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Currently Browsing: history

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


Publication Day: Edward’s Outlaw

It’s time to raise a glass- or a large mug of black coffee in my case.

The third book in The Folville Chronicles launches today!

Edward’s Outlaw follows hot on the heels of The Outlaw’s Ransom and The Winter Outlaw.

Edward's Outlaw

Available in both ebook and paperback formats, you can buy your copy today!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KP9LTD9/ref=sr_1_1…Jennifer Ash

***

Here’s the blurb

January 1330: King Edward III’s England is awash with the corruption and criminal activity that his mother, Queen Isabella had turned a blind eye to- providing it was to her advantage.
Now, having claimed the Crown for his own, Edward is determined to clean up England. Encouraged by his new wife, Philippa of Hainault and her special advisor- a man who knows the noble felons of the countries Midland region very well- King Edward sends a messenger to Roger Wennesley of Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire with orders to work with the county sheriff to arrest five of the Folville brothers…including the newly married Robert de Folville.
Robert takes his wife, Mathilda, to Rockingham Castle for her own safety, but no sooner has he left, when a maid is found murdered in the castle’s beautiful guest suite, the Fire Room. The dead girl looks a lot like Mathilda. Was she the target, or is Mathilda de Folville’s life in danger?
Asked to investigate by the sheriff in exchange for him deliberately taking his time in the hunt for her husband, Mathilda soon uncovers far more than murder…a web of carefully laid deception which trails from London, to Derbyshire, and beyond…

***

(Although Edward’s Outlaw can easily be read as a standalone novel, you’ll get a little more out of the story if you’ve read books one and two)

You can find out lots of information about Edwards’ Outlaw, from how it was written to what inspired it, and read an extract or two, by following the launch blog tour which begins today!

Happy reading (and blog hopping)

Jennifer x

 

 


Edward’s Outlaw: Cover and Blurb Release

What a year it’s been for my ‘Jennifer Ash’ side!

Not only have I had the pleasure (the privilege), of writing a number of audio scripts for ITV’s Robin of Sherwood, I’ve also been very busy with the continuing adventures of Mathilda of Twyford.

Mathilda’s earliest adventure, which features in the first book of The Folville ChroniclesThe Outlaw’s Ransom – was re-released by Littwitz Press. The second book in the series, The Winter Outlaw came out in March. Now, after eight months intense writing, I can announce the forthcoming arrival of the third of The Folville ChroniclesEdward’s Outlaw.

Edward’s Outlaw will be released on 3rd December.

Pre-order for the eBook version of Edward’s Outlaw (Paperback link coming soon)

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07KP9LTD9/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1542698930&sr=1-1&keywords=Edwards+Outlaw+Jennifer+Ash

Blurb

January 1330: King Edward III’s England is awash with the corruption and criminal activity that his mother, Queen Isabella had turned a blind eye to- providing it was to her advantage.

Now, having claimed the Crown for his own, Edward is determined to clean up England. Encouraged by his new wife, Philippa of Hainault and her special advisor- a man who knows the noble felons of the countries Midland region very well- King Edward sends a messenger to Roger Wennesley of Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire with orders to work with the county sheriff to arrest five of the Folville brothers…including the newly married Robert de Folville.

Robert takes his wife, Mathilda, to Rockingham Castle for her own safety, but no sooner has he left, when a maid is found murdered in the castle’s beautiful guest suite, the Fire Room. The dead girl looks a lot like Mathilda. Was she the target, or is Mathilda de Folville’s life in danger?

Asked to investigate by the sheriff in exchange for him deliberately taking his time in the hunt for her husband, Mathilda soon uncovers far more than murder…a web of carefully laid deception which trails from London, to Derbyshire, and beyond…

***

After being thrust into solving mysteries in books one and two in order to save her own life, this time Mathilda finds herself in the role of detective. Word of her skill at getting to the bottom of crimes has spread. In fact, the only person that doubts Mathilda’s skills as an investigator is Mathilda herself…

 

I had a wonderful time writing Mathilda’s latest adventure – and setting up the background for book four. In fact, clues to book four (which I will be writing at the end of 2019), have been scattered through the lines of all of The Folville Chronicle novels so far…

Come back for more novel release news soon.

Happy reading,

Jennifer xx

 

 


End of the month: A glimpse of autumn

OK, so who said it could be almost September already? No one asked me! I have far too much to get done this year for it to be time to knock on September’s door.

However! As it is the end of the month, I’m flinging the door open wide to the wonderful Nell Peters.

Over to you Nell…

Guten Morgen meine Freunde, and anyone else who just happens to be passing. Here we are at the end of August – how on earth did that happen? The school summer holidays are all but over and we are standing at the edge of the slippery slope that descends into cold weather, short daylight hours, Halloween, Bonfire Night and *whispers* Christmas. Yikes!

