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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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

Arthur Dux Bellorum

I’m delighted to welcome back historical novelist, Tim Walker, to my site today. Robin Hood is stepping aside for a moment to make way for King Arthur!

Over to you Tim…

Blurb

From the ruins of post-Roman Britain, a warrior arises to unite a troubled land 

Britain in the late Fifth Century is a troubled place – riven with tribal infighting and beset by invaders in search of plunder and settlement. King Uther is dead, and his daughter, Morgana, seizes the crown for her infant son, Mordred. Merlyn’s attempt to present Arthur as the true son and heir of Uther is scorned, and the bewildered teenager finds himself in prison. Here our story begins…

Arthur finds friends in unexpected quarters and together they flee. Travelling through a fractured landscape of tribal conflict and suspicion, they attempt to stay one step ahead of their pursuers, whilst keeping a wary eye on Saxon invaders menacing the shoreline. Arthur’s reputation as a fearsome warrior grows as he learns the harsh lessons needed to survive and acquire the skills of a dux bellorum, a lord of war.

Tim Walker’s Arthur Dux Bellorum is a fresh look at the Arthurian legend, combining myth, history and gripping battle scenes. Although in a series, it can be read as a standalone novel.

Fans of Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden and Mathew Harffy will enjoy Walker’s A Light in the Dark Ages series and its newest addition – Arthur Dux Bellorum.

***

Extract from Arthur Dux Bellorum by Tim Walker

MERLYN LED HIS gang through the streets of sleeping Venta, beneath the glow of a pale moon. He glanced about for any signs of movement before rounding a corner, where he came face-to-face with a large, growling dog, its bared teeth and arched back indicating a readiness to strike. He held an arm up to indicate his followers should stop and dropped to eye level with the dog. He whispered in a soothing tone and slowly pulled a piece of roasted boar skin from inside his tunic and offered it. The dog approached, sniffing. Merlyn carefully patted its head and was relieved to see its tail wagging. “Come on,” he urged his followers, allowing the dog to tag along beside him.

They avoided a watchman’s tower at the corner of the wooden stockage that housed the royal buildings, and lined up in the shadow of a warehouse opposite the doorway to the kitchen. Merlyn checked both ways and studied the parapet above the wooden barrier across the street before running across to the door. He rapped the code and waited for a response. Sure enough, he heard bolts being withdrawn and he stood back, gripping his staff in both hands, ready to strike.

Morgaise’s face peered out from under a hood and he smiled with relief. “Come quickly,” she whispered. “The guards are drunk and sleeping.”

Merlyn waved for his men to follow and then entered the compound. Once all eight were inside, Varden, their leader, detailed one man to watch the doorway and two others to scout the yard and be in readiness to cover their escape.

Merlyn turned to Morgaise and asked, “Do you know where the sword of Ambrosius is?”

“The one Artorius pulled from the stone? Yes, it hangs on the wall in the Great Hall, behind the throne and under Mordred’s banner.”

When Varden returned to his side, Merlyn conveyed this information in a whisper. With a nod from Merlyn, Morgaise led them into the kitchen and out into a passageway that connected the hall to the sleeping quarters. She met Anne halfway along the narrow hallway, who indicated they should take a left turn. At the top of a circular stairwell Anne whispered to Merlyn, “At the bottom you will find the jailor sleeping on a wooden bed, but the night watchman is awake. He has the keys to the cells.”

Merlyn nodded. “Anne shall lead us down and Morgaise shall remain here to keep a look out and wait for our return. Varden will go to the hall and get the sword.”

“No,” Morgaise whispered, “the hunting hounds sleep in there by the hearth. They will attack him.”

Varden and Merlyn were confounded by this information. “Barking and snarling hounds would wake the guards,” Merlyn said, deep in thought.

“I sometimes feed the hounds,” Morgaise hissed. “They know me. Let me go there with a plate of meat from the larder and pick the sword on my way out.”

“Will they attack you in the dark?” Varden asked.

“Not if they smell the meats on offer,” she replied.

“Then let us try it,” Merlyn said, not wishing to delay further. “Varden will stand by the door with two men, ready to come to your aid if the hounds are restless,” Merlyn added.

Morgaise led Varden back to the kitchen to raid the larder for joints, whilst Merlyn and the rest of the men descended the stairs behind Anne. At the foot of the stairwell was a chamber lit by a solitary torch glowing from a bracket on the stone wall. To their right was a wooden bed on which slept the large form of Ahern, the gaoler, snoring on his back. Anne crept forward towards the row of cells and bumped into a startled watchman, holding a lantern in which the candle had died.

“Oy, what are you doing here?” he growled. Merlyn and his companions shrunk back into the shadows, leaving Anne to answer him.

“I… followed my cat down the steps. Have you seen him?”

“No, I have not…” was all he managed in reply as Merlyn stepped forward and banged his head with the ball at the end of his wooden staff. The young gaoler fell to the floor, unconscious, and they checked whether the sleeping man had been disturbed by the clatter of the lamp on the floor. Ahern grunted and rolled over, facing the wall. Anne picked up the keys from the stricken man and passed them to Merlyn. They moved cautiously down a flight of a dozen steps to a tunnel lined with locked doors. A burning torch fixed to the wall lighted their way. Anne plucked it from its sconce…

***

Tim Walker is an independent author based in Windsor, UK. His background is in marketing, journalism, editing and publications management. He began writing an historical series, A Light in the Dark Ages (set in Fifth Century Britain), in 2015, starting with Abandoned, set at the time the Romans left Britain. This was extensively revised and re-launched as a second edition in 2018.

