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

Tag: birthday

Opening Lines: Another Cup of Coffee

This week I thought I’d share some of my own ‘Opening Lines.’

How about Another Cup of Coffee ?

Another Cup of Coffee Blurb

Thirteen years ago Amy Crane ran away from everyone and everything she knew, ending up in an unfamiliar city with no obvious past and no idea of her future. Now, though, that past has just arrived on her doorstep, in the shape of an old music cassette that Amy hasn’t seen since she was at university.

Digging out her long-neglected Walkman, Amy listens to the lyrics that soundtracked her student days. As long-buried memories are wrenched from the places in her mind where she’s kept them safely locked away for over a decade, Amy is suddenly tired of hiding.

It’s time to confront everything about her life. Time to find all the friends she left behind in England, when her heart got broken and the life she was building for herself was shattered. Time to make sense of all the feelings she’s been bottling up for all this time. And most of all, it’s time to discover why Jack has sent her tape back to her now, after all these years…

With her mantra, New life, New job, New home, playing on a continuous loop in her head, Amy gears herself up with yet another bucket-sized cup of coffee, as she goes forth to lay the ghost of first love to rest…

 

Here are the first 500 words…

Taking refuge in the kitchen, Amy placed her palms firmly onto the cool, tiled work surface, and took a couple of deep yet shaky breaths. Forcing her brain to slip back into action, she retrieved a bottle of white wine from the fridge, poured a large glassful and, squaring her shoulders, carried it through to the living room.

Perching on the edge of her sofa, her throat dry, Amy stared suspiciously at the tape for a second, before daring to pick it up and click open its stiff plastic box. Two minutes later, her hands still shaking, she closed it again with a sharp bang, and drank some wine. It took a further five minutes to gather the courage to re-open the case and place the tape into the dusty cassette compartment of her ancient stereo system. It must have been years since she’d seen a cassette, she thought, let alone listened to one. She wasn’t even sure the stereo still worked …

Swallowing another great gulp of alcohol, Amy closed her eyes and pressed Play, not at all sure she wanted to take this trip back in time …

The hectic bustle of the place had hit Amy instantly. Being brought up by parents with a serious café habit, the energy buzzing around the student coffee shop had felt both newly exhilarating and yet comfortably familiar. She’d instantly enjoyed walking anonymously through the crowds with her plastic mug and a soggy salad roll.

Sitting in the coffee shop one day, during the second week of her first term as a student archaeologist, Amy noticed two lads, whom she’d seen in her Prehistory lecture only ten minutes before, struggling to find seats. Surprising herself by inviting them to share her wobbly plastic table, Amy recalled how she’d been even more surprised when they’d accepted her offer.

With that one uncharacteristically impulsive gesture, Amy had met Paul and Rob. Those cups of strong black coffee in the overcrowded student café were only the first of many coffee stops they shared over the next three years …

The first track, which Amy remembered recording herself, was only halfway through, but her wine glass was already empty. With closed eyes Amy thought of them now. Rob was married with three small children. Paul was travelling the world, his archaeological trowel still in hand. Both were miles away. Their friendships remained, but were rather neglected on her side, she thought sadly. The sigh which escaped Amy’s lips was a resigned one, as the sound of Bryan Adams’ ‘Summer of ’69’ continued to fill the room.

Amy sighed again, but couldn’t help the hint of a smile as she remembered how the student coffee shop had only appeared to own one CD, which it had played on a continuous loop. It had quickly become traditional for Amy, Paul, and Rob to time their departure to the sound of Adams belting out the last lines of his song.

As track one of her tape died away…

***

Another Cup of Coffee is available from all good book retailers, including-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Another-Cup-Coffee-ebook/dp/B07ZJLKXV7/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Another+Cup+of+Coffee+Jenny+KAne&qid=1575632954&sr=8-1

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

A sip of champagne

 

I’ve been so busy lately, that I’ve been neglecting my blog. I promise the neglect has been for good reasons- which will result in 4 new novels over the next 12 months.  (Yes- I am insane).

Talking of neglect – one of my novels often gets forgotten about when I’m waving my marketing flag – and that’s Another Glass of Champagne. Which is a shame- because I loved every second of writing it. As the last in a series of books (the Another Cup of… range), I frequently forget to shout about it, even though it stands up as a book in its own right, without you having to read the rest of the series first.While Another Cup of Coffee very much involved the figure of bad-boy Jack, in Another Glass of Champagne  he takes the staring role.

