between 1914 and 1918. I didn’t want to flippantly create characters that existed as unflappable heroes. Nor did I want to step on the experiences those who served had been through. But that’s the art of storytelling, to weave a fiction that is believable, to conjure up heroes who aren’t two-dimensional, to place a tale in front of a backdrop that both thrills and chills.

I did my research. I would have been daft not to – because historians at all levels would find something that I got wrong in my prose. I created a past that was recognisable, a close as I could make it to reality following said research, with healthy influences thrown in for good measure: anything from Buchan to Elton to Faulks to Meredeth to Moffatt to Mukherjee to Sapper. I wanted a world of action, intrigue, drama and romance, of excitement, danger, love and loss. Then I went off-piste: the story mutated into how the Allies had lost the Great War and what happened after.

This alternative history, as I saw it, hadn’t been truly explored before in fiction. We have countless ‘what if Hitler had won’ tales, but no one had seemed to have asked what if the Kaiser had won in 1918?

And so World War When was born: a new, exciting reinvention of the end of 1914-1918 conflict.

But then I realised I had re-ignited my own conflicts: by telling a story of how the Central Powers had stormed across Europe to raise the Kaiser’s flag atop Buckingham Palace, I was erasing all the pain and suffering that our great grandparents had gone through. Perhaps I was looking too deeply into this. My solution? I made my characters, my protagonists, question the world they were living in. Could it be better? Could it be changed? Was the Great War fought for nought? Was all the pain and suffering they had gone through prior to 1918 a waste? When one of the characters answered ‘yes’, I knew I had my novel’s hook.

World War When poses the question: What if the Allies has lost the Great War?

Find out the answer when the novel, published by AG Books, is released 22 January 2022 in paperback, hardback and on Kindle. You can buy it from Amazon and all good bookstores.

Keep reading for an exclusive extract…

The war began with two shots and it would end with one.

At least that was what Daniel Restarick hoped, waiting in the bombed-out shell of what had been a shop, judging by the strewn cans of food.

The US Army had withdrawn some hours ago, successful in pushing the German offensive back towards Metz. The air was thick with death and rain. Spirals of smoke drifted on the air of the autumn afternoon; devastated buildings forlornly lined either side of the main street. At one end, a Renault FT tank was upended in a crater, having been shelled by enemy artillery. Even at this distance, Restarick could smell the petrol settling in a pool at the bottom of the jagged hole.

He was across the street from the church—one of the few fully standing structures, as if some providence had kept it free from the conceit of humanity. He was tired but focused, the rum from his weekly ration having been spilt during the night. Patience, too, was a prerequisite of a man like him.

At twenty-nine, Restarick was considered a veteran, having seen conflict almost from the moment war broke out. Formerly of the Essex Regiment, he had been hand-picked, during the summer of 1916, by Naval Intelligence—to work in the field for the Factory or, more formally, Room 40, the predominant section in the British Admiralty that handled cryptoanalysis. Covert operations had led him here, with the knowledge that vital information and thus advantage was going to be passed to the Central Powers,. His mission was simple: prevent this by any means necessary.

If the war ended on this one shot, the euphoria and relief across the world would be his doing. It was a heady thought.

It began to rain again, thunderstorms having relented only yesterday evening, almost concurrently with the exchange of fire. Restarick hated the feeling of the cold water against his back, hated the sight of his rifle becoming obscured, hated the stinging in his eyes. Further, he wore no gloves, so the damp had a habit of making his grip more precarious on the lengthy barrel.

He wanted a cigarette but the smoke would give away his position. It would have to wait.

Wiping the sight, he scanned the rubble-strewn street before him, waiting for his quarry and thinking of his return to England, to Surrey and to what he had already lost.

He and Lita had only been married for five months when she died and they had spent very little time together as a couple, stolen moments while he was on leave. There had been no honeymoon. They’d written, of course, as much as the Army Postal Service allowed, but it was a poor replacement.  Still, she had not given any indication of unhappiness or discontent. Although, perhaps that was the role of those left behind. Just as those on the battlefield had to callously dismiss them from their minds.  Lita had worked at the Silvertown munitions factory. The previous year, she had survived an accident that had killed over seventy and injured in excess of four hundred more. Survived to perish later, in a fire in their home in Surrey; she’d been trapped as the ceiling above her collapsed, bringing the bedroom down around her. The ARP wardens and the fire brigade had been unable to save her.

Her funeral had been a small affair. She’d left Spain as a young teenager and found her own way in life. Most of the mourners had been from Restarick’s side of the family, and a handful of officers with whom he’d served. The memory of the day itself was now obscured by the rage that had consumed him. He and Lita, however, had shared a passion for freedom, that fragile bloom, and this pushed him on, to fight against those who would crush it underfoot.

Her portrait, folded away in his pocket, served as his constant reminder.

The land surrounding the town was forest with the occasional patterns of farmland, not easily traversable by vehicle. The target, he had to assume, would arrive in the town on foot and, with both the Rue des Chanoines and Eglise Saint-Etienne mentioned in intercepted messages, the church was the most logical choice for the information exchange to take place.

In the distance, he heard the world rumble. Not thunder, that was too natural a sound. This was the result of mortar shells, ripping into bodies, into metal and into the earth some miles away. The shelling continued for a good hour or so, during which Restarick pushed his mind away from the devastation.

And there was his target, clear as day through his rifle sights. A trench coat, its large collar turned up, obscured any sign of expression or guise, a large grey woollen hat pulled low over the spy’s face. Over one shoulder, they held a khaki hold-all and it was this, Restarick knew, that held the papers he needed to intercept. On reaching the church door, the figure appeared to look around briefly, before ducking into the building.

Restarick cursed and shuffled forward on his belly, careful not to be seen. He couldn’t risk going into the church itself in case the spy wasn’t alone, though he suspected the spy would be making the exchange while out of sight. He would need to be damned fast to shoot down whoever came out of there.