Book two, Ambrosius: Last of the Romans, was published in 2017 and the third installment, Uther’s Destiny, was published in March 2018 (winner of One Stop Fiction book of the month award, April 2018). The adventure continues from March 2019 in the fourth book, Arthur, Dux Bellorum.

His creative writing journey began in July 2015 with the publication of a book of short stories, Thames Valley Tales. In September 2017 he published a second collection of short stories – Postcards from London. These stories combine his love of history with his experiences of living in London and various Thames Valley towns.

In 2016 he published his first novel, a dystopian political thriller, Devil Gate Dawn, following exposure through the Amazon Scout programme. In 2017 he published his first children’s book, The Adventures of Charly Holmes, co-written with his 12-year-old daughter, Cathy, followed In 2018 by a second adventure, Charly & The Superheroes.

Author Website: http://timwalkerwrites.co.uk

Newsletter sign-up: http://eepurl.com/diqexz

Amazon Author Page: http://Author.to/TimWalkerWrites

Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/TimWalkerWrites

Twitter: http://twitter.com/timwalker1666

 

Why all writers need to learn how to sell: Blog Tour with Niraj Kapur

Today I have something a little different for you. A blog from Niraj Kapur’s blog tour for his book, ‘Everybody Works in Sales.’ How true for anyone who makes their living writing!

Many thanks for dropping by today, Niraj. Over to you…

Why all writers need to learn how to sell

I’ve had several screenplays optioned, written 17 TV pilot episodes, been a writer-for-hire for shows on CBBC and Channel 5’s Milkshake. My first movie came out in 2012, I spent 3 years pitching in Hollywood and now my first non-fiction book, Everybody Works in Sales – How What you Need to Know to Achieve Success in Your Career was released on March 20th.

Many people, especially young writers, think all this writing work is due to me having exceptional talent. If you told my friends that, they would burst out laughing. Even the agents who have represented me over the year or the producers I’ve worked with will tell you I’m not brilliant. Sure, I’m have some talent, that’s important, however, the reasons I’ve had so many commissions is that I know how to sell and more writers need to learn this skill if they want to achieve more success.

Everybody Works in Sales.

Everybody.

If you work for somebody, you earn a living by selling their product or service.

If you are self-employed, you earn a living by selling your product or service.

When you buy from Amazon, they always recommended other products similar to the ones you are purchasing or have already purchased – that’s selling.

When you download a song, movie or TV show from iTunes, they always recommend more similar products. That’s selling.

When you register for most websites, they sell their products or services to you through a regular email.

When you attend an exhibition at the NEC, London ExCel, Olympia, Manchester or even a local market, everyone is trying to sell you their product.

Other examples of selling include:

  • When you’re having a job interview.
  • A child begging their parents for a present.
  • Persuading your friends which restaurant or bar to go to.
  • An advertising agency pitching for a client’s business.
  • A fitness trainer at the gym recommending how you work out.
  • An internet entrepreneur promoting their course.
  • A musician searching for that next gig.
  • A parent setting up a business to work around the school run.
  • A manager asking his staff to work on a project.
  • An employee asking their boss for a pay rise.
  • A broadband company trying to sell their packages.
  • A politician persuading you to vote.

We all have to sell. Most people don’t know how to sell or don’t want to sell because they associate selling with sleazy car salesmen or call centres who annoy you by calling you at home or your mobile. Everybody Works in Sales is designed to help you learn the skills you need.

Many writers believe if they write a good book or an interesting blog, they will find work. I wish it were that easy. No seriously, I really do, it would make my life easier as well.

Since many writers I’ve met are shy or introvert, it makes selling more challenging, but not impossible.

Here’s a bad salesperson – they’re not concerned with anyone around them, they knock down people in their way, only care about themselves and are ready to take on the enemy/the customer.

Photo by Luiz Hanfilaque on Unsplash

Here’s a bad salesperson – they’re not concerned with anyone around them, they knock down people in their way, only care about themselves and are ready to take on the enemy/the customer.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

Is it really that simple?

After 3 years travelling to LA pitching events and meeting producers, manager and agents, here’s how writers find work.

  You have a strong writing voice

  You’re not a psycho

  You’re not needy

  You keep your promises (selling)

  You’re likable (selling)

  You research the person you meet (selling)

You are able to adapt your work to your audience (selling)

You ask great questions (selling)

These rules are the in the UK. Yes, you also need luck and having contacts does help.

The business world is more complex than this. The world is writing is simpler when it comes to selling.

I wish you good luck on your journey ahead.

Everybody Works in Sales is designed to help you do better in your career because we all work in sales. Available now on Kindle and paperback https://www.amazon.co.uk/Everybody-Works-Sales-Achieve-Success-ebook/dp/B079T6HFQS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519641721&sr=8-1&keywords=niraj+kapur+everybody+works+in+sales

Everybody Works in Sales

We all work in sales. If you work for somebody, you earn a living by selling their product or service.

If you are self-employed, you earn a living by selling your product or service.

When you buy from Amazon, they always recommended other products similar to the ones you are purchasing or have already purchased – that’s selling.

When you download a song, movie or TV show from iTunes, they always recommend more similar products. That’s selling.

When you register for most websites, they sell their products or services to you through a regular email.

When you attend an exhibition at the NEC, London ExCel, Olympia, Manchester or even a local market, everyone is trying to sell you their product.

We all work in sales, yet few people know how to sell. Until now.

Containing 27 valuable lessons, plus 17 interviews with experts, Everybody Works in Sales combines unique storytelling and personal development to ensure you have the tools you need to do better in your career.

Purchase from Amazonhttp://amzn.to/2ET89nn

About Niraj Kapur

Award-winning executive, Niraj Kapur, has worked in corporate London for 23 years.

