Jenny Kane & Jennifer Ash

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

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The Rollercoaster: Disappointment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And yet still we go on- because we must!

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

And so to blog…

***

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

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

roller coaster

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

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

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

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

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

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

Disappointment

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

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

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

Jenny x

www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk 

 

 

 

Opening Lines with Jill Barry : Love Thirty

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

Tennis anyone?

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

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

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

Blurb:

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

First 500 words…

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

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

She grinned. “You know me so well.”

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

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

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

Mummy’s mouth was a big round O.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

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

***

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

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

Bio:

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

You can visit her website: www.jillbarry.com

Follow her on Twitter: @barry_jill

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

***

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

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Opening Lines with Gilli Allan: Buried Treasure

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

Buried Treasure is out now!

Blurb

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

First 500 words of Buried Treasure…

Prologue

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter 1

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

***

Buy BURIED TREASURE via mybook.to/BURIEDTREASURE  

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

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

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

Find Gilli at:

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

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

http://gilliallan.blogspot.com

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

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

***

Bio

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

Jenny x

 

5 Tips for progressing from short story writing to novels

So, you’ve had an idea?

You’ve woke up in the middle of the night with a title that just screams to be the name of the next bestselling novel, or a plot line that is leaping around your head with such ferocity that it has to hit the bookshelves.

You’ve already written short stories, but a novel- that’s a hell of a lot of words…

1. Think of short story writing as your novel writing apprenticeship – Short stories are a brilliant way for any writer to learn their craft. By learning to write to a word limit you can build your literary skill and finesse your writing. Too many people are in a rush to write a novel without taking the time to learn the skills needed. Creating short stories can teach you how to write in such a way that not a single word is wasted. Every word- every single one- has to count in a short story. The same applies to a novel- pages of waffle and repetition are boring to read and boring to write.

2. You need instant impact – In a short story all you have to grab your reader’s attention is the first one or two sentences. When writing their first novel, new writers often relax, thinking the lengthier word count means they have the luxury of spending pages to grab their reader’s interest- wrong!

When you write a novel the same instant impact rule applies as for short pieces. You have one to three paragraphs at the most to hook them. If a reader’s interest isn’t piqued by the end of the first page you’ve lost them- and then they are less likely to look at any further work you might produce. Once you have hooked them of course, then you can coax them into the story and work to keep them with you until they reach the last page – desperate to read more.

3. Don’t push that plot – Once you’ve started writing your novel, if you find your dream plot isn’t going to stretch to a whole novel (usually btw 70-100,000), then pause. Take a step back. There is nothing worse than reading a story that’s had its plot watered down just so it’s the required length. Take a walk. Think it through- can the story line take an extra twist to the plot? Can the interest in your characters be sustained? If not- make it a novella. Novellas (generally accepted to be anything from 20-60K), are very popular, great fun to write and wonderful writing practice.

4. Climb that word count– Addressing a word count of c.90,000 after having previously only completed pieces that are 5-10,000 words long can seem like a mammoth task. So why not build up slowly? Think of it like mountaineering. No one would tackle Everest without climbing a few lesser mountains first. So grab the crampons and the ropes and tackle a 15,000 word story – then add a crash helmet and a few rations and go for a novella. Then, as your confidence builds and you’ll soon be ready to strap on the oxygen tank, grab a pick and go for that novel!

5. Still feel like heavy going?- A lot of issues connected with getting through a novel for the first time are psychological. Don’t be afraid to address each chapter like an individual short story, but with a more open ending. After all, you already know you can write short tales of fiction. Allow yourself rewards for every 1000 words- an extra cup of coffee, a chocolate bar, a ten minute walk. Take one word at a time.

Remember- it’s supposed to be fun!

Happy writing!!

Jenny

www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk 

Opening Lines with P J Reed: Welcome to Witherleigh

Opening Lines time has arrived once more!

This week I’m delighted to welcome my friend and fellow author, P J Reed with the first 500 words from her brand new release,

Welcome to Witherleigh.

