The Perfect Blend: Coffee and Kane


Currently Browsing: Fiction

Dead trees and Xmas gifts

Today I’m welcoming historical fiction novelist, Tom Williams, back to my site with a pre-Christmas message!

Over to you Tom…

Yet again, the news is telling us that paper books are very much here to stay. Honestly, they never went away and, equally honestly, e-book’s have become well established and they’re not going to go away either. It’s a non-story, presumably raising its head particularly at this time of year because with Christmas coming we remember that people still buy books as gifts.

It’s weird, this idea that e-books versus paper is like one of the great divides of human-kind, like Mods vs Rockers, Mac vs PC, Corrie vs East-Enders.

I’m a huge e-book fan. I read mainly on an iPad. It lets me carry lots of books with me. It allows me to highlight and make notes on them. (I know some people do that on paper, but I was brought up to see that as vandalism and I still feel uncomfortable with it.) I don’t lose my place. And it’s massively cheaper and easier to get new books. (Given the amount of 19th century reading I do, it’s often the only remotely realistic way to get hold of obscure out-of-print Victorian volumes.) So am I a paper-hating child of new technology? Hardly.

This is the biggest bookcase in the house, but far from the only one.

Practically every room in the house has at least some books propped up in it somewhere (not the bathroom – the steam makes the paper soggy). Paper books are attractive. It’s easier, sometimes, to browse a shelf full of books than to find something useful in an e-library. E-books are easier to search when you know what you want, but they can be frustrating when you’re not exactly sure what you’re looking for. Paper books allow more opportunities for serendipitous discoveries. The original inspiration for Cawnpore was a book I picked up browsing through someone else’s (paper) library, stuck indoors on a wet day. If I’d had an e-reader with me, I’d probably never have come across it.

Bookshops can be very frustrating in their selection of stock. (Try asking for one of my books – or pretty well anything published by a smaller press – at Waterstones and prepare to be told that they can’t get it for you.) But the shelves of temptingly displayed volumes can draw you to books you would never otherwise have discovered.

Paper books can be lent to friends or passed on when they’re finished with. They do, indeed, furnish a room. Old textbooks remind us of our student years, an autographed volume of a special meeting. Most of all, as ‘Super Thursday’ reminds us, paper books can be gifted in a way that e-books cannot. A paper book says that you want to share something you have enjoyed, or that you have thought about the interests and enthusiasms of your friend and sought out a book that matches them. The transfer of digital data from computer to computer does not, for some reason, carry the emotional resonance of the gift of a physical book.

All my books are available in paperback as well as on Kindle. Most good publishers try to produce paper copies, if only for their authors to display proudly on their bookcases. (Second shelf down on the extreme right if you’re checking the photo.) All authors I have ever met want to see their words on paper. It’s odd because, in this digital age, the paperback is probably the first time I’ve seen my book printed out in its entirety. Still, there they are. And you can buy them, and give them to your friends.

Pay attention to that last bit. Buy one for yourself and give others to your friends. And keep a couple spare, for those last-minute gifts.  And remember, a book is for life, not just for Christmas.

Important note

This was a public information announcement on behalf of all writers everywhere. However, I do draw your attention to the fact that paperback copies of all my books cost £5.99 or less. They are available in North America too (though with different covers) and you can buy them on Amazon or through Simon & Schuster.

Details of all my books are on my website (http://tomwilliamsauthor.co.uk). There is lots to read there (and pretty pictures) so do drop by.

Bio

Tom Williams used to write books for business, but he gave it all up to write things that are more fun. His spy stories set in the Napoleonic Wars feature James Burke, who was a real person, though we can’t guarantee that all his adventures were exactly as described. He was a spy, after all, so many of the details are unknown.

Tom also writes about colonialism in the age of Empire.

When he’s not writing Tom spends far too much time dancing tango.

Tom has a website at http://tomwilliamsauthor.co.uk and a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorTomWilliams/ and he tweets as @TomCW99.

***

Many thanks Tom,

Happy reading (and Christmas) everyone,

Jenny x


Christmas at the Castle: Scottish romance and coffee

Christmas at the Castle is the third and final festive tale from my ‘Another Cup of…’ series.

This standalone story takes author Kit Lambert away from the comfort of Pickwicks Coffee Shop, into the beautiful Deeside region of Scotland…

Blurb

When hotshot businesswoman Alice Warren is asked to organise a literary festival at beautiful Crathes Castle in Scotland, her ‘work mode’ persona means she can’t say no – even though the person asking is her ex, Cameron Hunter.

