The Perfect Blend: Coffee and Kane


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Elaine, now out of work, having been replaced by Bronagh, is hell-bent on revenge.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

The Bridesmaid’s Dilemma Blog Tour: Opening Lines

I’m delighted to be hosting Karen King as she embarks upon a blog tour for her new rom com, The Bridesmaid’s Dilemma. Why not settle down a enjoy the very beginning of Karen’s latest publication?

Over to you Karen…

Thanks so much for inviting me over, Jenny. The Bridesmaid’s Dilemma is my third romcom for Accent Press and is mainly set in Majorca. Whenever I’m at a resort I always admire how the reps deal with the various holiday makers, the activities they do with them from poolside exercises, kids clubs and putting on shows. I was on the aeroplane once with a stag party, and they were quite raucous but seemed nice guys, so the idea of a travel rep having a holiday romance with a guy from a stag party that books into her hotel probably stemmed from these two things. The setting was definitely inspired by a trip to Majorca with my husband a couple of years ago to celebrate our third anniversary. It’s a beautiful island, and we actually took a trip to the Caves of Drach which feature in the novel. I really had fun writing this book and hope that readers love Jess and Eddie as much as I do.

Here’s a bit about the book:

Fun-loving travel rep Jess doesn’t want to be chief bridesmaid at her snooty cousin’s wedding, but it will cause a family feud if she refuses. She doesn’t want to fall in love either but when a raucous stag party arrives at her Majorcan hotel, Jess hits it off instantly with best man, Eddie. A summer romance is exactly what commitment-phobe Jess needs and, as the stag-do draws to a close, so does the holiday fling. She has no intentions of carrying on the summer fun but when Eddie turns up again, Jess is faced with a big dilemma.
Will this bridesmaid get the happy-ever-after she never knew she wanted?

The Bridesmaid Dilemma is published on 7 June, in paperback and as an ebook. You can n preorder it here:

https://tinyurl.com/y8z6k8ut

Opening Lines

Jess stretched out on the sunbed, factor fifteen and the parasol protecting her already golden skin from the heat of the afternoon sun. It was lovely to finally have the chance to relax by the pool. As usual, the morning had been full-on. She and Libby – lounging on the sunbed next to her – were in charge of the Fitness Classes and had spent two hours jumping, bending, stretching, and jogging on the spot with a group of holidaymakers. Being a holiday rep with Time of Your Life Holidays was fun but exhausting.

‘This is heaven. I could lie here all day.’

‘Me too. This week’s been so hectic. It’s going to be non-stop now the schools have broken up.’ Libby sighed. ‘Lucky you, having next weekend off. I wouldn’t mind flying back home for a few days.’

‘I’d like it a lot more if I didn’t have to be chief bridesmaid at Charlotte’s wedding,’ Jess replied. ‘That’s going to be a barrel of fun – not.’

Her first reaction when her cousin Charlotte had asked her to be chief bridesmaid was astonishment – she and Charlotte had never got on and usually tried to avoid each other.

Her second reaction had been panic. She didn’t do weddings, or frothy dresses, and she knew that Charlotte, with her obsession for perfection, would be the bridezilla from hell. She couldn’t refuse though, not when she knew how much it meant to her mum. And so, Jess had reluctantly agreed, even though she suspected that she’d only been asked because Charlotte had no sisters and precious few friends – even the other two bridesmaids were sisters of her fiancé, Russell.

‘It might not be that bad. And I bet the best man is a hunk. You know what they say about the chief bridesmaid and best man,’ Libby teased. ‘It’s compulsory for them to have a dance together and a few kisses – at the very least.’ She grinned at Jess and cocked her head to one side. ‘What’s her fella like?’

‘No idea, never met him. I haven’t seen Charlotte for years. All I know is that his name’s Russell and his work involves something to do with exports.’

‘I can’t believe your cousin doesn’t have a Facebook page. We could have a nose then, see what this Russell is like.’

‘Charlotte “doesn’t approve of society’s obsession with social media.”’ Jess made finger quotes as she said the words. It would have been a lot easier to keep in touch with Charlotte if she was on Facebook – and if she was less of a nightmare person – but as it was, wedding-related messages were coming solely through email.

‘She sounds a right barrel of laughs. So, you’ve no idea who the best man is?’

