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Currently Browsing: Historical fiction

Opening Lines: Before the Flood by Kellie Butler

Thursday has arrived once more, and it’s ‘Opening Lines’ time.

This week I’m welcoming Kellie Butler to my blog with the very beginning of her new release, Before the Flood.

Over to you Kellie…

Hi, my name is Kellie Butler and I’m next up on the first 500 words blog series.  Thank you, Jenny, for hosting me on your blog!

My Laurelhurst Chronicles family saga follows the Cavert family from the beginning of the Second World War through the mid-1970s. It centers on a young Lydie Cavert, who is an adolescent when the first novel begins. My initial inspiration for this series was writing about trauma from the perspective of an adolescent that endures a lot of things we go through in life and then some. Every family has secrets, and her family certainly has a bevy full. I draw inspiration from classic film, television, literature, and historical research.

I’ve just released the second chapter in the saga!

Here’s the blurb:

Before the Flood is a beautiful, haunting celebration of the lasting bonds of family and friendship, and returns readers to the world of the Cavert family.

Fiery art student Lydie Cavert nearly has it all after putting the shadows of her uncle’s sinister legacy behind her:  great friends, a blossoming art career, and romance with the handsome but reserved Dr. Henry Bainbridge, her brother’s best friend and colleague. Her hope for peace is shattered when she returns to England to help Henry’s recovering sister Kate find her own happiness during the London Season. The sinister empire that claimed her uncle has plans for Lydia. Plans that could threaten her and Henry’s happiness by exposing secrets both would like to keep from resurfacing.

From New York City’s vibrant streets and the idyllic farmlands of Upstate New York to the cosmopolitan avenues of London and Paris, Before the Flood tells a story of the richness of family bonds, the searing heartbreak of betrayal and innocence lost, and the redeeming power of love and friendship.

***

To celebrate the release of Before the Flood, I’m offering the first 500 words:

On a crisp October day, Lydie counted the minutes till the end of a freshman class assembly at Barnard College, so she could take the subway across town to her studio: the one place where life made sense. When the assembly ended, she tugged at her cardigan as rows of glossy-haired girls in saddle shoes and heels filed out in front of her. The musty air of the auditorium mingled with the sea of perfume and it gave her a headache. She pushed through the crowd until she breathed the open air of the city. Inhaling the sweet crisp scent of rain on the wind, she hurried through the school’s gates towards the subway station.

Minutes later, she sat on a woven cane seat of a packed subway car, clutching her books with long, slender fingers. After a short ride, she exited the packed train and emerged onto a busy street, walking down the pavement until she reached  a four-story brick building with large windows. Climbing up the stairs to the top floor, she fetched her key out of her red leather bag to unlock a large metal door. She entered her sanctuary and tossed her books onto a chair before setting up her easel and palette. Releasing a heavy sigh, she unrolled her brushes before pouring linseed oil into a glass jar that sat next to her brushes.  Pondering what she would paint that day, she changed clothes behind a screen in the corner of the studio.

From next door, she could hear the wailing of a saxophone, the tinkling keys of a piano, and the gentle plucks of a bass violin as a group practiced.  It settled her soul. Emerging in an old blouse, rolled up jeans, and canvas shoes, she stretched as the late afternoon sun bathed the room and highlighted  her waves of reddish-gold hair. Pulling an old scarf from her pocket, she tied her hair up to keep it from falling in her face. Lydie stepped towards the canvas, picked up a brush, and prepared to release the doubt out of her unsettled mind.

Her doubt never began as a torrent for her. It began as tiny drops of discord. The drops pooled and formed into small trickles. Trickles into streams. Streams converged into rivers, and rivers overflowed their banks into floods. As Lydie mixed paint, she gauged that she was right before the flood stage. The only thing that brought her back from her emotions overtaking her was to let the current flow through her arm, down into her brush, and onto the canvas.

Lydie’s conscience wasn’t clear. Ever since arriving a few months ago, she’d doubted why she could escape England start over somewhere else when so many people were greater victims during the war and never got that chance. It made her feel guilty sometimes. She knew she had been close to becoming another victim of evil. An evil that wore a kind face and charming smile.