He aimed for the bell tower, firing and quickly reloading. The bell tolled deeply and Restarick refocused his sights on the church door.

Then it was no longer the church door in the crosshairs. Now it was the traitor’s head.

This was it, the moment that would bring the war to an end.

Restarick quickly checked his watch and smiled to himself. 1700hrs. The Great War, 28 July 1914 to 13 September 1918.

He would be the bringer of peace.

He pulled the rifle into his shoulder, the weapon tight in his arms, and squeezed the trigger.

To be continued…

You can find all the buy links for World War When here – https://worldwarwhen.co.uk/shop/

BIO

Elliot Thorpe is a freelance writer, having previously worked for Starlog and written for the sites ‘Den of Geek’, ‘Shadowlocked’, ‘Doctor Who TV’, ‘Red Shirts Always Die’ and ‘TrekThis’, as well as for Encore, the magazine for the theatre professional.

He scripted the full cast audio drama Doctor Who – Cryptobiosis for Big Finish in 2005 and in 2013, his first novel Cold Runs the Blood was published.

He also has contributions in Seasons of War: Tales from a Time War (2015), Grave Matters (2015), Doctor Who – A Time Lord for Change (2016), The Librarian (2017), The Wretched Man (2020) and Sherlock Holmes and the Woman Who Wasn’t (2021).

For many years he enjoyed a working relationship with the West End production of The Definitive Rat Pack and in 2017 co-wrote Just Dino – A Recollection of Dean Martin with Bernard H Thorpe, which was expanded and re-released the following year as Dean Martin – Recollections. To date, three further volumes have followed: Dean Martin’s Movie Moments, Dean Martin – A Discography and For The Good Times: The Dean Martin Compendium. https://www.facebook.com/The-Dean-Martin-Association-110034111572241

He is a long-term regular columnist for the US-based magazine Search (searchmagazine.net), writes for thedoctorwhocompanion.com and co-hosts Sid & Terry’s Doctor Who Podcast on YouTube.

Please visit worldwarwhen.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/World-War-When-A-Novel-112564057994522

Author photo courtesy A E Abbottson

World War When © 2022 Elliot Thorpe

Thanks for visiting today, Elliot,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

A Touch of Spring Blossom

Although the early morning frosts here in Devon still have that winter feel, the trees in the woods and parks nearby are all showing signs of spring.

There is something universally hopeful about the new life that spring brings with it. This sense of hope is something I drew upon when I wrote the third Mill Grange novel, Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange.

Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange

Blurb

Helen Rogers has been lying to herself over her feelings for Tom since the moment they met. And for good reason; not only are they colleagues, working together with the archaeology groups at Mill Grange, but her sabbatical is almost over and she’ll soon have to return to Bath.

Tom Harris knows he’s falling in love with Helen. How could he not? She’s smart, kind and great with his son Dylan. But with his ex-wife suddenly offering him a chance to spend more time with Dylan, and the staff of Mill Grange about to host a wedding, everything else has to be put to one side. Even his feelings for a certain archaeologist.

As Helen’s time at Mill Grange runs short, the two are forced to consider what matters most...

Today, I thought I’d share an extract from Thea, Shaun, Tom, Helen, Tina and Sam’s latest adventure.

Extract

‘Do you honestly think I’ll need eighteen pairs of knickers? It’s the Cotswolds, not the Kalahari.’

Thea scooped the entire contents of her underwear drawer onto the bed as Shaun flung open a suitcase.

‘No, I think you’ll need thirty pairs or more, but as you only have eighteen, then pack them.’

‘Seriously?’ Thea eyed some of her older undies with suspicion. The greying fabric had been consigned to the back of the drawer to be used in emergencies only, although now she thought about it, she wasn’t sure what that emergency might be. An archaeological excavation in the middle of nowhere, perhaps?

‘You know what it’s like on a dig. Laundry facilities only happen to other people. A flushing toilet can be a luxury sometimes.’

‘Won’t the local village have a launderette?’

‘It’s the Cotswolds, Thea. The people who can afford to live there don’t need launderettes.’ Shaun winked. ‘I tend to wring out my smalls in the nearest public toilet sink or a bucket of cold water.’

Thea laughed. ‘I used to do that when I was a student on excavation.’ Stuffing every pair of socks she owned into the suitcase, she added, ‘Age has softened me!’

‘You’ve got used to manor house living, that’s what it is.’ As Shaun threw a pile of t-shirts onto the bed, he caught a glimpse of anxiety crossing Thea’s face. ‘I was only joking. It’s not like student times. We get a catering truck, posh tents and Portaloos. The only thing we don’t have is regular access to a washing machine.’

Holding a thick jumper to her chest, Thea pulled a face. ‘I’m not worried about knickers or having our own bathroom or anything like that. It’s just… what if the show’s new producer hates me? Phil gave me the job as co-host of Landscape Treasures because of the work I did for you in Cornwall, but the new guy… is it a guy?’

‘It is. A bloke called Julian Blackwood. I’ve not worked with him before, but I’ve heard he’s good.’

‘Well, what if this Julian takes one look at me and decides to trade me in for a younger model? I’m thirty-three for goodness sake, that’s ancient in female telly present land.’

‘Then he’d be a fool. Anyway, that attitude, thank goodness, is gradually dying off. And if he was a “pretty young thing” bloke, rather than a “pretty thirty-something with experience and talent” type of chap, then he’d lose your skills and my respect. Which, as I’m the show’s presenter, would be pretty stupid.’

‘That’s the other thing.’

‘What is?’ Shaun threw a mountain of socks into the case, many of which, Thea was convinced she’d never seen before.