‘Mum said he’s an old school friend of Russell’s. I expect he’ll be very staid and boring. Russell will be, too. Charlotte’s boyfriends always are.’

Author Bio

Karen King writes sassy, heart-warming romance and edgy YA with a heart. ‘The Bridesmaid’s Dilemma ‘ is her third romcom for Accent Press. Her second title, ‘The Cornish Hotel by the Sea’ rose to #3 in the Amazon Bestseller Holiday Charts in the UK, #2 in Australia and was in the top hundred overall bestsellers. Her first title, I do?… or do I? has recently been published in France under the title ‘Un Fiancé Inattendu’. In addition, Accent Press have republished her earlier romance novels, ‘The Millionaire Plan’ and ‘Never Say Forever’.

Karen has also written several short stories for women’s magazine and had 120 children’s books published. She started her writing career writing scripts and articles for Jackie and other teen and children’s magazines.

She is member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists,

When she isn’t writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven.

Author links

Website: http://www.karenking.net/

Twitter: @karen_king

Karen King Romance Author Facebook Page

Karen King Young Adult Books Facebook Page

Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/karenkingauthor/

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

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/3187489145

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Good luck with your new book Karen,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x


End of the month with Nell Peters: 2 years on…

For the past two years I’ve been lucky enough to have the fabulous Nell Peters write end of the month blogs for me. Let’s see what she has in store for us as May winds to an end.

Over to you Nell…

Good morning! And how are we today?

Back again – and on the second anniversary of my guest blogs for Jenny. I’m very soon going to run out of things to rattle on about!

On this day in 1902 Australia were all out for 36 v England at Edgbaston, their lowest ever cricket score. Elsewhere, the Second Boer War ended after two years, seven months, two weeks and six days – the first having lasted but four months. The British Army was reinforced by volunteer contingents from the Empire, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Cape Colony and Natal and wisely no longer wore ‘here-I-am-feel-free-to-shoot-me’ red uniforms.

This was thanks to Lieutenant Harry Lumsden of the Corps of Guides, who was the first British officer to provide his men with practical working garments when he served in India in 1846. He had white cotton dyed with mud so that when they dried, the uniforms blended in with the surrounding landscape – this became known as khaki, Hindi for dust.

The Boers (Boer being the Afrikaans and Dutch word for farmer – I’m such a linguist!) were adept at guerrilla warfare and wore no uniform at all, so they were hard to spot amongst farming communities, where they found places to hide, horses and supplies. Brutally, the British solution to that was a ‘scorched earth’ policy of burning down or destroying farmhouses, crops etc. and rounding up the inhabitants of the countryside to be held in segregated concentration camps, often under horrific conditions. Many thousands – mostly women and children – died during their incarceration.

Ardent imperialist Cecil Rhodes didn’t live to see the British victory at the end of the war, having died a few weeks beforehand on March 26th. Rhodes was a British-born financier, statesman, and empire builder who was Prime Minister of Cape Colony from 1890 to 1896. He also co-founded the now global diamond company, De Beers with Charles Rudd in 1880, so called after the De Beers brothers who originally owned the land where the diamonds were mined. Next (1887) came the purchase of the Kimberley Central Mining Company, to form De Beers Consolidated Mining Ltd.

A controversial figure even now, Rhodes also had a philanthropic side. His will gifted a large area of land on the slopes of Table Mountain to the South African nation and part of this estate became the upper campus of the University of Cape Town (my youngest sister-in-law went there!) Another area became the Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens, and land that wasn’t developed is now a conservation area. He also made a bequest of funds to establish the Rhodes Scholarship – the world’s first international study programme. The scholarship enabled students from territories under British rule, or formerly under British rule and from Germany to study at Rhodes’ alma mater, Oxford University. His aim was to promote leadership marked by public spirit and good character, and to ‘render war impossible’ by promoting friendship between the great powers. That worked well…

#3 son was recently headhunted by De Beers – as I write this (in advance, obvs), he has had three interviews and will have a fourth either in Mumbai or Bangkok, where he is currently based. I’m not sure he actually wants to move just yet, but it’s a bit of a diamond-encrusted feather in his cap to be sought out, I imagine. And since he travelled around SA as part of his gap year, he at least has something to talk about to fill any pregnant pauses while he’s being grilled. He had a high old time travelling (I know, because I paid his credit card bills!) – quite literally when he did the Bloukrans Bridge bungee jump. It’s one of the world’s highest at 216 metres (709 ft) above the Bloukrans River on the Garden Route. He also swam with sharks in a rather flimsy-looking cage and did a parachute jump. When he was home again, he actually told me in all seriousness that he’d have been very scared of jumping from the back of the tiny plane, if he hadn’t had a parachute on his back…

The OH was born in the UK but spent his formative years from the age of ten in Johannesburg, where he went to the Marist Brothers Independent Catholic Day School, along with one of the De Beers sons. The Marist Brothers were apparently a mean bunch with a penchant for corporal punishment at the drop of a hat, and I don’t think he’s been inside a Catholic church since he left.