Some people had said she…

***

If you want to read more, go to http://getbook.at/beforetheflood for the paperback and Kindle editions. You can also purchase the eBook through Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and other retailers at this link: https://www.books2read.com/u/md0xRX. Thank you very much for reading!

Bio

Kellie Butler is the author of Beneath a Moonless Sky and Before the Flood. A freelance writer and paralegal, she lives in a quaint small town in the southeastern United States. She enjoys  hiking, cooking, knitting, reading, and walks with her dog, Chip. Visit her website www.kellierbutler.com to connect with her on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram) and to sign up for her newsletter.

***

Many thanks Kellie. A great opener.

Come back next week to read 500 words from James D Mortain.

Happy reading,

Jenny x


Retreating

It’s time for the Imagine Writing Retreat!

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

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

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

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

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

See you on the other side…

Jenny xx

 

 

 

 

 


Opening Lines: The Mistress of Pennington’s by Rachel Brimble

One of my favourite people is joining me for some ‘Opening Lines’ this week. I’m delighted to welcome, Rachel Brimble, to share a little from her bestselling book, The Mistress of Pennington’s.

This is the opening 500 words to my latest release and first book in my brand-new Edwardian series, THE MISTRESS OF PENNINGTON’S. The series theme is ‘female empowerment’ and the first book deals with women in business and the struggles they faced against both commercial and social society.

Elizabeth Pennington is the book’s heroine and one of my favourite characters to date.

“Perfect for fans of Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.”

FIRST 500 WORDS

Chapter One

City of Bath – January 1910

Elizabeth Pennington turned off the final light in the ladies’ department of Pennington’s Department Store and wandered through the semi-darkness to the window. She stared at Bath’s premier shopping street below. Christmas had passed three weeks before, and all the excitement and possibilities of the New Year beckoned. Nineteen ten. Even the year held the ring of a new beginning.

A new start for something bigger and better. Yet, how could she revel in any possible excitement when her plans to advance her position within the store were still halted by her father? She crossed her arms as, once again, her frustration mounted. Would this be yet another year where she remained static? Her father holding her caged and controlled?

As the only child born to Edward and Helena Pennington, Elizabeth had been a happy child under her mother’s care, home-schooled by a governess, before being launched into society. Yet, the balls and teas, at home visits and theatre, had soon grown tiresome and she had longed to accompany her father on his days at work.

Edward Pennington, amused by his daughter’s emerging passion for all things retail, had consented to her coming along whenever possible, teaching her the basics of merchandising and marketing, allowing her to serve as a shop girl. A role that had satisfied Elizabeth for a while…

Until, in 1906, her father had opened the largest department store fashionable Edwardian Bath had ever seen. From the moment she’d stepped into its sparkling, breath-taking foyer, Elizabeth would not be shaken from working as the head of the new ladies’ department. Having finally won her father’s agreement two years ago, she’d launched herself into the role with determination and commitment, proving her worth through steadily increasing sales, footfall and morale amongst her staff.

Now, she wanted more… deserved more.

Elizabeth breathed in deeply as she stared at the hatted men and women who streamed back and forth on the busy street; the trams slowing to pick up or allow passengers to disembark. How many of these women had she dressed and accessorised? How many had she helped to spend their father’s or husband’s money? Did they, too, long to stand tall and proud and spend their own earnings, from their own success?

Although Bath was still only a small-scale industrial city, it was identified by its social elite. A city that was a bustling oasis of the firmly established upper class, but also a newly emerging middle class. It was these people that Elizabeth grew more and more determined to entice through Pennington’s doors, thus demolishing its reputation of being a place where only the moneyed belonged.

She turned from the window.

Twenty-four years old and still she had nothing to call her own, nothing to hold onto as evidence of her enthusiasm, vision and skill. If her father’s belief stood that women had no true place in business, why introduce her to retail’s excitement and possibility? Why pretend she was…

BLURB:

1910 – A compelling tale of female empowerment in Bath’s leading department store. Perfect for the fans of the TV series Mr Selfridge and The Paradise.