From small businesses to a national newspaper to FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies, he’s experienced it all and shares his insight, knowledge, big wins and horrible failures.

Containing 27 valuable lessons, plus 17 interviews with experts, Everybody Works in Sales combines unique storytelling and personal development to ensure you have the tools you need to do better in your career.

Niraj has also had several screenplays optioned, sitcoms commissioned, kids’ shows on Channel 5’s Milkshake and CBBC. His movie, Naachle London, was released in select cinemas across the UK.

He’s working on his next book while advising companies and coaching individuals on how to improve their sales.
@Nirajwriter

https://uk.linkedin.com/in/nkapur

***

Many thanks Niraji,

Jenny xx

Everything happens for a reason: James D Mortain

I’m delighted to welcome James D Mortain to my blog today. He- like me- is something of an accidental author- although out entry into the wonderful world of words is very different.

Over to you James…

Everything happens for a reason!

I consider myself something of an accidental author.

Why?

Well, up until a sequence of events changed my outlook on life, the concept of writing a novel had simply never crossed my mind.

In 2011, I was a detective in Bath CID with twelve years’ service behind me. My wife and I had been struggling to have a family for a number of years, but in this particular year, we were to be in luck! We had embarked on fertility treatment. For those reading this going through the same process, you know what ‘hope’ really means. It was a challenging pregnancy. My wife was in and out of hospital more times than I can remember. We knew we were going to have a little girl, due in the early part of January, but October came, and so began the sequence of events that would change my life.

It was early October when I received the first calls from my mother stating that my father wasn’t well. He was a strong man. He might have been a grumpy old git from time-to-time, but he was rarely unwell. Days passed. His condition worsened. The family knew it was serious. Mid October and dad was having tests at the hospital. By late October, he was diagnosed with widespread cancer. Just days later, he was gone.

My wife, now heavily pregnant, my commitment to the job, my family, my emotions, everything was spinning, but we had to ensure the health of my wife and our unborn child.

A few weeks later, having said our final goodbyes to my dad, a magical thing happened; my wife began labour pains — not so magical for her — but at last, we had a brief respite of positivity. It was 22nd December. On the 23rd, she was admitted to the maternity unit. We spent the late evening watching the clock — would we have a Christmas Eve baby? The clock went beyond midnight — yes, we would … oh! … No, we wouldn’t. Christmas Eve came and went. Christmas morning arrived and it was snowing outside in the hospital car park. The countdown was on and at just gone midday, my gorgeous daughter, Gracie, was born. The mixture of emotions we felt was obvious, but in my arms I held the most precious of gifts on Christmas Day.

I returned to work a father, having lost my own. Suddenly, priorities were different, concerns were changed and it provided clarity to my wife and I as to what was important and what we wanted the future to hold for little Gracie.

My mother-in-law, Liz, lived in North Devon, a place we loved to visit, particularly Westward Ho! We decided to prospect on the sale of our house in Bath — we had tried previously without a single viewing, but this time we had four full asking price offers on the first day! That was it — our sign. Offers agreed, we found a home in North Devon, but then came the hard part; I had to leave my job. It was a huge shock to all of my colleagues, but the relief and anticipation for me was overwhelming. All I had to do now was find a job in my new neighbourhood — how hard could that be?

August 2012, I was jobless, seriously homesick, missing my mates and missing the buzz of the job. I arranged to meet my old uniform colleagues for a night out in Bath and then the most significant event occurred. Towards the end of the night, I had consumed a skin full of booze. I got chatting to a chap seated alongside me at the end of the bar. He’d been to a book signing event at Toppings & Co. I asked him who he had seen (I had seen the brilliant Lee Child there a year or two before); his response, “It was mine, actually.”  I didn’t have a clue who he was, I apologised for not recognizing him and I asked for his name. Turned out I was chatting with Chris Ryan, ex-SAS veteran and author of many successful books. You can imagine my excitement at meeting a real-life legend. We continued to chat. He told me a little of his life as an author; I told him what I had recently done, and in that short conversation, the spark of creativity within me was ignited.

Next day, I enthusiastically relayed my chance encounter to my wife and mentioned something that he had said: that I had the knowledge and real-life experience that most crime writers would dream of having and why didn’t I consider writing a novel? To my astonishment, my wife agreed to the idea.

The trouble was I had no writing experience, no specific writing qualifications and frankly, no idea of what I was doing. However, I tried it anyway and later that same day I opened the laptop and Detective Deans was born. I gave the story a title, I knew the kind of real-life case I wanted to develop and I simply let the story take me where it naturally wanted to go.

What I hadn’t anticipated, was just how addictive writing would be. My story soon became a major focus in my life. I was now employed during the day, my little girl was growing and I was lucky that my wife indulged my ‘whim’. To her, it was my new hobby. To me, it was so much more.

After a year, the draft of STORM LOG-0505 was completed, but what was I going to do with it next? I truly believed in my story. I just couldn’t imagine anyone else being interested, after all, I still didn’t know what I was doing. I finally allowed a few people close to me to read it. They liked it. Some even loved it! I recruited professional help and found an editor. He picked my story apart, but crucially, he liked it too. I reached the stage where I had edited the thing so many times that I was making changes for the sake of it. I decided to take it to the next level and seek an agent. I threw all of my efforts into submissions and amazingly, within 48 hours of my first cast, I had a reply. An agent was keen to see my full manuscript. I sent it off. I waited. Soon I had a reply with lots of helpful tips and further proposed changes. I immediately went to work on the manuscript, and then BANG! I was struck down with viral meningitis.

I was sick. Very sick. For months, I lost control of my cognitive abilities, my vision changed, I suffered with blistering headaches and I battled with chronic fatigue. And with it, my hopes of gaining an agent evaporated, but … everything happens for a reason.