There is already Christmas stuff in our local Tesco …But before we start hanging up our stockings and buying earplugs as protection against Slade, there’s the OH’s birthday to celebrate. On the day he was born (1961), the Dutch National Ballet was formed through a merger of Netherlands Ballet (Dance Director, Sonia Gaskell) and Amsterdam Ballet (Dance Director, Mascha ter Weeme). This put an end to the rivalry or ‘ballet war’ between the two companies – loaded tutus at dawn? OK, anyone else harbouring a stereotypical mental image of prima ballerinas noisily pirouetting their stuff across the stage in wooden clogs, with a tulip clenched firmly between their teeth? That’ll just be me, then …My paternal grandfather, Wilfred, was also born on this day way back in 1897 – he was the one who lied about his age to become a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps in 1914. Wilfred shared his date of birth with American actor, Frederic March, born in Racine, Wisconsin, who appeared in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Best Years of Our Lives, as well as German writer and poet, Marianne Bruns, born in Leipzig. They died in 1966, 1975 and 1994 respectively, so Marianne walks away a clear winner of the longevity prize. Also on this day in 1897, British General Horatio Kitchener’s army occupied Berber, North of Khartoum, and Thomas Edison patented the Kinetoscope (kinetographic camera), the first movie projector. Say cheese!

by Bassano, proof print, 29 July 1910

August 31st 1976 wasn’t a good day for either Mexico (their currency, the peso, was devalued) or George Harrison, when Judge Richard Owen of the United States District Court found him guilty of ‘subconsciously’ copying the 1963 Chiffons’ tune, He’s So Fine  and releasing it as My Sweet Lord in November 1970. The record reached #1, making George the first Beatle to have a solo chart-topper, but with nasty terms like ‘copyright infringement’ and ‘plagiarism’ thrown into the legal mix, the shine may have faded somewhat from that achievement.

Perhaps musical composition (and this is pure hypothesis on my part, since I am tone deaf!) bears similarity to writing a novel, in that everything is to a certain extent a re-mix? The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations (1895) is a list compiled by Georges Polti, to categorise every dramatic situation that might occur in a story or performance. He analysed Greek classical texts, plus classical and contemporary French works, along with a few non-French authors. In the book’s introduction, Polti claims to be continuing the work of Carlo Gozzi, who also suggested thirty-six basic plots.

However, in 1965, Kurt Vonnegut submitted a thesis to Chicago University, arguing that there are in fact only six scenarios that form the foundation of literary ‘shapes’. Much to his great annoyance (fair enough – anyone who has ever laboured over a thesis knows how much blood, sweat and hair-tearing goes into it) his work was rejected. But years later the dust was blown from the manuscript and the premise used as a springboard for researchers at the University of Vermont, who fed 1,737 stories from Project Gutenberg – all English-language fiction texts – through a programme that analysed the language for emotional content. They concluded there are ‘six core trajectories which form the building blocks of complex narratives’. Way da go, Kurt!

On this day in 1730, amusingly-named Gottfried Finger (sounds painful) died. You will all know he was a Moravian Baroque composer and virtuoso musician, the viol (of the viola/violin family) being his weapon of choice – many of his compositions were written for the instrument. Finger was born in Olomouc, the modern-day Czech Republic, and worked for the court of James II of England before becoming a freelance composer. Sometimes known as Godfrey, he also wrote operas and entered a contest in London to adapt William Congreve’s The Judgement of Paris as such, but after managing only fourth place he grabbed his bow and resin in a huff and moved to Germany, where he died in Mannheim.

Gottfried was preceded in death by one Ole Worm (snigger), Danish physician and historian, who breathed his last on this day in 1654, aged sixty-six. Ole was the son of Willum Worm (it just gets better!) a wealthy man and mayor of Aarhus, and Dorothea Fincke, the daughter of friend and colleague, Thomas Fincke. Thomas was a mathematician and physicist who invented the terms ‘tangent’ and ‘secant’, while teaching at the University of Copenhagen for more than sixty years. I really hope he was given a gold watch for long service. To give Ole his due, while he was personal physician to King Christian IV of Denmark, he courageously remained in Copenhagen to care for the sick, during an epidemic of the Black Death. Olé, Ole! So sorry …

More recently, Walter William Bygraves – better known as Max – died in Australia on this day in 2012. Born into poverty in Rotherhithe, London in 1922, he worked his way up to become a comedian, singer, actor and variety performer who had his own TV show. He appeared in the Royal Variety Show twenty times, as well as hosting Family Fortunes. Bit of a lad, was our Max – not only did he have three children with his wife, Blossom (real name Gladys), he added another three, born as the result of extra-marital affairs.

