The Perfect Blend: Coffee and Kane


Currently Browsing: Jenny Kane

Opening Lines from Kitty Wilson: The Cornish Village School

It’s Thursday! That means it’s time for some ‘Opening Lines.’ This week Kitty Wilson is providing a dose of Cornish sunshine at

The Cornish Village School

 

Thank you, Jenny, for welcoming me to your blog. I wanted to share the first five hundred words of the first book in my Cornish Village School series, Breaking the Rules – because why not start at the start?

The Cornish Village School is a series of light-hearted romantic comedies based around a small primary school in the fictional coastal village of Penmenna. The first book, as featured here, tells the story of Rosy Winter, the headteacher who is faced with a fight to save her school from closure at the same time as she is trying to avoid her new twinkly-eyed neighbour, Matt. I do hope you enjoy it!

***

Blurb – Rosy Winter is definitely not looking for love

Following heartbreak, Rosy has rebuilt her life in the beautiful Cornish village of Penmenna.  Now, headmistress of the local school, she is living by The Rule: no dating anyone in the village. Easy right? But Rosy Winter has a new neighbour, handsome gardener Matt.

In Penmenna for his new gardening TV show, this guy next door will do everything he can to persuade her to break her rule and win her heart. Meanwhile, Penmenna Village School is threatened with closure and it’s up to Rosy to rally the local community to #SaveOurSchool. Can she bring her worlds together and accept help from the most unlikely of sources? One thing’s for sure… she won’t be giving up without a fight.

This heartwarming romance is perfect for fans of Tilly Tennant, Holly Martin and A. L. Michael.

First 500 words…

Rosy jumped into her car and sped through the village as quickly as she could without knocking over small children, trying to maintain as professional a look as possible in case she was seen. Headteachers were not allowed to scowl in public, and vehicular manslaughter was obviously a no-no. She whizzed past the last stragglers from school and the thirteenth-century church on the corner, its Grade One listing and historical importance ignored by the teenagers getting off the secondary school bus and sneaking into the graveyard to have one last cigarette before reaching home.

The rows of cottages all jumbled together and daubed with the pastel colours of sage green, baby pink and ice-cream yellow – colours of Cornwall in the summer – receded into the distance as she passed the central hub of the village. The local shop, recently revamped, was now a pale slate grey and stocked with halloumi, hummus and miso paste, a nod to the gentrification of the village as Cornwall had become fashionable again and property prices had shot through the roof. It was at complete odds with its tatty neighbour, the butcher’s, which hadn’t been repainted since the nineties and had a window chock-full of community posters, yellowing and curled at the edges, inviting residents to events long since passed.

She careered past the pub and then the beach, heaving in the summer months but empty at this time of year, and the ice-cream shop, boarded up until Easter when hordes of barefooted families would suddenly appear, snaking all the way back to the sands.

Nearly home and with minutes to spare, she just had to get past the final row of fishermen’s cottages and she could pull up in her driveway and grab the one book she had forgotten this morning.

Her cottage came into sight, the late winter sun bouncing off the granite, lending warmth and making the quartz deep in the stone sparkle. The exposed walls were different from many homes in the village, most of which were prettily painted and as fresh as gin and tonic as the sun sets. Rosy’s cottage was more of a well-loved local ale, one with bits bobbing in it. Its neighbour was the same, both boldly joined together in their rebellion.

As she turned into her drive, Rosy caught sight of the higgledy-piggledyness of the roof, all uneven tiling and indents, and the stunted, windblown cherry tree in the front that exuded character and never, ever failed to make her smile. She had spent many hours wondering how the tree had become windblown, protected as it was by walls all around the front garden. There was just a little space that had been taken out to make way for a drive, and a small gate embedded in the front with its promise of a secret garden.

For her the cottage summed up Cornwall; sometimes wild and grim and grey but, in the right light, welcoming, quirky and warm. The cottage seemed honest, somehow, more in keeping…

Buy links –

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

Kobo UK      http://bit.ly/2JDkzOm

iBooks          https://apple.co/2sRcf7u

GooglePlay  http://bit.ly/2uehjDh

Bio – Kitty Wilson lived in Cornwall for twenty-five years having been dragged there, against her will, as a stroppy teen. She is now remarkably grateful to her parents for their foresight and wisdom – and that her own children aren’t as hideous. Recently she has moved to Bristol, but only for love and on the understanding that she and her partner will be returning to Cornwall to live very soon. She spends most of her time welded to the keyboard, dreaming of the beach or bombing back down the motorway for a quick visit! She has a penchant for very loud music, equally loud dresses and romantic heroines who speak their mind.

