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Opening Lines: Simon Farrant’s Famously Ordinary

Opening Line’s blog day is upon us.

Today, Simon Farrant is joining me to share the first 500 words from his very first novella, Famously Ordinary.

Over to you Simon…

 

Hello! I’m Simon Farrant, and this is my submission for the great 500 words blog. I haven’t heard of this concept before and I think it is intriguing. I hope that you enjoy the excerpt!

My book is called Famously Ordinary about a man called James Dean!

Many years ago I met a young man called James Dean while I worked in a mobile phone shop. I wondered what it would be like to have the name of a famous person. Of course, being British, I didn’t ask him.

Fast forward to last year, and I started to write stories. The young man came back to mind; I wanted to write a horror short story for an anthology. As it happened, the anthology never came about. This was good news for me in an unexpected way because a year later I rejigged the story and this novella was born.

I hope that you enjoy it!

The Blurb:

‘James Dean is an ordinary man with a famous name. But when he sees his father die in a traumatic car crash, something in James’ subconscious snaps with lethal consequences.

Caught in the perfect storm of grief and anger, James has blood on his hands. With the famous name weighing heavily on his subconscious mind, will his conscious mind be able to save him from himself?‘

***

The First 500 words:

James Dean hated his name.

Several times a week he thought about why he didn’t have a regular name. James blamed his father; he more than likely took charge of naming him. Like most things in his parents’ relationship, his father liked to think he was ‘the man of the house’ and dominated all the decisions. He decided what companies to use for utilities, and everything else. Denise sometimes asked to be more involved, but she got nowhere.

Dean Dean, his father, was hung up on his name, but unlike his son, he tried to not let it show to the outside world. Being from an older generation, it wasn’t the done thing to let your emotions shine through. James survived school and college unscathed; youthful ignorance meant most of the kids didn’t connect to the movie star, and those who did thought having the same name as a famous person was cool. Still, he had a lot to be happy and content about. James had a nice job in the same warehouse his father worked in that paid well, a nice car he had chosen because it was what he wanted rather than just being what he was able to afford after scraping the money together to buy it, and a nice detached house with an integral garage. He could buy nice new clothes as and when he wanted, which he was grateful for because he didn’t like to wear the same clothes repeatedly. Nice. Such a small word, James thought, but damning by faint praise.

James believed his life was normal, like other successful people. Yet he aspired to be something more. His mind was always on fast forward, daydreaming. He was fascinated by the adverts on television for the RAF Reserves. That looked extraordinary; he just needed a push in that direction. He hoped Dean would dare him to apply and say he thought James wasn’t cut out for it just so he could prove him wrong.

To entertain himself when he saw someone on the street, he would often invent a story about them for a few minutes. These stories were detailed, and they came to life in his imagination when he saw them play out in his mind’s eye.

Facebook didn’t yet have a group for ‘Normal People with a Famous Name’. Maybe no one wanted to start one for fear of the unknown and the inevitable ribbings, or maybe because they just wanted to keep a low profile.  Perhaps they didn’t even pay their moniker any attention at all. Maybe James needed to see a psychiatrist to help him with his problems, but he was in denial that his mind was a swirling pit with unseen depths. In his daydream world, which he was sure was created by having the hated name, the characters he created were normal people with the curse of stupid famous names. James had always been bitter, even as a schoolboy. He hid behind a mask of fake smiles…

***

Buy Link:

Mybook.to/famouslyordinary

My social links:

Facebook.com/simonfarrantofficial

Twitter – @asfarrant

Email – simon@farrantfiction.com

Bio:

It is true, what they say; you never know where life is going to take you.

I’m lucky enough to have had a diverse experience of life thus far.
Back in 1975, yeah I’m ancient, I was born in Doncaster; a town in South Yorkshire, England. I’m proud of my Yorkshire roots.

Over the following few decades, I lived in various places. I went to university in Derby and gained a HND and a BA (Hons). Since then, I lived and worked in a few more places before finding the love of my life.
We moved in together, got married and had three kids. What an adventure; it started almost fifteen years ago. Since then, I am proud to have served as a Special Constable. I wanted to join up full time, but life had another plan. At the time, I was working for a major national supermarket as a HGV (large truck) driver, which I did for over a decade. I became ill, I think it was during 2011, but the illness never went away. Now I am disabled with various chronic illnesses, which resulted in my losing my job about four years ago.
I did wonder where life would take me next.
Mark Nye, a superb writer and a friend, asked for submissions for an anthology. I wrote a short story called Famously Ordinary. To my delight, Mark told me it was a good story. By then, I had caught the writing bug!
The anthology was never actually published, so I made it into this novella, which, I feel, is a much better story.