 

The novel opens with, after an absence of a few years from his friend’s lives, Jack is heading back to London, with new opportunities, a new skill set, a determination to avoid romance at all costs, and fresh adventures well within his grasp- all of which could be celebrated with a glass of champagne.

The trouble is, knowing Jack, he might well mess it all up…

Blurb

A warm-hearted, contemporary tale about a group of friends living in a small corner of busy London, by bestselling author Jenny Kane.

Fortysomething Amy is shocked and delighted to discover she s expecting a baby not to mention terrified! Amy wants best friend Jack to be godfather, but he hasn’t been heard from in months. When Jack finally reappears, he s full of good intentions but his new business plan could spell disaster for the beloved Pickwicks Coffee Shop, and ruin a number of old friendships…

Meanwhile his love life is as complicated as ever and yet when he swears off men for good, Jack meets someone who makes him rethink his priorities…but is it too late for a fresh start?

 Author Kit has problems of her own: just when her career has started to take off, she finds herself unable to write and there s a deadline looming, plus two headstrong kids to see through their difficult teenage years…will she be able to cope?

Extract

Staring out of the train window, Jack exhaled a long, slow breath. Was this how Amy had felt when she had first come to Richmond after her years of self-imposed exile in Scotland? Sort of excited, but absolutely terrified at the same time? 

Jack wondered if, once he’d worked up the courage to go and see her, Amy would notice the parallels between their situations. A smile crossed his face. However she reacted, she would forgive him for not being in touch over the past few years. Amy always forgave him. For everything.

In his mind, he’d left Richmond for a good reason. Although he knew Amy accepted he’d needed to leave, he was less sure she understood why – which was why he’d decided to break off even phone and email contact with her. It was also why he hadn’t told any of his friends where he was; just to see if that helped.

It wasn’t that Jack wasn’t happy for Amy and Paul to be living the fairytale, but the fact that they were together, while he was still alone, was sometimes hard to take – especially when he knew Amy’s love could have been his if only he’d been prepared to risk it all those years ago. This nagging thought – one he accepted was utterly ridiculous, as he knew that he’d never have been able to ignore his sexuality, even for Amy – made him a rather less kind human being than he would have liked. He knew that until he could get past feeling he was missing out on something that all his friends took for granted, they were better off without him and the chip on his shoulder. Amy would understand, he was sure. Kit, on the other hand, might not be as understanding…

Jack’s smile disappeared. Years ago, back when they were dating, Kit would have forgiven him anything – but since Amy had come back into his life, and both women had become good friends in their own right, Kit had become much stronger. Jack had learnt that Kit had always hated how he could make her doubt her strength and resilience. These days she was so much more equipped to deal with him and his bullshit – and he knew it.

Perhaps he shouldn’t be coming back. After all, he knew he was as emotionally messed-up as ever – but he had to go somewhere, and anyway, whether he wanted to admit it or not, he’d been getting homesick.  Plus he’d had to get away from Kent…

Opening his eyes, Jack sighed as the train’s sudden slowing announced that they were arriving at St Pancras. Here he was again. Back in London, fleeing from yet another cock-up in his love life, and with nowhere to call home. He wished he hadn’t so rashly sold his place in Mortlake – he’d got far less than it was worth, too, in his haste to make a clean break.  

There were several Tube connections to Richmond Jack could have chosen to see his old friends straight away, but as he stood in the bustling station, he found himself unable to move a step further.  It wasn’t like him to be assailed by doubt, but this time it was different. Whatever he did, he always managed to upset people. He never meant to; usually he never even saw his offences coming.

On this occasion however, he knew that if he was going to go ahead with his latest plan and really make it work, he was going to cause trouble for some of his friends…

***

If you’d like to find out if Jack finally finds the person of his dreams, and how his latest escapade impacts on the lives of the Pickwicks crew, then you can buy Another Glass of Champagne from all good bookshops and from online retailers including-

Happy reading,

Jenny x

PS- Please note that the paperback and ebook covers are different- the inside is the same!

Opening Lines: Another Cup of Coffee

This week I thought I’d share some of my own ‘Opening Lines.’

How about Another Cup of Coffee ?

 

Another Cup of Coffee Blurb

Thirteen years ago Amy Crane ran away from everyone and everything she knew, ending up in an unfamiliar city with no obvious past and no idea of her future. Now, though, that past has just arrived on her doorstep, in the shape of an old music cassette that Amy hasn’t seen since she was at university.