My condition slowly improved, I eased myself back into my day job and I took stock of the situation. I began writing again and I regained control. I wasn’t going to beat myself up and knock myself down with disappointment. It was time to go it alone.

I found a designer, Jessica Bell, who designed a fabulous cover for my story. Suddenly, my book was real. Editors polished the content and formatters made the inside look attractive. And then, in April 2016, STORM LOG-0505 was released to the world. For any author, releasing a new book is a special moment. For me, it was an achievement of Himalayan proportions. I watched the Amazon sales report like a hawk, waiting for those initial sales to start flooding in … but nothing happened, and so began my second publishing crash-course in marketing and promotion. I wasn’t using Facebook or Twitter at the time, but I soon began to build my platform and the sales started to trickle through. Then reviews came … and they were good … in fact, they were amazing! Four and five stars. People were actually enjoying my story AND wanting more! This trend continued until almost a year after its release, and one morning I woke up to discover STORM LOG-0505 had a little orange banner beside it on Amazon Kindle that said, ‘Best Seller’. My novel had reached the top spot in Psychic Suspense. Imagine my bewilderment!

I held author events — I absolutely loved them. Incredibly, people were bothering to hear me talk about my writing. I thought it was bonkers, yet all the while, I was working on the sequel.

Taking a third of the time to write and a third of the cost to publish, in November 2017, DEAD BY DESIGN was released. A week later, it too had a little orange banner beside it on Amazon Kindle.

Today, buoyed by the positive reviews and many kind messages I receive from my readers, I actually ‘feel’ like an author. I strive to improve and learn with each page I write, and each day I wake up and know I am closer to realising my goal of becoming a full-time writer.

Unexpected and magical things can really happen. Six years ago, I was slogging away at my desk, and thanks to a brave decision and a chance encounter, my new pathway in life couldn’t be further removed. We all suffer knockbacks and disappointment and I’m sure for me more will follow, but at least when it does, I can honestly accept that no matter how bad it might feel at the time, everything happens for a reason.

Biography

James D Mortain uses an author pseudonym and brings authenticity to his work through twelve years of police service with the Avon and Somerset Constabulary. His father’s death and the birth of his first child shaped a defining period and re-evaluation of his life, resulting in 2012 with his resignation from the police force and a move to North Devon.

Jobless and homesick James returned to Bath visiting friends, where a chance encounter and conversation with successful author, Chris Ryan, motivated him to start writing. Believing everything happens for a reason and nothing happens by chance, James embarked on creating a fresh British detective series influenced by his police experience and infused with paranormal overtones, inspired by a close friend with extraordinary ability.

James has created a character in Detective Deans, who must challenge everything he has been taught to believe. In the first book, STORM LOG-0505, Detective Deans hunts for a missing student, but what he discovers in a small North Devon community exposes him to a ‘paranormal awakening’ and the perilous clutches a sophisticated killer. DEAD BY DESIGN is the series follow-on and pits Deans against his greatest challenge yet. The final part of the trilogy is in the making and will be published in 2019.

Visit James here –
Website:        jamesdmortain.com
Twitter:         @JamesDMortain
Facebook:      James D Mortain & James D Mortain – Books

STORM LOG-0505

The wait is almost over for Detective Andrew Deans; years of agony and despair hanging on the results of his wife’s fertility treatment. But a student is missing. And he must find her.

Compelled to leave his wife in Bath, Deans heads to North Devon, where he encounters Denise Moon, a medium, who exposes him to a psychic dimension he could never have imagined existed, in what soon becomes a murder hunt.

Gripped by a mysterious happening attributed to his own paranormal awakening and alienated from all but his new mystical muse, Deans is closing in on a sophisticated killer, but all is not as it seems and Deans’ future is about to change.

Amazon UK  Amazon US

DEAD BY DESIGN

Detective Deans is back in this highly anticipated crime thriller sequel, but this time he seeks far more than just the truth!

A young couple in their prime is found dead in the marital bed. As they lie naked, staring at each other with eyes wide open – filled with fear, his colleagues assume a double suicide, but Detective Andrew Deans senses that darker forces are at work.

Deans is facing an awakening – a spiritual birth, but he is stuck in a living nightmare. Those around him are watching … judging … expecting him to break.

As he waits to hear the news he dreads most, Deans receives an unmarked DVD and the true meaning of horror is revealed.

Playing by the rules is getting him nowhere. Now, it’s time to do things his way. But death and tragedy haven’t finished with him… yet.

Amazon UK  Amazon US

THE NIGHT SHIFT (A SHORT STORY)

Thursday, 17th August. Ten years before…

When a fly-on-the-wall documentary crew drops in on a night shift in Bath city centre, PC Ellie Grange and her team are fuelled with anticipation at the thought of becoming TV reality stars.

They need it real, they want it uncensored, and they crave a true-to-life experience of the demands faced by Britain’s cops on our streets.

It’s a beautiful evening – the first night shift of a set in the historic Georgian city… what could possibly go wrong?

Amazon UK  Amazon US 

***

Fantastic blog- thank you so much James,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

Interview with Trina Stacey: Inspiration and Inspiring Others

It’s lovely to have a friend and fellow writer popping by for a chat today. I’m pleased to welcome Trina Stacey back to my blog to talk about her writing and her inspiration.

Why not put the kettle on and take a five minute break for a little read?

Over to you Trina…

Delighted to have the opportunity for a return visit – Thank you Jenny and a big warm Hello to everyone else too!

What inspires you to write?