***

Many thanks Simon,

Good luck with your first publication.

Don’t forget to come back for Jane Risdon’s first 500 words next week.

Happy reading,

Jenny. xx

 


Opening Lines: Jennifer Wilson’s Kindred Spirits

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

Introduction

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

First 500 words of Kindred Spirits: Westminster Abbey

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Now she’s in…

About Kindred Spirits: Westminster Abbey

On hallowed ground…

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

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

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

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

About Jennifer

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

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

***

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

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

Happy reading,

Jenny x


Opening Lines: What’s Mine by Fiona Morgan

It’s that time again!

This week’s ‘Opening Lines’ blog come from the lovely Fiona Morgan. Let’s dive into the first 500 words of What’s Mine.

Blurb

Bronagh seems to have it all; her own flat, a fantastic new job as a party planner and a blossoming romance with long-term friend Max.  Little does she know that some is plotting to take everything away from her.

Elaine, now out of work, having been replaced by Bronagh, is hell-bent on revenge.  She begins a campaign of terror, beginning with abusive text messages, which quickly escalates leading to devastating consequences.

Will Bronagh and Max’s relationship survive the turmoil that ensues? Will Elaine get the revenge she so desperately wants?

Set in Glasgow this is a powerful tale of love, hate, manipulation and control, which examines the wide-ranging consequences and damage inflicted by a callous act of revenge.

I started writing my first book Free to push myself to do something I had always wanted to do and I knew that if I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done, so I bought a pad of paper and went for it.  After finishing all the writing and editing, and Free was away being proofread, I felt there was something missing, I had lost friends, so I sat down and started again with What’s Mine.  I love writing, telling my stories and the fact that people not only read them, but are enjoying them is amazing and something I am always grateful for.

Here is the first 500 words of my new book ‘What’s Mine’, I hope you all enjoy it.

Bronagh walks from her job interview at House of Fun part planning fearing the worst, but hoping for the best. She feels she must have come across as a desperate crazy lady, and to a certain extent she is desperate. Desperate to get a start on her own wedding coordinating business.  She has decided that working as a party planner is the best way to gain experience and showcase her talents before breaking out on her own.  At twenty-five years old Bronagh is fed up working in retail shops and pubs, so after her best friend Max, noticed the job advert online and sent her the link, she knew it was time to get her plans, and hopefully her life, started.

Max has always been kind and thoughtful towards her, plus he is absolutely gorgeous.  Bronagh would love fir him to see her in a romantic way, but he never seems to, so she has resigned herself to not being his type and accepting the fact that she will only ever be his best friend, or at least she tries to accept it.

Max is broad shouldered with sandy short hair and crystal blue eyes. He is a good bit taller than her five feet five inches.  She guessed about six foot, and always seemed to have a tall blonde on his arm, which is nothing like her. Bronagh has auburn waves, that shine like copper in the sun, freckles dusting her nose and is a curvy size twelve. She loves her curves and has never wanted to be straight up and down.

She sighs as she makes her way back to her car, a green 1999 W plate Ford Fiesta that could be temperamental at best in the cold weather. She chastises herself, remembering that she needs to stop thinking about Max in a romantic way and stop worrying about the job interview. Trying to put everything out of her mind she mutters to herself, ‘Que Sera Sera’, what will be will be, and what will be should be found out in a few days, or so David and Erin (the married couple who own House of Fun party planners) had said.

The weather that day is clear and bright for a late February afternoon and Bronagh is g;ad to see the sun after a week of rain, so much so it manages to lift her mood and gives her something to smile about. Climbing into her car she turns the key in the Fiesta’s ignition, and after the second try and a few pumps of the accelerator the car roars to life.

***

Sitting in her bright red 64 plate Audi TT, Elaine glowers at the redheaded woman that has just left David and Erin’s house. That is, was her her job the redhead had just been interviewed for and she has no right getting it, unless, Elaine thinks, the redhead was part of the plan to get her fired all along! In Elaine’s opinion they had no…

Links
https://www.facebook.com/fionamorganauthor/
https://www.twitter.com/fionamorgan79
http://www.fiona-morgan.pegasuspublishers.com/
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Books-Fiona-Morgan/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=n%3A266239%2Cp_27%3AFiona%20Morgan  
***
Huge thank you Fiona- another fabulous opening sequence!
Come back next Thursday fro some opening lines from Jennifer Wilson.
Happy reading,
Jenny x

Opening Lines Blog: Rachel Ennis’s Second Chances

It’s Thursday! So, go and pop your feet up for five minutes. It’s time to enjoy some more ‘Opening Lines,’

This week Rachel Ennis (otherwise known as Jane Pollard), is sharing the beginning of her Cornish Mystery, Second Chances.

