Jenny Kane: Coffee, cupcakes, chocolate and contemporary fiction / Jennifer Ash: Medieval crime with hints of Ellis Peters and Robin Hood

Category: Opening Lines Blog Page 1 of 13

Opening Lines: Another Cup of Christmas

For the next three weeks, I’ll be featuring my ‘Another Cup of….’ festive novellas on the ‘Opening Lines’ blog spot.

Today, I’m starting with the first 500 words from Another Cup of Christmas.

Blurb

Five years ago the staff of Pickwicks Cafe in Richmond were thrown into turmoil when their cook and part-owner, Scott, had a terrible accident. With help from his friends, his wife Peggy, and the staff at the local hospital, he made an amazing recovery. Now Pickwicks is preparing to host a special Christmas fundraiser for the hospital department that looked after Scott.

Pickwicks’ waitress Megan has been liaising with the ward’s administrator, Nick, as all the staff who helped Scott’s recovery are invited. As the problems of organising the fundraiser take up more and more of their busy lives, Megan and Nick contact each other more frequently, and their emails and phone calls start to develop from the practical into the flirty.

But can you actually fall for someone you’ve never met?

As the fundraiser draws closer, Megan is beginning to think that she had imagined all the virtual flirting between herself and Nick – he promised to arrange to meet her for real, but he hasn’t done so. Now he’s bringing someone with him to the fundraiser, and they’re just bound to be everything Megan feels she isn’t …

Join the characters of Jenny Kane’s wonderful debut Another Cup of Coffee once again for a heart-warming festive read!

Readers love Jenny Kane:
‘A lovely heart-warming tale set at Christmas and a perfect short read for in front of a blazing fire and a cup of coffee (or hot chocolate!)’

‘A great read in the run up to Christmas, highly recommended

FIRST 500 WORDS

Chapter One

December 4th 2012

Having politely escaped her third ‘So what are you doing for Christmas?’ conversation of the day, Megan Johnson was retreating back to the counter when she spotted Pickwicks’ most regular customer sit up from her work and brush a stray red hair from her eyes.

    Knowing it had been at least half an hour since Kit’s caffeine addiction had been attended to, the waitress swiped up the percolator jug and headed in her direction.

    Without bothering to ask if it was required, Megan poured the steaming liquid with practised care, before taking advantage of the lull in Christmas shopping trade, and sitting down opposite her friend. ‘Going OK?’

    Swivelling the laptop round to face Megan, Kit rubbed the back of her neck, ‘I’m sure I’ve missed something. What do you think?’

Pickwicks Festive Fundraiser!

Spoil Yourself With An Afternoon of Pickwicks’ Finest Festive Fare.

In Aid of the Royal Free Hospital’s Spinal Ward.

Saturday 22nd December from 2pm.

Deluxe Buffet And Fundraising Fun!

Tickets are ONLY £25 per person

Don’t miss out!

Book your place at Pickwicks Coffee Shop, Richmond – NOW!!

    Megan scanned the poster. ‘Oh, that’s fabulous! I thought you were writing your latest novel.’

    ‘To tell you the truth, that’s exactly what I should be doing, but Peggy asked me to do some publicity for the fundraiser and I thought I’d better get on with it. Time seems to be dissolving. It’ll be the 22nd before we know it.’

    ‘I know what you mean.’ Megan started to collect the dishes left by a couple who’d just vacated a nearby table.  ‘The next three weeks are going to fly by.’

    ‘Two and a half weeks!’

    ‘Oh, hell! Really?’

    ‘That’s why I want to get these done; otherwise everyone will be too booked up with their own celebrations to have time to come.’ Gesturing towards the kitchen, Kit asked, ‘How’s Scott doing out there, or shouldn’t I ask?’

    Megan’s permanent smile widened further across her lightly freckled face. ‘He’s amazing. I have no idea how he does it. The temperature in that kitchen is tropical, and yet Scott’s still beaming that massive toothy grin of his. I’m seriously beginning to think he is physically unable to stop cooking! Surely he must have pre-prepared as much as he can for the fundraiser by now?’

     Kit nodded. ‘He probably has, but Peggy is getting paranoid there won’t be enough food.’ Glancing around, checking that Megan wasn’t needed by a customer for a moment, Kit pointed to a fresh pile of abandoned cups. ‘If I clear those, will you have a proper read of the poster? I’m sure I’ve missed something obvious but I can’t put my finger on it?’

    Kit was already standing up and taking a tray from Megan’s hands before the waitress said, ‘On one condition.’

    ‘Which is?’

    ‘I can check my emails? I’m supposed to be liaising with the hospital about this for Peggy, but we’ve been so busy over the last few days I…’

If you’d like to read on, Another Cup of Christmas, is available from all good e-book retailers, and as part of the Jenny Kane’s Christmas Collection.

mybook.to/AnotherCupofChristmas

mybook.to/JKChrisCollection

(You don’t need to have read Another Cup of Coffee to enjoy my festive stories.)

You can her me read a little from Another Cup of Christmas here- https://www.facebook.com/coffeetimesessions/videos/381433993174274

Come back next week, for the first 500 words from Christmas in the Cotswolds.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

Opening Lines with Jennifer Bohnet: Falling for a French Dream

On this week’s Opening Lines,  I’m delighted to welcome one of Boldwood Books most popular authors, Jennifer Bohnet.

Sit back and enjoy the first 500 words – exactly – of Jennifer novel, Falling for a French Dream.

Falling for a French Dream is a  re-issue of one of my very early books and was originally published as French Legacy.  I have tweaked and added new chapters (over 23k words in total) and my new publishers Boldwood Books have re-edited and given it a gorgeous new cover.

Blurb:

After tragically losing her husband, Nicola Jacques and her teenage son Oliver relocate to his father’s family’s olive farm in the hills above the French Riviera.