‘I don’t want the guest-presenter role just because I’m your partner. Some of the archaeologists are bound to think that’s why I got it. If Phil only gave me the job because—’

Raising a hand to stop the fear he’d heard Thea utter at least once a week since Landscape Treasures had asked her to appear as their Roman expert for the next series’ opening episode, Shaun said, ‘You got the job because you are good at it. End of. Now, if you put all the clothes you want to take on the bed, I’ll finish packing them so you can go and say goodbye to Tina and Helen. Go to Sybil’s or something. It’ll be a while before you have a scone as good as one from her café.’

‘There is something rather delicious about sneaking off for morning coffee on a work day.’ Tina raised her coffee cup in salute to Thea and Helen as they waited for Sybil to deliver a round of her famous cheese scones.

‘I ought to be scraping a ton of mud off the shovels ready for the new guests this afternoon,’ Helen dropped a sugar cube into her mug, ‘but I can live with the guilt.’

Looking at her two friends across the Spode covered, table, Thea smiled. ‘I’m going to miss you two.’

‘You’re only going for eight weeks. Anyway, you’ll be far too busy being famous to miss the likes of us,’ Helen gave her a friendly nudge, ‘and too knackered from all the digging to notice the time passing.’

Thea laughed, ‘The famous bit I doubt, the knackered bit I can’t argue with. I ache enough after a day helping you and Tom on our fortlet, these days. A full eight week dig with television cameras watching my every move is going to kill me.’

‘Don’t be daft.’ Tina looked up as Sybil arrived at their table, ‘I swear your scones smell more delicious every time we come in here.’

Sybil rolled her eyes, ‘Praise indeed seeing as at least one of you – Thea – is here every other day testing the merchandise.’

Thea stuck out her tongue. ‘Well, the chicken’s eggs need delivering. It would be rude to walk all this way and not sample the goods.’

‘It’s a twenty-minute walk! You make it sound like you need Kendal Mint Cake and crampons!’

‘I’m going to miss your cooking almost as much as I’ll miss you, Sybil.’

Picking up a large paper bag from where she’d placed it on the next table, the café owner passed it to Thea. ‘Well, these should keep you going for a while at least.’

Having peeped inside the top of the bag, Thea got up and gave Sybil a hug. ‘Thank you.’

‘I didn’t want Shaun to go without my scones either.’

‘Shaun?’ Thea laughed. ‘If you think a bag of your scones will last long enough to share with him, you are under a serious misconception!’…

The entire Mill Grange series is available on all ebook platforms, as well as in paperback.

Happy reading,
Jenny x

At Death’s Door: Anna Legat

I’m delighted to be welcoming Anna Legat to my blog today. Anna’s latest cosy crime novel is out now.

Over to you Anna…

Hello Jenny, and thank you for inviting me to your wonderful blog to talk about my brand-new cosy crime mystery, At Death’s Door.

This is the second instalment of The Shires Mysteries featuring two amateur sleuths, the indomitable Maggie Kaye and her more level-headed neighbour, Samuel Dee. The pair blunder through murder and mayhem that is rife in the West Country town of Bishops Well which they call home.

In this book the story strays into the distant lands of the Southern Hemisphere where I have spent a big chunk of my life, experiencing worlds, lifestyles and cultures far removed from the quaint and magical English countryside. There was a different sort of magic to them: New Zealand was submerged in the deep and dense greenery of tree-ferns and redwoods; Southern Africa was a plain of gold and dust baking in the unforgiving sun. You felt safe in one of them and prayed to God your car didn’t break down in the middle of nowhere in the other. There was immense, ancient beauty to both.

I’d like to share with your readers, if I may, a short extract from At Death’s Door, describing the first impression South Africa made on one of my characters.

The engine of the Jeep wheezed and rattled as they negotiated the increasingly un-navigable roads in the full blazing sun. The wind, when it bothered to blow, carried with it dust and the occasional fetid stench of decaying roadkill. The dust and the stink stripped her tongue and nostrils of fluid. She regretted not bringing any bottled water with her on this escapade. Escapade wasn’t quite right – this had been a damn long journey to nowhere. She hadn’t realised it would be this long and this far.

She had thought Botswana was just the size of a county and the Caprivi just a strip of land beyond it, a promenade on the banks of the Zambezi. And then, as soon as the business at hand was done and dusted, Wayne had promised, they would go and see Victoria Falls. She was beginning to think that even Victoria Falls wasn’t worth all this stinking trouble.

They had landed in Johannesburg a week ago, and it had been a blast! They were staying at the

Intercontinental Sandton Sun and Towers, in the presidential suite, complete with white marble floors and crystal mirrors. The chandeliers – she would swear – were made of diamonds.

She stood on the terrace overlooking Johannesburg with all its distant buzz and twinkling lights, smoking a Marlboro Light. The cool night air slid over her skin like an ice cube. She was on top of the world, basking in luxury, light years away from the doldrums of sleepy English villages with all their creature discomforts of incessant drizzle and curtain-twitching neighbours. God, this was her first decent crack at entering paradise!

… Unfortunately, paradise was not meant to be, but I will say no more. At Death’s Door is out now.

http://mybook.to/AtDeathsDoor

At Death’s Door: The Shires Mysteries 2: A twisty and gripping cosy mystery by Anna Legat | WHSmith

At Death’s Door: The Shires Mysteries 2 eBook by Anna Legat – 9781786159915 | Rakuten Kobo United Kingdom

At Death’s Door: The Shires Mysteries 2 by Anna Legat | Waterstones

At Death’s Door: The Shires Mysteries 2: A twisty and gripping cosy mystery by Anna Legat | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

BIO

Anna Legat is a Wiltshire-based author, best known for her DI Gillian Marsh murder mystery series. Murder isn’t the only thing on her mind. She dabbles in a wide variety of genres, ranging from dark humorous comedy, through magic realism to dystopian. A globe-trotter and Jack-of-all-trades, Anna has been an attorney, legal adviser, a silver-service waitress, a school teacher and a librarian. She has lived in far-flung places all over the world where she delighted in people-watching and collecting precious life experiences for her stories. Anna writes, reads, lives and breathes books and can no longer tell the difference between fact and fiction.