For this series I have drawn on my experiences of village life though never using real people as characters. For the mysteries Jess Trevanion is asked to solve I had a wonderful time researching historical events such as ‘coffin ship’ runs to Murmansk during the first World War (‘Fallen Hero’); the aftermath of an underwater collision by a nuclear sub (‘The Loner’); intrigue and tragedy at the Congress of Vienna just before the Battle of Waterloo (‘Moving On’)  and the dangerous secret work undertaken by Cornish fishermen during WW2 (‘Silver Linings’)  None of the villagers who asked Jess to compile a family tree knew of the secrets buried in their pasts. But shocking revelations also brought new understanding.

The first 500 words of ‘Second Chances’

Jess hurried from the kitchen to answer the door. She didn’t recognise the knock. It wasn’t Elsie or Viv. They would have leaned in and called to her: Elsie to ask if she had a minute, and Viv wanting to know if she was decent.

Smiling at the thought, Jess wiped damp hands on her apron and opened the door.

‘Fiona!’

‘I hope this isn’t – You’re not in the middle of something?’

‘Washing up. I’ve been baking. That always means a pile of dishes.’ Fiona had insisted Rob buy her a dishwasher, saying she had more than enough to do without spending hours at the sink. Pushing the thought away, Jess stepped back, opening the door wider. ‘Come in.’

As Fiona stepped inside, wiping her feet on the mat, Jess returned to the kitchen and reached for the kettle. ‘Cup of tea?’

Fiona hesitated.

‘Or how about hot chocolate? There’s coffee, only instant though.’

Jess saw Fiona suppress a shudder. Rob had shared his amusement at Fiona’s attachment to the coffee machine they had been given as a wedding present, with a tray of pods for every occasion and time of day. Used to snatching a mouthful of cold, scummy hospital coffee between patients, he was grateful for anything he was able to finish while it was still hot.

‘Tea would be fine, thank you.’

‘Why don’t you sit down?’ Jess indicated the sofa. She noticed that beneath expertly applied makeup her daughter-in-law’s face was drawn. ‘The kettle’s just boiled so it won’t take a moment.’

Fiona took off her belted camel coat and unwound the pale pink pashmina looped loosely round her throat. Beneath it she wore a rose cashmere roll-neck over a black A-line skirt and black mid-heeled boots. Jess could not fault her taste or style. Even the way she sat was elegant. And yet she looked pinched and cold, and had definitely lost weight.

Jess took down cups and saucers, poured milk into a matching jug and put four date, cherry and almond cookies on a plate, then carried the laden tray to the low table. She opened the woodburner and added two more apple logs to the glowing embers, then sat down opposite Fiona.

She remained silent while pouring the tea and adding milk. Handing one cup and saucer to Fiona, she picked up the other, took a cookie from the plate and made herself comfortable.

Knees together, feet to one side, Fiona sipped. The cup rattled as she replaced it on the saucer. ‘This isn’t easy…’

Jess bit into her cookie and waited.

Fiona sat up straighter and took a breath but her gaze remained fixed on her cup. ‘My… situation has changed. I was misled and made a bad decision. I deeply regret it, but it’s in the past.’

Jess took a mouthful of tea, picturing Fiona rehearsing those words, or others like them, during her drive here. Guilt pricked. Was she being too harsh? She recalled Rob’s features, haggard with stress and …

Blurb for ‘Second Chances’

Having rekindled their relationship, historical investigator Jess Trevanion is looking forward to spending more time with partner Tom Peters. She’s also got a new historical puzzle to solve: the mysterious family background of the local Reskilly clan.

Tom and Jess bond over their love of the sea but it isn’t all smooth sailing. They are forced to abandon a boat trip when they come across an old friend in dire straits ‑ an event which has serious repercussions. Meanwhile, a shock encounter with her daughter-in-law makes Jess worry for her son’s future ‑ and she isn’t the only one with unexpected goings-on in her personal life. Her friends Mor, Viv, and Annie have momentous news of their own, and Polvellan will never be the same again.

A combination of Jess’s historical discoveries and the ups and downs in the lives of her and her friends lead her to make a decision she’s been putting off ‑ but will she make the right choice this time? 

Buy Link:     http://amzn.to/2oWLJ9L

https://www.facebook.com/PolvellanCornishMysteries/

https://twitter.com/JJacksonAuthor

 

Bio:    Writing as Dana James, Jane Jackson, and Rachel Ennis, Jane has been a professional author for over thirty-five years and shortlisted for four major awards. Happily married to a Cornishman, with children and grandchildren, she has lived in Cornwall all her life finding inspiration for her books in the county’s scenery, history and people.  ‘Second Chances’ is her 38th published book.