Alice broke Cameron’s heart and feels she owes him one – but her best friend Charlie isn’t going to like it. Charlie – aka famous author Erin Spence – is happy to help Alice with the festival…until she finds out that Cameron’s involved! Charlie suffered a bad case of unrequited love for Cameron, and she can’t bear the thought of seeing him again.

Caught between her own insecurities and loyalty to her friend, Charlie gets fellow author Kit Lambert to take her place. Agreeing to leave her London comfort zone – and her favourite corner in Pickwicks Café – Kit steps in. She quickly finds herself not just helping out, but hosting a major literary event, while also trying to play fairy godmother – a task which quickly gets very complicated indeed…

tartan christmas

***

Here’s a tasty taster for you… Author Charlie, and her business woman friend Alice are in a café in Banchory, Scotland, discussing the literary festival they are trying to run. Charlie is convinced that Alice is holding out on her- but she doesn’t know why…

“…Charlie was convinced her friend was lying, but she wasn’t sure why. ‘Loads of Scottish towns have festivals. Come on, Alice, why did you choose here?’

‘It’s a beautiful place. More people should see it; although I grant you the festival is three miles away at the castle, so not everyone will come into the town itself.’

‘I can’t argue with the knock-out location argument,’ Charlie said, ‘but why really? Please don’t do the mysterious hot-shot businesswoman bit with me Alice..’

Not looking at her companion, Alice reached into her designer bag and pulled out a notebook and matching pen, and mumbled, ‘Cameron asked me to.’

Charlie’s cheeks instantly went red. ‘Cameron Hunter? He doesn’t live here anymore. I thought you guys were a thing of the past?’

‘We are. But I owe him. He asked me for help. He’s working up at Crathes Castle, running the estate management team. Tasked with bringing in new events to improve the out-of-season tourist figures.’

Speaking slowly, as if trying to get her head around a difficult sum, Charlie said, ‘Cameron Hunter is back? Cameron who treats me as though I’m invisible?’

Alice rolled her eyes. ‘He never thought you were invisible! Honestly, Charlie, I can’t believe you’re still going on about that. I thought you were paranoid at the time, but it was five years ago! And you wouldn’t want him now anyway, would you?’ She studied her friend more shrewdly. ‘Or would you?’

‘Not even if he was soaked in chocolate, but that is not the point.’ Charlie couldn’t believe Alice had put her in this position. ‘He made me feel small and worthless. I bet if you mentioned me by name to him he wouldn’t know who the hell you were talking about.’ Charlie closed her eyes for a second while she tried to calm the anger that was rapidly tightening in her chest. ‘We used to spend hours chatting while he waited around for you to beautify yourself, and yet the second you arrived he acted as though you two were the only people in the world.’

Alice raised her eyebrows. ‘Don’t be ridiculous, it was never like that. And it’s hardly his fault you got a crush on him.’ Shaking her head as if to dismiss a non-existent problem, like she would at work, Alice said, ‘The thing is, his job at Crathes is currently temporary. Cameron has to secure a profit-making event in the first four months of his job for it to become permanent.’

Crathes Castle

Crathes Castle

Charlie’s palms had gone as clammy as if it was the middle of summer. ‘But we’re holding the festival at the castle.’

‘That’s what I’m saying! Cameron couldn’t find anyone willing to run an event at such short notice so close to Christmas. Craft fairs have been done to death and it’s too cold for outdoor theatre. So he came to my company for ideas.’

‘The man whose heart you broke. The man you left without a word so you could go and be a big city success?’ Charlie couldn’t get her head straight. ‘Why didn’t you tell me he was here, or that it was his festival I was helping plan?’

Sensing that she might have pushed Charlie’s good nature too far, Alice said, ‘Because you’re my friend. You’re helping me, not Cameron. I need you, sweetie. My reputation is on the line. I promised I’d make this one hell of an event.’

Seeing the thunderous expression on the normally calm Charlie’s face, Alice realised she was close to losing the help of the person she’d been depending on most. ‘Please, Charlie! I’ve secured a top line-up of authors and no one wants to see them!’

Speaking through gritted teeth, Charlie said, ‘You mean I’ve secured you a top line-up of authors.’

‘Yes, well, same thing,’ Alice flipped open her notebook. ‘But despite that, this festival isn’t getting any local interest.’

Keeping quiet her thought that things not going to plan for once could do Alice a lot of good, Charlie had to agree that even though the posters displayed all over town proclaimed a line-up of bestselling authors that would be the envy of many established festivals, the situation was far from rosy.