Due to a family feud, Oliver has never known his father’s side of the family but Grandpapa Henri is intent that Oliver will take over the reins of the ancestral farm and his rightful inheritance.

Determined to keep her independence from a rather controlling Grandpapa, Nicola buys a run-down cottage on the edge of the family’s Olive Farm and sets to work renovating their new home and providing an income by cultivating the small holding that came with the Cottage.

As the summer months roll by, Nicola and Oliver begin to settle happily into their new way of life with the help of Aunts Josephine and Odette, Henri’s twin sisters and local property developer Gilles Bongars.

But the arrival of some unexpected news and guests at the farm, force Nicole and Aunt Josephine to assess what and where their futures lie.

***

FIRST 500 WORDS

CHAPTER ONE

The letter landed on the doormat the first Saturday after New Year, sandwiched between the final telephone demand and the usual junk mail. Bending down to pick it all up, Nicola Jacques saw the French stamps on the envelope and frowned. She threw the junk mail in the bin, put the telephone bill on the kitchen table to deal with later and thoughtfully studied the envelope. Written in Henri Jacques’ distinctive handwriting, it was addressed to Mme Nicola Jacques and not to Oliver, her son and Henri’s grandson, which was unusual. Her limited communications with the French family had always been between her, Aunt Odette or Aunt Josephine, Henri’s unmarried twin sisters. An unexpected letter from Henri himself could only mean one thing: bad news. Slowly, Nicola opened the envelope and took the letter out. Hadn’t the world thrown enough trouble at her in recent years?

Chère Nicola,

Tu will come to La Prouveresse immédiatement. We have matters d’urgence to discuss. Marc’s things to settle. Tu will bring Olivier.

Regards, Henri.

The letter with its clipped English sentences and ad-hoc French words conjured up an immediate picture of her ex-father-in-law. Old-fashioned almost to the point of eccentricity, she knew he’d never change his view of the way the world should be. He wrote English the same way as he spoke it – short and sharp with no regard for grammar. And with little regard for other people’s feelings either. Whatever lay behind this order to visit, Henri would have disregarded both her thoughts and Oliver’s as being of no concern of his and of no consequence. He’d simply decided their presence was needed in France so the command had been issued.

Nicola placed a coffee pod in the machine, pressed the button and stood gazing thoughtfully out of the kitchen window as the machine squirted coffee into the cup. What lay behind this unexpected demand? Was Henri feeling guilty about his treatment of her and Oliver over the past years? Did he want to make amends somehow? Whatever it was, it made no difference. There was no way she was going to France simply because Henri commanded it. She and Oliver would go together one day, when Oliver was older and could understand why things were the way they were. For now she had to protect Oliver and lead her own life as best she could. Albeit a different life to the one she’d known during the years when she’d been married to Marc Jacques, Henri’s only son.

‘Morning, Mum,’ Oliver’s voice jolted her out of her thoughts.

Oliver rubbed the sleep from his eyes before moving across and kissing her on both cheeks. Before it had all gone wrong, Marc had always greeted her like that every morning and as a small boy Oliver had determinedly copied his daddy. These days, it was still a natural part of thirteen-year-old Oliver’s morning routine. One that Nicola cherished and hoped would continue forever.

‘Want some . . .

***

Falling For a French Dream is available in all formats including audio from

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ui8dBT

Apple Books: https://apple.co/3C3M12b

You can also order paperback and hardback versions from your local bookshop.

Bio

Jennifer Bohnet is the international bestselling author of seventeen novels, including ‘Villa of Sun and Secrets’, ‘A Riviera Retreat’ and ‘Summer at the Château. Jennifer’s stories usually span the generations with characters ranging in age and having to cope with unexpected problems in their lives – but there is always a hopeful ending, even if there are tears before. Living in France for over twenty years she has happily adapted to the French lifestyle – especially the long lunches with friends and the wine.

You can find Jennifer here:

Website: http://www.jenniferbohnet.com/index.html

Facebook Author page:  goo.gl/PDKQ8D

Twitter: https://twitter.com/@jenniewriter

Newsletter:   https://bit.ly/JenniferBohnetNews 

Many thanks for sharing your fabulous Opening Lines with use today, Jennifer.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Opening Lines: Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange

As autumn is well and truly upon us, I thought I’d sneak in an extra Opening Lines blog!

Blurb

At Mill Grange, the work – and the fun – never stops! As autumn brings coolness and colour, change is in the air for all at the manor…

Sam Philips’ time in the forces changed him forever. Supported by his friends, Sam is keen to help make beautiful Mill Grange a safe retreat for injured army personnel… but his crippling claustrophobia means Sam is living in a tent on the grounds! Enlisting the help of charming village stalwarts Bert and Mabel Hastings, Tina Martins is determined to find a way to help him conquer his fears. But why does she feel like he is keeping a secret?

After discovering evidence of a Roman fortlet on the manor’s grounds, Thea Thomas is thrilled at the chance to return to her archaeological roots and lead the excavation. She spent the summer with handsome celebrity archaeologist Shaun Cowlson – but now he’s off filming his Landscape Treasures show in Cornwall, and Thea can’t help but miss his company. Especially as someone else is vying for his attention…

Welcome back to Mill Grange and the beautiful village of Upwich, full of larger-than-life characters you can’t  help but adore.

(Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange follows on from Midsummer Dreams at Mill Grange, and is followed by Spring Blossoms at Mill Grange and Winter Fires at Mill Grange. It can also be read as a standalone novel.)

Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange

First 500 words

Prologue

September 1st

Rolling onto his side, Sam unfolded the letter he’d hidden inside his pillowcase. It was the third time he’d woken that night, and the third time he’d reached for the pale blue Basildon Bond envelope. He held it against his nose. The scent of his mother’s White Satin perfume was beginning to fade.