Subscribe to Anna’s News, Rumours and Scandalous Revelations at https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/j6b7k1

To find out more: https://annalegat.com/

Follow Anna on Twitter: www.twitter.com/LegatWriter

Join Anna on Facebook: www.facebook.com/AnnaLegatAuthor/

Many thanks for popping by today, Anna.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Writing for charidee with Jon Hartless: Blakes 7

Writing for charidee.

The above may take you back a bit. To the 1990s, to be exact, when Paul Whitehouse and Harry Enfield dominated the airwaves with their comedy sketch shows featuring dinosaur-tastic DJs Smashie and Nicey, a couple of characters inspired by several BBC DJs of that time who had been spinning disks, and the same tired old patter, since the year dot.

Nostalgia is, of course, big business. There has always been a yearning for the past, which is regularly seen as a better, simpler time. Quite often, in my view, this is absolute hogwash, as many view the openly racist, sexist, homophobic, disease-dominated, comfort-lite times through rose-tinted glasses. Or, in many cases, through goggles which have been painted completely red.

Not all nostalgia is bad, however, as long as you try and keep an open mind about the era you’re reminiscing over. And nostalgia can indeed be a positive thing, on occasion, as this blog will hopefully show as I finally get to the point and talk about the television of yesteryear.

TV has long been an area of warmth, comfort, and fun for hordes of fans who fondly remember a childhood spent watching such shows as Doctor Who, The Prisoner, The Avengers and so on. Indeed, our own Jenny Kane has a side-line going in producing stories within the framework of the beloved 1980s telefantasy Robin of Sherwood.

These old shows still hold a substantial fanbase of original and new viewers, with those who watched as kids often sharing their fan passions with their own children, meaning that TV is now something straddling, and joining together, the generations.

Of course, on the downside, the toxicity of some fans is truly horrendous, with gatekeeping being a common issue across many fandoms. See the rampant misogyny over the casting of Jodie Whittaker in Doctor Who as one prime example.

But at its best, you can find the fans combining to create new content, be it books, audio dramas, documentaries, and even new filmed episodes, all inspired by their beloved shows. And as they can’t (usually) do any of this for profit as they don’t hold the required licenses, they instead often do it to raise money for charity. (Thus finally tying in with the title of this blog. Bet you thought I’d forgotten that, didn’t you?)

One recent example I was lucky enough to be involved in was a new collection of fan-created content set around the final series of Blake’s 7. For those who don’t know, Blakes 7 (minus the apostrophe) was a low-budget BBC science fiction show that ran for four seasons from 1977-1981, and followed a small band of freedom fighters in their battle against the evil Federation.

The budget for this epic space opera was non-existent. Sets wobbled, spaceships flipped between models and cardboard cut-outs, robots were extras sprayed silver, and aliens were… what you’d expect on a 1970s BBC budget. Only slightly worse.

What saved the show was a dedicated cast and crew overcoming the budgetary issues to take on a heady brew of great concepts, great characters, and (occasional) great writing. The freedom fighters, for example, weren’t the young innocent heroes of typical pop culture fare, but were instead a mixed bag of idealists, criminals, and extremists – some of whom didn’t even want to be in the revolution. The totalitarian Federation, meanwhile, was headed up by the glam diva, Servalan, who wore long frocks and high heels no matter what the situation or environment, and who quite often ended the episode by killing her underlings. And the final episode still stands, for me, as one of the best of any TV show, regardless of genre.

Merchandise was a given, including toys, jigsaws, novel tie-ins, and – crucially – annuals. Three of these were produced, as a tie-in with seasons 1-3, while a fourth was planned but for some reason never saw the light of the day. And this is where modern-day fandom comes in.

Fast forward to now(ish) and dedicated fan Grahame Robertson decided to create an annual for the final season of Blakes 7, a substitute for the official book that never appeared. To do that he needed stories, artwork, and articles. He put a call out on social media and had an immediate, positive response. Indeed, the response was so positive, he had too many stories for the project, despite expanding it exponentially until it resembled something not unlike an encyclopedia in terms of girth.

Grahame’s response to this was very sensible. He decided to do an extra anthology for all the stories that wouldn’t fit into the annual. The result? The Blakes 7 Annual 1982, and the Scorpio Tales anthology. Two beautiful books stuffed full of fan enthusiasm, skill, and dedication. And this also means twice the money for charity; at the time of writing, the annual alone has raised over £2000 for both Axminster and Lyme Cancer Support, and Save the Children UK.

Unfortunately, not every fan project moves forward. I also contributed to a non-profit Doctor Who anthology entitled We Are The Master, but the editor seems to have run foul of BBC lawyers, (despite all funds raised going to mental health charities), and hence the whole project has been derailed. I hope this is only a temporary setback, but there seems to be no trace of it anywhere online, so this may, alas, be permanent.

But at least we have something out there made by a few of the fans, for the enjoyment of everyone, and the benefit of those who need it. Which is a nice way to go into 2022.

The Blakes 7 annual can be found at: https://www.lulu.com/en/gb/shop/carol-ramsay-and-grahame-robertson/b7-annual-1982/hardcover/product-4e6jrz.html?page=1&pageSize=4

The Blakes 7 anthology, Scorpio Tales, can be found at: https://www.lulu.com/en/gb/shop/carol-ramsay-and-grahame-robertson/scorpio-tales/paperback/product-5nqm7r.html?page=1&pageSize=4

BIO

Jon Hartless was born back in the 1970s, and feels very old. He contributed the short story “Space Rats in the Maze” to the Scorpio Tales anthology. He is also the author of the Poppy Orpington Chronicles, a Steampunk motor racing series which can be found at: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08MV8KMYN?ref_=dbs_p_pwh_rwt_anx_a_lnk&storeType=ebooks

Many thanks Jon. Got to love Blakes 7!