Social media –

https://www.facebook.com/kitty.wilson.1610

https://twitter.com/KittyWilson23

***

Many thanks for a great set of opening lines Kitty.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 


Opening Lines with Sue McDonagh: Meet me at the Art Cafe

Opening Lines time is upon us once more. This week I’m delighted to welcome Sue McDonagh to my blog, with the first 500 words from her novel,

Meet Me at the Art Cafe.

Over to you Sue…

Meet Me at the Art Café is a standalone novel, even though we meet some of the earlier characters from Summer at the Art Café, and they are both based on the beautiful Gower peninsula, in South Wales.
Our heroine, Jo, is a single mum who has a small part in the first novel, and I was intrigued about her background and how she’d arrived in Wales. At her age, I too relied solely on pedal power for a year, although I didn’t have to tow a little boy up the hills too!
I’m still a keen cyclist – but I bought an electric bicycle last winter, and it’s been a revelation. There is no hill I cannot cycle up, even with my two replacement hips.

Upcycling, recycling Jo is quite sniffy about motorbikes though, especially when the handsome Ed runs over her beloved bicycle on his vintage motorbike. It doesn’t look like a match made in heaven, does it?
I’m sure the characters wrote their own words for this novel – particularly little Liam, and Beryl, Jo’s neighbour, who often made me laugh aloud. I’d like to go on holiday with her – but I don’t think my liver would cope too well!
I’m especially proud that ChocLit asked me to paint my own book covers! Berni Stevens, the resident cover designer and I worked together on both covers and I love how they’re different but maintain the beach theme.

Blurb

Would you take a chance on a bad boy with a leather jacket and a vintage motorbike?

That’s the question single mum Jo Morris has to ask herself when she collides with local bike mechanic Ed Griffiths on a rainy Welsh hillside. Working at the Art Café, Jo hears the gossip and is all too aware of Ed’s reputation.

But whilst he’s certainly no angel, there is something about Ed’s daredevil antics that Jo can’t ignore. And as she gets to know him better and watches the kind way he deals with her young son Liam, she begins to wonder – is there more to this ‘bad boy’ than meets the eye?

First 500 words…

The middle-aged couple had been dithering over their order for ages. Lemon drizzle, or toasted tea-cake? Jo could hardly blame them. Everything looked and tasted wonderful at The Art Café.

Pinning her ‘take your time, I have all day,’ smile on, Jo’s eyes slid towards the panoramic windows that gave the café its wonderful view over the beach. Even when the blue-green sea was beginning to rumple into colourless waves, as it was now, blurring the divide between sea and sky on the Gower Peninsula and signalling rain, the coastline was always stunning. Jo could hardly remember a time when she knew nothing about South Wales.

Winter had turned the corner into spring, and there had been a steady flow of trade. Since her boss, Lucy, was poised on the brink of TV stardom, people visited as much in the hope of seeing her, as of the food and drink they were all so proud of.

‘Hello? When you’re ready?’ The man rapped on the counter and she jumped. ‘Cappuccino and a pot of tea.’ Flicking a glance over his shoulder at his wife as she found a table, he muttered, ‘And one chocolate fudge cake.’

‘Good choice. It’s delicious.’ Jo smiled. ‘Would you like a second plate and fork, sir?’

‘I’m not sharing it,’ the man said without a trace of humour, his eyes tracking the cake as she slid it onto the plate. ‘She said she didn’t want any.’

That hadn’t been the message that Jo had understood from their overheard conversation but she clamped her lips together and got on with the order. Her mobile phone, stashed in the pocket of her apron, buzzed just as she turned the steam wand on, spitting scalding water onto her hand.

‘Ouch!’ Whirling to run the cold tap, she read St Michael’s Primary on the screen and fumbled the accept button. Her little boy’s school. They never rang.