Well I love spending time with me, if that doesn’t sound too weird?! I like to grab a notebook (or iPad) and reflect upon my thoughts and feelings. If something has occurred, evoked an emotional response and left me feeling off balance, I delve for underlying limiting beliefs that could be lurking, so I can unpick them and choose more supportive perspectives going forward. It’s really self-therapy; I coach myself through my emotional stuff and keep going until I’m out the other side…feeling good again. I don’t want to waste any time stuck in fear-based or limited thinking. I believe that, just like everyone else, I am here for a purpose. I have something of value to share, so it is up to me to deliver on it to the best of my ability unencumbered by my stuff that if left unacknowledged will just keep resurfacing until I do anyway.

My poetry has emerged as a result of this journaling activity, taking me by surprise actually.

What is your writing regime?

What is this r word you speak of?! No regime here. I do journal most days, but simply when I feel inspired, not even at a regular time of day. My poems appear in waves, I could go months without writing a poem (which can be tricky at my monthly poetry group!), then out pop 3 in a day. I was taken aback when a children’s story fell out of me recently, one that I aim to get published soon…I’ll keep you posted!

It hasn’t always been this way, I used to pride myself on being highly organised, a high achiever, pushing through to get things done – a tick multiple items off a length list type person. A big part of self-discovery for me has been unravelling this way of thinking, learning to trust, pay attention to my energy, doing what I feel inspired to do – rather than what I believe someone like me should be doing.

Some may be challenged by this (I used to be too!), it may sound lazy or whatever, however I find that I end up doing more of what energises me, what I love to do and still somehow manage to get all necessary things done too, just happens more easily and in my time, rather than society’s expectation – which actually varies depending on who you speak to, making it impossible to get right anyway, so I may as well live according to my truth – Yes?!

Let’s just say I am whole lot happier now, living with this intent – even though I still get caught up in old patterns now and again, being human and all. It also helps me perform better as a coach, be more present when I write and hopefully am a nicer person to be around too. When you’re present it takes a lot less time and effort to do anything – makes sense doesn’t it?

Tell us more about your books?

This time I thought I’d give a little more attention to 100 Nuggets of Inspiration, (last time I dropped in I shared a poem from Join the Spiritual Dots).

Christmas is rapidly approaching…Yay! So if you’re looking for an uplifting and alternative gift this could be it!

100 Nuggets… contains very short inspirational verses, I’ll let you guess the number! It’s the perfect book to dip into when you need a little boost of positivity or inspiration. See what page it falls open on or pick a number between 1 and 100 and you may get just the message you need. I use this with my coaching and meditation groups and they are regularly amazed by how this works.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Well, funny you should ask, I am a little excited about being a guest presenter at a certain upcoming writers retreat 😉

I will be running an interactive and thought-provoking session ‘Setting Your Sails for Writing Success’ to an audience of inspiring writer-types, where we’ll be discussing wonderful topics such as…connecting with your Why, being present, and showing up as the best version of you.

How does it get better than that! – Have you booked your place yet?  

Thank you so much for having me again.

Warmest Regards,

Trina

Bio:

Trina is a poet, author and spiritual coach. She writes uplifting, inspiring and relatable poetry that is accessible to everyone, and has published three books 100 Nuggets of Inspiration, Join the Spiritual Dots and Join the Spiritual Dots Goes Deeper.

If you’d like to connect with Trina, buy a book or find out more:

Visit: www.trinastacey.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/trina.stacey.3

Twitter: @trinajstacey

Find her books on Amazon: http://www.bit.ly/trinajstacey 

***

If you would like to join Trina, myself, Kate Griffin and Alison Knight on the Imagine Writing Retreat next March, all the details can be found here- https://www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk/writing-retreats

Many thanks for a lovely interview Trina,

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

Apaches, Blues and Cadillacs – The ABC of Growing Up With American As A Second Language

I’m delighted to welcome Richard Wall to my place with a fascinating blog about living- and writing- with the duel influences of American and British culture.

Over to you Richard…

Apaches, Blues and Cadillacs – The ABC of Growing Up With American As A Second Language

The USA has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. A new president who comes across as petulant, ignorant and divisive, and a spate of mass shootings is giving a great nation extremely bad press when it comes to world opinion.

As ever, the actions of the “few” has created a backlash of bad feeling towards the “many” – ordinary Americans just trying to get on with their lives.

America, it seems, is like Marmite. But whether you love the place with a passion or hate it and all it stands for, there is no denying the huge cultural impact the United States has made on life in Great Britain since the end of WW2.

Opinion varies as to whether this is a good thing or not, but what follows is my personal viewpoint.

As a writer, people often ask me why, as an Englishman, my stories contain so many references to American culture. Well, you could say I had no choice in the matter! Despite growing up in the backwater of a small market town in rural Herefordshire, I’ve been around Americans all my life.

I was born in 1962 and my g-g-generation was (I think) probably the first to be subjected daily to the American way of life without ever having to leave British shores. In the early 1960’s, television technology advanced and TV sets became accessible to more and more UK households; the numbers of channels and programmes increased and TV influences from across the pond came thick and fast. As a result of this, I, like everyone else in my age-group, grew up with American as a second language, absorbing an influence that reflects strongly in my writing.

My earliest memories are of watching John Wayne movies on our old black and white TV, and then playing cowboys and indians (I always wanted to be Geronimo, leader of the Apaches). I watched Neil Armstrong step onto the moon and news reports of the Vietnam war.

There were also countless US TV shows: Champion The Wonder Horse, Casey Jones, Bonanza, Kojak, Starsky and Hutch, The Rockford Files, M*A*S*H, Taxi, and many more.

When I began to take an interest in music I learned that blues men from the 1930’s inspired the Beatles, the Rolling Stones (also in their 50th year), Led Zeppelin and other British bands who took this music back to America to a white audience who were largely unaware of their own musical heritage.