Exactly a year after Max, David Paradine Frost died of a heart attack while enjoying a life on the ocean wave, aboard the MV Queen Elizabeth – he’d been booked as a guest speaker. Born the third child and only son of a Methodist minister, Frost took the well-trodden Cambridge/Footlights route and, after graduating with a Third in English, went on to develop a hugely varied career in the media. He first came to the viewing public’s notice in the UK when chosen to host the satirical programme That Was The Week That Was in 1962, and his popularity led to work in US TV, plus a series of high-profile interviews, including Richard Nixon. A post mortem revealed that Frost suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a hereditary heart disease which affects roughly one in five hundred people – sadly, it also killed his oldest son, Miles, in 2015, when he was just thirty-one.

On the domestic front, August has been a time of upheaval and life-changing decisions. I can see a chink of light at the end of an eight year long tunnel, which began when my dad had a minor stroke. At that time, both my parents had already started to show obvious signs of dementia but weren’t diagnosed with the vascular variety until four years later. It was all downhill after that; even with some family members helping out and five visits a day from private care providers, we staggered from one crisis to the next.

After my dad died last year, my mother inevitably spent some time on her own and to counteract this as much as possible, #2 son – bless him – stayed at the house Mon-Fri, supplementing the care visits. This still left weekends and that’s when I would spend hours on end gawping at images from the CCTV system we had installed for my mother’s safety. Things came to a head during the recent hot weather, when she started to refuse both liquids and food – she quickly became so weak that she ended up doing an overnighter in hospital on a saline drip. We’d bent over backwards to adhere to both parents’ wish to stay in their own home, but after giving it our very best shot, #2 and I simultaneously decided that we’d come to the end of the road – hard decisions had to be made, and quickly.

Over four days we planned a military operation to get my mother out of the house she hasn’t voluntarily left for a very long time, to begin the four weeks of respite care I’d arranged in a rather swish care home – previously checked out for just such an eventuality. By stealth – the theme tune to Mission Impossible playing on a loop in my head – we got clothes, toiletries and a few personal items together and stashed them out of sight, arranged for one of the visiting carers who has a good rapport with my mother to stay on for extra time to act as escort, along with another carer borrowed from the home, we also borrowed a wheelchair from the home, booked a disabled taxi, managed to grapple through an assessment of needs with one of the care home staff, and crawled to the pub exhausted the evening before Evacuation Day.

Everything went like clockwork on the morning. My mother was sitting in the hallway, all dressed and fed and in the wheelchair – we’d told her she had an appointment and though protesting loud and long that she didn’t want to go, we steadfastly ignored her. It was a case of now or never – and never wasn’t an option. Then just as the taxi was due, there was a car accident at the end of the drive – no one hurt, but damaged vehicles blocking the road caused a huge tailback. When the taxi eventually arrived, the two carers swooped into action and had my mother out of the door and into the back in seconds – amid wails of outrage – and rode shotgun during the short drive to the care home. #2 and I followed at a safe distance, the burden of guilt weighing heavily on our shoulders.

As always, I’m writing this blog in advance so that Jenny has time to do the magic thing with it. There are six days to go until the respite period ends and we will know then if a permanent place can be offered – stressful, nail-biting times. So far, things have gone well. My mother is eating and drinking almost normally and interacting with others and staff and has had quite a few visitors. It’s a well-run, friendly home with a good atmosphere – her room has a lovely view of the gardens and one day she may even venture out there. The fees are eye-watering, but she has round-the-clock care from brilliant staff, in a safe and secure setting – you can’t put a price on that.

Wish me luck!

Thanks for having me, Jenny. Toodles.

NP

***

GOOD LUCK!!

Guilt is always such a nightmare- especially when you’ve done the right thing.

Thanks again for such a fab blog,

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

 


Hibiscus Tea and Temples: Wind Across the Nile

Today I’m delighted to welcome Chrissie Parker to my blog. I urge you to read this fascinating post all about her love of Egypt- a passion which lead her to write the novel, Wind Across the Nile.

Why not pull up a chair and have a read?

Over to you Chrissie…

I’ve a passion for ancient history, especially when it relates to Egypt. I try to impart to people what an amazing place it is but words never seem to wholly do it justice, I always say, the only way to learn about a country is to go and see it for yourself. Tourism makes up a large percentage of Egypt’s income and in recent years tourist numbers have been lower than normal due to a variety of reasons.

When I talk about Egypt I’m aware of its struggles as a country and the challenges it faces daily, but I’m more aware of what a truly incredible place it is to explore. Egypt’s filled with endless culture and history and modern day life sits neatly alongside ancient sites and monuments that are thousands of years old. Contrary to some reports Egyptian’s are friendly, accommodating people who will welcome you with open arms and make you feel at home, and now couldn’t be a better time to visit. Due to recent low tourist numbers, some sites that would usually be crowded and sometimes difficult to see, have been relatively quiet, giving visitors the chance to spend more time there and really absorb their surroundings, making them feel as though they’re the first people to have stepped into that temple or tomb for generations.