Over to you Pam…

I would like to thank Jenny Kane for inviting me onto her wonderful blog to write about my new novel ‘Welcome To Witherleigh.’

I am P.J. Reed, a multi-genre writer, from Devon. My background is in history and archaeology research which I like to use to add authentic flavours to my writing.  I have written several short horror stories, six poetry  collections, and one high fantasy novel. Most of my work is set in Devon, Exmoor, and Dartmoor and explores the darker side of country living. Welcome To Witherleigh is based on the little village of Witheridge, set on the outskirts of Exmoor. If you visit Witheridge after reading this book, you might even recognise some of the buildings described within its pages.

This book concerns a young man, Richard Radcliffe who has left the stresses of London under in order to start a new life for himself in Devon. He finds work as a church appointed playleader and looks forward to the local villagers and living life at a gentler pace. Unfortunately, as soon as he arrives in Witherleigh,he realises that something is very wrong with the village as he is pulled into an alley and warned that he will be next. He then sets out to solve the riddle of the village and to find out why the ghosts of Witherleigh still walk the streets.

This book is a paranormal, murder mystery with a dark vein of humour running through it.

The story appeared to me when one day Richard Radcliffe walked into my walk, sat down next to me, and told me about his adventures in Witherleigh.

First 500 words of Welcome To Witherleigh –

CHAPTER ONE

The car jolted unhappily through the mud-splattered lane. At least he hoped it was mud. Black and white cows peered knowingly at him through breaks in the overgrown hedge. That’s the last time I clean you until we get safely back to London, Richard thought grimly as he slowed to avoid a pair of suicidal pheasants. One stood in the road, frozen in fear, the other ran and disappeared into the hedgerows. He stopped the car and let the pheasant cross safely to rejoin its companion. He saluted the bird and watched as it ran into the lines of gnarled trees which flanked each side of the narrow road. The trees stooped over each side of the road. Their branches joined together above the middle of the lane, like skeletal brown arms twisting into each other, blocking out the late autumn sun. Richard stared at the crowding trees. There were melted faces in the lines of the bark. He shivered as a feeling of panic surged through his body.

Richard gripped the steering wheel. His knuckles whitened as electrical pulses ran up and down his spine. He swallowed and pinged the rubber band around his wrist. The sharp pain broke through his thoughts. The trees straightened, and their faces became lost in the creases of the bark. He twanged the band again. Important things had to be performed twice. Then he restarted the car and drove carefully past the sullen trees.

He had to be at the Witherleigh Day Centre by two o’clock. The ladies of the Anglican ministry were putting on a special cream tea and he could not be late.

The cluttered trees gave way to the rugged open fields of the North Devon wildlands. Undulating fields of dark green, broken by rows of hedges and the occasional windswept tree; dejected and alone amid a sea of grass.  This was a harsh land. Richard felt as if every mile nearer Witherleigh dragged him further backwards in time. He pinged the rubber band around the wrist twice. The change to a simpler life will be good.

‘It’s just what I needed,’ he whispered to himself.

He drove past a long wooden farm fence. A buzzard perched on a fence post sat so still it looked like a wooden carving. The bird flew away disturbed. Richard half-smiled.  He had never seen a bird of prey in flight and was captivated by the effortless majesty of its wings slow movement as it soared into the steel grey sky.

A four-wheel drive beeped loudly. Richard swerved back to his side of the lane, the old cars wheels squelching to a halt in the mud which ran in gulley’s along the side of the road. He let out a deep breath and waved an apology at the red-faced driver who shouted something inaudible as the Range Rover roared past him.

The little white pills were not good for his concentration levels. He shook his head. Perhaps down here he could be rid of them…

***

Welcome To Witherleigh is available to download from kindle on…

amazon.co.uk – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07SVQJ6ZR/ref=rdr_ext_sb_ti_hist_1

amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SVQJ6ZR/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

***

Bio

P.J. Reed, writer of warlocks. Destroyer of worlds.