‘Hello, this is Ms Morris,’ she whispered. ‘Is anything wrong?’

‘Our order …’ the customer reminded her, sharply.

‘I’m so sorry, I’ll have to call you back. I’m at work,’ Jo said hurriedly into the phone, cutting the call. She could barely hear the secretary anyway over the tap and the still steaming nozzle. Despite the woman’s habitual peremptory tone.

Despite her stinging hand, she assembled the tea tray with an apologetic smile to the customer – unreciprocated – and returned the call as soon as he’d sat down.

‘Everything alright Jo?’ Her other boss, Richard, looked up from the other end of the counter where he was re-stocking the cake display. The Art Café had brought together his culinary flair and Lucy’s artistic talents, resulting in an inviting eating place where you could also buy gifts and fine art. Both happily settled with their own partners, they made a great team, and Jo loved working for them.

She swallowed, knowing this wouldn’t be a popular request, but there was no-one else who could go to the school. She was on her own. ‘Richard…

***

Praise for Meet Me at the Art Cafe:

~ The author’s ability to make her characters come alive is outstanding and I urge you to buy this book and visit the beautiful, if slightly damp at times, Welsh coast, and the Art Café, once more.
~ Great story of totally relatable characters, Ed and Jo. There is a bit everything in this book, mystery, humour, love and drama! The star of the book for me though was Liam (aged 4 nearly 5), his comic comments had me giggling away.
~ Back to the Art Cafe and it is just as wonderful as the first visit – check out Summer at the Art Cafe if you missed it! – and I just adored every aspect of this book!
~ I loved this book. The story has a lovely flow, the characters are all engaging, the descriptions are realistic: in some ways the author takes a back seat and lets the story shine.

Buy Link to Meet Me at the Art Caféhttps://read.amazon.co.uk/kp/embed?asin=B07NCTYTHB&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_K2M.CbD52NWDF

Kobo link: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/meet-me-at-the-art-cafe-choc-lit 

***

About Sue:
My career as a policewoman in the Essex Police was interrupted when I was twenty four, by ovarian cancer. A year of surgery and chemotherapy meant a successful recovery, which led to a convalescent year in the Essex Police Press Office. This suited me as I’d always fancied being a journalist, and meant that I could play with joined up writing and stationary.

When I moved to Wales to marry a man widowed by cancer and became instant mum to his two little boys, I used my Press Office skills and wrote press releases and eventually, blog posts for the various clubs and organisations I was involved with.

Art evolved into a full time occupation and I made a living teaching and sketching portraits on the spot at agricultural and seaside shows, moving into more considered work as time went on and appearing on Sky TV in 2014 in the regional finals of the Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year.

I now work almost exclusively to commission, but also give demonstrations and talks to art societies and other groups, which I enjoy. 2019 saw my first solo show for some years, together with the launch of my paperback, Summer at the Art Café.

In 1982, following chemotherapy, I cycled from John O’Groats to Land’s End in ten days, fundraising over £8000 towards a cancer scanner for St Bartholomew’s Hospital, where I was treated.

After my first hip replacement twelve years ago, I and three friends walked 45 miles across the Peak District in 16 hours and raised £10,000 for MacMillan Cancer Support.

When my second hip needed replacing, I thought about commemorating it with a further bonkers fundraising idea, but to everyone’s relief, found my excitement in writing.

Nearly ten years ago I learned to ride a motorbike, and now help to run Curvy Riders, a national, women only, motorbike club. I am the regional rep for the bottom half of Wales, and regularly ride out on my Honda CBF1000F.

If I balance on my bedroom windowsill, I can see the sea, a mile away. My Border terrier, Scribble, comes to work in my open-to-the-public studio/gallery in Cowbridge with me, and thinks the customers only come in to see him. Sometimes, I think that too…

Many thanks for a great blog Sue. Wonderful opening lines- and fantastic book cover too.

Happy reading,

Jenny x


The Rollercoaster: Disappointment

At the beginning of the year I wrote the blog -below- about handling disappointment in the writing business.

Over recent weeks I’ve have good cause to practice what I preach, as it’s been my turn to hit the low point of the ride and try desperately to un-stick the superglue that keeps me on my writing seat.