American movies introduced me to classic American cars: Steve McQueen’s 1969 Ford Mustang (Bullitt), Gene Hackman’s 1971 Pontiac Le Mans (The French Connection), Jim Rockford’s Pontiac Firebird and Barry Newman’s Dodge Challenger (Vanishing Point).

Someone once said; “if you can’t see the beauty in an old American car, then you’ve got no soul.

American writers, such as: Stephen King, Andrew Vachss, Elmore Leonard, John Steinbeck, and Langston Hughes (and lately Ran Walker), added layers of depth and context to my TV and film influences, and gave me an ear for US colloquialisms.

When I finally realised my dream and visited the USA (Florida, and Rhode Island, courtesy of a nuclear submarine), I found it every bit as cool and exciting as I imagined it to be as a child.

Since then I have returned many times; visiting California, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and including one memorable road trip through Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta, visiting blues heritage sites and seeing with my own eyes the places where my blues heroes were born, lived and died.

All of these lifetime influences have been bubbling and fermenting in a cultural stew that I hope adds flavour to my writing.

My first short story to be published on Amazon was ‘Evel Knievel and The Fat Elvis Diner

An Englishman in Oklahoma is watching a storm approaching when he receives an email on his phone. As he waits for the email to download, it causes him to reflect on his childhood in 1970’s England, his relationship with his father and the journey that brought him to the USA.

Five Pairs of Shorts’ a collection of short stories, some with strong American influences, followed soon after.

In 2015 came my first novel, Fat Man Blues, inspired by the Mississippi road trip, and which has attracted a great deal of interest (and praise) across the world since its release. Fat Man Blues has opened the doors to a fascinating world where I have been extremely fortunate to meet and become friends with talented and creative people from across the planet.

Earlier this year I wrote another short story: ‘Hank Williams’ Cadillac’:

Vince and Stu’s road trip through Texas is cut short when Stu’s ancient Honda breaks down in the quiet town of Rambling. Nearby is Bubba’s used-car lot, containing a collection of classic American cars. Following a bizarre encounter with a talking crow, and a deal signed in blood, Stu trades in his Honda for a powder-blue 1952 Cadillac convertible. Back on the road, the two buddies continue their journey in style, until a series of Burma Shave road signs and an encounter in a cemetery changes things forever.

This was inspired by a road trip with friends, from Oklahoma City to Colorado, which took us along parts of Route 66, where glimpses of the America from my childhood imagination can still be seen. By the way, the cover photograph (taken by me in 2012) features the beautiful 1955 Cadillac in which we took a tour of Memphis.

The American influence continues with another short story due to be released at the end of the year. Beelzebub Jones will accompany the spaghetti western-themed concept album of UK Blues Man, Andrew ‘HalfDeaf’ McClatchie.

So, America. Good guys or bad guys?

Well, my personal view is that I’m British and proud to be so, but I can also speak American, because I grew up with it. At the end of the day we are all just people.

Ordinary Americans just want a quiet life, like we all do, and are among the friendliest people on the planet.

 

In the town of Kingfisher, Oklahoma, I was honoured to meet a WW2 veteran who, it transpired, fought in North Africa around the same time as my late father. He shook my hand with an iron grip and said: In North Africa we had everything and the Brits had nothing. I got nothing but respect for them; you push ’em back and push ’em back and push ’em back until they’re up against the wall and then they come back at you like tomcats…”

These words from an American made me proud to be British.

Oh, and I love Marmite.

***

Richard Wall can be found loitering around www.richardwall.org 

***

Many thanks for sharing your blog with us today Richard. Great stuff.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Blowing the Dust Off: Kirsten McKenzie’s Fifteen Postcards

It’s Day 4 of my ‘Blowing the Dust Off’ series of blogs. Today Kirsten McKenzie is taking time out from preparing for an archaeological adventure to tell us all about the fabulous novel, Fifteen Postcards.

Grab a cuppa and enjoy…

 

Travel Back in Time

Today I make the long journey from Auckland to Newcastle upon Tyne. Three different plane changes and one train trip will see me to my hotel in the centre of the city, where I suspect I shall then sleep for several hours. Why the long journey? I’m heading back to volunteer at an archaeological dig at Vindolanda, all in the name of research.

When I sat down to write my first novel, I didn’t plot or plan. I had no glorious ending in sight, I had merely made a sweeping statement to my family that I would write a novel when my youngest daughter started school, and so I did. I started with this paragraph:

“In a cramped little street, in a dusty corner of London, stands a set of two-storey brick facade shops. An architectural relic from last century, miraculously untouched by the bulldozers of modern developers. A greengrocer, a boutique, a gentlemen’s tailor, the ubiquitous Chinese dumpling shop, and The Old Curiosity Shop, an antique shop named after the Charles Dickens classic of the same name. The sort of shop passers-by would wonder if anyone ever went in or, indeed, whether they actually ever sold anything.”

That paragraph turned in ‘Fifteen Postcards’, a historical time slip novel traversing three continents and two centuries. It took me eighteen months to write, and even then it ended on a cliffhanger as the story grew too large for just one book.

A couple of months after ‘Fifteen Postcards’ was published by Accent Press, I turned up at Vindolanda for my first experience of volunteering on an archaeological site. And I fell in love. Every shovel full of dirt felt like a treasure hunt, but the sort of hunt where you all celebrate finding shards of pottery or slivers of glass. The most exciting article I found was a chair leg, beautifully preserved in the unique environment at Vindolanda.

It was that experience which dictated the direction the sequel to ‘Fifteen Postcards’ would then take. ‘The Last Letter’ was written in twelve months, and may include some references to digging up Roman statues….I’m not going to spoil the plot here!