Elizabeth Pennington should be the rightful heir of Bath’s premier department store through her enterprising schemes and dogged hard work. Her father, Edward Pennington, believes his daughter lacks the business acumen to run his empire and is resolute a man will succeed him.

Determined to break from her father’s iron-clad hold and prove she is worthy of inheriting the store, Elizabeth forms an unlikely alliance with ambitious and charismatic master glove-maker Joseph Carter. United they forge forward to bring Pennington’s into a new decade, embracing woman’s equality and progression whilst trying not to mix business and pleasure.

Can this dream team thwart Edward Pennington’s plans for the store? Or will Edward prove himself an unshakeable force who will ultimately ruin both Elizabeth and Joseph?

BUY LINKS

Amazon UK: http://amzn.eu/2SvRcqp

Amazon US: http://a.co/3OFh9JK

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-mistress-of-penningtons-rachel-brimble/1128920728?ean=9781788546508

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-mistress-of-pennington-s

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Rachel_Brimble_The_Mistress_of_Pennington_s?id=dIFSDwAAQBAJ

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-mistress-of-penningtons/id1362129705?mt=11

BIO

Rachel lives with her husband and their two daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. Since 2007, she has had several novels published by small US presses, eight books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical.

In January 2018, she signed a four-book deal with Aria Fiction for a new Edwardian series set in Bath’s finest department store. The first book, The Mistress of Pennington’s released July 2018.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!

Links:

Website

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

Facebook Street Team – Rachel’s Readers

Amazon Author Page:

https://www.amazon.com/Rachel-Brimble/e/B007829ZRM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1490948101&sr=8-1

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1806411.Rachel_Brimble

Bookbub:

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rachel-brimble

***

Many thanks Rachel. Fabulous 500 words.

Next week we’ll have a break from opening lines as I’m running the “Imagine” retreat on Exmoor- but we’ll be back on 18th October with 500 words from Carrie Elks.

Happy reading,

Jenny x


The Folville Chronicles 1: The Outlaw’s Ransom

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

When potter’s daughter Mathilda is kidnapped by the notorious Folville brothers as punishment for her father’s debts, she fears for her life. Although of noble birth, the Folvilles are infamous throughout the county for using crime to rule their lands—and for using any means necessary to deliver their distinctive brand of ‘justice’.

Mathilda must prove her worth to the Folvilles in order to win her freedom. To do so, she must go against her instincts and, disguised as the betrothed of Robert de Folville, undertake a mission that will send her to Bakewell in Derbyshire, and the home of Nicholas Coterel, one of the most infamous men in England.

With her life in the hands of more than one dangerous brigand, Mathilda must win the trust of the Folville’s housekeeper, Sarah, and Robert Folville himself if she has any chance of survival.

Never have the teachings gleaned from the tales of Robyn Hode been so useful…

Here’s a little extract for you…

Mathilda thought she was used to the dark, but the night-time gloom of the small room she shared with her brothers at home was nothing like this. The sheer density of this darkness enveloped her, physically gliding over her clammy skin. It made her breathless, as if it was trying to squeeze the life from her.

As moisture oozed between her naked toes, she presumed that the suspiciously soft surface she crouched on was moss, which had grown to form a damp cushion on the stone floor. It was a theory backed up by the smell of mould and general filthiness which hung in the air.

Trying not to think about how long she was going to be left in this windowless cell, Mathilda stretched her arms out to either side, and bravely felt for the extent of the walls, hoping she wasn’t about to touch something other than cold stone. The child’s voice that lingered at the back of her mind, even though she was a woman of nineteen, was telling her – screaming at her – that there might be bodies in here, secured in rusted irons, abandoned and rotting. She battled the voice down. Thinking like that would do her no good at all. Her father had always congratulated his only daughter on her level-headedness, and now it was being so thoroughly put to the test, she was determined not to let him down.

Stretching her fingers into the blackness, Mathilda placed the tips of her fingers against the wall behind her. It was wet. Trickles of water had found a way in from somewhere, giving the walls the same slimy covering as the floor.