She is an outrageously eclectic writer. Reed lives in Devon with her two daughters, a rescue dog, and one feral cat called Sammy.

poetry by P.J. Reed

Flicker

Haiku Yellow

Haiku Sun

Haiku Gold

Haiku Ice

Haiku Nation

Website – https://pjreedwriting.wixsite.com/horror

Twitter – https://twitter.com/PJReed_author

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/p.j.reedauthor

***

Many thanks for sharing your opening lines with us today, Pam.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Coming Soon: The Folville Chronicles Box Set

I’m thrilled to announce that the first three novels in The Folville Chronicles will soon be available as

an eBook Box Set!

The perfect way to binge read the series so far while I’m writing Book 4!

The Outlaw’s Ransom

When potter’s daughter Mathilda is kidnapped by the notorious Folville brothers as punishment for her father’s debts, she must prove her worth in order to win her freedom. With her life in the hands of the most infamous men in England, Mathilda must win the trust of the Folville’s housekeeper, Sarah, and Robert Folville himself if she has any chance of survival.
Never have the teachings gleaned from the tales of Robyn Hode been so useful…

The Winter Outlaw

1329: It is the dead of winter and the notorious Folville brothers are on edge. There are rumours of an unknown outlaw terrorising the Leicestershire countryside. Could this man be Adam Calvin, who is being pursued for a crime he did not commit?
Mathilda of Twyford, newly betrothed to Robert de Folville, believes Adam’s story. But after
an attack on the household’s trusted housekeeper, it falls to Mathilda to work out who can be trusted and who can’t… With the Folvilles’ past about to trip them up, it’s going to take a level head and extreme bravery if Mathilda and Robert are ever going to make it to their Winter Solstice wedding.

Edward’s Outlaw

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

***

The Box Set pre-order link will be coming soon!

Information about Book 4 is just around the corner…

Happy reading,

Jennifer

Opening Lines with Ruadh Butler: The Earl Longbow

We’ve heading into 12th century Ireland for this week’s Opening Lines.

I’m delighted to welcome Ruadh Butler, and the first 500 words of The Earl Strongbow.

Denied his father’s earldom and banished from the royal court, Richard de Clare is a man whose name is greater than his fortune, his past greater than his future. But he is a man of ambition and will risk everything when journeys across the Irish Sea to claim the hand of a princess and place her father back on his provincial throne. Awaiting his master’s arrival is the redoubtable Raymond de Carew, fresh from his own victory but facing mutiny by his own warriors. The only person to stay loyal is his former mistress, Alice of Abergavenny, who has her own plans for Raymond. She knows more than any that upon the walls of Viking Waterford a king shall be made. And Alice has big plans for Raymond.

THE EARL STRONGBOW

The king was dying.

All his doctors were in agreement. He would not survive the fever. For two weeks the sickness had raged through his lungs and ravaged his guts. Henry FitzEmpress was fading. The king was dying.

Royal messengers had already been despatched to his son and heir, crowned king alongside his father two months before. Prepare, they were instructed to tell the fifteen-year old. Prepare to become lord and master of an empire. Prepare to become the greatest king in all Christendom.

Secret letters telling the same tale also found their way south to the king’s wife, Eleanor, at Poitiers, and east to Paris where the exiled Archbishop of Canterbury plotted his return to England.

‘Where is Master Ralph?’ Henry raved and slugged from a wine goblet, spilling most down his chest and onto his bed. ‘Master Ralph will return me to health.’ The king’s light ginger hair clung to his damp, yellowed face and he swiped it away with his shivering hand.

‘You Grace, your physician was among those poor souls who perished during your crossing to England in the spring. Do you recall?’ The Bishop of Lisieux used the same voice that he employed to calm his hunting dogs. ‘Be assured, we have engaged new doctors to oversee your recovery.’ His eyes flicked up. One of the new physicians visibly wilted and refused to meet his eyes.

Henry suddenly shot forward from his sick bed and grabbed the bishop by his robes, hauling him close enough so that the bishop could smell the puke and wine upon his breath. The king’s eyes danced in his pink face.