This was the fourth letter to arrive from Malvern House in the last month. One a week.

He had no idea how his mother had found out where he was living, nor why she wanted to see him after so long.

The letters, almost identical each time, said very little. Just that she and his father would love him to visit if he felt up to it. Sam groaned. ‘If he felt up to it’ was his mother’s way of asking if the debilitating claustrophobia he’d developed while serving in the forces had magically gone away.

As he slid the letter into its envelope, Sam’s gaze dropped from the tent’s canvas roof to Tina’s sleeping body.

The past was the past. He had a future now. He had no intention of looking back.

Chapter One

September 1st

‘Take pity on an old man, lass.’

Bert fluttered his grey eyelashes as he helped Tina carry a large cardboard box full of tea, coffee, milk and biscuits from her car into Mill Grange’s kitchen. ‘I love Mabel to pieces, but she is driving me mad.’

Tina laughed. ‘But it’s only been two months since the restoration project came to an end. Doesn’t Mabel have heaps of committee work to do? She runs every social club this side of Exmoor.’

As he placed the box on the oak table that dominated the manor’s kitchen, Bert’s eyes lost their usual optimistic shine. ‘Since Mill Grange was sold Mabel’s been so aimless. She led the volunteer restorers here for over five years and now that’s over…’

‘Mabel doesn’t mind Sam owning this place, does she?’

‘Not for a minute. For a little while it was all she could talk about. She’s that proud of your young man for buying the very thing that frightens him. For taking his fear of being inside by the scruff of the neck and buying a house to be enjoyed by other people.’

Tina put her box of groceries on the side and laid a hand on Bert’s shoulder. ‘I’ll talk to Sam. There must be something Mabel could do around here.’ She played with her pigtails as she thought. ‘I’m not sure we can afford to pay her yet though.’

‘You wouldn’t have to. Making her feel part of the team again is all I’m asking for.’ Bert’s smile returned to his eyes. ‘How’s it going here anyway? Sam getting into the house at all, or is he still overseeing things from that screen thing outside?’

‘He hasn’t been inside the manor since he bought it.’ Tina focused her attention on emptying the boxes of biscuits ready for Mill Grange’s first visitors, hiding her…

Available as an ebook from NookKobo, as well as on Kindle and in paperback from Amazon UK and Amazon US.

 

Happy autumn reading everyone,

Jenny xx

Opening Lines with Jan Baynham: Her Nanny’s Secret

This week’s Opening Lines welcomes back the fabulous, Jan Baynham, with her brand new novel, Her Nanny’s Secret.

Over to you Jan…

‘Her Nanny’s Secret’ is my third novel. It has all the features which are becoming my trademark – a dual timeline, contrasting locations, family secrets and forbidden love. In this book, there is also the theme of social class and the role of women.

The inspiration for the story came to me through a conversation with my cousin after my aunt’s funeral which opened with the words, “You know you could have been a Thomas not an Evans, don’t you? I can tell you now mum’s gone…” Puzzled, I asked her to explain. Apparently, my grandfather was the illegitimate son of a female groom and a wealthy landowner who owned the stables where she worked. The ‘what-ifs’ started in my head. What if you fell for someone from a different social class? What if you had to keep it a secret from everyone close to you for fear of losing your home and your family’s livelihood? I set my story in 1941 when war was raging in Europe.

The novel takes place in two locations I know well. Rural mid-Wales where I was born and grew up was relatively untouched by the horrors of actual war action but for the families whose husbands, lovers and sons died in active service, the grief and sense of loss was very real. I tried to create images of what it would have been like living in a small rural village surrounded by a beautiful natural landscape during wartime and then again in 1963. In contrast, my character, Odile, lived in occupied Northern France, playing an important role in the French Résistance in 1943. When Annie and Clara visit the same area twenty years later in order to find answers, I was able to draw on what I’d experienced on annual family holidays to France and years of hosting children and adults from our twin-town to try to give authenticity. I hope I’ve done justice to the country I love, its people, culture and language.

***

BLURB

How far would you go to save the person you loved the most?
It’s 1941, and Annie Beynon has just become the first stable girl for the most powerful family in her Welsh village. Whilst her gift for working with horses is clear, there are some who are willing to make her life very difficult on the Pryce estate, simply for being a girl.
There are other – secret – ways Annie is defying conventions, too. As the war rages, and when Edmund, the heir to the Pryce fortune, leaves to join the RAF, it seems that it’s only a matter of time before Annie’s secret is exposed. That is, until she makes a shocking decision.
It’s 1963 before Annie is able to face up to the secret she chose to keep over twenty years before. Justifying that decision takes her to Normandy in France, and an outcome she could never have expected …

FIRST 500 WORDS

June 1943, Normandy

At the end of the lane, the stone farmhouse appeared even greyer under the slate-coloured sky. The trees were laden with rain that had now stopped, and everywhere looked as bleak as Odile Lefèvre felt. It had been an exasperating morning. She’d collected the brochures as she’d been directed, but there’d been Germans everywhere. Men in grey uniforms on every corner of Ville de Roi, huddled together smoking their strong cigarettes, laughing and joking whilst her country men were starving and being murdered. When she’d caught the scent of the smoke from the Gauloises cigarettes, she’d shuddered in horror, remembering one particular German officer. Gustav. His name was imprinted in her innermost thoughts.