Digging out her long-neglected Walkman, Amy listens to the lyrics that soundtracked her student days. As long-buried memories are wrenched from the places in her mind where she’s kept them safely locked away for over a decade, Amy is suddenly tired of hiding.

It’s time to confront everything about her life. Time to find all the friends she left behind in England, when her heart got broken and the life she was building for herself was shattered. Time to make sense of all the feelings she’s been bottling up for all this time. And most of all, it’s time to discover why Jack has sent her tape back to her now, after all these years…

With her mantra, New life, New job, New home, playing on a continuous loop in her head, Amy gears herself up with yet another bucket-sized cup of coffee, as she goes forth to lay the ghost of first love to rest…

Here are the first 500 words…

Taking refuge in the kitchen, Amy placed her palms firmly onto the cool, tiled work surface, and took a couple of deep yet shaky breaths. Forcing her brain to slip back into action, she retrieved a bottle of white wine from the fridge, poured a large glassful and, squaring her shoulders, carried it through to the living room.

Perching on the edge of her sofa, her throat dry, Amy stared suspiciously at the tape for a second, before daring to pick it up and click open its stiff plastic box. Two minutes later, her hands still shaking, she closed it again with a sharp bang, and drank some wine. It took a further five minutes to gather the courage to re-open the case and place the tape into the dusty cassette compartment of her ancient stereo system. It must have been years since she’d seen a cassette, she thought, let alone listened to one. She wasn’t even sure the stereo still worked …

Swallowing another great gulp of alcohol, Amy closed her eyes and pressed Play, not at all sure she wanted to take this trip back in time …

The hectic bustle of the place had hit Amy instantly. Being brought up by parents with a serious café habit, the energy buzzing around the student coffee shop had felt both newly exhilarating and yet comfortably familiar. She’d instantly enjoyed walking anonymously through the crowds with her plastic mug and a soggy salad roll.

Sitting in the coffee shop one day, during the second week of her first term as a student archaeologist, Amy noticed two lads, whom she’d seen in her Prehistory lecture only ten minutes before, struggling to find seats. Surprising herself by inviting them to share her wobbly plastic table, Amy recalled how she’d been even more surprised when they’d accepted her offer.

With that one uncharacteristically impulsive gesture, Amy had met Paul and Rob. Those cups of strong black coffee in the overcrowded student café were only the first of many coffee stops they shared over the next three years …

The first track, which Amy remembered recording herself, was only halfway through, but her wine glass was already empty. With closed eyes Amy thought of them now. Rob was married with three small children. Paul was travelling the world, his archaeological trowel still in hand. Both were miles away. Their friendships remained, but were rather neglected on her side, she thought sadly. The sigh which escaped Amy’s lips was a resigned one, as the sound of Bryan Adams’ ‘Summer of ’69’ continued to fill the room.

Amy sighed again, but couldn’t help the hint of a smile as she remembered how the student coffee shop had only appeared to own one CD, which it had played on a continuous loop. It had quickly become traditional for Amy, Paul, and Rob to time their departure to the sound of Adams belting out the last lines of his song.

As track one of her tape died away…

***

Another Cup of Coffee is available from all good book and eBook retailers, including-

http://www.amazon.com/Another-Cup-Of-Coffee-contemporary-ebook/dp/B00EVYZC7M/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=15EFJ85882KQYAJ71KED

 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Another-Cup-Of-Coffee-contemporary-ebook/dp/B00EVYZC7M/ref=pd_sim_kinc_4?ie=UTF8&refRID=12DHKX85NFP0DNJJCKDS

 http://www.bookdepository.com/Another-Cup-Coffee-Jenny-Kane/9781783751129

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

Opening Lines: Another Cup of Coffee

I can’t quite believe that I’m celebrating five years since the publication of Another Cup of Coffee. It seems like only yesterday that I sent the manuscript off, with very little hope of a positive reply, to my publisher. 

Today, to mark the fifth anniversary of my very first romantic comedy, I’m setting off on a blog tour (details below) and, seeing as it is Thursday, I thought I’d use this weeks ‘Opening Lines’ blog slot to share the first 500 words (exactly) of Another Cup of Coffee…

After years of only writing erotica (as Kay Jaybee) I knew it was a gamble to branch out into another genre. I wasn’t at all sure I’d be taken seriously, nor that anyone would want to take a risk on me writing stories in a very different style from what my previous readership was used to. Thankfully, my worries were unfounded, and thanks to my lovely editor, Another Cup of Coffee became the first of many contemporary rom/com novels to escape from my previously rather kinkier pen.