We all know about the famous sites such as the Sphinx and the Pyramids of Giza, but there are many more wonderful places to see in Egypt. There’s the fantastic mortuary temple at Medinet Habu in Luxor, that has some of the best coloured reliefs and accounts of Egyptian life I’ve ever seen. The temple of Isis at Philae is a beautiful temple that only stands today thanks to rescue work undertaken many years ago by UNESCO that saved it from flooding and being lost forever. If you have the time you could journey to the edge of Egypt itself to gaze upon the awe inspiring Abu Simbel, home to two temples built by the greatest of Egyptian rulers, Ramses II. It’s a sight that just takes your breath away and leaves you wanting more. The list is just endless, and with so many temples, tombs and other ancient sites spread throughout the country, visitors are spoilt for choice.

Egypt also has many museums that house its huge collection of ancient treasures. The largest is the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, (which is now in the process of moving to the Giza Plateau under the new name of the Grand Egyptian Museum) it contains over a hundred thousand artefacts from across Egypt as well as the impressive collection from Tutankhamun’s tomb, and items belonging to the heretic King Akenaten. If, like me, you have a penchant for the more gory side of Egyptian life you can gaze upon a well preserved collection of mummified bodies of Royalty past in the well laid out mummy room. In Luxor there are two museums, the aptly named Luxor Museum housing a multitude of treasures discovered during excavations in Luxor and Karnak, and the Mummification Museum where every item is dedicated to the ancient art of preserving the dead for the afterlife, including tools and mummies.

If you get bored with the history, and I promise you won’t, you could meander your way through the many shopping streets and bazaars bartering for some interesting souvenirs, or beautiful hand crafted goods, whilst accepting a friendly stall-holders hospitality of a glass of hibiscus tea. If this isn’t to your taste, the luxurious Winter Palace Hotel in Luxor is an ideal place to have a break for a relaxing lunch overlooking the Nile. There are so many incredible things to see and do in Egypt, whether you choose to visit Cairo, Luxor, or venture further south to Aswan. You could even combine all three by leisurely cruising down the Nile on a Dahabiyya.

So, when considering your next holiday, why not try Egypt? There’s more to see and do than you could ever fit into one visit, and you’ll be welcomed with open arms and feel at home in a country that was just made to be discovered. If that hasn’t quite persuaded you yet then just imagine stepping onto a felucca to sail serenely along the river Nile as the beauty of Egyptian life passes you, whilst the sun slowly sets to leave you with nothing more than a bright shining moon and twinkling stars to guide you gently back to shore.

***

Blurb for Wind Across the Nile

Can she survive where her ancestors failed?
Suffering with grief after the tragic death of her family, Cora Thomas flees to Egypt, desperate to escape the overwhelming loss.
In Luxor, she meets gruff Egyptologist Nick Foster who wants little to do with her, and his employee Sam, who instantly becomes a much sought-after friend.
As she settles into life along the Nile, discovering the country’s vast history and culture, Cora learns about the contents of an old diary discovered in her parents’ home. As the diary’s story unfolds, it reveals hardship, love, tragedy and a potentially life-threatening family feud spanning generations.

From the rolling hills of the Scottish Highlands to the ruinous sands of the Egyptian desert, Wind across the Nile is a story of unbreakable family bonds, adversity and self-preservation.

Buy links:

Kindle – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wind-Across-Nile-Chrissie-Parker-ebook/dp/B07GC1WTPT/ref

Paperback – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/191640250X/ref

 

Bio

Chrissie lives in Devon, UK, with her husband. She has published six books including Integrate and Temperance (books one and two of The Moon Series), Among the Olive Groves, Nabataea and The Secrets, a collection of Poems and Short Stories. Wind Across the Nile is her sixth book. Other work includes articles for the Bristolian, The Huffington Post and The Artist Unleashed. Chrissie also writes regularly for the Zakynthos Informer. Chrissie’s poem Maisie was performed at the 100 poems by 100 women event at the Bath International Literary Festival in 2013. In 2016 Among the Olive Groves won an historical fiction award in the Summer Indie Book Awards. Chrissie is passionate about Ancient History, Archaeology and Travel, and has completed two Egyptology courses and an Archaeological Techniques course with Exeter University.

To find out more about Chrissie visit her website www.chrissieparker.com

Social Media links:

Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/ChrissieParkerAuthor

Twitter – https://twitter.com/Chrissie_author

Blog – https://chrissieparkerauthor.wordpress.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/chrissieparkerauthor

Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/ChrissieAuthor/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/27035030-chrissie-parker

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Many thanks Chrissie. fantastic blog.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

 

 

 

 


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