Continuing to trace the outline of the rough stone wall, Mathilda kept her feet exactly where they were. In seconds her fingertips came to a corner, and by twisting at the waist, she quickly managed to plot her prison from one side of the heavy wooden door to the other. The dungeon could be no more than five feet square, although it must be about six feet tall. Her own five-foot frame had stumbled down a step when she’d been pushed into the cell, and her head was at least a foot clear of the ceiling. The bleak eerie silence was eating away at Mathilda’s determination to be brave, and the cold brought her suppressed fear to the fore. Suddenly the shivering she had stoically ignored overtook her, and there was nothing she could do but let it invade her…

 

You can buy The Outlaw’s Ransom for your Kindle or as a paperback from-

Kindle-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07B3TNRYN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519759895&sr=8-1&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B3TNRYN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519760741&sr=8-1&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

Paperback-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Outlaws-Ransom-Folville-Chronicles/dp/1999855264/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520007697&sr=1-2&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

https://www.amazon.com/Outlaws-Ransom-Folville-Chronicles/dp/1999855264/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520007771&sr=1-1&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

(Please note that if you have read Romancing Robin Hood by Jenny Kane and Jennifer Ash- then you will already be familiar with the story with The Outlaw’s Ransom)

If you enjoy Mathilda’s first adventure, then you can rad more in The Winter Outlaw (The Folville Chronicles- Book 2), and Edward’s Outlaw (The Folville Chronicles- Book 3), which will be out later this year.

***

Happy reading,

Jen xx


A summer of events

The summer, dare I say it, is almost over – and what a busy couple of months it’s been. From children’s writing workshops, to freezing cold festival fields and a singles club- I’ve encountered them all.

There’s no doubt that summer is my busiest time of the year- and the most rewarding.

This year I was lucky enough to teach three children’s writing workshops for Devon Libraries (Cullompton, South Molton and Crediton), as part of the Summer Reading Scheme for 2018, on the subject of ‘Mischief Makers’. I was heartened and impressed by the range of stories the children created and I’m happy to report that the next generation’s imagination is alive and well. (They also have a much firmer grasp on the stories of Dennis the Menace than I do- my memory of the Beano has certainly slipped with age!)

The children of Barnstaple also proved their imagination is in tiptop shape, when I taught a creative writing class at St Anne’s Community Centre (a 10 week series of writing classes for children begins there in September- email me at imaginecreativewriting.com for details).

In July, I was invited to teach a short story writing workshop at the Chudleigh Literary Festival. A wonderful event; I had a great day surrounded by loads of talented writers, special guests and book lovers. Huge thanks to Elizabeth Ducie for inviting me along.

Last weekend I, along with many of my fellow Exeter Author Association members (PJ Reed, Richard Dee, Tracey Norman, Mark Norman and Susie Williamson), returned to Chilcompton for their annual fringe festival.

In 2017, when we attended Chilcompton, it was so hot that some of us suffered from heat sickness. This year that was never going to be a problem. To say it rained doesn’t really do the persistent and heavy downpour that lasted all day, justice.

Dressed as characters from out books, we all looked the part; from elf, to steampunk man, to medieval lady and beyond…however…as we were freezing cold we rather overdid the layers. Six layers in my case- and you can tell!

Never ones to give up easily, the EAA carried on regardless! Our talk audiences were rather smaller than usual, but the smiles were still wide. I had great fun talking to this little gathering about Robin Hood. Fingers crossed for a mild dry day next year!

As well as my usual workshops, my summer events finished off with an author talk to the Young at Heart singles club in St Sidwells, Exeter. Chatting away about how my writing career began was great fun. It soon became clear that a couple of the ladies in the group had always wanted to write, but had never been brave enough. By the time I left one had written the start of a short children’s story, and another had told a whole story via answering random questions. Fantastic!

Thank you to everyone who has hosted both me and my fellow EAA members this summer.

Now- if you’ll excuse me I’d better go and edit my next novel…

Happy reading,

Jenny


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