 

 

Here are the first 500 words…

Taking refuge in the kitchen, Amy placed her palms firmly onto the cool, tiled work surface, and took a couple of deep yet shaky breaths. Forcing her brain to slip back into action, she retrieved a bottle of white wine from the fridge, poured a large glassful and, squaring her shoulders, carried it through to the living room.

Perching on the edge of her sofa, her throat dry, Amy stared suspiciously at the tape for a second, before daring to pick it up and click open its stiff plastic box. Two minutes later, her hands still shaking, she closed it again with a sharp bang, and drank some wine. It took a further five minutes to gather the courage to re-open the case and place the tape into the dusty cassette compartment of her ancient stereo system. It must have been years since she’d seen a cassette, she thought, let alone listened to one. She wasn’t even sure the stereo still worked …

Swallowing another great gulp of alcohol, Amy closed her eyes and pressed Play, not at all sure she wanted to take this trip back in time …

The hectic bustle of the place had hit Amy instantly. Being brought up by parents with a serious café habit, the energy buzzing around the student coffee shop had felt both newly exhilarating and yet comfortably familiar. She’d instantly enjoyed walking anonymously through the crowds with her plastic mug and a soggy salad roll.

Sitting in the coffee shop one day, during the second week of her first term as a student archaeologist, Amy noticed two lads, whom she’d seen in her Prehistory lecture only ten minutes before, struggling to find seats. Surprising herself by inviting them to share her wobbly plastic table, Amy recalled how she’d been even more surprised when they’d accepted her offer.

With that one uncharacteristically impulsive gesture, Amy had met Paul and Rob. Those cups of strong black coffee in the overcrowded student café were only the first of many coffee stops they shared over the next three years …

The first track, which Amy remembered recording herself, was only halfway through, but her wine glass was already empty. With closed eyes Amy thought of them now. Rob was married with three small children. Paul was travelling the world, his archaeological trowel still in hand. Both were miles away. Their friendships remained, but were rather neglected on her side, she thought sadly. The sigh which escaped Amy’s lips was a resigned one, as the sound of Bryan Adams’ ‘Summer of ’69’ continued to fill the room.

Amy sighed again, but couldn’t help the hint of a smile as she remembered how the student coffee shop had only appeared to own one CD, which it had played on a continuous loop. It had quickly become traditional for Amy, Paul, and Rob to time their departure to the sound of Adams belting out the last lines of his song.

As track one of her tape died away…

***

Another Cup of Coffee Blurb

Thirteen years ago Amy Crane ran away from everyone and everything she knew, ending up in an unfamiliar city with no obvious past and no idea of her future. Now, though, that past has just arrived on her doorstep, in the shape of an old music cassette that Amy hasn’t seen since she was at university.

Digging out her long-neglected Walkman, Amy listens to the lyrics that soundtracked her student days. As long-buried memories are wrenched from the places in her mind where she’s kept them safely locked away for over a decade, Amy is suddenly tired of hiding.

It’s time to confront everything about her life. Time to find all the friends she left behind in England, when her heart got broken and the life she was building for herself was shattered. Time to make sense of all the feelings she’s been bottling up for all this time. And most of all, it’s time to discover why Jack has sent her tape back to her now, after all these years…

With her mantra, New life, New job, New home, playing on a continuous loop in her head, Amy gears herself up with yet another bucket-sized cup of coffee, as she goes forth to lay the ghost of first love to rest…

***

If you’d like to join the birthday celebrations for Another Cup of Coffee, I’d be delighted if you could join me on my ‘Mini Anniversary Tour’- you can find all the stops here. It starts today!!

Another Cup of Coffee is available from all good book and eBook retailers, including-

http://www.amazon.com/Another-Cup-Of-Coffee-contemporary-ebook/dp/B00EVYZC7M/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1?ie=UTF8&refRID=15EFJ85882KQYAJ71KED

 http://www.amazon.co.uk/Another-Cup-Of-Coffee-contemporary-ebook/dp/B00EVYZC7M/ref=pd_sim_kinc_4?ie=UTF8&refRID=12DHKX85NFP0DNJJCKDS

 http://www.bookdepository.com/Another-Cup-Coffee-Jenny-Kane/9781783751129

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

Birthday Perks

There are many advantages to having (yet another) birthday…This is what I’m telling myself as I wake up on my 45th birthday in a state of bewilderment that I’ve got this far through my life without anyone telling me I’m doing it wrong.

I will be honest- the idea of being 45 does not fill my with joy. On the other hand, not reaching 45 would have one hell of a lot worse, and so I’ll go with it- although it had better be a damn site better to me than 44 was!