There were eight main events, but not one ticket had been sold. The website for the festival was up and running, but no one had visited it yet. The Facebook and Twitter pages were in full working order, but the number of followers was lacklustre to say the least. People obviously had more important things to spend their money on so near to Christmas.

Forgetting her determination not to let her hair do its unruly impression of a haystack, Charlie ran a hand through its curls and let out a strangled cry of frustration as she got to her feet.

‘You’re right, you do need help.’ Charlie grabbed her bag and scarf. ‘I’m glad you’ve finally worked out you can’t always be a one-woman band. In a small town, you need lots of volunteers to run something like this. You also need to learn how to ask nicely for that help, rather than assuming one flutter of your eyelashes will do the trick.

‘Obviously, I won’t be helping any more. You knew that I wouldn’t be able to once I learned Cameron was involved, which is presumable why you didn’t tell me before.’ Without pausing, Charlie leant across the table and whispered, ‘You let me watch while you took what you wanted from Cameron, knowing I liked him more than you did, and then, once he’d fallen for you hook, line, and sinker, you disappeared and dumped him by text. I made a total fool of myself trying to comfort him. The relief I felt when he left was huge, and yet, fool that I am, I still missed seeing him around. The only good thing I ever got from Cameron was the plot to The Love-Blind Boy!’

Catching her breath, gratified by the shocked expression on Alice’s face, Charlie added, ‘As it happens, I don’t want this festival to fail. Too many hardworking authors are travelling a long way to come here.’ She scribbled two names onto a paper napkin. ‘These people might help, if you’re nice to them.’

Slamming the napkin onto the table, Charlie gathered her coat into her arms and walked away, leaving a stunned Alice staring after her…

***

If that has whetted your appetite, you can find out what happens next, and if there is a literary festival left, by the time Kit Lambert leaves London for Scotland, you can buy Christmas at the Castle from-

Amazon UK

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christmas-at-Castle-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B015J87DTI/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1442588560&sr=1-2&keywords=christmas+at+the+castle

Amazon US

http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-at-Castle-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B015J87DTI/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1442603723&sr=1-1&keywords=christmas+at+the+castle

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

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

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

This can be read as a standalone story or as a sequel to Another Cup of Coffee, Another Cup of Christmas and Christmas in the Cotswolds.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx


Catching up with The Winter Outlaw

Today I’m continuing my look at The Folville Chronicles prior to the publication of the third novel in the series, Edward’s Outlaw, on 3rd December.

Having taken a peep at the beginning of The Outlaw’s Ransom last weekend, I thought we’d glance at Book Two: The Winter Outlaw today.

Blurb

1329:  It is the dead of winter. The notorious Folville brothers are on edge. There are rumours of an unknown outlaw terrorising the Leicestershire countryside—a man who has designs on the Folville family’s criminal connections.

Determined to stop this usurper in his tracks, Robert Folville unearths a man hiding in one of Ashby-Folville’s sheep shelters. A steward from far-off West Markham in Nottinghamshire, the cold, hungry Adam Calvin claims he knows nothing of any threat to the Folville family. He has troubles of his own, for he is being pursued by vengeful sheriff, Edmund de Cressy, for a crime he did not commit.

Mathilda of Twyford, newly betrothed to Robert de Folville, believes Adam’s story, but with rumours about a vendetta against the family growing, the Folville brothers are suspicious of every stranger.

***

Here’s the prologue to whet your appetite…

Prologue: Winter 1329

Adam Calvin’s vision blurred as his eyes streamed in the cold. His breath came in wheezing puffs. He needed to rest, but he daren’t. Not yet.

It was only as the vague outline of a cluster of homes and workshops came into view in the distance that he realised where his legs had been taking him. Slowing his pace, but not stopping, Adam risked a glance over his shoulder. He’d expected to see dogs, horses and men chasing him, but there was nothing. No one.

Scanning the scene ahead, making sure he wasn’t running into trouble as well as away from it, Adam exhaled heavily and aimed for a building he hoped was still standing.

The last time he’d visited the tiny village of Walesby there had been an old grain store on its outskirts. Built too close to the point where the frequently flooding Rivers Maun and Meden merged, the grain store had paid the price of a poor location. Long since abandoned in favour of a superior bake house, it was a perfect temporary hiding place for a man on the run.

Adam had no breath left with which to sigh for relief when he saw the neglected grain store. Uttering a prayer of thanks to Our Lady for the fact the building hadn’t been pulled down, he lifted the worn latch. He eased his way into the damp space, which was stuffed with rotting sacks containing all manner of rubbish.