She’d crossed over to the other side of the street, carefully hiding her bundle of propaganda leaflets under her swagger coat with its hidden pockets and heard the crude comments she’d come to understand in their mother tongue. How she wished this war would end! People in the surrounding villages in this part of northern France were suffering hardship like other parts of the country, and Odile was determined to do her bit. The résistance movement was strong in her town, and the rural community she was a part of was a proud one. They would never give in or surrender. She told herself that every small gesture and undercover deed she could do for the cause was worth it. But no one knew how involved she was. There was one part of her résistance life she kept concealed, even from the movement’s members. Only Lucien, the leader of the local group, knew how she obtained the German soldiers’ secrets she reported to him …

Odile wheeled her bicycle into the large, covered barn at the side of the farmhouse. It was gloomy and shadowy at that time of the afternoon and Odile didn’t want to stay there any longer than she had to. She made her way to the wooden double doors to secure them for the night when she heard the rafters in the upstairs loft creaking. The hairs on the back of her neck stood on end and her heart thumped. Several Nazis had been found hiding in neighbours’ barns. They’d been trying to find out who were resisting the occupation and were listening for evidence. She froze to the spot, hardly daring to breathe. Another creak. She wasn’t imagining it. What should she do? If she crept away, maybe she could warn her parents and they could get away… but where would they go? Horrific stories of what happened when local farmers had resisted the Germans had circulated around the villages from Sainte Marie-Hélène to Mont St Michel. Another sound in the floorboards above. Maybe it was just a rat. Odile was used to hearing and seeing vermin of all sizes living on the farm. Yes, that was it. She picked up a broom and crept up the stairs into the hayloft.

She felt her heart quicken as she neared…

BUYING LINKS

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Her-Nannys-Secret-compelling-self-discovery-ebook/dp/B09BNP3S1P/

https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/search?query=Her+Nanny%27s+Secret+Jan+baynham

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/her-nannys-secret-jan-baynham/1139955323?ean=2940162201946

BIO

After retiring from a career in teaching and advisory education, Jan joined a small writing group in a local library where she wrote her first piece of fiction.  From then on, she was hooked! She soon went on to take a writing class at the local university and began to submit short stories for publication to a wider audience. Her stories and flash fiction pieces have been longlisted and shortlisted in competitions and several appear in anthologies both online and in print. In October 2019, her first collection of stories was published.  Her stories started getting longer and longer so that, following a novel writing course, she began to write her first full-length novel. She loves being able to explore her characters in further depth and delve into their stories.

Originally from mid-Wales, Jan lives in Cardiff with her husband. She values the friendship and support from other members and regularly attends conferences, workshops, talks and get togethers. She is co-organiser of her local RNA Chapter, Cariad, and a member of the Society of Authors.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Twitter – @JanBaynham https://twitter.com/JanBaynham

Facebook – Jan Baynham Writer https://www.facebook.com/JanBayLit

Blog – Jan’s Journey into Writing https://janbaynham.blogspot.com/

Many thanks Jan, great opening lines.

Happy reading everyone, 

Jenny x

 

 

Opening Lines with Alison Knight: The Hidden

I’m delighted to welcome friend, fellow co-runner of Imagine and author, Alison Knight, to my place today.

Why not take five minutes, grab a cuppa, and enjoy the Opening Lines from Alison’s latest novel, The Hidden?

Thank you, Jenny, for inviting me back to your blog to talk about my latest book, The Hidden. This is my third novel published by Darkstroke in just ten months and it completes a trilogy of standalone but linked stories. The first book, Mine, is based on real events in London in the 1960s. The second, The Legacy, is a story inspired by a scene in Mine, so there are some cameo appearances by characters from the first book. The Hidden is set in the early 1970s and follows what has happened to one of the characters in The Legacy. I hope you enjoy the opening lines of The Hidden.

BLURB for THE HIDDEN

Secrets, nightmares, and a big black dog…

Montana, 1973.

Faye has found sanctuary in a simple cabin in the wilds of the Crazy Mountains in Montana with a dog called Bear. She’s a long way from her old life in England. But she knows that one day her peaceful life could be invaded by her enemies, and she keeps her guard up at all times.

Jeff returns home from Vietnam, a wounded, damaged hero, just weeks after his father’s sudden death. He finds hostile, secretive Faye living in his cabin and refusing to leave. The reading of his father’s will adds another layer of mystery to this woman’s presence.

The tension between them grows as Jeff tries to overcome his nightmares and expose Faye’s scars and secrets. The more he learns about her, the more enigmatic she seems.

When her enemies come calling, she needs Jeff to protect her. Can they learn to trust each other? And will Faye ever be safe?

FIRST 500 WORDS

As she left the witness box there was a flash of blinding light and the courtroom filled with smoke. She froze, terror holding her trapped, unable to escape. Around her, court officials called for order, women screamed and there were thuds and crashes as furniture was overturned.

            “Get out!” she heard her brother shout.

            She looked around in a daze. “Percy?” It couldn’t be him. He was dead. That’s why she was here, why she’d spilled their secrets.

            For a moment the smoke cleared, and she saw a figure in a balaclava running towards her. He was clad all in black. His eyes were filled with hatred. She knew why he was there. It was her time to die. He raised his arm and she saw the glint of steel in his hand. She closed her eyes as the knife descended and slashed the side of her face.

At last her survival instinct freed her from her terrified paralysis. She turned, desperate to get away, but she felt the blade pierce her body. She wanted to crawl away from the stinging slashes, but she was trapped, unable to move. She felt moisture on her skin – her blood or her tears?

“It’s all right,” she heard Percy whisper. “It’s not your time yet. You’ve won, Sis. Don’t give up now.”

“Percy!” she screamed, reaching out for him …

Montana, USA, 1973

Her hand touched fur. Fur? She opened her eyes, blinking as she registered the soft whining of the dog on the bed next to her. The vivid images of the London courtroom faded away as she took in her surroundings – the moonlight flooding through the window where she’d forgotten to close the curtains again; the patchwork quilt on the big wooden bed; the large pine chest and smaller matching bedside cabinet.

She sat up, bringing up her knees and leaning her elbows on them as she rubbed her face. The dog nuzzled her cheek, trying to lick up her salty tears. She pushed him away.