A lot went wrong when I was 44 –  book deal promises died, publishers dissolved into the ether, writing promises were broken, and so on….On the other hand (again)…out of these professional ashes came Imagine… The creative writing business I am co-managing with the lovely Alison Knight.

It has already been so much fun- and we’ve had some fantastic adventures sourcing potential retreat venues, appearing on BBC Radio Wiltshire, teaching from Penzance to Chippenham, and lots of places in between. My highlight so far…

Carefully easing out the memories of a class of dementia sufferers who all want to get their life stories on paper before it’s too late. Humbling.

This last year has seen me embark upon my first literary tour, taking Abi’s Neighbour on a trip around the South West, ending up in Cornwall, where it is set, amongst the rocks of Penzance, and the yellow sands of Sennen.

Outside of my working life- my eldest daughter left compulsory education, has recently won a prize at the Royal Institution of Science for outstanding work in biology, and is about to head off to university. Meanwhile by youngest daughter has just won a scholarship to Maths school over the Summer, as well as an award for academic excellence in Statistics – not to mention a 2nd Dan Black Belt in mixed martial arts (Don’t mess with daughter number 2!!) I think you can say I’m a proud Mum.

***

As if to offset the extra wrinkles and gradual general in-toning, a birthday does bring with it some perks.

I get to stay in bed and write this rather than go to the café to write this! I’m going to take part of the day off so that I can explore a little of the beautiful Exmoor countryside, and- it my nostrils don’t deceive me, and I’m not hallucinating the aroma coming from the kitchen, later there will be cake…

If you like a bit of a saucy read, I can also offer you a little pressie- in the shape of my Kay Jaybee novella, Wednesday on Thursday– which is FREE on Amazon this week (over 18’s ONLY)

So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to see if the postman has been, and to pull on my walking shoes. If I’m a good girl they might just walk me in the direction of a scone or two…

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 

 

 

Happy First Birthday: Another Glass of Champagne

I can’t quite believe that a year has gone by since Another Glass of Champagne– the last part of my Another Cup of…series – was published! Since then I’ve had my first Jennifer Ash novella published (The Outlaw’s Ransom), and my second Cornish novel, Abi’s Neighbour released, and I’ve written the novel, The Winter Outlaw, for Jennifer Ash. (Out in the winter)

AGOC

The original novel, Another Cup of Coffee novel was intended to be a one. Based in and around the Pickwick’s Coffee Shop, it revolved around the adventures of waitress Amy and erotica writer Kit. To my amazement, three Christmas novellas followed. The first two mini-novels (Another Cup of Christmas and Christmas in the Cotswolds) told former art student, Megan’s story, while the final seasonal outing took Kit up to a literary festival in Aberdeenshire. (Christmas in the Castle)

While Another Cup of Coffee very much involved the figure of bad-boy Jack alongside Kit and Amy, he had never had a novel that focused on him more than the other characters – until  Another Glass of Champagne.

The novel opens with, after an absence of a few years from his friend’s lives, Jack is heading back to London, with new opportunities, a new skill set, a determination to avoid romance at all costs, and fresh adventures well within his grasp- all of which could be celebrated with a glass of champagne.

The trouble is, knowing Jack, he might well mess it all up…

Blurb

A warm-hearted, contemporary tale about a group of friends living in a small corner of busy London, by bestselling author Jenny Kane.

Fortysomething Amy is shocked and delighted to discover she s expecting a baby not to mention terrified! Amy wants best friend Jack to be godfather, but he hasn’t been heard from in months. When Jack finally reappears, he s full of good intentions but his new business plan could spell disaster for the beloved Pickwicks Coffee Shop, and ruin a number of old friendships…

Meanwhile his love life is as complicated as ever and yet when he swears off men for good, Jack meets someone who makes him rethink his priorities…but is it too late for a fresh start?

 Author Kit has problems of her own: just when her career has started to take off, she finds herself unable to write and there s a deadline looming, plus two headstrong kids to see through their difficult teenage years…will she be able to cope?

 

Jack washes away another disaster!

Jack washes away another disaster!

Extract

Staring out of the train window, Jack exhaled a long, slow breath. Was this how Amy had felt when she had first come to Richmond after her years of self-imposed exile in Scotland? Sort of excited, but absolutely terrified at the same time? 

Jack wondered if, once he’d worked up the courage to go and see her, Amy would notice the parallels between their situations. A smile crossed his face. However she reacted, she would forgive him for not being in touch over the past few years. Amy always forgave him. For everything.