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny. x

Tackling the Marketing Resentment Loop

I was recently chatting about ‘what happens after a novel is published’, to one of my #novelinayear groups – and it was generally agreed that a major hurdle in making it as an author- whether you are self published or not- is marketing.

Often it isn’t the marketing itself that’s the problem, but finding the time or inclination to do it in the first place.

Most writers, whether they craft short stories, novels, scripts or poems, are not natural marketers. Let’s face it, marketing means sticking your head above the parapet and shouting ‘Hey, look at me! Look what I’ve done!’ And while not all authors are shy and retiring, many have confidence issues and live far more comfortably in the world of make believe than in the ‘real’ world of commerce.

Okay, so I’m generalizing, but the point is, most writers want to write. They (we!) resent the time required to market their existing books when they’d far rather be creating a new one.

12_hrs

In a world where the majority of authors squeeze writing time in between working, looking after families, and doing all the other things that everyone has to do, it is hard not to resent the time spent writing blogs, or on social media, thinking up new ways to advertise our wares.

We all know that books are invisible if you don’t market them- but how much PR is the right amount? If you go an hour without tweeting about your latest epic will all your hard work become suddenly pointless?

arrowed circle

This is how the marketing resentment loop begins-

You write a book-

You discover it doesn’t sell by magic-

You want to write another book but the first needs marketing….but you only have 2 hours a day to wrote- so you market and don’t write-

You start to resent the marketing-

You start to lose the joy of writing-

You throw your hands in the air and give up.

Six weeks later you are desperate to write-

You write a book-

You discover it doesn’t sell by magic…AND ROUND YOU GO AGAIN.

break-the-cycle

So how do you break the loop?

  1. Set aside a small fraction of your writing time each day to market. Don’t go over that time period.
  2. Take you mobile phone to the bathroom! Yes- I know- but you’re just sat there- tweet/post on Facebook while you’re unable to do anything else anyway! Basically use any dead time in your day to your advantage, from being sat on the loo, to waiting for the kettle to boil.
  3. Immediately after you have finished your novel/script bite the bullet and use your precious writing time to create a series of guest blogs. Once you have them done you can simply adapt and rewrite them as required, saving you time in the long run. Blog tours are an excellent marketing tool, and if you don’t know enough bloggers to ask to host you, then a large number of services exist to provide this service, such as http://www.writermarketing.co.uk/
  4. If you find marketing is killing the joy of creation for you, then don’t do it. Remember, writing is supposed to be fun. If you’re only in it for the money, then I strongly advise you to try your hand at something new instead!

marketing

 

At the end of the day, like in so many professions, marketing is a necessary evil. By simply accepting it as part of the job, then it will soon become routine, and – of course- there is the added bonus that you’ll sell more books.

Happy marketing,

Jenny x

Coming Soon: Winter Fires at Mill Grange

The final novel in the Mill Grange series is out in 10 days time!

Winter Fires at Mill Grange

Blurb

Mill Grange is putting on a show this holiday season!

When young Dylan Harris’s former babysitter, Harriet, needs a last minute venue for her acting troupe’s outdoor production of Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale, the staff at Mill Grange throw its doors open…but they may get more drama than they’d bargained for!

With a play to arrange, an unexpected arrival adds to the drama. It soon looks as if a miracle will be needed to make sure this Christmas is one that Thea, Tina, Sam, Shaun, Helen and Tom – along with retirees Bert and Mabel Hastings,– won’t forget…

You can preorder from-

Amazon – http://mybook.to/MillGrangeFour 

Waterstones – Winter Fires at Mill Grange by Jenny Kane | Waterstones

Nook – Winter Fires at Mill Grange: The perfect cosy heartwarming read this Christmas by Jenny Kane | NOOK Book (eBook) | Barnes & Noble® (barnesandnoble.com)

Kobo- Winter Fires at Mill Grange eBook by Jenny Kane – 9781801101974 | Rakuten Kobo United Kingdom

(The paperback version comes out on 9th December)

Although Winter Fires at Mill Grange is the forth book in the series, it can be read as a standalone book.

I’m so looking forward to being able to share the last of the Mill Grange crew’s adventures with you. On launch day, I will be over online all day, sharing pictures and the inspiration behind the series. More news on that soon.

Happy preordering,

Jenny x

 

 

 

Opening Lines: Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange

As autumn is well and truly upon us, I thought I’d sneak in an extra Opening Lines blog!

Blurb

At Mill Grange, the work – and the fun – never stops! As autumn brings coolness and colour, change is in the air for all at the manor…

Sam Philips’ time in the forces changed him forever. Supported by his friends, Sam is keen to help make beautiful Mill Grange a safe retreat for injured army personnel… but his crippling claustrophobia means Sam is living in a tent on the grounds! Enlisting the help of charming village stalwarts Bert and Mabel Hastings, Tina Martins is determined to find a way to help him conquer his fears. But why does she feel like he is keeping a secret?

After discovering evidence of a Roman fortlet on the manor’s grounds, Thea Thomas is thrilled at the chance to return to her archaeological roots and lead the excavation. She spent the summer with handsome celebrity archaeologist Shaun Cowlson – but now he’s off filming his Landscape Treasures show in Cornwall, and Thea can’t help but miss his company. Especially as someone else is vying for his attention…

Welcome back to Mill Grange and the beautiful village of Upwich, full of larger-than-life characters you can’t  help but adore.

(Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange follows on from Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange, and is followed by Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange and Winter Fires at Mill Grange. It can also be read as a standalone novel.)

Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange

First 500 words

Prologue

September 1st

Rolling onto his side, Sam unfolded the letter he’d hidden inside his pillowcase. It was the third time he’d woken that night, and the third time he’d reached for the pale blue Basildon Bond envelope. He held it against his nose. The scent of his mother’s White Satin perfume was beginning to fade.

This was the fourth letter to arrive from Malvern House in the last month. One a week.

He had no idea how his mother had found out where he was living, nor why she wanted to see him after so long.

The letters, almost identical each time, said very little. Just that she and his father would love him to visit if he felt up to it. Sam groaned. ‘If he felt up to it’ was his mother’s way of asking if the debilitating claustrophobia he’d developed while serving in the forces had magically gone away.

As he slid the letter into its envelope, Sam’s gaze dropped from the tent’s canvas roof to Tina’s sleeping body.

The past was the past. He had a future now. He had no intention of looking back.

Chapter One

September 1st

‘Take pity on an old man, lass.’

Bert fluttered his grey eyelashes as he helped Tina carry a large cardboard box full of tea, coffee, milk and biscuits from her car into Mill Grange’s kitchen. ‘I love Mabel to pieces, but she is driving me mad.’

Tina laughed. ‘But it’s only been two months since the restoration project came to an end. Doesn’t Mabel have heaps of committee work to do? She runs every social club this side of Exmoor.’

As he placed the box on the oak table that dominated the manor’s kitchen, Bert’s eyes lost their usual optimistic shine. ‘Since Mill Grange was sold Mabel’s been so aimless. She led the volunteer restorers here for over five years and now that’s over…’

‘Mabel doesn’t mind Sam owning this place, does she?’

‘Not for a minute. For a little while it was all she could talk about. She’s that proud of your young man for buying the very thing that frightens him. For taking his fear of being inside by the scruff of the neck and buying a house to be enjoyed by other people.’

Tina put her box of groceries on the side and laid a hand on Bert’s shoulder. ‘I’ll talk to Sam. There must be something Mabel could do around here.’ She played with her pigtails as she thought. ‘I’m not sure we can afford to pay her yet though.’

‘You wouldn’t have to. Making her feel part of the team again is all I’m asking for.’ Bert’s smile returned to his eyes. ‘How’s it going here anyway? Sam getting into the house at all, or is he still overseeing things from that screen thing outside?’

‘He hasn’t been inside the manor since he bought it.’ Tina focused her attention on emptying the boxes of biscuits ready for Mill Grange’s first visitors, hiding her…

Available as an ebook from NookKobo, as well as on Kindle and in paperback from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

 

Happy autumn reading everyone,

Jenny xx

Interview with Karen King: The Best Christmas Ever

It’s been a while since I interviewed anyone on this blog. Today, I’m remedying that in style, by chatting to the excellent Karen King about her writing and her latest novel, The Best Christmas Ever.

So, grab a cuppa, open the biscuit tin, put your feet up for five minutes, and have a read.

Blurb

A heart-warming Christmas romance, perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan, Mandy Baggot and Milly Johnson.

Lexi Forde adores Christmas. She’s especially looking forward to it this year as it’s the first Christmas with her boyfriend Ben and her older brother is visiting from Canada with his family. So they’re having a family Christmas at her parents’ house in Devon.

But then Lexi sees Ben kissing someone else and discovers he’s been having an affair. Devastated, she travels to Devon alone. She’s determined not to let her break up with Ben spoil her family Christmas. But when she arrives, Lexi discovers the council won’t allow the Christmas tree on The Green to be decorated this year; it’s too dangerous and has to come down. Lexi is desperate to save their favourite family tradition and make this Christmas extra special.

Can she save the tree and mend her broken heart in time for Christmas?

Do you model any of your characters after people you know? If so, do these people see themselves in your characters?

Not completely but my family and friends will often find bits of themselves in my stories. My mum is definitely the inspiration for Granny Mabe in The Best Christmas Ever. Mum is ninety years old but doesn’t act it. She is fiercely independent. She still drives herself around, lives by herself and is always visiting friends and relatives to look after them and help them. She’s often one of the last ones to leave a party and is out almost every day. She doesn’t knit so isn’t involved in yarn-bombing but Granny Mabe’s feisty spirit and independence definitely comes from my mum.

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

Lexi is a teacher so I checked with a teacher friend if she had to do any work during the Christmas holidays and she said she had lesson preparation to do, but if she was going away she’d take her laptop and do it, so that’s what Lexi did. For the scenes with the tree on the green, I asked two tree surgeons for information about tree diseases and ailments, felling trees and safety procedures. I also researched yarn-bombers and the various festive yarn bombs they created – I found that part of the research very interesting.

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

I usually write in third person because I like to write from different characters viewpoints so find that easier to do in the third person. However, I have written a couple of young adult books, and used first person viewpoint for them both as I felt that it added pace and tension.

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

My publishers like to see a synopsis of the story so I always write that first, then I jot down any major plot twists or events and fill in a profile sheet for every major character. After that I usually write the first draft as it comes. Sometimes as I write the story will go off on a tangent and I’m fine with that providing it meets the overall plot outline. I don’t edit until I finish the first draft but if I get stuck I go back over what I’ve written to check why it isn’t flowing, it could be that a scene need rewriting or a character isn’t working. If so, I tweak it then carry on writing.

What is your writing regime?

It depends on the length of the deadline my publishers give me. I prefer to write first thing in the morning, working until midday, and then do edits, social media, blog posts etc in the afternoon. I try to keep my weekends and evenings free. It doesn’t always work out this way though, sometimes I am writing two books at the same time, or am working to a very tight deadline so have to write into the evening.