In fact, churches generally give him the creeps and he has to be dragged, screaming, to weddings and funerals. In between school and uni, he was conscripted into the SA Army for two years’ National Service, where he joined the Paras and had to learn Afrikaans mighty quickly. Unfortunately, his jumping career was cut short when he fell awkwardly on an old ankle injury (motor bike accident) and spent a few weeks in hospital.

Thereafter he was sent for duty in the Townships and the Angolan Bush, where he spent his twenty-first birthday and slept through a mortar attack on the camp (not on the same day, I’m guessing). When out on patrol in the Bush, troops weren’t allowed to wash or clean their teeth lest the scent was picked up by enemy forces. Scary stuff, and a swift education in what apartheid really meant to those who weren’t lucky enough to be white and comparatively wealthy. He never really came to terms with the regime, left uni after less than a year and returned to the UK. He still has his red beret, though thankfully doesn’t wear it Frank Spencer-style.

Of course, we all know that Ramesses II, also known as Ramesses the Great, became Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt (19th Dynasty) on this day in 1279 BC, but what else has happened? Let me see … Jerusalem’s rabbi Sjabtai Tswi proclaimed himself the Messiah in 1665 – the guy must have had an ego the size of Mars: the planet, not the chocolate bar. Almost two hundred years later in 1853, Elisha Kane’s Arctic expedition left New York aboard the good ship Advance – any relation, Jenny? Kane was an American surgeon and explorer making his second trip to the Arctic, but had to abandon the icebound vessel on May 20 1855. The crew marched for eighty-three days to Upernavik, carrying their sick and wounded and remarkably lost only one man. They were saved by a handy sailing ship and Kane returned to New York on October 11 1855. The following year Kane published his two-volume Arctic Explorations, before he sadly died in Havana ten days short of his thirty-seventh birthday.

In 1861, on the same day that the Mint in New Orleans was decommissioned, General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard was given command of the Confederate Alexandria Line. I mention that only because Beauregard is a name that always makes me smile, though I’ve no idea why. But since he’s popped up here, let me tell you that he was a prominent general during the American Civil War and had several nicknames, including Little Napoleon, Little Frenchman – he was born in Louisiana and didn’t learn to speak English until he went to school in New York, aged twelve – and Felix. Felix? In April 1865, it was Beauregard and his commander, General Joseph E Johnston, who convinced President Jefferson Davis and the remaining cabinet members that the war should end. After the military, he held two posts as an executive on the railroads and used his civil engineering knowledge to patent the design for a cable car in 1869.

The oldest recorded bride, one Minnie Munro aged 102, wed Dudley Reid 83, at Point Clare, New South Wales in Australia on 31st May 1991 – that’s what you call a toy boy – telling reporters they planned to make the most of the time they would have together. As children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren gathered for the ceremony in the gardens of the couple’s home at Orana Nursing Village, widow Minnie proudly showed off her antique amethyst engagement ring and said, ‘He’s been waiting for me a long time and I am pretty old you know, so I decided to say yes.’ The couple met four years previously at a health centre in nearby Woy Woy. So good they named it twice?

It was not such a happy occasion on this day in 2007, when actress Billie Piper and radio DJ Chris Evans divorced after six years of marriage. Billie was born Leian Paul Piper to parents Paul Victor Piper and Mandy Kane Kent (another Kane?!) and is a singer, dancer and actress who played Rose Tyler in Doctor Who from 2005-6. Perhaps attracted by the fact they share the same middle name, she didn’t hang around and married actor Laurence Paul Fox (Hathaway in Lewis) on 31st December 2007. By marriage she became sister-in-law to Richard Ayoade (The IT Crowd) who was newly wed to Laurence’s sister, Lydia. Alas, Billie headed to the divorce courts again – also in May, but the 12th – after eight years and two children.

