The Perfect Blend: Coffee and Kane


Currently Browsing: Historical fiction

Edward’s Outlaw: and the winner is…

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have recently been running a competition- with the support of my lovely publishers, Littwitz Press- to find a name for one of the characters in the forthcoming novel, Edwards’ Outlaw.

This, the third book in The Folville Chronicles, will be published just in time for Christmas.

I was overwhelmed with name ideas- for which I am very grateful. It has been a lot of fun going through the suggestions.

A few of the names you lovely folk up with already belonged to characters in the book. For example, Barnaby Eaton-Jones suggested Bella (after a cat!)- a name which already features strongly throughout the novel.

Before I tell you the name I did pick- and the winner- I’ll tell you a little about the character.

She’s a young maid in Rockingham castle. The year is 1331- just. It’s early January, the winter is biting, and Mathilda de Folville is in the castle- so trouble isn’t far behind. Within only a few hours of Mathilda arriving, one of the young maids friend is dead…She and Mathilda need to work fast to find out what is going on.

So- what’s this brave young woman’s name?

It’s Bettrys- and it’s an old Latin and Welsh name meaning ‘Bringer of Joy.’ Over the centuries the name has developed into the more popular, Beatrice. Bettrys is 16 years old and doesn’t remember her parents, although she knows her mother was Welsh.

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Many thanks to Chris Averiss for this excellent suggestion. Edwards’ Outlaw will be dedicated to you- and Bettrys will be one of its stars.

Right then – I’d better get writing, or Edward’s Outlaw will never be ready in time to feature in your Christmas stocking!

Happy reading,

Jen xx

 

 

 

 

 


Competition: Name a character in Edward’s Outlaw!

Book Three of The Folville Chronicles is almost fully drafted.

Continuing the story of potter’s daughter, Mathilda of Twyford, Edward’s Outlaw, takes her away from Ashby-Folville manor and into the dark shadows of Rockingham Castle…a well known haunt of felons on the run from the law…

Before I can finish my story however, I need your help.

Help me find a female name for one of my characters.

This is your chance to have your name, a favourite name or a loved one’s name, featured in a novel.

Should the name you suggest be chosen, then, not only will it be used in the book, but Edwards’ Outlaw will also be dedicated to you.

I’d love you to pick a name for me!

Remember that the book is set in the fourteenth century- so no Kylie’s or Chardonnay’s please. Otherwise, all you need to do is leave your chosen female name on this thread (via my publisher’s Facebook event page)

https://www.facebook.com/events/387647131739270/

In the meantime, why not have a peep at Books’ One and Two…

Good luck!!

The competition closes on 30th June.

Jennifer xx

 


Opening Lines: Jennifer Wilson’s Kindred Spirits

Thursday is upon us once more, which means it’s ‘Opening Lines’ blog time. This week I’m delighted to welcome Jennifer Wilson to my site to share the first 500 words of her novel, Kindred Spirits.

Introduction

In the Kindred Spirits series, we meet the ghosts of historical characters, in a range of contemporary settings. Have you ever wondered what Richard III and Anne Boleyn might have in common, what Mary, Queen of Scots is getting up to now, or what happens when the visitors leave some of the most popular attractions in the country? Well, here’s your chance…

First 500 words of Kindred Spirits: Westminster Abbey

Queen Elizabeth I of England was sulking. And not quietly, as the rest of the Abbey’s residents would have preferred. Despite her advancing years, she could still flounce in style, and was keen to ensure everyone knew what was annoying her this time.

“It’s so boring here!” she exclaimed, dropping gracelessly into one of the choir stalls. “Nothing ever happens.”

“She’s been to the Tower again,” whispered Catherine Knollys to her brother, but not quite quietly enough, as the queen’s friends and cousins wandered over to see what specifically had been troubling her this time.

“Yes, yes, I have. At least things happen there.”

“Our Uncle George still as entertaining as ever then?” Henry Carey tried to divert his cousin’s attention, but only made it worse.

“Naturally. He was haunting the barrel of Malmsey with Clarence, and it was hilarious, as usual. Scaring people out of their skins. That’s what we ghosts should be doing, not just loitering about discussing experiments.” She glared at where Charles Darwin and Robert Stephenson were once again in deep conversation, sitting out of the way of the early tourists starting to make their way through the great church. Without a word, Darwin glared at her, then shifted in his seat turning his back against her, much to Elizabeth’s disgust.

“We do plenty of haunting, Cousin. It’s just that, well, you know the Abbey’s never really lent itself to that.”

“No, Catherine – everyone has simply become too old and too dull over the centuries. And too weak to stand up to my wretched great-grandmother. It’s all her fault.”