Scrabbling awkwardly over the first few rows of musty sacks, Adam made himself a man-sized gap at the back of the room. Sinking down as far as he could, hoping both the sacks and the dark would shield him long enough for his cramped limbs to rest, he did his best to ignore the putrid stench and allowed his mind to catch up on events.

Only a few hours ago everything in Adam’s life had been as it should be.

He’d been fast asleep in his cot in the small private room his status as steward to Lord John de Markham gave him.

Had given him.

Adam wasn’t sure what time it had been when he’d been shaken to his senses from sleep by Ulric, the kitchen boy. He suspected it hadn’t been much more than an hour after he’d bedded down for the night.

Ulric, who’d frantically reported that a hue and cry had been called to capture Adam, had urged his master to move quickly. The sheriff had unexpectedly arrived and there had been a brief meeting between him, the Lord Markham and one other unknown man. An anxious Ulric had said that rumours were flying around like snowflakes in the wind.

Some of the household staff were saying Adam had stolen something, some that there had been a death; a murder.

Either way, for his own safety, Steward Calvin had to leave. Fast.

Confused, scared and angry that his good name was being questioned; without having time to find out what was going on or defend himself, Adam had grabbed his scrip. Pulling on his boots and cloak, with Ulric’s help he’d headed through the manor via the servants’ walkways.

The only item Adam hadn’t been able to find to take with him was his knife. Contenting himself with lifting one from Cook’s precious supplies as he ran through the kitchen, he’d left the manor that had been his home for the past twenty years.

With a fleeting nod of gratitude to his young helper, Adam had fled into the frosty night. Only minutes later he’d heard the calls of the hue and cry; echoes of the posse’s footfalls thudding against the hard, icy earth.

Now, wiping tears of exhaustion away with the back of his hand, Adam strained his ears through the winter air. All he could hear was the busy work of the mice or rats who were taking as much advantage of the building as he was.

Glad of the water pouch Ulric had stuffed in his scrip, Adam took a tiny sip. He didn’t know how long it would have to last him. Closing his eyes, he rested his head against the sacks that boxed him in and tried to think.

Had he outstripped the hue and cry? If they were nearby, taking the chance to rest while waiting for him to run again, then Adam was sure he’d have heard something ‑ but there were no muttered voices, no horses panting and no hounds barking at his scent.

Adam managed to get his breathing under control. He’d been part of the hue and cry on occasions himself, and he knew such groups didn’t tend to chase their quarry far, or for long. Especially not on a cold winter’s night, when they could be tucked up in bed before the demands of the next working day.

With growing confidence that he’d chosen his bolthole well, Adam allowed himself to relax a fraction. Few people lived in Walesby since the most recent of many destructive floods, and its location meant he was only a few steps from the edge of Sherwood Forest. A desperate man could easily disappear into the woodland’s depths.

As the hours ticked on, Adam became convinced that the pursuit had stopped. However, he knew that by the morning the hue and cry would be replaced with soldiers if the sheriff barked the order. His bolthole wouldn’t stay safe for long.

Yet that wasn’t what concerned Adam the most. He wanted to know what he was supposed to have done that warranted his midnight flight. How could he even begin to go about clearing his name if he didn’t know what he was accused of?

In the meantime, where was he going to go?

***

Ever since I did my PhD (on medieval crime and its portrayal in the ballad literature of the fourteenth century), I have wanted to use what I learnt to tell a series of stories. Although I’ve written all sorts of things between 1999, when my PhD finished, and now – I still wasn’t sure it would ever happen.  Yet, here I am! The first two novels – one short – one long – are out in the world – and book three (which is HUGE) is only days away!

You can buy The Winter Outlaw from Amazon and all good book retailers-

UK: http://ow.ly/RsKq30j0jev 
US: http://ow.ly/EvyF30j0jfk  

Happy reading,

Jen xx


Opening Lines: Here Casts No Shadow by Bronwen Griffiths

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

Here Casts No Shadow.

 

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

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

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

 

First 500 words

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

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

www.bronwengriff.co.uk

https://twitter.com/bronwengwriter

***

Many thanks for your great opening lines Bronwen.

See you next week for some more opening lines.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 

 


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

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

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

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

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

cotswold-in-snow

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

jennykaneschristmascollection200

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy reading,

Jenny x


« Previous Entries


The Romance Reviews
© 2018 Jenny Kane | Site Designed and Maintained by Writer Marketing Services