Two Walters were born on this day – Walt Whitman (so called because his father was also Walter), American poet, essayist, and journalist in 1819, and artist Walter Richard Sickert, born in Munich in 1860. When he was eight, the family moved to England and were granted citizenship. Although he was the son and grandson of painters, he initially wanted to be an actor and appeared in small parts with Sir Henry Irving’s theatre company, before going to the Slade School to study art in 1881. After less than a year he left to become a pupil of Whistler, whose influence can be seen in his early work.

In his late twenties, Sickert took a keen interest in the crimes of Jack the Ripper. He believed he had lodged in a room used by the serial killer, having been told this by his landlady, who suspected a previous lodger. He produced a painting of the dark, melancholy room entitled Jack the Ripper’s Bedroom which now hangs in Manchester Art Gallery. Author Patricia Cornwell wrote a book in 2002 called Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper – Case Closed in which she names Walter Sickert as Jack. Not wholly original, as Jean Overton Fuller wrote Sickert and the Ripper Crimes in 1990, making the same claim. However in a 2004 article on Sickert, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography dismissed any allegation that he was Jack the Ripper as ‘fantasy’. So, ladies and gentlemen, I invite you to decide for yourselves. Or not.

Meanwhile, I’m off in my Tardis to wrong rights and generally make a nuisance of myself. See you in June, perhaps?

Thanks, Jenny and toodles, all!

NP

Once again- a HUGE thank you for such an excellent blog – and for the previous 23 fabulous blogs!! Very much appreciated. It is no co-incidence that the last day of the month sees more visitors to my web site than any other.

Happy reading everyone,

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.

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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

 

 


Crossing the Lines of research: Patricia Leslie

I’m delighted to be joined by Patricia Leslie today. She has been carrying out some vital location research- some intended- some  accidental…

Over to you Patricia…

I like to wander. I do some basic research on a location so I know what’s around, grab a map and a camera, and head out. It seems to balance out the detailed planning that goes into holidays and research trips, and I enjoy the surprise of stumbling upon the unexpected. I know I’ve found something great when I start slipping it into a story. In the United Kingdom recently, against plans to do some serious location research in the Outer Hebrides for the next two books in my Crossing the Line series, I found myself researching another site for the novel that will come after the current series. Not planned at all!

We were in Northumbria and my daughter expressed a desire to visit Hadrian’s Wall. The Wall wasn’t on my research radar, but it seemed a good way to spend a sunny day so off we went ending up in Vindolanda. It wasn’t until we started stepping over the ruins of a succession of Roman Forts and I read the dates and backstory of the site that I realised it fitted neatly into a planned novel set in the Gallic Roman Empire in the 3rd century AD. Of course, the physical location wasn’t exactly right, but the building remains and layout of the forts and accompanying settlement can be translated from one country to another, and the dates were perfect. This future novel will also have links with England of the same time period so I started snapping and plotting and planning. Characters that hadn’t yet been thought of, started to ghost into my imagination. I could hear dogs barking, people trading goods, using the baths, soldiers marching, and commands being shouted. I can’t wait to write this story!

Eager to find out more about the people that would have lived in these settlements, I hit the Visitor’s Centre and Accompanying gift store, and bought some books. Then went back outside to take more photos. About a week later, in Bath, I felt the same sense of excitement wandering around the famous Roman Baths. I then moved into current novel research mode when we randomly booked our accommodation for the night at The George Inn – a 16th century inn. The walls of our room were at least three feet thick, the heavy beams low, the doors, windows and fireplaces as rustic and genuine as I could hope for.

It seems likely that Crossing the Line books one and two will include a lot of rain and a few blizzards. My first few days in England coincided with the tail-end of the “Beast from the East” and a very cold start to spring followed by days of pouring rain in the Outer Hebrides. When my characters travel through these areas they will be as cold and wet as I was (more so), without the benefit of a car with heated seats to escape to. When they come across stone circles and black houses, they will be extensions of the very same ones that I came across on the Isle of Lewis. Callanish was very much a planned stop on my itinerary. Experiencing the environment and the outlying lochs and fields of peat and machair, not to mention the many sheep, was an interesting aside. The colours of a wet Hebridean landscape are surprisingly dramatic. The history of the people and islands, deep and rich. I took more photos. I bought more books.