Catherine and Henry shot nervous glances at each other. When Elizabeth was in one of these moods, little could be done to stop her. Even her beloved Dudley had retreated back to Warwick after witnessing one of her angrier days. Before either could speak again, their cousin had moved on, stomping through the Abbey until she found the memorial to William Pulteney, the Earl of Bath.

As though knowing what was expected, the book in the centre of the statue flicked pages in silence. It wasn’t good enough.

“See? See that? A page of a statue’s book turning. Over three thousand of us in here, seventeen monarchs, no less, as the guidebooks tell us, and that’s the best we can come up with?” Queen Elizabeth spun on her heel, turning back to the siblings. “At the Tower they have my mother removing her severed head, with my step-mother and my aunt alongside her. They have a young, robust King, leading the way forward. They have wailings and chain-rattlings and, well, everything. We have a statue, turning its page.”

By now, a crowd had grown around the Queen, noting, not for the first time, how similar she was to her great-grandmother when her temper really took hold. Fiery Tudor blood indeed.

“We’ve talked about this, Elizabeth.” The chattering and ranting was broken by the only voice which ever had any control over the wayward Queen.

“Now she’s in…

About Kindred Spirits: Westminster Abbey

On hallowed ground…

With over three thousand burials and memorials, including seventeen monarchs, life for the ghostly community of Westminster Abbey was never going to be a quiet one. Add in some fiery Tudor tempers, and several centuries-old feuds, and things can only go one way: chaotic.

Against the backdrop of England’s most important church, though, it isn’t all tempers and tantrums. Poets’ Corner hosts poetry battles and writing workshops, and close friendships form across the ages.

With the arrival of Mary Queen of Scots, however, battle ensues. Will Queens Mary I and Elizabeth I ever find their common ground, and lasting peace?

The bestselling Kindred Spirits series continues within the ancient walls of Westminster Abbey.

About Jennifer

Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating.

Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books and available via Amazon, along with her self-published timeslip novella, The Last Plantagenet? She can be found online at her blog, and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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This sounds fantastic- very much my cup of tea (or coffee in my case)

Come back next week to explore the first 500 words from a novel by Simon Farrant.

Happy reading,

Jenny x


Performances in the Great War: Blog Tour with Freda Lightfoot

I’m welcoming Freda Lightfoot to my place today as part of her Blog Tour for  Girls of the Great War.

Make sure you check out all of the blogs in the tour for your chance to take part in a great giveaway (details below)

Over to you Freda…

Thank you so much for inviting me on your blog. Entertainment was a place where soldiers could escape the harsh realities of their dangerous life. They were always overjoyed to see these performances. Concerts took place to liven up the troops. Two or three concerts a day were often available and most popular. Drama presented a particular challenge: contemporary comedies and romances were played with canteen furniture, and the scenery was often a backdrop of night sky. Violin solos, string quartets, operatic arias, all were performed behind the front lines. It was not unusual for the audience to be in their hospital beds, or wheeled out of the wards, even if rain beat down upon them. Shows were also given on ships, and out in the wild country or desert.

Back in England the war naturally brought a surge in patriotism, both in drama and cinema. Music hall was one of the dominant forms in World War One. Theatre managers, newspaper editors, civic leaders and even clergymen insisted that people wanted cheering up and were not expected or even allowed to use their brains or be presented with serious matter. The war was expected to end by Christmas. Many plays were written about the suffering, but the emphasis was more on the humorous to attract the masses. Soldiers on leave flocked to the theatres with their sweethearts, eager to be amused and entertained. There were many famous performers such as Harry Lauder, Vesta Tilley dressed as a soldier, Gertie Gitana and others, all popular with troops out in the war and for soldiers and their families back home.

After the war, popular tastes began to change. Entertainment then preferred Charleston, jazz and syncopation. Performers would often entertain cinema audiences between films. Queues too would be entertained by dancing dogs or a man playing a banjo or accordion. Then a collection would be taken up for the soldiers and sailors. Benefit performances were held to raise money to entertain wounded soldiers; just as there were Tank Weeks, or fund raising for an ambulance.

In Girls of the Great War, Cecily, having lost the love of her life, eagerly goes to entertain the soldiers in France, filled with the need to help and overcome depression, Her sister, mother and Johnny, a drummer friend, accompanied her, a part of which proved to be a problem. I was inspired to write this because I’d been involved in amateur dramatics for much of my life. I still love the theatre, and have collected many books on the history of it and famous actors. Writing about it was a joy, and I have touched on this theme in one or two others of my books.

*** 

Excerpt of Cecily’s first performance in Girls of the Great War:

There was no proper stage, no curtains, dressing rooms or footlights, but they did have acetylene gas lamps glimmering brightly around the boxes. They worked for hours rehearsing and enduring more instructions from Queenie on what and how they should perform. Cecily suffered a flutter of panic as she became aware of hundreds more men gathering in the audience. A few were seated on boxes or benches, the rest of the area packed with a solid mass standing shoulder to shoulder. Many had been patiently waiting hours for the concert to start. Looking at the state of them it was evident that many had come direct from the trenches where they’d probably been trapped in horrific conditions for months. Those unable to move from their tent pulled the flaps open so that they too could hear the concert.