In his mind, he’d left Richmond for a good reason. Although he knew Amy accepted he’d needed to leave, he was less sure she understood why – which was why he’d decided to break off even phone and email contact with her. It was also why he hadn’t told any of his friends where he was; just to see if that helped.

It wasn’t that Jack wasn’t happy for Amy and Paul to be living the fairytale, but the fact that they were together, while he was still alone, was sometimes hard to take – especially when he knew Amy’s love could have been his if only he’d been prepared to risk it all those years ago. This nagging thought – one he accepted was utterly ridiculous, as he knew that he’d never have been able to ignore his sexuality, even for Amy – made him a rather less kind human being than he would have liked. He knew that until he could get past feeling he was missing out on something that all his friends took for granted, they were better off without him and the chip on his shoulder. Amy would understand, he was sure. Kit, on the other hand, might not be as understanding…

Jack’s smile disappeared. Years ago, back when they were dating, Kit would have forgiven him anything – but since Amy had come back into his life, and both women had become good friends in their own right, Kit had become much stronger. Jack had learnt that Kit had always hated how he could make her doubt her strength and resilience. These days she was so much more equipped to deal with him and his bullshit – and he knew it.

Perhaps he shouldn’t be coming back. After all, he knew he was as emotionally messed-up as ever – but he had to go somewhere, and anyway, whether he wanted to admit it or not, he’d been getting homesick.  Plus he’d had to get away from Kent…

Opening his eyes, Jack sighed as the train’s sudden slowing announced that they were arriving at St Pancras. Here he was again. Back in London, fleeing from yet another cock-up in his love life, and with nowhere to call home. He wished he hadn’t so rashly sold his place in Mortlake – he’d got far less than it was worth, too, in his haste to make a clean break.  

There were several Tube connections to Richmond Jack could have chosen to see his old friends straight away, but as he stood in the bustling station, he found himself unable to move a step further.  It wasn’t like him to be assailed by doubt, but this time it was different. Whatever he did, he always managed to upset people. He never meant to; usually he never even saw his offences coming.

On this occasion however, he knew that if he was going to go ahead with his latest plan and really make it work, he was going to cause trouble for some of his friends…

***

If you’d like to find out if Jack finally finds the man of his dreams, and how his latest escapade impacts on the lives of the Pickwicks crew, then you can buy Another Glass of Champagne from all good bookshops and from online retailers including-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Another+Glass+of+Champagne+Jenny+Kane

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss/188-7813436-7626710?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Another+Glass+of+Champagne+Jenny+Kane 

***

I never dreamed that I’d end up writing five stories about the comings and goings of the folk who frequented the Pickwicks Coffee Shop in Richmond, London. I’m so glad I did though. I loved every second of writing that series. The characters became my friends- I still miss them!

So, from my own café corner in distant Devon, I’m raising a cuppa to Another Glass of Champagne! Happy birthday happy book!

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Birthday Blog: Sherwood in Dartmoor?

This time last year, I shared a birthday blog with you saying that for years I’ve intended to write a story based on the moors of Devon, and yet somehow time, and other work commitments, have never allowed it.

This year for an early birthday present, the lovely Dr K took me for a weekend away on Dartmoor. We weren’t there just to escape from our workaday lives however- I had a mission. I wanted to find a place that could- in my mind at least- double for fourteenth century Sherwood!

Don’t worry dear reader- my increasing age hasn’t addled my brain (well, not much). I am in the midst of writing an entirely medieval sequel to my popular timeslip novel, Romancing Robin Hood, and as it is one heck of a drive up to the midlands from Devon, I wanted to find somewhere more local to visit that would let me feel a little of the forest atmosphere.

RRH- new 2015

When I write I find it essential to experience the location about which I’m writing. Obviously, until they invent time machines, I can’t nip back and feel the medieval air myself- and I have been to Sherwood many times so I have memories to fall back on- but I wanted to stand in a woodland area where I could see nothing modern, hear nothing modern, and soak up the atmosphere.