“It’s all right, Bear,” she said, scratching behind his ear. “It was just a dream.”

The same dream. Every. Bloody. Night. It’s been three years now. Will it ever go away?

            Knowing she wouldn’t get back to sleep, no matter how tired she felt, she got up and padded barefoot to the window. It was a clear night. She could see the dark silhouette of the mountains that stood guard above the fertile valley. Above them were millions of stars. It never ceased to soothe her, looking out at the moon and the endless sky above her. It reminded her of how huge the universe was, and how small and insignificant she was in comparison.

There had been a time when she hadn’t bothered to look around and to enjoy the beauty and majesty of her surroundings. Instead, she’d focused only on herself – her wants, her opinions, her pleasures. No one else had mattered. And look where that got me, she reminded herself. Today, she …

***

BUY LINK: https://mybook.to/thehidden

BIO

Alison Knight has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.

In her mid-forties, Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.

Alison currently has a trio of novels published by Darkstroke. The first, Mine, is a domestic drama set in 1960s London based on real events in her family. She is the only person who can tell this particular story. Exploring themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, Mine shows how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.

The Legacy, a drama set in London in 1969, was inspired by a scene in Mine, and explores how an unexpected legacy can be both a blessing and a curse. The Legacy looks at themes of greed and expectations, and the lengths people will go to when they are desperate.

The Hidden, available from 23rd September 2021, is a romantic suspense that picks up the story of one of the characters in The Legacy. Set in Montana in 1973, two wounded, damaged people are forced together, each guarding their secrets. Can they learn to trust each other? And will their nightmares ever end?

Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops with her friend and fellow author, Jenny Kane (www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk). She also works as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

www.facebook.com/alison.knight.942

www.alisonroseknight.com

@Alison_Knight59 on Twitter

www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk

www.darkstroke.com/dark-stroke/alison-knight/ 

Many thanks for sharing your Opening Lines today, Alison.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Opening Lines with Lizzie Fry: The Coven

I’m delighted to welcome friend, and fellow author, Lizzie Fry to my place today, with the Opening Lines from her debut thriller, The Coven.

BLURB

An electrifying dystopia that imagines a world where a populist demagogue outlaws peaceful witchcraft, The Coven is a page-turning thriller with profound things to say about contemporary global society.

Let me repeat myself, so we can be very clear. Women are not the enemy. We must protect them from themselves, just as much as we must protect ourselves.

Imagine a world in which witchcraft is real. In which mothers hand down power to their daughters, power that is used harmlessly and peacefully.

Then imagine that the US President is a populist demagogue who decides that all witches must be imprisoned for their own safety, as well as the safety of those around them – creating a world in which to be female is one step away from being criminal…

As witches across the world are rounded up, one young woman discovers a power she did not know she had. It’s a dangerous force and it puts her top of the list in a global witch hunt.

But she – and the women around her – won’t give in easily. Not while all of women’s power is under threat.

The Coven is a dazzling global thriller that pays homage to the power and potential of women everywhere.

FIRST 500 WORDS

Green light was leaking under the bedroom door.

The sight of it made Li stop in her tracks and back up, dropping the washing basket she’d been holding. Her brain attempted to push the realisation away in sluggish disbelief. She had prayed to the triple goddesses she would never have to deal with this. Her heartbeat thundered in her ears as anxiety crashed through her body.

The day Li had been putting off had finally arrived.

Until that moment, it had been a completely ordinary Friday in March. Li had been stripping the beds, her usual end-of-the- week routine, when Chloe had returned from college around midday, her lectures finished for the weekend. As usual, Li had asked her daughter how her day had been; as usual, Chloe had rebuffed her with that sneering way of hers. Li tried to not let it bother her. Since puberty had struck around the age of four- teen, Chloe had made it clear she had no time for her parents. At nineteen, almost twenty, she should have grown out of such juvenile power-plays, but Li understood it wasn’t entirely her only child’s fault.

Seeing the green light now, pooling on the floor like liquid, Li knew it was all hers.

Fear gripped her, guilt rushing up behind it. As if in a nightmare, her bones felt as heavy as concrete. She hesitated, unable to raise her arm to push the door and go inside. Blinking back the tears pricking her eyelids, she took her phone from her jeans pocket and pulled up her call log; DANIEL was first on the list.

Bar the odd errand in town, Li saw only two people most days: Daniel and Chloe. Apart from a dozen Facebook and Twitter followers she spoke with online regularly, she had few real-life friends and worked from home. Her love of travel and a degree from a British university twenty years ago had led her to make a life for herself on the other side of the world. Too late, she realised she was isolated and alone when it really counted.

Li finally managed to press the button to call her husband. ‘Hi.’ Daniel’s gravelly voice filtered down the line.
‘You need to—’
The voicemail kicked in. He hadn’t really answered at all.

Keying off, Li swore in Mandarin, the sound of her native tongue discordant in her own ears. Her hands were shaking so much she almost dropped the phone. She redialled again with difficulty, irritation and fear clashing together. Daniel had to pick up this time. Had to. She couldn’t deal with this alone. Not any more.

She would tell him everything…

BIO

Lizzie Fry is a debut author of high concept thriller The Coven (published by Sphere books), but you might know her better as LV Hay. LV’s books previous books were crime fiction: The Other Twin, Do No Harm (Orenda Books) and Never Have I Ever (Hodder). The Other Twin is currently being adapted for the screen by Agatha Raisin producers Free@Last TV.

LINKS

Universal link >> http://myBook.to/covenwitch

Signed copies from Liznojan Books >> http://www.liznojanbooks.co.uk 

***

Many thanks for joining us today, Lizzie,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

Opening Lines with Kelly Mason: The Medium of Branden Bay

This week I’m delighted to welcome debut novelist, Kelly Mason, to my Opening Lines feature.