Heart pounding and nerves jangling, Cecily felt the urge to turn and run as the moment for the concert to start came closer. Was her mother right and she couldn’t sing well at all? Would they roar and boo at her as they had that time at Queenie?

She steadied her breathing, smoothed down her skirt with sweaty fingers and when she walked on stage the men gave a loud cheer of welcome. The excitement in their faces filled her with hope and as she stepped forward to the front of the boxed stage the audience instantly fell silent, looking enthralled and spellbound. She exchanged a swift glance with Merryn, counted one, two, three, four . . . and her sister and Johnny both began to play, sounding most professional. Cecily started to sing:

There’s a Long, Long Trail A-winding.

Into the land of my dreams,

Where the nightingales are singing

And a white moon beams:

As she sang, her fears, depression and worries vanished in a surge of elation, soaring into a new life, and bringing these soldiers pleasure and relief from the war. When the song was over she received a tumultuous applause, cheers, whistles and roars of appreciation from them. Smiling broadly she went on to sing ‘Roses of Picardy’, followed by ‘Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag’ and many other popular favourites. Most of the Tommies would readily join in to sing the chorus whenever Cecily invited them to do so. Others would weep, as if fraught with emotion because they were homesick and felt greatly moved by this reminder of England. Then would again cheer and roar with happiness at the end, urging her to sing an encore.

‘You are doing quite well,’ her mother casually remarked during the short interval, a comment Cecily greatly appreciated. ‘Now sing some of those jolly music hall songs that I recommended.’

‘Right you are.’

Cecily went on to sing ‘Burlington Bertie From Bow’and ‘Fall In And Follow Me’. These brought bright smiles and laughter to all the Tommies’ faces. She finished with ‘Your King and Country Want You’, bringing forth loud cheers of agreement. How she loved singing to these soldiers. If she hadn’t been a star before, she certainly felt like one now.

Blurb
Cecily Hanson longs to live life on her own terms—to leave the shadow of her overbearing mother and marry her childhood sweetheart once he returns from the Great War. But when her fiancé is lost at sea, this future is shattered. Looking for meaning again, she decides to perform for the troops in France.

Life on the front line is both rewarding and terrifying, and Cecily soon finds herself more involved—and more in danger—than she ever thought possible. And her family has followed her to France. Her sister, Merryn, has fallen for a young drummer whose charm hides a dark side, while their mother, Queenie—a faded star of the stage tormented by her own secret heartache—seems set on a path of self-destruction.

As the war draws to a close and their hopes turn once again to the future, Cecily and Merryn are more determined than ever to unravel the truth about their mother’s past: what has she been hiding from them—and why?

Buy links:

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2wKaX2y

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2rGc528

Bio

I was born in a small mill town in Lancashire. My mother comes from generations of weavers, and my father was a shoe-repairer. I still remember the first pair of clogs he made for me. After several years of teaching, I opened a bookshop in Kendal, Cumbria. And while living in the rural Lakeland Fells, rearing sheep and hens, I turned to writing. I wrote over fifty articles and short stories for magazines such as My Weekly and Woman’s Realm, before finding my vocation as a novelist and became a Sunday Times Bestselling author. I’ve now written over forty-eight novels, mostly sagas and historical fiction, my three latest books, including Girls of the Great War, out in May are published by Amazon Lake Union. I spend warm winters living in Spain, and the rainy summers in Britain.

Website: www.freda@fredalightfoot.co.uk

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Freda-Lightfoot-Books/149641371839646

Twitter: @fredalightfoot

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/448774.Freda_Lightfoot

My Blogspot: http://www.fredalightfoot.blogspot.com/

If you wish to be kept up to date on new titles and contests, sign up on my website http://www.fredalightfoot.co.uk  to subscribe to my Newsletter: I only send out 4 or 5 a year so your inbox won’t be flooded.

*****

GIVEAWAY!

Make sure to follow the whole tour—the more posts you visit throughout, the more chances you’ll get to enter the giveaway. The tour dates are here:  http://writermarketing.co.uk/prpromotion/blog-tours/currently-on-tour/freda-lightfoot-3/ 

ENTER HERE– http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/8b9ec5be184/?

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Many thanks for stopping by on your tour Freda!

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x


Ask a writer: Robin of Sherwood

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the Hooded Man Event in Gloucester. This gathering was for fans of the 1980’s television show Robin of Sherwood – a show that I have recently written three brand new audio scripts for.