Glastonbury Tor may also make an appearance. Here’s another site I hadn’t planned on visiting, but noting it’s proximity on my road map as I drove north from Padstow in Cornwall, decided another side trip was in order. I arrived early in the morning with mist in the hills and valley, and few people (read tourists like me) about. With a darkening sky and rain imminent, I walked the path up to the Tor. A Christian monastery does not figure in Crossing the Line, but the site was important to the local people for centuries before Christianity. I don’t know how, but the Tor too may figure in the story. One of my characters is of Cornish background. That’s not too far away – I’m sure I can work it.

The benefits of wandering is that it allows for a more fluid creative flow of ideas. Without the rigid structure of a detailed itinerary to stick to, the mind can stay relaxed and open to possibility. Besides that, I’m easily distracted by what may be around the corner or over the next hill.

Bio

Patricia Leslie is an Australian author with a passion for combining history, fantasy, and action into stories that nudge at the boundaries of reality. Her latest novel is Keeper of the Way, published by Odyssey Books.

For reviews, interviews, articles and updates on her novels and adventures, visit her website: patricialeslie.net and facebook page: Patricia Leslie – author

For photos of her adventures, books, and chickens, follow her on insta: @patricialeslee (if you don’t have an Instagram account just drop in to her website)

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Many thanks for visiting my blog today Patricia. You’re research has taken you to many of my favourite places in the UK.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x


Performances in the Great War: Blog Tour with Freda Lightfoot

I’m welcoming Freda Lightfoot to my place today as part of her Blog Tour for  Girls of the Great War.

Make sure you check out all of the blogs in the tour for your chance to take part in a great giveaway (details below)

Over to you Freda…

Thank you so much for inviting me on your blog. Entertainment was a place where soldiers could escape the harsh realities of their dangerous life. They were always overjoyed to see these performances. Concerts took place to liven up the troops. Two or three concerts a day were often available and most popular. Drama presented a particular challenge: contemporary comedies and romances were played with canteen furniture, and the scenery was often a backdrop of night sky. Violin solos, string quartets, operatic arias, all were performed behind the front lines. It was not unusual for the audience to be in their hospital beds, or wheeled out of the wards, even if rain beat down upon them. Shows were also given on ships, and out in the wild country or desert.

Back in England the war naturally brought a surge in patriotism, both in drama and cinema. Music hall was one of the dominant forms in World War One. Theatre managers, newspaper editors, civic leaders and even clergymen insisted that people wanted cheering up and were not expected or even allowed to use their brains or be presented with serious matter. The war was expected to end by Christmas. Many plays were written about the suffering, but the emphasis was more on the humorous to attract the masses. Soldiers on leave flocked to the theatres with their sweethearts, eager to be amused and entertained. There were many famous performers such as Harry Lauder, Vesta Tilley dressed as a soldier, Gertie Gitana and others, all popular with troops out in the war and for soldiers and their families back home.

After the war, popular tastes began to change. Entertainment then preferred Charleston, jazz and syncopation. Performers would often entertain cinema audiences between films. Queues too would be entertained by dancing dogs or a man playing a banjo or accordion. Then a collection would be taken up for the soldiers and sailors. Benefit performances were held to raise money to entertain wounded soldiers; just as there were Tank Weeks, or fund raising for an ambulance.

In Girls of the Great War, Cecily, having lost the love of her life, eagerly goes to entertain the soldiers in France, filled with the need to help and overcome depression, Her sister, mother and Johnny, a drummer friend, accompanied her, a part of which proved to be a problem. I was inspired to write this because I’d been involved in amateur dramatics for much of my life. I still love the theatre, and have collected many books on the history of it and famous actors. Writing about it was a joy, and I have touched on this theme in one or two others of my books.

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Excerpt of Cecily’s first performance in Girls of the Great War:

There was no proper stage, no curtains, dressing rooms or footlights, but they did have acetylene gas lamps glimmering brightly around the boxes. They worked for hours rehearsing and enduring more instructions from Queenie on what and how they should perform. Cecily suffered a flutter of panic as she became aware of hundreds more men gathering in the audience. A few were seated on boxes or benches, the rest of the area packed with a solid mass standing shoulder to shoulder. Many had been patiently waiting hours for the concert to start. Looking at the state of them it was evident that many had come direct from the trenches where they’d probably been trapped in horrific conditions for months. Those unable to move from their tent pulled the flaps open so that they too could hear the concert.