***

Wow- 38 books! That is amazing. Well done Rachel/Jane/Dana!!

I hope you enjoyed that. Next week Fiona Morgan will be here with 500 words.

See you then.

Jenny x

 

 


Opening Lines: A Spell in the Country by Heide Goody and Iain Grant

We’re off into the world of comedy fantasy and cosy crime for this week’s Opening Lines.

With thanks to Heide Goody and Iain Grant for sharing the first 500 words from A Spell in the Country.

Blurb

Dee is a Good Witch but she wonders if she could be a better witch. 
She wonders if there’s more to life than Disney movie marathons, eating a whole box of chocolates for dinner and brewing up potions in her bathtub. So when she’s offered a chance to go on a personal development course in the English countryside, she packs her bags, says goodbye to the Shelter for Unloved Animals charity shop and sets a course for self-improvement.

Caroline isn’t just a Good Witch, she’s a fricking awesome witch.
She likes to find the easy path through life: what her good looks can’t get for her, a few magic charms can. But she’s bored of being a waitress and needs something different in her life. So when a one night stand offers her a place on an all-expenses-paid residential course in a big old country house, she figures she’s got nothing to lose.

Jenny is a Wicked Witch. She just wishes she wasn’t.
On her fifteenth birthday, she got her first wart, her own imp and a Celine Dion CD. She still has the imp. She also has a barely controllable urge to eat human children which is socially awkward to say the least and not made any easier when a teenager on the run turns to her for help. With gangsters and bent cops on their trail, Jenny needs to find a place outside the city where they can lay low for a while.

For very different reasons, three very different witches end up on the same training course and land in a whole lot of trouble when they discover that there’s a reason why their free country break sounds too good to be true. Foul-mouthed imps, wererats, naked gardeners, tree monsters, ghosts and stampeding donkeys abound in a tale about discovering your inner witch.”

First 500 words…

Chapter 1 – The Three Witches

The Good Witch of Northfield

Dee Finch didn’t consider herself to be just a good witch. Of course she was a good witch. That kind of thing was in the blood. No, Dee wasn’t just a good witch; she was a good witch, and that meant being good and doing good; whenever and wherever, whatever people might think. So Dee felt compelled to tell the young man in the shopping precinct that his hat was on fire.

“Your hat is on fire, poppet,” she said.

Surprisingly, the young man responded with a delighted smile. “Well, that’s the final question answered.”

Not the reaction Dee expected. It wasn’t as if it was the kind of hat one could set on fire without being instantly aware of it. If, say, he had been wearing a bowler hat, one might imagine a small fire on the crown might go unnoticed for a minute or two. But this was a woolly hat with a minor conflagration where a bobble might be.

Dee imagined that the young man had absent-mindedly put a roll-up behind his ear, and forgotten that it was already lit. It was the only immediately obvious explanation.

“Your hat is on fire,” she said again.

“Indeed,” he said. “Let me just—” He flipped through the papers on the clipboard in his hand.

“On fire,” she repeated.

“Yep.” He clicked his pen and put a tick in a box. “Now, would you have a few minutes to complete the rest of the survey?”

“Survey?”

Dee felt she had lost her grip on the situation. The man’s hat was on fire and, on a fundamental level, she wanted it dealt with. But now he was talking about a survey and had a look in his eye which suggested his day had been a long struggle to get people to participate.

“What kind of survey?” asked Dee. “I can’t be too long, sweetness. I was only popping out for some safety pins and a bottle of linctus for Mrs Binder.”

“It’s all about trying to become a better you,” said the young man.

“And you do understand what I mean when I say your hat is on fire?” she said.

“I do. Now, can I take your name?”

“Yes. It’s Dee Finch. Miss.”

 

Dee returned to the Shelter for Unloved Animals charity shop with a brochure from the young survey-taker and a great deal to think about.

“Thank God you’re here,” said Mr Tilbury. “It’s been bedlam since you left.”

Dee looked up from the brochure. The shop was empty, apart from Mr Tilbury who was manning the till. Clothes hung unregarded on their racks. Books gathered dust on the shelves. The poster of the charity mascot, Terry the Boss-Eyed Tortoise, with the slogan of ‘Ugly Animals Need Love Too’ still hung slightly askew on the wall. It was so quiet that one could almost hear the creak of time passing.

“Bedlam?” repeated Dee.

“A man came in and wanted to know if we had a book,” said Mr…

***

Buy Links

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Spell-Country-Heide-Goody-ebook/dp/B078NRFL93

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Spell-Country-Heide-Goody-ebook/dp/B078NRFL93 

***

I hope you enjoyed that. Another fabulous book introduction.

Come back next week for the first 500 words from a book by Jane pollard.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx


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