Only a few minutes along a walk by the side of the Teign Valley, I found what I was looking for. Oak trees, spaced widely, but close enough to form cover. No modern edifices in sight. No buzzing from mobile phones. No planes flew sounds overhead. The air was right. The breeze was right. The scent in the air was right. In my minds eyes Robin Hood himself could have been hiding anywhere close by – or in this case the new outlaw – a less pleasant outlaw who, for now, shall remain nameless…

A wonderful walk later- and a rest by the thirteenth century Fingle bridge (more outlaws are hiding I’m sure), and many new ideas were brewing in my mind for the medieval mystery forming in my head. Mathilda (who you will remember from Romancing Robin Hood), is in for quite an adventure…

And talking of brewing- let’s all settle back with a cuppa-(coffee for me please)- and a nice nibble of birthday cupcake, and contemplate if I am going to kill anybody off- or not…

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Happy Birthday Blog: A Romancing Robin Hood Preview

I’m getting to the age where I’m beginning to wonder if I should even mention my birthday! On the other hand- I’m a sucker for balloons, ice-cream, and the excuse to eat rather more cake than usual! So bring it on!!

This year I’m celebrating with my lovely family, and a walk over beautiful Dartmoor. This is a place that inspires me the second I catch glimpse of it, on each and every visit.

Great Mis Tor 2

For years I’ve intended to write a story based on the moors of Devon, and yet somehow time, and other work commitments, haves never allowed it. This year though, it has to happen- even if it’s only a short tale…ummmm…I can feel the ideas brewing…

And talking of brewing- let’s all settle back with a cuppa-(coffee for me please)- and a nice big slice of birthday cake, and contemplate the meaning of life, the universe and everything- apparently now I’m this particular age I should know the answer…

No? Okay- let’s read this instead… a sneaky exclusive peep from chapter one of my forthcoming novel, Romancing Robin Hood!!! Enjoy!

romancing robin hood

Raising a cup of tea to her lips, Grace lent back against her pine chair and blew carefully through the steam which rose from the liquids surface, before taking a sip from the third pots worth of tea she’d ordered that afternoon. The scolding drink slid down her dry throat, a throat which her friends joked must be layered with asbestos such was her ability to drink tea down almost directly from the kettle.

Staring through the teashop window, Grace watched the summer time shoppers stroll by in a never ending stream of flip-flops, t-shirts and a staggering variety of different lengths of shorts. It was as if everyone on England had decided to expose as much flesh as possible, as wholeheartedly as possible just in case burst of late June heat this was the only sun they saw all summer.

Grace drew her wandering attention back to the reason for her weekday escape from the office. With constant interruptions from research students and fellow academics alike, Grace had been finding it increasingly impossible to marshal her thoughts for the opening chapter of the book she was trying to write.

Two hours ago she’d gathered up the print out of the manuscript so far, and headed for the quiet of Mrs Beeton’s tearooms. She’d read it twice already, and now sped through it again. A notebook lay next to her teacup, and Grace added an additional point to the rough list she’d made of things to check out and expand on, before sighing into her cup and turning back to watch the stream of pedestrians pass by the window flourishing a vast array of swinging carrier bags.

Writing a book in the academic world was a bit like running an incredibly slow race with your legs glued together, and at least one arm tied behind your back. Everything took so long. The research, the checking, the double checking, making sure you were one step ahead of everything else already published on your subject, and racing (tortoise style), to get your book out there before a similar historian, in a similar office, in a similar university, produced their book on an identical subject in a similar fashion. Then of course, there were the constant interruptions. Students and fellow lecturers always wanted something. Then there were the secretaries, who were forever after some pointless piece of administrative paperwork that the occupants of the ivory tower had decreed it necessary to add to the already overwhelming mountain of documentation in circulation.

‘At least,’ Grace mumbled to herself as she picked her sketchy book plan and chapter draft back up, fanning herself with it in an attempt to circulate some air in the stagnant air of the café, brought about by a week of unusually balmy late June weather, ‘no one else studies what I study in quite the way I do.’

Admitting defeat, and stuffing her work back into her large canvas bag, which was more suited to the beach than land locked Leicester, Grace pulled out the square envelope that had arrived in the post that morning, and pulled out the card within. It showed a guinea-pig wearing a yellow hard hat and driving a bulldozer.

The card could only have come from Daisy. Grace read the brief message again. Daisy’s familiar spider scrawl, which would have been the envy of any doctor, slopped its way across the card, illustrated that it had been written in haste. Grace could picture Daisy clearly, a pen working over the card in one hand, a packet of pet food in the other, and probably her mobile phone tucked under her chin at the same time. Daisy could multi-task with the prowess of a mother or three.