This last week has been the closest I’ve ever come to throwing my career out of the window.

However- just as the laptop was about to be launched onto a trajectory for the cafe window, a photograph, not unlike the one below, landed on my Facebook page.

It was followed by another photograph, and another, and then more…and suddenly I was drowning (in a very pleasant way) in book covers with my name on, posted by fans of Robin of Sherwood. Not just my name, but my name in association with Richard Carpenter’s name- one of the best writers for television of all time (in my opinion).

Obviously, I knew the book was coming out- but what I wasn’t prepared for was the outpouring of love for it- before it was even read. Now- I’m not a fool (well, I am- but that’s besides the point)- the love is for the Robin of Sherwood canon, not for me- but these generous people- these fans of a show that finished 35 years ago – have wrapped me up and made me feel as if maybe it’s worth carrying on the ride a little longer.

In short- I’ve had the confidence boost I needed to keep going- to help me believe I can keep going.

So – a timely reminder for us all- because I know very well I’m not the only one out there who has so nearly hung up their pen- disappointment is part of life- disappointment and promises made of thin air is 50% of writing.

And yet still we go on- because we must!

To those lovely FB photograph sharers- I say thank you. x

And so to blog…

***

There is simply no avoiding it- writing and disappointment goes hand in hand.

This could be shortest blog ever, because the best advice I can give any writer or aspiring writer is to believe nothing you are promised until you see it in black and white, on a piece of real paper, with signatures on it.

roller coaster

I am aware this sounds cynical, but in fact it is just the reality of the publishing business. Incredible offers are frequently made, and frequently taken away again. I’ve had people offer me the moon in one moment and then taken it away the next. It’s how it is.

These points might help you prepare for those ‘disappointment lows’ –

-Never forget an editor/agent/ publisher is in the business to make money first, and make you (and all the other authors on their books) successful second. OK- there are exceptions to this rule- but not many. Also- it does not mean these business people are BAD people- of course they aren’t- they are just trying to survive in an incredibly cut throat business.

-A genuine promise made in the heat of a friendly conversation will probably never be upheld because circumstances change in publishing on an almost daily basis.

-Getting a contract is 100% incredible, but the come down after your book comes out and doesn’t instantly sell thousands can be hard to take- don’t worry about it- it’s a normal reaction. Market your own work. Use every PR opportunity given- I refer you to my post on books being invisible.

The golden rule is to be patient- work hard- and accept there will be massive highs and massive lows. When the lows come, have a strategy to deal with them- pick a place to walk where you can get lost in the scenery- go out with friends- do a top up your wardrobe by holding a cheap and cheerful raid of your nearest charity shop. Whatever makes you happy- do just that. Remember the next high won’t be far away if you keep working at it.

Disappointment

I think my favourite low was when a major publisher (who I will not name), told me I would never be successful because I wrote too intelligently; that I was too broadsheet and wasn’t tabloid enough. I don’t know who that is more insulting to- me or my readers. I was gutted at the time, but I laugh about it now.  

So the moral of this blog is this- if you want to be a writer you will be disappointed often- but the highs, when they come, are so worth it.

Good luck out there every one. Don’t give up!!

Jenny x

www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk 

 

 

 


Opening Lines with Jill Barry : Love Thirty

This week’s Opening Lines come from the pen of the multi-genre talented Jill Barry.

Tennis anyone?

Love Thirty was published last year and appeals even to hard line non tennis fans. Below is a short extract from one review:

What a great book this was! I loved Georgia’s fiery character. I was a little bit cross with her initially for giving up her career to follow Nick but to be honest, he sounded so wonderful that I’d have followed him too!  He was kind, and sexy and was passionate about Georgia. Yup, I’d have definitely have followed him!

Jill’s novel grew from a short story which The Lady Magazine published a few years. The original Georgia is a journalist who goes on to achieve much more than she expects, but the novel has provided the chance to explore so many more characters, including a sexy French chef and of course, the tennis player Georgia meets when she interviews him for the local paper for which she writes.

Blurb:

With all the back and forth of a Wimbledon final, Love Thirty is a lively romance set among the gentle green of England and the delicious restaurants of Paris. If you enjoy having a cast list of fascinating characters, here’s just the read for you.