A former #Imagine, #novelinayear student, Kelly has many literary irons in the fire – including the writing of the cosy mystery, The Medium of Brandon Bay

Thanks, Jenny for inviting me to your blog.

The Medium of Branden Bay is the first book in a series of six cosy mysteries, which will be released over the next year.

Blurb:

The psychic medium who is petrified of ghosts!

Becky moves to Branden Bay, leaving a fast-paced life in London behind her.

She’s soon disturbed by shadows which lurk in her house. She’s inherited more than her grandma’s house and a sassy cat. She’s been given the so-called gift for seeing the dead.

But the only gift Becky wants is one that comes with fancy wrapping and a bow.

To rid herself of the ghosts that haunt her, she must unravel a cold case mystery.

Is she able to overcome her fears to find the truth?

FIRST 500 WORDS

Chapter 1

I’m Becky James, I was a city slicking millennial living and working in the financial district of London, until I inherited a huge Victorian house from my glamorous grandma, Constance.  The house is set right on the front of Branden Bay, a traditional seaside resort in the south west of England.  The bay consists of a yellow horseshoe of sand, sporting a posh hotel at one end and a traditional funfair at the other, with a pier jutting out to the sea. A wooded hill backs the town with a castle overlooking the popular tourist spot.

When Grandma died, I put the house up for sale, having no intention of moving as I had been living with Marcus, my boyfriend, in his Thameside apartment for the past three years. However, our relationship came to an abrupt end and as we worked for the same company, I decided it was time for a complete change. So I took Grandma’s house off the market and moved to the other side of the country to start a new life.

Whilst I loved my new home by the sea, it was more than a tad spooky living there alone. I kept turning my head, thinking I saw a shadow moving around the rooms. I blamed tiredness; however, deep down, I was worried that I’d inherited more than just Grandma’s house. Then one night, it got a whole lot worse.

I was having yet another restless night. It had taken me ages to drift off to sleep. Every time I relaxed for more than a few seconds, a jolt of static sped up my back. I snapped open my eyes as electricity fuzzed along my arms and pooled into my hands as pins and needles. I slowly lifted my head and squinted.  Is this for real? A large dark figure sat on my bed wearing some sort of brimmed hat. I couldn’t make out any features as it was a silhouette but my instinct told me it was a man. I felt my arms tremble. I knew he wasn’t flesh and blood – for starters, he kept flickering on an off like a projection and at times I could see straight through him to the fireplace beyond.

Go away. You’re not real – there’s no such thing as ghosts, I said in my head. I didn’t want to say it out loud, in case he answered back. This was more than something lurking in the corner of my vision, this was a full-on ghost invading my bedroom.

But even though I could see him clearly, I was not ready to entertain the idea that he was any sort of real.  I crept across the large wooden bed on all fours. My knees dipped into the soft duvet. With teeth clenched and my hand in a fist, I thrust my arm into his chest. Pins and needles filled my fingers until with the third swipe the see-through figure disappeared. Gone. See? Not real. I brushed my hands together…

Available at Amazon and on Kindle Unlimited

BIO

As a child, Kelly was obsessed with Scooby-Doo, she progressed to reading Edit Blyton, with her favourite series being, The Famous Five. As an adult, her absolute favourite author is M C Beaton and her Agatha Raisin series. Her writing is inspired by the seaside town she lives in, situated on the South West coast of England, a few ghostly dreams and her three sassy cats – all of which were strays before she made the mistake of naming them and letting them in the back door!

 

Bookbub:   https://www.bookbub.com/profile/kelly-mason

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KellyCozyMason

 

Huge thanks to Kelly for coming by today. Great opening lines.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Opening Lines with Rachel Brimble: A Widow’s Vow

This week I am delighted to welcome my friend, and fellow author, Rachel Brimble, to my blog.

Here are the first 500 words from A Widow’s Vow – a brand new novel which I am very much looking forward to reading. 

Over to you Rachel…

Hi, Jenny!

Thank you so much for having me back on your blog to share the opening 500 words of the first book in my latest Victorian trilogy, The Ladies of Carson Street.

In the first novel, A Widow’s Vow, we meet heroine Louisa Hill, a former prostitute who has married a merchant client of hers and now lives a good and comfortable life. However, when her husband is found hanged in a Bath hotel room, leaving no note of explanation and only the keys to a house Louisa never knew existed, she knows her life is about to take a different path once again…

The trilogy revolves around three women who come to live and work together at Carson Street. Each is searching for meaning and purpose in their lives as well as holding onto the belief that their struggles in the underbelly of Bath will not last forever – maybe finding love is possible for them, too…

BLURB

From grieving widow…

  1. After her merchant husband saved her from a life of prostitution, Louisa Hill was briefly happy as a housewife in Bristol. But then a constable arrives at her door. Her husband has been found hanged in a Bath hotel room, a note and a key to a property in Bath the only things she has left of him. And now the debt collectors will come calling.

To a new life as a madam.

Forced to leave everything she knows behind, Louisa finds more painful betrayals waiting for her in the house in Bath. Left with no means of income, Louisa knows she has nothing to turn to but her old way of life. But this time, she’ll do it on her own terms – by turning her home into a brothel for upper class gentleman. And she’s determined to spare the girls she saves from the street the horrors she endured in the past.

Enlisting the help of Jacob Jackson, a quiet but feared boxer, to watch over the house, Louisa is about to embark on a life she never envisaged. Can she find the courage to forge this new path?

A Widow’s Vow is the first in a gripping and gritty new Victorian saga series from Rachel Brimble. You won’t be able to put it down!

FIRST 500 WORDS

Chapter One

Louisa Hill collapsed onto the chintz sofa in the dockside house she shared with her husband and her loyal friend, Nancy. ‘Well, the windows are clean and the silver polished. We have, indeed, managed a good day’s work. What do you say to a trip to the tea shop?’