While I was in Gloucester I was busy selling my novels, so I didn’t get to talk to as many people as I would have liked. Since my return to Devon, I’ve been asked a number of questions relating to the writing of those three scripts – The Waterford BoyMathilda’s Legacy – The Baron’s Daughter.

Today, I’m going to attempt to answer those questions. Obviously the answers I give are from my angle only. I don’t work for Spiteful Puppet or ITV- so I have no knowledge as to what the future holds for RoS.

So- in no particular order….

How difficult is it to switch from writing books to script writing for audio?

Script writing is a whole new world. I had never written a script before, so I was learning fast when I wrote The Waterford Boy. I was kindly lent a couple of scripts that Iain Meadows (The Blood that Binds and The Templar’s Promise) had written in the past, so I knew how to format my work, but beyond that I felt my way along. (With help from Iain and Barnaby)

I’ve been a novelist for 12 years, so it was quite a challenge suddenly writing something where I couldn’t describe a scene properly with words. Everything has to be displayed via dialogue and background sound. This meant that writing about someone’s appearance, for example, has to be done via the comments of other characters. The scene in The Waterford Boy, where Robin, Will and Nasir disguise themselves to blend into Nottingham market, was particularly tricky to put together for that very reason.

It was slightly easier writing the two narrated stories- The forthcoming The Baron’s Daughter however, is a full cast reading…so that needed everything explaining via conversation and sound effects. You’ll find out if I managed that in a few months time!

Although writing scripts is a very different skill to writing a novel- I loved it! Let’s hope I get to do some more one day.

Will Robin of Sherwood audio do anything like prequels or sequels for example prequel Rebels of Loxley or the daughters (sons) of Sherwood? Any plans to expand the Robin of Sherwood universe further?

I’d have to say ‘no’ to that. The licence for what Spiteful Puppet can do is strict- plus, there isn’t the mega multi-national audience that you have for other popular shows such as Doctor Who or Star Trek. The prequel angle has been explored a little bit with Mathilda’s Legacy (the story of how the Earl of Huntington met Robert of Huntington’s mother).

However, if you enjoy all stories Robin Hood, then there are many writers who have been inspired by Robin of Sherwood and have expanded into many other directions, from fantasy to comics to legend redevelopment. You only have to look at my fellow audio script writers Paul Kane (The Red Lord) and Tony Lees (The Trial of John Little– coming soon) to find a collection of Robin Hood stories to keep you going for ages.

Do you make drawings to picture parts of your audio-book stories?

The only art work associated with the audio books is the brilliant cover showing both Robin’s.  I am not responsible for that thankfully – which is probably just as well as I have no artistic skill at all! I wish I did.

Once you knew you were doing more than one audio story, did you put your own returning characters (other than the obvious) into the stories, or was that a temptation too far (against the canon)?

It would be so tempting to do that. I would love to write more about Mathilda of Huntington if the chance ever arose. (Unlikely!) However, the answer to the question is ‘no’. The stories are slotted into the ready made framework of the existing episodes, and so any onward play with my own invented characters wouldn’t be practical – although it would be fun for me as writer.

However, I have enjoyed making reference to the characters we know and love. I took great pleasure, for example, in referencing Lord Edgar in Mathilda’s Legacy– Robert’s mother clearly had very little time for her future brother-in-law….

It is wonderful to be able to play with the nostalgia we all feel for the characters we loved – and the ones we loved to hate.

Which was your favourite of the audio scripts you’ve written?

Tricky one.

The Waterford Boy will always be special because it was my first script- and it made a dream come true. Never did I think I’d write for the best TV show of all time (to me anyway!) Judi Trott read it so beautifully as well. I have to confess to listening to it often just to hear her lovely voice.

The Baron’s Daughter was also special because it was my first full cast script. I got to put words into Michal Praed’s mouth – and who wouldn’t want to do that???

However- if pushed- I think Mathilda’s Legacy is my favourite. Partly because it was the first one I heard as a completed audio. The second I heard Michael Craig read my words- and then the famous theme music burst into life- I was a star struck 14 year old unable to believe that  I was listening to a story I’d created.

It was also quite something being given the responsibility of inventing (to some extent- David of Huntington was married to Mathilda) Robert of Huntingdon’s mother. I hope you all like the woman I created to be a future heroes mother.

Which was your favourite RoS episode?

That is an impossible question. I love them all. To narrow it down – it was either Adam Bell (first one I ever saw) or Herne’s Son parts one and two or The Prisoner…or…..

Many thanks to everyone who has sent questions to me since the HM3. I have been overwhelmed by the kindness showed to me after I fiddled with your favourite stories. I promise, if I am ever lucky enough to write more, I will continue to try as hard as I can to be true to the Robin of Sherwood ethos, and write stories to make you feel as though you have been transported back to 5.35 on a Saturday afternoon in the 1980’s. Well – I’ll try anyway!

Nothing’s forgotten,

Jennifer x


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