First 500 words…

“What kept you?” Georgia frowned at Andy. “Much longer and I’d have had to catch King Gregory on my phone.”

“Have I ever let you down? Come on, Ms Lyle, I bet you only just arrived.” Andy Spiller and his crinkly-eyed smile had worked for Spire Journal forever.

She grinned. “You know me so well.”

The crowd chattered and fidgeted and played with their phones. Georgia shaded her eyes and saw motorcyclists in leathers, guarding the African monarch’s limo like mother hens. Across the road, a brass band struck up a ragged version of a familiar tune. Georgia supposed it must be the African state’s national anthem though it sounded like Errol Brown’s I Believe in Miracles. The band played ‘you sexy thing’, leaving Georgia hoping His Majesty possessed a sense of humour.

The limousine growled to a halt. Out jumped two men in black suits and shades, tweaking earpieces. A police officer opened the nearside rear door and King Gregory emerged, designer-crumpled, into the sunshine. His Majesty was eye candy. Georgia didn’t need her unique shorthand to record that.

“Is he the king, Mummy?” A flag-waving child pointed. “Where’s his crown?”

Mummy’s mouth was a big round O.

The centre’s manager, tall and glamorous in her clingy white dress and killer heels, curtseyed, displaying a perfect cleavage. The BBC cameraman homed in as if he’d scored a Wimbledon gig while Andy wiped his lens on his cuff.

Georgia stepped forward, feeling in her pocket for her press pass. Nothing. Blind panic, always there when you least needed it, glued her pistachio leather pumps to the pavement. “Come on, come on!” She delved deep into her bag, rifling through phone, wallet and diary. Lipstick. Driving licence. Passport. All these items vital in the unlikely event she was offered an interview with an A list celebrity.

No press pass. This mess was stickier than a chocolate éclair. She signalled to Andy that she needed him. Urgently.

The Snooty Fox wasn’t the nearest pub to the office but its bar was less likely to be propped up by the editor. After work, Andy and Georgia shared a packet of smoky bacon crisps and sipped cold lagers outside in the beer garden.

“It was my own stupid fault, Andy. No wonder Baz slapped my wrist. He’s only doing his job and I clearly wasn’t doing mine.”

Andy grunted. “You’re too charitable, Sugar Puff. The guy’s got it in for you.”

She didn’t respond, even though she sensed his resentment approaching High Doh.

“Anyway,” he said. “If there’d been a local cop in charge, you’d have walked it. That officer we spoke to? Talk about majoring in pomposity.”

Georgia pleated her empty crisp packet. “That nice woman police officer found me a good spot when I arrived. Just my luck she’d gone to sort out those kids swigging cider.”

Andy nodded. “Yeah, I heard Officer Dibble refuse to interrupt her. Aha, that’s better! I hate it when you’re unhappy. You don’t suit unhappy, Sugar…”

***

Endeavour Media, are offering Love Thirty at a reduced price from 1st to 8th July – the first week of the Wimbledon Championships.

I hope you’ll download it and enjoy discovering just why her approaching 30th birthday kick starts Georgia into taking drastic action which significantly changes her life. Warning: Food description may make your mouth water!

***

You can find out more about Love Thirty by following this link or visiting Jill’s website and clicking on Books.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Thirty-Jill-Barry-ebook/dp/B079VHLCNG

Bio:

Jill Barry writes mainly romantic contemporary and historical fiction though her next full-length work is a psychological suspense novel set in mid Wales. She has worked in a variety of jobs since leaving secretarial college, and enjoys drawing on some of her experiences when plotting her novels. She is proud and slightly bemused to have been well-published by Accent Xcite as well as The People’s Friend, for whom she has written eleven novellas. Jill Barry Linford Romances can be found in public libraries and so far, she has twelve on the shelves, with another two being published in 2020.

You can visit her website: www.jillbarry.com

Follow her on Twitter: @barry_jill

Find her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JillBarryBooks/ 

***

Many thanks for sharing your fabulous opener with us Jill – even as a long time tennis avoider, I’m keen to have a read!