Daisy however, wasn’t a mother of any sort. She had long since vowed against human children, and after her degree finals had swiftly cast aside all she had studied for in order to breed rabbits and guinea pigs, house stray animals, and basically be an unpaid vet and rescue shelter owner. Her home, a suitably ramshackle cottage near Hathersage in Derbyshire’s Peak District, was the base of an ever changing and continually growing menagerie of creatures, which she always loved, and frequently couldn’t bear to be parted from. Grace smiled as she imagined the chaos that was probably going on around Daisy’s wellie booted feet at that very moment.

It had been the cards arrival in the post that morning that had made Grace think back to her youth; that strange non-teenage hood she’d had, and of how it had got her to where she was now. A medieval history lecturer at Leicester University.

Grace had met Daisy fifteen years ago, when they’d been students together at Exeter University, at the tender age of nineteen, and they’d quickly become inseparable. Now, with their respective thirty-fourth birthdays only a few months ahead of them, Daisy, after a lifetime of happy singleness was suddenly getting married.

She’d managed, by sheer fluke, to find a vet called Marcus as delightfully dotty as she was and, after only six months of romance, was about to tie the knot. The totally un-wedding like invitation Grace now held, announced that their nuptials were to be held in just under two months time at the beautiful Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire. Daisy had then added a postscript saying that she would personally shoot Grace if she didn’t turn up, and she’d throw in some mild torture of an especially medieval variety, if she didn’t agree to be her bridesmaid.

‘A bridesmaid!’ Grace grimaced as she mumbled into her cup, ‘Bloody hell, it makes me sound like a child of six. If I was married or had a partner I’d be maid of honour, but no, I’m the bloody bridesmaid.’

Swilling down her remaining tea Grace got to her feet, and carried on muttering to the uncaring world in general, ‘Robin Hood, you have a hell of a lot to answer for,’ before she hooked her holdall onto her shoulder and began the pleasant walk from the city centre, down the picturesque Victorian lamp-posted New Walk, towards the University of Leicester, and an afternoon of marking dissertations.

RH- RoS 2

It was all Jason Connery’s fault, or maybe it was Michael Praed’s? As she crashed onto her worn leather desk chair Grace, after two decades of indecision, still couldn’t decide which of the two actors she preferred in the title role of Robin of Sherwood.

That was how it had all started, “The Robin Hood Thing,” as Daisy referred to it, with an instant and unremitting love for a television show. Yet, for Grace, it hadn’t been a crush in the usual way. She had only watched one episode of the hit eighties series and, with the haunting theme tune from Clannad echoing in her ears, had run upstairs to her piggy bank to see how much money she’d saved, and how much more cash she’d need before she could spend all her pocket money on the complete video collection. After that, the young Grace had done every odd job her parents would pay her for so she could purchase a myriad of Connery and Praed posters with which to bedeck her room. But that was just the beginning. Within weeks Grace had become pathologically and forensically interested in anything and everything to do with the outlaw legend as a whole.

She’d watched all the Robin Hood films and vintage episodes of Douglas Fairbanks Junior and Errol Flynn, Richard Greene, Sean Connery, and Barry Ingram. As time passed, she winced and cringed her way through Kevin Costner’s comical but endearing attempt at hero status, and privately applauded Patrick Bergin’s darker and infinitely more realistic approach to the tale. Daisy had quickly learnt to never ever mention Russell Crowes adaption of the story- it was the only time she’d ever heard Grace swear using words that could have been as labelled as Technicolor as the movie had been.

The teenage Grace had read every story, every ballad, and every academic book, paper and report on the subject. She’d hoarded pictures, painting, badges, stickers, along with anything and everything else she could find connected with Robin Hood, his band of outlaws, his enemies, Nottingham, Sherwood, Barnsdale, Yorkshire, and so it went on and on. The collection, now over twenty years in the making, had reached ridiculous proportions and had long since overflowed from her small terraced home to her university office, where posters lined the walls, and books about the legend, both serious and ridiculous, crammed the overstuffed shelves.

Her undergraduates who’d chosen to study medieval economy and crime as a history degree option, and her postgraduates’ whose interest in the intricate weavings of English medieval society was almost as insane as her own, often commented on how much they liked Dr Harper’s office. Apparently it was akin to sitting in a mad museum of medievalism. Sometimes Grace was pleased with this reaction. Other times it filled her with depression, for that office, its contents and the daily, non-stop flow of work was her life- her whole life- and sometimes she felt that it was sucking her dry. Leaving literally no time for anything else- or anyone else. Boyfriends had come and gone, but few had any hope of matching up to the figure she’d fallen in love with as a teenager. A man who is quite literally a legend is a hard act to follow…

****

More news on Romancing Robin Hood coming soon…

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 

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