‘I’d say it’s a miracle you’re allowing yourself a treat.’ Nancy raised her eyebrows as she puffed up a cushion, her auburn curls falling around her temples. ‘You seem to be trying a little too hard to prove yourself to that husband of yours these days, Lou. You do believe he loves you, don’t you?’

‘Of course.’ Louisa stood and smoothed her hands over her apron, uncomfortable with how Nancy’s question poked so unerringly at her insecurities. ‘I just owe him so much. The least I can do in return is keep a nice house for him.’

‘Hmm, and an exciting bed whenever he deems to come home.’

Irritated, Louisa walked to the parlour door and tightly clenched the handle. ‘I’ll never forget what Anthony did when he rescued me and neither should you considering he agreed to take you in, too.’

‘I agree, but how long do you intend paying him back? He gets more than enough for what he gives you.’

Louisa swallowed as guilt that she’d secretly been feeling the same way over the last few weeks pressed down on her. ‘How can you say that?’

Nancy planted her hands on her hips, her grey eyes blazing with annoyance. ‘Because he’s constantly taking advantage of you, that’s why. It’s one thing to gift you money and give you a roof over your head, but respect should come with that, too.’

‘He does respect me.’ She fought against the doubt that hovered around her heart. ‘He treats me just as any man would treat his wife.’

‘That’s because you are his wife.’ Nancy glared. ‘Why can’t you remember that? You’re not his whore anymore.’

Locking gazes with her friend, Louisa had no doubt the fiery, streetwise rebelliousness in Nancy’s eyes was mirrored in her own. No matter how much they battled to maintain the carefully tended, middle-class veneer they each adopted whenever out and about on the pretty squares and streets of Bristol, who she and Nancy had once been never shifted far from their minds.

Louisa marched into the hallway, her gaze darting over the high-polished side tables, the sparkling mirror and porcelain trinkets lining a high shelf. Every painting was dusted, every square of the runner beaten and brushed until the pile was plush, every tile mopped and buffed until it shone.

But it didn’t matter how much she scrubbed and cleaned, or how often she argued with Nancy, Louisa never felt she could completely wash away her previous life as a whore. Yet, if Anthony had dismissed Louisa’s previous occupation, shouldn’t she, too? She and Nancy both deserved to shed the skin that had enveloped them through misfortune and circumstances beyond their control.

Nancy’s footsteps came…

You can buy A Widow’s Vow from all good book sellers, including– mybook.to/widowsvow

BIO

Rachel lives in a small town near Bath, England. She is the author of over 25 published novels including the Ladies of Carson Street series, the Shop Girl series (Aria Fiction) and the Templeton Cove Stories (Harlequin).

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association as well as the Historical Novel Society and has thousands of social media followers all over the world.

To sign up for her newsletter (a guaranteed giveaway every month!), click here: https://bit.ly/3zyH7dt

Website: https://rachelbrimble.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RachelBrimble

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rachelbrimbleauthor

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rachelbrimbleauthor/?hl=en

Many thanks for your opening lines, Rachel.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

 

Opening Lines: A Cornish Wedding

This week, I thought I’d share some on my own Opening Lines.

Here’s the beginning of A Cornish Wedding (previously published as Abi’ Neighbour)

Sequel to A Cornish Escape, this feel good romance returns you to the world of Abi, Max, Beth and Stan in sunny Sennen Cove.

Blurb

Perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley, Heidi Swain and Milly Johnson, A Cornish Wedding is the best kind of summer escape.

Abi has what she’s always dreamed of: her perfect Cornish cottage, great friends and a gorgeous boyfriend. But her idyll is shattered when a new neighbour moves in next door.

Rude and obnoxious, Cassandra doesn’t make a good first impression on Abi. But with the unexpected wedding of one of Abi’s friends to prepare for, Abi has bigger things to worry about.

However, avoiding her new neighbour proves harder than expected and Abi and Cassandra soon realise they might have more in common than they first thought. . .

But with the wedding only weeks away, can they set aside their differences before the big day?

FIRST 500 WORDS

Cassandra stared at the ‘For Sale’ sign in the front garden. A fresh slogan had been pasted proudly across it, proclaiming Another House Sold!

She frowned. The estate agents must have made a mistake. Justin had talked about renting the cottage, this poky little two-bed terrace in some Cornish backwater, but he’d never once suggested buying it.

Sitting on the low stone wall that ran in front of the row of cottages, with her back to the sold sign, she let out a string of vehemently whispered expletives. Resisting the temptation to throw a pebble at the seagulls which were squawking their hearts out on the roof behind her, she steadied her breathing, like she did when faced with a particularly demanding client.

Shrugging off her suit jacket in deference to the early summer sunshine that poured from a cloud-free sky, Cassandra tried to focus, but doubts continued to assail her. She hadn’t misunderstood Justin, had she?

They’d been laughing over the breakfast table at one of the most exclusive hotels in London when the subject of Cornwall had first come up. Making plans for their future life together, they’d celebrated in grand style the fact that Justin had, after six years of secret trysts and stolen nights together, decided to leave his wife; the dreadful Jacinta.

Excitedly they’d plotted and planned over plates of eggs Benedict and smoked salmon, raising their glasses of Buck’s Fizz to Justin’s promotion to senior partner at the law firm. A promotion which meant that, providing they merged their finances, Justin could afford to get a divorce without being catapulted into penury.

There was only one snag.

The legal company Justin now worked for, Family Values, prided itself on its moral integrity. There was no way he could risk a scandal after securing the promotion he’d coveted for so long. It would be bad enough when he explained to his colleagues that he was getting a divorce – suddenly producing a long-term mistress would be too much for them to accept in one go.