Thanks so much, Jenny! x

You can buy The Best Christmas Ever from all good retailers, including –
Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B08X1STJ4V/

Bio

Karen King is a multi-published author of both adult and children’s books. She has had ten romantic novels published, two psychological thrillers, 120 children’s books, two young adult novels, and several short stories for women’s magazines. Her romantic novel The Cornish Hotel by the Sea became an international bestseller, reaching the top one hundred in the Kindle charts in both the UK and Australia. Karen is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. Karen now lives in Spain where she loves to spend her non-writing time exploring the quaint local towns with her husband, Dave, when she isn’t sunbathing or swimming in the pool, that is.

Contact links

Website

Amazon Author Page

Facebook

Twitter

Bookbub

Many thanks for coming by to chat today, Karen. Wishing you lots of success with your novel.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Opening Lines with Jan Baynham: Her Nanny’s Secret

This week’s Opening Lines welcomes back the fabulous, Jan Baynham, with her brand new novel, Her Nanny’s Secret.

Over to you Jan…

‘Her Nanny’s Secret’ is my third novel. It has all the features which are becoming my trademark – a dual timeline, contrasting locations, family secrets and forbidden love. In this book, there is also the theme of social class and the role of women.

The inspiration for the story came to me through a conversation with my cousin after my aunt’s funeral which opened with the words, “You know you could have been a Thomas not an Evans, don’t you? I can tell you now mum’s gone…” Puzzled, I asked her to explain. Apparently, my grandfather was the illegitimate son of a female groom and a wealthy landowner who owned the stables where she worked. The ‘what-ifs’ started in my head. What if you fell for someone from a different social class? What if you had to keep it a secret from everyone close to you for fear of losing your home and your family’s livelihood? I set my story in 1941 when war was raging in Europe.

The novel takes place in two locations I know well. Rural mid-Wales where I was born and grew up was relatively untouched by the horrors of actual war action but for the families whose husbands, lovers and sons died in active service, the grief and sense of loss was very real. I tried to create images of what it would have been like living in a small rural village surrounded by a beautiful natural landscape during wartime and then again in 1963. In contrast, my character, Odile, lived in occupied Northern France, playing an important role in the French Résistance in 1943. When Annie and Clara visit the same area twenty years later in order to find answers, I was able to draw on what I’d experienced on annual family holidays to France and years of hosting children and adults from our twin-town to try to give authenticity. I hope I’ve done justice to the country I love, its people, culture and language.

***

BLURB

How far would you go to save the person you loved the most?
It’s 1941, and Annie Beynon has just become the first stable girl for the most powerful family in her Welsh village. Whilst her gift for working with horses is clear, there are some who are willing to make her life very difficult on the Pryce estate, simply for being a girl.
There are other – secret – ways Annie is defying conventions, too. As the war rages, and when Edmund, the heir to the Pryce fortune, leaves to join the RAF, it seems that it’s only a matter of time before Annie’s secret is exposed. That is, until she makes a shocking decision.
It’s 1963 before Annie is able to face up to the secret she chose to keep over twenty years before. Justifying that decision takes her to Normandy in France, and an outcome she could never have expected …

FIRST 500 WORDS

June 1943, Normandy

At the end of the lane, the stone farmhouse appeared even greyer under the slate-coloured sky. The trees were laden with rain that had now stopped, and everywhere looked as bleak as Odile Lefèvre felt. It had been an exasperating morning. She’d collected the brochures as she’d been directed, but there’d been Germans everywhere. Men in grey uniforms on every corner of Ville de Roi, huddled together smoking their strong cigarettes, laughing and joking whilst her country men were starving and being murdered. When she’d caught the scent of the smoke from the Gauloises cigarettes, she’d shuddered in horror, remembering one particular German officer. Gustav. His name was imprinted in her innermost thoughts.

She’d crossed over to the other side of the street, carefully hiding her bundle of propaganda leaflets under her swagger coat with its hidden pockets and heard the crude comments she’d come to understand in their mother tongue. How she wished this war would end! People in the surrounding villages in this part of northern France were suffering hardship like other parts of the country, and Odile was determined to do her bit. The résistance movement was strong in her town, and the rural community she was a part of was a proud one. They would never give in or surrender. She told herself that every small gesture and undercover deed she could do for the cause was worth it. But no one knew how involved she was. There was one part of her résistance life she kept concealed, even from the movement’s members. Only Lucien, the leader of the local group, knew how she obtained the German soldiers’ secrets she reported to him …

Odile wheeled her bicycle into the large, covered barn at the side of the farmhouse. It was gloomy and shadowy at that time of the afternoon and Odile didn’t want to stay there any longer than she had to. She made her way to the wooden double doors to secure them for the night when she heard the rafters in the upstairs loft creaking. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end and her heart thumped. Several Nazis had been found hiding in neighbours’ barns. They’d been trying to find out who were resisting the occupation and were listening for evidence. She froze to the spot, hardly daring to breathe. Another creak. She wasn’t imagining it. What should she do? If she crept away, maybe she could warn her parents and they could get away… but where would they go? Horrific stories of what happened when local farmers had resisted the Germans had circulated around the villages from Sainte Marie-Hélène to Mont St Michel. Another sound in the floorboards above. Maybe it was just a rat. Odile was used to hearing and seeing vermin of all sizes living on the farm. Yes, that was it. She picked up a broom and crept up the stairs into the hayloft.

She felt her heart quicken as she neared…

BUYING LINKS

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Her-Nannys-Secret-compelling-self-discovery-ebook/dp/B09BNP3S1P/

https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/search?query=Her+Nanny%27s+Secret+Jan+baynham

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/her-nannys-secret-jan-baynham/1139955323?ean=2940162201946

BIO

After retiring from a career in teaching and advisory education, Jan joined a small writing group in a local library where she wrote her first piece of fiction.  From then on, she was hooked! She soon went on to take a writing class at the local university and began to submit short stories for publication to a wider audience. Her stories and flash fiction pieces have been longlisted and shortlisted in competitions and several appear in anthologies both online and in print. In October 2019, her first collection of stories was published.  Her stories started getting longer and longer so that, following a novel writing course, she began to write her first full-length novel. She loves being able to explore her characters in further depth and delve into their stories.