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x


Opening Lines with Gilli Allan: Buried Treasure

This week’s ‘Opening Lines’ comes from friend and fellow author, Gilli Allan.

Buried Treasure is out now!

Blurb

Their backgrounds could hardly be further apart, their expectations in life more different. And there is nothing in the first meeting between the conference planner and the university lecturer which suggests they should expect or even want to connect again. But they have more in common than they could ever have imagined. Both have unresolved issues from the past which have marked them; both have an archaeological puzzle they want to solve. Their stories intertwine and they discover together that treasure isn’t always what it seems. 

First 500 words of Buried Treasure…

Prologue

Why did everyone laugh at her? Even her sister. It was true, and Rachel knew it.  Their great Uncle Alf Sydney HAD found treasure on his farm. And Uncle Bill  –  who should have been at school that day but was on the tractor with him  –  agreed how they’d dug it up, cleaned it as best they could, and kept it in the room they called the parlour.

These days the nearest thing they had to treasure was laid out on the table.  Called ‘the Sydney Collection’, the stones, coins and broken bits of pottery were all a bit dull and boring, to be honest. More exciting were the weird and wonderful things Uncle Bill had brought back from far flung places, when he was soldiering.

But back when Bill was still a boy, the treasure they’d dug out of a muddy field, was kept on the sideboard. Jane imagined it piled up high, lighting up the dark room with beams of glittery light. So much money and necklaces, bracelets and brooches, and long strings of pearls, it would have spilled onto the floor!  She was sure there’d have been crowns too, and gold caskets studded with rubies and emeralds. And even that piece of jewellery that gave her the shivers just to think about it  –  a diamond tiara like the one Cinderella wore to the ball. That was until the police came and snatched it all away.  

It just wasn’t fair, Jane told the girls in her class. But they shook their heads as if they knew she was pretending. No matter how often she said  –  “Honest, it’s true! It’s in a museum in London now” –  they still wouldn’t believe her. If she’d she been able to honestly say she’d seen it herself, would that have made a difference?  But London was a long way away, and expensive to visit. “One day…” she’d been promised.

Everyone was already paired up or in gangs when she arrived at the new school, so to be made to feel stupid, boastful and a fibber, when all she wanted was to make friends…! She kept her mouth shut from then on, and kept to herself old Uncle Alf’s mysterious wink, and the tap to the side of his nose, whenever he talked about the treasure.

Chapter 1

“Fairy tales can come true; it can happen to you…”  The old song evokes nostalgic memories of the farm, of family singsongs around the upright piano; Uncle Alf bashing out the tune, and Bill and Mary, egging him on. Why is it running through her head now, decades later, when both Alf and Bill are long dead, and the farm sold?  Deep down maybe she believes she’s on her way to achieving her own dream? But anyone who thinks that dreams really can come true is as delusional as the child who still believes in Santa  –  or Prince Charming.  A sick jolt runs down her spine.  How stupid had she been?…

***

Buy BURIED TREASURE via mybook.to/BURIEDTREASURE  

Find Gilli’s other books LIFE CLASS, TORN and FLY or FALL at:

https://accentpressbooks.com/collections/gilli-allan

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Gilli-Allan/e/B004W7GG7I

Find Gilli at:

http://twitter.com/gilliallan   (@gilliallan)

https://www.facebook.com/GilliAllan.AUTHOR

http://gilliallan.blogspot.com

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1027644.Gilli_Allan

https://romanticnovelistsassociation.org/rna_author/gilli-allan/ 

***

Bio

Gilli Allan began to write in childhood – a hobby pursued throughout her teenage. Writing was only abandoned when she left home, and real life supplanted the fiction.

After a few false starts she worked longest and most happily as a commercial artist, and only began writing again when she became a mother.

Living in Gloucestershire with her husband Geoff, Gilli is still a keen artist. She draws and paints and has now moved into book illustration.

She is published by Accent Press and each of her books, TORN, LIFE CLASS and FLY or FALL has won a ‘Chill with a Book’ award.

Following in the family tradition, her son, historian Thomas Williams, is also a writer. His most recent work, published by William Collins, is ‘Viking Britain’.

***

Many thanks for visiting today Gilli. Good luck and wishing you many happy sales.

Jenny x

 


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