Accent Press published ‘The Last Letter’ which again had an ending which nicely morphs into another sequel. So now my first novel ‘Fifteen Postcards’ has turned into a trilogy. It did that without me even realising, but time slip fiction does that to you. There are so many interesting threads of history you can weave into a storyline that you just don’t want to leave anything out.

My next book wasn’t the sequel to ‘The Last Letter’. Those characters needed to have a bit of time out, to sit around and stew in colonial New Zealand, or Victorian England, or underneath the rule of the Raj in India. While those characters were resting, I wrote ‘Painted’ a bloodless horror about an art appraiser and a houseful of malevolent portraits. Again, the antique dealer side of me couldn’t resist pulling in all the antique references.

Painted’ took eight months to write, so I’m getting faster which is a good thing! Now that’s out of my system I can revisit the wonderful characters from ‘Fifteen Postcards’ and ‘The Last Letter’ and maybe I’ll fling them into Roman Britain or modern day America? Who knows! But when I step onto the first plane today, I know that I will have my laptop with me, and two glorious weeks of free evenings to write in the most beautiful of locations, with very little responsibilities. And I’m imagining wonderful words will flow.

 

Kirsten excavating at Vindolanda

Author Bio
For many years Kirsten McKenzie worked in her family’s antique store, where she went from being allowed to sell the 50c postcards to selling $5,000 Worcester vases and seventeenth century silverware, providing a unique insight into the world of antiques which touches every aspect of her writing. Her time slip novels have been called Antiques Roadshow gone viral, and The Time Travellers Wife meets The Far Pavilions.

Her horror novel Painted was released in June 2017.

Now a full time author, she lives in New Zealand with her husband, daughters, and her SPCA rescue cat, and can be found procrastinating on Twitter.

Social Media Links

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kirstenmckenzieauthor

Twitter: www.twitter.com/kiwimrsmac

Instagram: www.instagram.com/kiwimrsmac

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/kiwimrsmac

Book Links:

UK Amazon: www.amazon.co.uk/Fifteen-Postcards-Travel-Solve-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00XXZIO0C

US Amazon: www.amazon.com/Fifteen-Postcards-Travel-Mystery-Curiosity-ebook/dp/B00XXZIO0C 

Many thanks Kirsten. What a great blog. I hope your excavation time is fantastic- not at all jealous…honest…

Come back tomorrow to hear what the lovely Rachel Brimble has to share with us.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

Penzance Literary Festival

It’s good to be back where I belong; tucked away with a huge black Americano, toast and marmalade, after three days away as a contributor to the Penzance Literary Festival.

My adventure began last Thursday when I left Tiverton Parkway (only slightly delayed), and travelled the rail line to Cornwall. The scenery between Devon and Cornwall is stunning, and my plans to work as I went along were quickly scuppered in the face of the beauty of South West England.

As you’ll know if you read my previous blog, that coming down to Penzance was a big deal for me.  I hadn’t been there for 20 years, and I was unprepared for how emotional my arrival there would make me feel. More details about that here – http://wp.me/p75ZD9-WA

Acorn Theatre

Having found my guesthouse and left my luggage in the owner’s reliable hands, I took the advice of one of the literary festivals organisers, the lovely Teresa Benison, and headed to the Honey Pot Cafe. This was conveniently placed directly opposite the Acorn theatre – location of the panel I was due to appear on at three that afternoon.

I can’t recommend the Honey Pot Cafe enough- if you happen to be in Penzance at any time, make sure you pop in.

Anyway – the panel I sat on, with the illustrious novelist Liz Fenwick and YA novelist Christopher Vick, was enormous fun. Teresa hosted the panel, which was based on the theme of authors setting their books in Cornwall. I happily chatted about Abi’s House and Abi’s Neighbour, while Liz shared the background to her new novel, The Returning Tide (incredible story) and Chris talked about Storms, his new YA novel (a must read).

Teresa Beniton, Jenny Kane, Liz Fenwick

On the Friday I had no festival responsibilities. Instead I had my coffee shop blogger hat on. Travelling through the sheering heat (we were blessed with incredible weather) I moved around Penzance, sampling coffee and nibbling cake. I rather love my job sometimes! All the resulting blogs will appear on my Have Americano and Pen…Will Travel blog over the next few weeks. Check out the first one here.

As much as I enjoyed the panel I took part in, not to mention listening to the other visiting authors and poets (the poetry event on the Thursday night was amazing- and diverse! I’ve never heard poems about dissecting David Bowie before- unusual….), the highlight for me was the life writing class I taught on Saturday morning.

Based in the fascinating Morrab Library, within the Morrab Sub-Tropical Gardens, I was in my element. Surrounded by works of nonfiction that went back decades, 15 intrepid creative writing workshoppers came in. All smiling- some clearly nervous and wondering what on earth they’d let themselves in for- others clearly confident; every chair filled, and we were soon ready to launch into the world of fictionalising our lives and personal experiences.

Morrab Sub-Tropical Garden

I’m not sure which memory from that class will stay with me the longest.

The wonderful lady whose imagination decided that her ice cream didn’t want to be an ice cream, but wanted to be fruit pieces instead.

The terror so perfectly described by the gentleman whose memory of his first day at school involved lining up outside his classroom while his teacher flipped his cap off with a cane because it wasn’t quite straight.

The two friends who came in giggling, laughed all the way through the class, and left with even wider smiles- having produced some incredible writing along the way.

The Australian traveller who summed up how it feels to be a young woman trying to please the world via the medium of a scoop of Neapolitan ice cream…

They were a dream class to teach. So much talent- so much potential. I look forward to seeing some future short story competition winners and novelists amongst them.