So Justin had asked Cassandra to move away for a while. He’d suggested they use this short diplomatic period of separation to their advantage, and rent a property to later sublet – at a vast profit – to exhausted executives seeking a spot of relaxation. Cassandra, who could run her own business from anywhere via the Internet, would go and make sure the property was up to date, arrange any decorating that was required, and then rejoin Justin in London once things had died down.

Thinking back, Cassandra realised she should have asked a lot more questions about exactly how much research Justin had already done into this move. But under the influence of the early-morning alcohol, not to mention the triumph she felt at having finally succeeded in persuading Justin to leave his wife, she had suppressed all her instincts and agreed to everything he’d said.

The untidy, clipboard-wielding woman started talking as soon as she climbed out of her Mini….

If you’d like to read A Cornish Wedding, you can buy it as a paperback or ebook from all good retailers, including

Universal link – mybook.to/CornishWedding

Happy reading everyone.

Stay Safe.

Jenny xx

Opening Lines with P.J. Reed: Bluebell

We are venturing into the world of children’s fiction in Opening Lines today. So, grab a cuppa, sit back, and channel your inner eight year old with P.J.Reed.

The Fairies of Therwen Wood is about Bluebell; the loveable, flawed but dynamic fairy, who fights evil, and grants wishes. Most of the time, she helps children with their problems like changing schools, problems with friends, being different etc without even using her magic. The Fairies of Therwen Wood is a modern fantasy adventure with a slice of steampunk.

I wrote the book as a first step into the world of fantasy for children on their fantasy journey towards J. K. Rowling and J. R. R. Tolkien. I attend many fantasy comic conventions as an adult fantasy author. They are huge family occasions, and I had many parents come and ask me if my books were suitable for children. Unfortunately, the language in my adult high fantasy books is too complicated for most children. Therefore, I decided to write a children’s fantasy series, give them a book full of excitement that makes them want to read more and to take them into a magical land away from the stresses of their everyday life.

The Fairies of Therwen Wood stars Bluebell, who was my daughter’s tooth fairy. As well as giving a pound per tooth, Bluebell also used to write my daughter a letter about her exciting adventures and her battles against the evil imps, who wanted to steal their magic dust. My daughter loved these tales and still remembers them today, so I decided to use Bluebell as my inspiration when writing my children’s books.

FIRST 500 WORDS –

Bluebell woke up and smiled. She was now one of the wish fairies of Therwen Wood.

Her job was to grant wishes to boys and girls. She hoped to be asked to grant some really good wishes, like visiting a chocolate factory, or meeting pirates in the Caribbean.

Bluebell frowned and crossed her fingers, as she wished her new job would go well. She did not want to get in trouble again.

Once in training, she had been sent to grant a wish for a little boy called Peter.

He had been a very good boy helping his mother look after his new baby sister, and it was his fifth birthday, so the Office of Wishes had decided to grant Peter a wish. Peter had wished for a dragon. So, Bluebell had made a green Irish dragon appear in his bedroom.

Unfortunately, the wish had not gone well. Peter had really wanted a pet lizard and not an actual, living dragon.

The dragon had roared once and then his green cheeks and tummy had turned fiery red.

The boy had screamed and dived underneath his bed.

Bluebell had screamed and hidden behind the plastic dinosaur on his window ledge, as a stream of fire came out of the surprised dragon’s mouth. A large black hole appeared in Peter’s brand new dinosaur curtains. He had cried and Bluebell had felt very bad.

Madame Primrose, Bluebell’s wish teacher had appeared in Peter’s bedroom, wearing a fluffy pink dress and a pair of fluffy pink slippers. Madame Primrose had sent the dragon back to its cave. Then, she had cast a memory spell on the little boy, so that he would forget all about the dragon.

Madame Primrose had shouted at Bluebell for being a silly fairy and granting bad wishes. Then she had vanished in a puff of pink smoke.

Bluebell shivered. Madame Primrose was a rather angry fairy teacher. The tip of her nose went bright red when she shouted, and it had gone even redder, when Bluebell had told her about it.

‘I must remember not to grant any bad wishes today,’ said Bluebell, as she lay in her conker shell bed. It was so warm and soft that she did not want to get up.

The sun shone through the windows of her little red and white spotted toadstool house. The flowers in the pots that lined her bedroom window opened their yellow petals, yawned, and danced in the sunlight. It was a lovely, hot, summery day.

Bluebell groaned and dragged herself out of bed. She could not be late. It was her first day as an official Therwen Wood wish fairy.

Bluebell went to her bathroom and touched the little white cloud which hung above the door. The cloud grew bigger and sparkled. Then the cloud started to rain. It was a lovely, warm, magical rain. Bluebell jumped under the cloud and the water ran over her.

On a shelf, under the bathroom window, was a row of…

BUY LINK – https://smile.amazon.co.uk/Bluebell-Fairies-Therwen-P-J-Reed

BIO

P.J. Reed

Writer of Warlocks. Destroyer of Worlds.

She is an award-winning, multi-genre author with books ranging from high fantasy, horror, to haiku. She writes the Richard Radcliffe Paranormal Investigations series and the Bad Decisions series. Reed is also the editor and chief paranormal investigator for the Exmoor Noir newsletter.

Finally, she has written a series of seasonal haiku collections – Haiku Yellow, Haiku Gold, Haiku Summer, and Haiku Ice as well as Flicker one sizzling senryu collection.

Reed lives in Devon, England with her two daughters, one rescue dog, and one feral cat called Sammy.

For more information about Reed visit one of her websites below but choose wisely!

The Dark Worlds  – https://pjreedwriting.wixsite.com/darkworlds

Poetry – https://pjreedwriting.wixsite.com/poetry

Fantasy – https://pjreedwriting.wixsite.com/fantasy

Twitter – https://twitter.com/PJReed_author

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/P.J.ReedWriting

***

Many thanks for sharing the beginning of Bluebell’s adventure with us today, Pam.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

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