‘Becket has done this to me,’ Henry whispered, ‘just as he summoned up that storm to try and drown me during my passage across the Channel. You must protect me from his magic.’ A moan of sadness hissed from the king’s throat and he meekly punched the bishop in the shoulder as he clung to his robes. ‘I extended my hand in friendship to Thomas, tried to make peace as you instructed, and he has conspired to murder me.’ The king’s head slumped onto the bishop’s chest, the grip on his chasuble lessening. ‘It’s too damn hot,’ Henry whimpered as his hands fell away and he flopped back onto his back in bed. ‘Why is it always so damn hot in Normandy? I cannot believe I am going to die in this shit-hole.’ The king began rolling around the bed, his arms and legs gripped to his torso.

A smear of sweat had been left on the bishop’s rich vestments. The bishop raised his hand to wipe Henry’s perspiration from his clothes but stopped himself from doing so in the company of so many great men. As he cast his glance around the room he realised that not one person cared at how he comported himself. All eyes were on Henry. Each was considering how the king’s impending death would affect his empire and their place in it…

***

BUY LINKS

SWORDLAND

A disgraced knight, an exiled king – together can they conquer a kingdom in Ireland?

mybook.to/SWRDLND

LORD OF THE SEA CASTLE

The might of Viking Waterford marches against a hundred invading Normans. At the creek of Baginbun, Ireland will be lost or won.

mybook.to/LordSeaCastle

THE EARL STRONGBOW

Denied his father’s earldom and banished from the royal court, Richard de Clare will risk it all by invading Ireland to claim the hand of a princess and with it a crown…

mybook.to/EarlStrongbow

BIO

Ruadh Butler is the author of Swordland, Lord of the Sea Castle, and The Earl Strongbow. The series tells the story of the 12th century invasion of Ireland by Norman knights from Wales. Catch up with Ruadh at www.ruadhbutler.com, on Facebook, or find him on Twitter and Instagram.

***

Many thanks Ruadh. Great series!

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny

 

 

End of the Month Blog: Day 151…

Hang on a minute- wasn’t it February just now? 

I’m delighted to welcome Nell Peters back with her regular (now bi-monthly) blog round up of the last 31 days.

Over to you Anne…

By ‘eck! Time flies, doesn’t it? Here we are at the end of May already – the one hundred and fifty-first day of the year, no less. That means there’s just another two hundred and fourteen to go until the end of 2019.

Irish actor, Colin James Farrell, was born in Castleknock, Dublin forty-three years ago today. His father, Eamon, ran a health food shop and played footie for the delightfully named, Shamrock Rovers FC – as did his uncle, Tommy. While he was still at senior school – Gormanston College in County Meath – Colin unsuccessfully auditioned for the group, Boyzone, after which he enrolled in Drama College, inspired by Henry Thomas’ performance as Elliot in the movie ET.

When #4 son was born on Christmas Eve, 1992, we hadn’t decided upon a name for either girl or boy, but we had a short list for both, including Elliot for a boy (obviously!) On Christmas morning, I declined the invitation to venture downstairs to take part in the traditional TV broadcast of carols from Queen Charlotte’s Hospital, London, as I eagerly awaited our carriage – or beaten up BMW, if I remember correctly – to whisk us to Twickenham, where everyone and their dog was gathered at my parents’ house. Nothing to do with the new baby just the normal extended family Christmas bash.

One of the questions everyone asks when checking out a new arrival is what they are to be called – and lo, the after-dinner entertainment that year became I Can Name That Child in Eighty-Five Ghastly Suggestions. Fortunately, the more seasonal offerings like Gabriel (with apologies to any Gabriel/Gabrielles who may be lurking hereabouts), found little favour amongst those gathered – and when someone said that the baby’s wrinkly neck looked like ET’s, I mentioned that Elliot was on our list, which immediately got the thumbs up all round. So, we called #4 John – just kidding!

Where was I? Oh yes, Colin Farrell was studying drama – he didn’t stay the course, however, as he was offered the part of Danny Byrne in the BBC series, Ballykissangel in 1996, aged nineteen.