Heart pounding and nerves jangling, Cecily felt the urge to turn and run as the moment for the concert to start came closer. Was her mother right and she couldn’t sing well at all? Would they roar and boo at her as they had that time at Queenie?

She steadied her breathing, smoothed down her skirt with sweaty fingers and when she walked on stage the men gave a loud cheer of welcome. The excitement in their faces filled her with hope and as she stepped forward to the front of the boxed stage the audience instantly fell silent, looking enthralled and spellbound. She exchanged a swift glance with Merryn, counted one, two, three, four . . . and her sister and Johnny both began to play, sounding most professional. Cecily started to sing:

There’s a Long, Long Trail A-winding.

Into the land of my dreams,

Where the nightingales are singing

And a white moon beams:

As she sang, her fears, depression and worries vanished in a surge of elation, soaring into a new life, and bringing these soldiers pleasure and relief from the war. When the song was over she received a tumultuous applause, cheers, whistles and roars of appreciation from them. Smiling broadly she went on to sing ‘Roses of Picardy’, followed by ‘Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag’ and many other popular favourites. Most of the Tommies would readily join in to sing the chorus whenever Cecily invited them to do so. Others would weep, as if fraught with emotion because they were homesick and felt greatly moved by this reminder of England. Then would again cheer and roar with happiness at the end, urging her to sing an encore.

‘You are doing quite well,’ her mother casually remarked during the short interval, a comment Cecily greatly appreciated. ‘Now sing some of those jolly music hall songs that I recommended.’

‘Right you are.’

Cecily went on to sing ‘Burlington Bertie From Bow’and ‘Fall In And Follow Me’. These brought bright smiles and laughter to all the Tommies’ faces. She finished with ‘Your King and Country Want You’, bringing forth loud cheers of agreement. How she loved singing to these soldiers. If she hadn’t been a star before, she certainly felt like one now.

Blurb
Cecily Hanson longs to live life on her own terms—to leave the shadow of her overbearing mother and marry her childhood sweetheart once he returns from the Great War. But when her fiancé is lost at sea, this future is shattered. Looking for meaning again, she decides to perform for the troops in France.

Life on the front line is both rewarding and terrifying, and Cecily soon finds herself more involved—and more in danger—than she ever thought possible. And her family has followed her to France. Her sister, Merryn, has fallen for a young drummer whose charm hides a dark side, while their mother, Queenie—a faded star of the stage tormented by her own secret heartache—seems set on a path of self-destruction.

As the war draws to a close and their hopes turn once again to the future, Cecily and Merryn are more determined than ever to unravel the truth about their mother’s past: what has she been hiding from them—and why?

Buy links:

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2wKaX2y

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2rGc528

Bio

I was born in a small mill town in Lancashire. My mother comes from generations of weavers, and my father was a shoe-repairer. I still remember the first pair of clogs he made for me. After several years of teaching, I opened a bookshop in Kendal, Cumbria. And while living in the rural Lakeland Fells, rearing sheep and hens, I turned to writing. I wrote over fifty articles and short stories for magazines such as My Weekly and Woman’s Realm, before finding my vocation as a novelist and became a Sunday Times Bestselling author. I’ve now written over forty-eight novels, mostly sagas and historical fiction, my three latest books, including Girls of the Great War, out in May are published by Amazon Lake Union. I spend warm winters living in Spain, and the rainy summers in Britain.

Website: www.freda@fredalightfoot.co.uk

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Freda-Lightfoot-Books/149641371839646

Twitter: @fredalightfoot

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/448774.Freda_Lightfoot

My Blogspot: http://www.fredalightfoot.blogspot.com/

If you wish to be kept up to date on new titles and contests, sign up on my website http://www.fredalightfoot.co.uk  to subscribe to my Newsletter: I only send out 4 or 5 a year so your inbox won’t be flooded.

*****

GIVEAWAY!

Make sure to follow the whole tour—the more posts you visit throughout, the more chances you’ll get to enter the giveaway. The tour dates are here:  http://writermarketing.co.uk/prpromotion/blog-tours/currently-on-tour/freda-lightfoot-3/ 

ENTER HERE– http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/8b9ec5be184/?

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Many thanks for stopping by on your tour Freda!

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x


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