Morrab Library

My time in Penzance was over all too quickly. I would like to thanks Teresa, Linda, Barbara, and all the organisers and stewards who made my visit so much fun. Special thanks must go to the lovely chap who wrestled with the projector and its screen for me at Morrab Library – and to the kind library staff for providing tea, coffee and cake for my workshoppers.

Thanks must also go to the Edge of the World Bookshop on Market Jew Street, Penzance. The friendly and wonderful folk who work there not only managed to order loads of my books, but kindly displayed them at both my events as well as displaying lots of them in their bookshop. There is a never ending thrill in knowing my books sit on bookshop shelves.

Penzance Literary Festival is styled as the country’s most friendly literary festival with good reason.

Roll on next year’s event.

 

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 

 

 

The importance of book reviews

I have recently been blessed with some lovely reviews for my latest novel, Abi’s Neighbour.

Reviews are the only way an author can tell if he or she is ‘hitting the spot’ or not. Obviously high book sales can tell you if your book is successful – but sale figures can do no more than reflect how good your marketing is. It is feedback from your readership that tells you if your stories are actually working.

If you wrote a thriller- did it thrill?

If you wrote a romance- did it melt the heart?

If you wrote a horror- did it give your reader nightmares?

Obviously this set of questions is simplistic, but the point is- authors need to know – and way to tell them is via reviews.

Good reviews improve our standing and our professional reputations. They improve our ratings on Amazon and equivalent book selling platforms. The more good reviews an author has, the better their sales will become.

I’m not saying that you should only give good reviews. If a book has disappointed, let you down and so on, then some constructive criticism can help an author- even though it might be difficult to swallow sometimes!

What you should not do is give a poor review because…

… of poor delivery packaging (nothing to do with the author)

…the book isn’t the one you meant to purchase- (you pressed the buy button)

…you didn’t like the cover after all, so you didn’t bother reading the book etc etc

My favourite 1 star review was for Another Cup of Coffee – it was complaining about all the sex in it.

This confused me. There is a suggestion that sex might happen on two occasions within that 97,000 word book. There is no actual sex.  I dread to think what might have happened if that reviewer had accidentally purchased one of my Kay Jaybee books!!!

If you enjoy a book – PLEASE review it.

It takes up to a year to write a book for you to read in a matter of days. Any positive feedback you can give helps us! A lot.

It’s tough in the world of publishing right now. We need to help each other to keep those books coming.

Whether you leave a review on the Amazons, WHSmith, Waterstones, or the brilliant Goodreads – every single one helps.

Every single one.

And with that…I have some reviews to write for some books I’ve recently enjoyed!

Thanks you,

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 

Who the hell are you?

Hello, it’s Jenny Kane here – or is it?

Last week I was lucky enough to go to the Exeter Writer and Blogger Meet Up, organised by the lovely Kim Nash and Holly Martin. It was a relaxed affair, with the only request made of us being that we wore name badges. I decided, in the interests of simplicity, just to use two of my many names- more for my sanity than anything else!

It was so busy – really wonderful! However, I had an attack of shy syndrome, and so I sat and chatted to many of the folk I’d met before- despite telling myself I must be brave and mingle!

This situation was not destined to remain however…

The pub in which was all met was open to the public as well as to us writer types. Unbeknown to me (as I had my back to the bar and am as deaf as a post), a stag party had come in. There they were, all dressed as characters from Top Gun, merrily ( I use the word advisedly) chatting to some of my fellow writers. Then, suddenly, there was a tap on my shoulder, and the words, ‘Hey, you’re the porn woman’ were being hurtled towards me at high speed…

Cue some good natured banter with said stag party.

Letting my inner Kay Jaybee take over, I coaxed the lads outside, where I took lots of photos for them – of them I hasten to add- and was about to make my way off when one of them produced a Sharpie…A little clothing signing later and I bid them a fond farewell and returned to the writer throng.

It was at that moment when a lady – who I regretfully didn’t catch the name of- turned to me and uttered the immortal words ‘Who the hell are you?!’

And so…maybe it’s time for a recap…

Jenny Kane writes RomCom style contemporary fiction – with a hint of romance and a healthy spattering of coffee drinking included. (Tea drinkers are also welcome)

book-pile

Jenny Kane also writes children’s picture books of the very quirky variety. There is no coffee on offer, but cookies are involved by way of compensation.

title-page

Jennifer Ash writes fourteenth century medieval mysteries– also with a hint of romance, but with no coffee whatsoever. There is ale though – lots of ale.

The Outlaw's Ransom

Kay Jaybee writes award winning, full on, adult only, erotica (not porn, despite the claims of the aforementioned stag party). It has been known to include coffee… Enough said… If you wish to learn about Kay, then feel free to visit her at www.kayjaybee.me.uk You should NOT visit Kay unless you are over 18. If you are under 18 and you visit her, you’ll make her very cross- not something I’d advise you doing…

best-of-kjb

There is another ‘ME’, but that name is not shared…ever…

And then of course, there is me. The actual me, who looks remarkably like Jenny and Jennifer and Kay. I can’t tell you that much about her except she works 12-14 hour shifts as a writer every day, and goes to work, and runs a house, and has a family (pretty much like every other writer I know). She often has moments of total forgetfulness, is very clumsy, drinks WAY too much coffee, loves Malteasers, and is rather keen on all things Robin Hood…Oh, and she is generally a very happy person.

Hope that’s helped a bit.

After the stag do incident I became much braver, and I spoke to some wonderful people in Exeter- although not as many as I’d have liked to as time ran out on me. Maybe next time.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny/Jennifer/Kay/Me xxx

crazy

 

 

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