He was pretty lucky to have the opportunity, after being arrested for attempted murder in Sydney, Australia the previous year. The police sketch of their suspect looked uncannily like him and he had admitted to remembering nothing of the evening in question – but fortunately for him, his friend had kept a journal which crucially described the two of them partying across town that night, taking MDMA (Ecstasy). Who remembers enough to keep a journal of when they are high as a kite?

Despite an impressive award-winning career, not everything has run smoothly for the poor chap. In December 2005, Farrell checked into rehab for addiction to recreational drugs and painkillers. He later described the effects of the drugs thus; ‘An energy that was created, a character that was created, that no doubt benefited me. And then there was a stage where it all began to crumble around me.’ He also picked up a stalker along the way and an ex-girlfriend threatened to publicise a sex tape unless he paid her $5M. Yikes. Let’s hope his birthday passes without incident.

Since I was last here, there has been a lot of family stuff going on, starting 2nd April, which would have been my dad’s ninety-fourth birthday. He shared his date of birth (1925) with George MacDonald Fraser, British poet, author (Flashman) and scriptwriter (Octopussy, The Four Musketeers), who was born in Carlisle, UK, as well as Hard Boiled Haggerty (whose rather more boring real name was Don Stansauk), American professional wrestler and actor (The Incredible Hulk), who filled his first diaper in Los Angeles, California.

They died in 2008 and 2004 respectively, while my dad made it to 2017 and can therefore claim the prize for longevity. 2nd April 1925 was also the day upon which lawyer and future Nazi war criminal/Hitler’s personal legal advisor, Hans Frank, aged twenty-four, married secretary, Brigitte Herbst, aged twenty-nine, in Munich, Germany. In 2019, it was the day of my ex-husband’s funeral – he dropped dead from cardiac arrest in March, a few days after his sixtieth birthday.

Nipping forward, there were the Easter hols and the traditional Easter Egg Hunt for the Grands in our garden. A little different to most years, however, as the loot had to be placed in shaded areas so that chocolate didn’t melt in the heat – and the children were running around in their swimming cosies, diving in the pool to cool off. Bizarre, but brilliant.

We don’t like to give the children too much chocolate, and so the hunt typically includes toys and craft stuff plus this time, named dinosaur t-shirts for the younger ones. At eleven, I didn’t think the oldest GD would appreciate a dinosaur splashed across her chest and so got her an apron, as worn by sleb contestants on the Stand up to Cancer Bake Off programme – I’ve never seen it but she’s a big fan and loves to cook, especially cakes. She so doesn’t take after me! The (pretty hideous) pinny was designed by Ted Baker (who else?)

It was a lot cooler just one week later, when our middle GD celebrated her 6th birthday with a ten pin bowling party – an action replay of last year – joined by a host of school friends, including one little boy who wasn’t even invited! Being terribly British, none of the adults said a word, or even batted an eyelid. Everything was well organised by the venue staff, who supervised the little dears, did the catering and even cut up the cake provided by the parents.

Then it was back to our house for present opening and a Harry Potter-themed dinner, overseen by a huge unicorn balloon, which had nearly launched me into outer space the previous (very windy) day when I was carrying it through town. GD cannot decide between unicorns and Harry P, so we hedged our bets.

On the day she was born (26 April 2013), thirty people were killed when a bus crashed following a Taliban attack in southern Afghanistan. Over in the good ol’ US of A, country musician, George Jones aged eighty-one, (Golden Rings, Oh Lonesome Me), died from hypoxic respiratory failure. That’s when the usual exchange between oxygen and carbon dioxide in the lungs fails and as a result, not enough oxygen can reach the heart, brain, etc. Curtains. Sharing his date of death aged eighty-two, was film, stage and TV actress, Jacqueline Brookes. Amongst many other roles, she played Beatrice Gordon in US TV soap, Another World – although not for the entirety of its thirty-five year run.

This was also the day upon which my friend, Simon – fellow uni student when I read for my last degree – finally made an honest woman of his beautiful, long-suffering partner, Lydia. She got a smattering of revenge by leaving him waiting at the altar for almost an hour (it was a Friday, so presumably not too many happy couples lining up to tie the knot), during which time he was ‘bricking it’, to use his quaint expression.

Returning to the other side of the pond, Canadian actor and musician, Cory Monteith (Glee), emerged from a drug rehabilitation facility on that day, no doubt full of hope for the future. Tragically, he died of an overdose just weeks later in Vancouver on 13th July – the day upon which both Jenny and I get to blow out our birthday candles.

A dear friend was sixty at the beginning of May and her husband/family arranged a surprise party for her. On the day she was born – 1st May 1959 – West Germany introduced a five day working week and Floyd Patterson scored an eleventh round KO of Englishman Brian London in Indianapolis. This was the fourth time Floyd had successfully defended his World Heavyweight Boxing title.

Back to the party – the birthday girl had been told she was going to someone else’s party and so was somewhat surprised to see the OH and I scrape through the door of the venue just ahead of them (our taxi was late), as we don’t know that other person. It was a fab night and lovely to catch up with some people we hadn’t seen for far too long. Of course, a party meant I had to smarten up from my usual tramp gear of skinny jeans and hoodie – it was from the very shallow pocket of a jacket that my phone plunged into the loo, after we got home. Pre-use of the facilities, I hasten to add.

#2 son was staying and immediately tried resuscitation via the rice trick, but after a good few hours it became obvious that the situation was terminal. Damn; it was but a few months old. I am obviously a slow learner, as this was the same jacket I wore to my dad’s funeral, when another phone tried to swim. We were about to leave the house and so I was closing windows, including the upstairs loo – reached over the bowl … join own dots. #3 son was drying it with a hairdryer, as everyone else piled into cars on the drive. On that occasion, the phone lived to ring another day.

The day my new phone arrived, so did #3 from Bangkok – he hadn’t been back for five months. He spent a day sorting out his Thai work visa and then six of us flew to Dublin for a couple of nights to celebrate his thirtieth birthday, a few days early.

#4 son and his OH had never been to Dublin – or indeed anywhere in Ireland – and so we did the touristy things like boarding an open-topped bus to be blown to bits and buying a drink in the Temple Bar pub in Temple Bar, for which you need to take out a second mortgage. I also scoured the many souvenir shops for sparkly shamrock head boppers, as seen being worn by several hen parties about town.

Mission not accomplished, I gave up and decided to order from Amazon when home. While the rest of us returned to the humdrum of everyday routine, #3 flew off to Antigua for ten days to spend his birthday proper in style, lucky thing. I can’t actually remember what I did for my thirtieth, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t compare too favourably with his jolly.

OK, this is 31st May, so let me stop rambling and we’ll have a look at what has happened historically on this day. The Battle of Jutland in 1916 was the last major battle fought mainly by battleships and the most important naval battle of World War I, with the British navy blockading the German fleet in the North Sea off Denmark. Over the course of the battle, thousands of lives and many ships were lost, but despite British losses far outnumbering those of the Germans, their commander, Reinhard Scheer realised their fleet had been contained. Drat. The Germans never put to sea in ships again during WWI and turned instead to submarine warfare – one of the primary reasons that the United States entered the war in April 1917.

So, what do we think of the name given to their son by the D&D of Sussex? Unlike when #4 was born, I suspect they didn’t have all their relatives and friends sitting around making dodgy suggestions. My lips are sealed, except to mention that on this day in 1943, the comic strip, Archie, was first broadcast on radio in the US.

The character Archibald ‘Archie’ Andrews was originally created as a syndicated comic strip in 1941 by publisher John L Goldwater and artist Bob Montana, in collaboration with writer Vic Bloom. He was the main character featured in the Archie Comics franchise, which evolved to include the long-running radio series.

Finally, who remembers what substance Colin Farrell and his mate were taking in Sydney? A sticky bun for anyone who answered MDMA, or to give it its proper handle, Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (no wonder it’s known as Ecstasy for short!) On this day in 1985 the DEA (US Drug Enforcement Agency) declared an emergency ban on MDMA, placing it on the list of Schedule I drugs – substances with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. MDMA has remained a Schedule I substance since then, with the exception of a brief period between 1987 and 1988. Bad Colin.

Now I’m out of here. Thanks to Jenny for having me over and to anyone else who has taken the time to read this – appreciated.

Toodles.

NP

***

Huge thanks to Nell as ever for another fabulous blog!

See you in July, Nell!

Happy reading everyone.

Jenny xx

 

 

 

 

Opening Lines from Colette McCormick: Not My Brother’s Keeper

Opening Lines is back! 

What better way to kick off a new season of these popular blogs than with a blog tour post.

Please welcome Colette McCormick to my site with the first 500 words (exactly) of her novel, Not My Brother’s Keeper as part of her

Book Blog Tour.

Thank you so much to Jenny for inviting me to share the first 500 words of my new book Not My Brother’s Keeper with you.

In this book, brothers Robert and Tom each tell their side of the story surrounding what happened after Michelle became pregnant. Family ties are stretched and some bonds, once broken can never be repaired. Although the story is set in northern England, it is the people rather than the place that is important.

I have two sons and while this story was inspired by them it is not about them. It all started with a throw away comment that the younger one made when his older brother left home. He probably didn’t realise what he had said but it was enough to get the cogs moving and Not My Brother’s Keeper started to form.

Blurb

My brother, not my responsibility

Robert and Tom are practically identical – same height, same hair, equally good looking – but Tom never had the same confidence as his older brother, and for that reason, he is in awe of him.

When Robert’s girlfriend, Michelle, tells him that she’s pregnant, Robert disappears leaving Tom to clean up his mess. As Tom spends time with Michelle, reassuring her that she is not alone in this, the both begin to fall in love.

But is Michelle settling for second best?

Is Tom losing himself in what should have been his brother’s life?

Sixteen years later, without warning, Robert comes home and Tom has to find the courage to stand against the brother he idolized.

***

First 500 words…

As brothers went, there wasn’t much to distinguish Robert and Tom Ellis from any other set of brothers that had gone before them or since.

With a little over two years between them, they grew up playing together, learning together, and even occasionally fighting together. As little boys they were each other’s best friend.

As older boys the bond of brotherhood – though still strong – became stretched as new friendships were formed. By the time they were both at secondary school, they were brothers who looked out for each other’s welfare, though they had little in common.

As adolescents, when raging hormones turned cherubs into demons, the stretched bond strengthened again; they were two boys standing together against parents who had forgotten what it was like to be young.

As young men, they established who they really were.

ROBERT

I don’t know what you want me to say. I was just a normal kid.

I liked my mates, I loved football and I hated school.

The only thing that I liked about school was the break times, which I spent either playing footie with my mates or round the back of the gym doing whatever the girl I was with would allow me to. My kid brother was the academic one in the family and more than one teacher said that I should take a leaf out of his book. No chance. The only lesson I liked was the one that Mr Dawson taught in car mechanics but it wasn’t really a lesson at all, more of a hobby class really; a bit like chess club.

My best mate at school was a lad called Craig Jenkins. We started on the same day and were in the same class all the way through. He was a massive lad – wide as well as tall – and he liked school even less than I did. We sometimes used to wag off and go into town together. He had a sister called Michelle who was in our Tom’s year. I think they did Maths together.

Me and Craig lost touch a bit after we left school. He got a job on a building site and I started working for Bill Deardon who had a garage behind North Road. We made new friends and didn’t have the common bond of hating school anymore. I still saw him sometimes when I was out, especially if I was in the Big Tree on a Friday night but we weren’t as close as we had been.

I loved my job. I mean, I know I spent the first six months making tea and watching what the other mechanics did, but Bill said that that was the way I would learn. I think I’d been there almost a year before I got my hands on anything under the bonnet of a car but I had learned a lot from watching the others and Bill was pleased with what I could do. I came across Craig’s sister again in the summer…

***

You can Buy Not My Brother’s Keeper on Amazon

Bio

Originally a city girl, Colette has made her home in a one of the many former mining villages in County Durham. When not working as a retail manager for a large children’s charity she will more than likely be writing, even if it’s only a shopping list. She also enjoys cooking, gardening and taking the dog on long walks in the countryside near her home. She has been married for almost forty years and has two grown up sons.

Facebook Author page

@colettemcauthor

Colette McCormick on Books and Life in General

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Many thanks for dropping by to share your first 500 words from Not My Brother’s Keeper, Colette.

Wishing you a successful blog tour.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

20 Quick-Fire Questions – with me!

20 Quick-Fire Questions – With Me!

1.Why have you neglected this blog so much lately?

One of the other mes- Jennifer Ash- has been very busy writing a novella for ITV/Spiteful Puppet, The Meeting Place– a Robin of Sherwood story. You can imagine how excited I am about that- being something of a Robin Hood fan.  What do you mean you hadn’t noticed I was a fan…?.

As ‘Jennifer,’ I have also been researching the historical records prior to drafting the fourth of The Folville Chronicles. This will (eventually) be called Outlaw Justice, and will follow on from The Outlaw’s Ransom, The Winter Outlaw and Edward’s Outlaw.

2. Are you more like Jennifer or Jenny or Kay (Kay Jaybee- erotica) in real life?

Jenny

3.Do you love coffee as much as the characters in your Another Cup of Coffee series?

Even more than they do!

4. How do you take it?

Black- nothing added- Americano for preference

5. How many cups do you drink a day?

Three – none after 2pm.

6. Do you really write in cafes and coffee shops like JK Rowling?

I really do.

7.What is your favourite hot drink – apart from coffee?

Coffee is the only hot drink I like- I HATE tea, and I’m allergic to milk, so can’t have hot chocolate, latte etc

8. Favourite colour?

Purple

9. Boots, trainers, or heels?

Boots – I am not sporty and I’d break my neck in heels. I am very clumsy!

10. Are the characters in Another Cup of Coffee based on real people?

Some of them are.

11. Which ones?

My lips are sealed.

12. Spoil sport- give us a clue?

I knew three of them at University- although I obviously wrote exaggerated versions of them- and they are all still my friends and totally lovely.

13. What did you study at University?

I did an Archaeology degree, and then a Medieval History  PhD.

 

14. Ohhh-  like Amy did in Another Cup of Coffee and like Grace did in Romancing Robin Hood.

Yes- just like Amy and Grace did (at University of Leicester – just like them)- I think I can guess the next question! (Of course I can, I’m making the questions up!…Straight jacket handy anyone??)

15. So  are you Amy or Grace?

I am a little tiny bit both of them.

16. You feature Kew Gardens in Another Cup of Coffee and Another Glass of Champagne. Have you been there, or did you just research in on Google?

I’ve been there a few times. I really like just wondering around the various greenhouses- and sitting in the cafe of course!

 

17. Jack and Rob run a bookshop in Another Cup of Coffee, is that based on a real place?

No, that I invented.

18. Coffee shop or book shop?

Both! But if I was only allowed to go to one – coffee shop (with a book- purchased in a bookshop on a previous trip-  or work in my bag)

19. Do  you prefer being Kay Jaybee- Queen of BDSM Kink- or Jenny Kane- writer of  book chocolate- or Jennifer Ash- medieval crime writer ?

I love being all of them – it is wonderful to be able to create such different styles of work, and thus- hopefully- make more people happy when they read! (Well- that’s the plan!)

20. What is Jenny going to do next?

As Jenny, I’ve just finished the first in a new trilogy of contemporary fiction novels set on Exmoor. This ‘feel good’ story – which obviously contains many servings of coffee and- in this case- generous helpings of lemon cake-  is currently with my agent. Fingers crossed she likes it!

 

Happy reading!

Jenny xx

 

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