Originally from mid-Wales, Jan lives in Cardiff with her husband. She values the friendship and support from other members and regularly attends conferences, workshops, talks and get togethers. She is co-organiser of her local RNA Chapter, Cariad, and a member of the Society of Authors.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Twitter – @JanBaynham https://twitter.com/JanBaynham

Facebook – Jan Baynham Writer https://www.facebook.com/JanBayLit

Blog – Jan’s Journey into Writing https://janbaynham.blogspot.com/

Many thanks Jan, great opening lines.

Happy reading everyone, 

Jenny x

 

 

Opening Lines with Alison Knight: The Hidden

I’m delighted to welcome friend, fellow co-runner of Imagine and author, Alison Knight, to my place today.

Why not take five minutes, grab a cuppa, and enjoy the Opening Lines from Alison’s latest novel, The Hidden?

Thank you, Jenny, for inviting me back to your blog to talk about my latest book, The Hidden. This is my third novel published by Darkstroke in just ten months and it completes a trilogy of standalone but linked stories. The first book, Mine, is based on real events in London in the 1960s. The second, The Legacy, is a story inspired by a scene in Mine, so there are some cameo appearances by characters from the first book. The Hidden is set in the early 1970s and follows what has happened to one of the characters in The Legacy. I hope you enjoy the opening lines of The Hidden.

BLURB for THE HIDDEN

Secrets, nightmares, and a big black dog…

Montana, 1973.

Faye has found sanctuary in a simple cabin in the wilds of the Crazy Mountains in Montana with a dog called Bear. She’s a long way from her old life in England. But she knows that one day her peaceful life could be invaded by her enemies, and she keeps her guard up at all times.

Jeff returns home from Vietnam, a wounded, damaged hero, just weeks after his father’s sudden death. He finds hostile, secretive Faye living in his cabin and refusing to leave. The reading of his father’s will adds another layer of mystery to this woman’s presence.

The tension between them grows as Jeff tries to overcome his nightmares and expose Faye’s scars and secrets. The more he learns about her, the more enigmatic she seems.

When her enemies come calling, she needs Jeff to protect her. Can they learn to trust each other? And will Faye ever be safe?

FIRST 500 WORDS

As she left the witness box there was a flash of blinding light and the courtroom filled with smoke. She froze, terror holding her trapped, unable to escape. Around her, court officials called for order, women screamed and there were thuds and crashes as furniture was overturned.

            “Get out!” she heard her brother shout.

            She looked around in a daze. “Percy?” It couldn’t be him. He was dead. That’s why she was here, why she’d spilled their secrets.

            For a moment the smoke cleared, and she saw a figure in a balaclava running towards her. He was clad all in black. His eyes were filled with hatred. She knew why he was there. It was her time to die. He raised his arm and she saw the glint of steel in his hand. She closed her eyes as the knife descended and slashed the side of her face.

At last her survival instinct freed her from her terrified paralysis. She turned, desperate to get away, but she felt the blade pierce her body. She wanted to crawl away from the stinging slashes, but she was trapped, unable to move. She felt moisture on her skin – her blood or her tears?

“It’s all right,” she heard Percy whisper. “It’s not your time yet. You’ve won, Sis. Don’t give up now.”

“Percy!” she screamed, reaching out for him …

Montana, USA, 1973

Her hand touched fur. Fur? She opened her eyes, blinking as she registered the soft whining of the dog on the bed next to her. The vivid images of the London courtroom faded away as she took in her surroundings – the moonlight flooding through the window where she’d forgotten to close the curtains again; the patchwork quilt on the big wooden bed; the large pine chest and smaller matching bedside cabinet.

She sat up, bringing up her knees and leaning her elbows on them as she rubbed her face. The dog nuzzled her cheek, trying to lick up her salty tears. She pushed him away.

“It’s all right, Bear,” she said, scratching behind his ear. “It was just a dream.”

The same dream. Every. Bloody. Night. It’s been three years now. Will it ever go away?

            Knowing she wouldn’t get back to sleep, no matter how tired she felt, she got up and padded barefoot to the window. It was a clear night. She could see the dark silhouette of the mountains that stood guard above the fertile valley. Above them were millions of stars. It never ceased to soothe her, looking out at the moon and the endless sky above her. It reminded her of how huge the universe was, and how small and insignificant she was in comparison.

There had been a time when she hadn’t bothered to look around and to enjoy the beauty and majesty of her surroundings. Instead, she’d focused only on herself – her wants, her opinions, her pleasures. No one else had mattered. And look where that got me, she reminded herself. Today, she …

***

BUY LINK: https://mybook.to/thehidden

BIO

Alison Knight has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.

In her mid-forties, Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.

Alison currently has a trio of novels published by Darkstroke. The first, Mine, is a domestic drama set in 1960s London based on real events in her family. She is the only person who can tell this particular story. Exploring themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, Mine shows how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.

The Legacy, a drama set in London in 1969, was inspired by a scene in Mine, and explores how an unexpected legacy can be both a blessing and a curse. The Legacy looks at themes of greed and expectations, and the lengths people will go to when they are desperate.

The Hidden, available from 23rd September 2021, is a romantic suspense that picks up the story of one of the characters in The Legacy. Set in Montana in 1973, two wounded, damaged people are forced together, each guarding their secrets. Can they learn to trust each other? And will their nightmares ever end?

Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops with her friend and fellow author, Jenny Kane (www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk). She also works as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

www.facebook.com/alison.knight.942

www.alisonroseknight.com

@Alison_Knight59 on Twitter

www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk

www.darkstroke.com/dark-stroke/alison-knight/ 

Many thanks for sharing your Opening Lines today, Alison.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Page 1 of 61

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén