Jenny Kane & Jennifer Ash

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

Tag: contemporary fiction Page 2 of 6

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

Opening Lines is back! 

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

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

Book Blog Tour.

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

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

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

Blurb

My brother, not my responsibility

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

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

But is Michelle settling for second best?

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

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

***

First 500 words…

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

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

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

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

As young men, they established who they really were.

ROBERT

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

You can Buy Not My Brother’s Keeper on Amazon

Bio

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

Facebook Author page

@colettemcauthor

Colette McCormick on Books and Life in General

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

Wishing you a successful blog tour.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

Another Cup…of Covers

My Another Cup of…series has had a revamp!

Check out the new covers!

Another Cup of Coffee

‘A wonderful piece of literature that will fill your heart with warmth… A delight from start to finish’ – Bookmark That
‘Delicious, delightful, and simply irresistible’ – Bookish Jottings

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 got completely 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 a bucket-sized cup of coffee, as she goes forth to lay the ghost of first love to rest…

Another Cup of Christmas

A novella length sequel to Another Cup of Coffee

Five years ago the staff of Pickwicks cafe in Richmond were thrown into turmoil when their cook and part-owner, Scott was involved in an accident. With help from his wife, friends and the staff at the local hospital, he bounced back.

Now Pickwicks is preparing to host a special Christmas fundraiser to thank the hospital. Pickwicks waitress Megan and Nick, the ward’s administrator are put in charge to organise the whole thing. Megan and Nick’s emails start out as harmless practicality but soon turn flirtatious … Can you actually fall for someone you’ve never met?



Christmas in the Cotswolds

A novella length sequel to Another Cup of Coffee

Izzie Spencer-Harris, owner of the Cotswold Art and Craft Centre, is due to host the prestigious Cotswold Choir’s annual Christmas carol concert in her beautiful converted church. Or at least she was, until a storm smashed a hole right through the chancel roof.

Days from Christmas, Izzie suddenly finds herself up to her neck in DIY, with her last dodgy workman having walked off the job. She does the only thing she can … calls in her best friend Megan to help.

Leaving Peggy and Scott to run Pickwicks Café in her absence, Megan heads to the Cotswolds for Christmas. Within minutes of her arrival, she finds herself hunting down anyone willing to take on extra work so close to Christmas. It seems the only person available to help is Joseph Parker – a carpenter who, while admittedly gorgeous, seems to have ulterior motives for everything he does …

With Izzie’s bossy mother, Lady Spencer-Harris, causing her problems at every turn, an accident at work causing yet more delays, and the date for the concert drawing ever nearer, it’s going to take a lot more than Mrs Vickers’ powerful mulled wine to make sure everything is all right on the night …

Christmas at the Castle

A novella length seasonal treat from Jenny Kane, featuring much-loved characters from her bestselling novel Another Cup of Coffee.

When hotshot businesswoman Alice Warren is asked to organise a literary festival at beautiful Crathes Castle in Scotland, her ‘work mode’ persona means she can’t say no – even though the person asking is her ex, Cameron Hunter.

Alice broke Cameron’s heart and feels she owes him one – but her best friend Charlie isn’t going to like it. Charlie – aka famous author Erin Spence – is happy to help Alice with the festival…until she finds out that Cameron’s involved! Charlie suffered a bad case of unrequited love for Cameron, and she can’t bear the thought of seeing him again.

Caught between her own insecurities and loyalty to her friend, Charlie gets fellow author Kit Lambert to take her place. Agreeing to leave her London comfort zone – and her favourite corner in Pickwicks Café – Kit steps in. She quickly finds herself not just helping out, but hosting a major literary event, while also trying to play fairy godmother – a task which quickly gets very complicated indeed…

Another Glass of Champagne

A follow-up – full length novel- to the runaway success Another Cup of Coffee.

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?

***

Hope you like the new look!

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

Meet Jack: Another Cup of Coffee

I’m on my travels this weekend, so I thought I’d leave you with a little something to read – an extract from the very first book in the Another Cup of…series, Another Cup of Coffee. In particular, a little about Jack…

 

First of all however, here’s the blurb for you-

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…

***

Let me introduce you to Jack. It has to be said, that Jack does not start off as the nicest man in the world- a real bad boy. And yet- perhaps for that very reason- he has become the most popular character in the series. This extract comes from very early on, and we find him in the shower, very much wishing he hadn’t sent an old fashioned mix tape to his ex-girlfriend, Amy…

****

The power shower thundered, sending a searing-hot cascade of water down onto Jack’s head. Squeezing far too much shampoo into his hands, he began to viciously scrub his short hair. What the hell had he been thinking? Well, actually, he hadn’t been thinking, had he? He never looked beyond himself. The moment. The day. He was so stupid. So angry with himself.

shower

Why had he posted that tape? And more immediately, where was he? And how soon was he going to able to get away from whoever it was he’d spent the night with? Jack could feel the familiar sensation of suffocation closing in on him as he abandoned his hair and began to furiously soap his torso.

He was a shit.

But then you have to be good at something.

And now Amy was coming here. It hadn’t crossed his mind that she’d even visit, let alone move her entire life back south. And not just south, but bloody London. Being back in touch, and hopefully forgiven, was one thing when she was safely tucked away in Scotland. But here. Face to face. Jack hadn’t banked on that at all.

He really didn’t want to see Rob today. It was his fault this had happened. Rob had come into work one day, back in the summer, going on about how worried he and Paul were for Amy. How she seemed to have placed herself completely off the emotional scale. The combination of bright sunshine, happy reminiscences, and the weight of a conversation he and Amy had never had, had brought his buried guilt racing to the surface.

Then, a few days later, Paul had visited Jack and Rob’s bookshop, passing through on one of his rare visits between his archaeological digs. He’d been sorting out some of his university mementos, and had come across a load of photographs.

They were all there, at university, more years ago than was acceptable if Jack was still going to pass himself off as thirty at the clubs he frequented. Amy, Rob and Paul huddled together in a muddy ditch, laughing. Rob, Paul and him, pints of Tiger lager in hand, outside their favourite pub. Paul, Amy and him, all cuddled together on Rob’s battered and suspiciously stained brown sofa. Amy and him. Amy and him together. Smiling. Together.

That had been the killer. That was the photo that had made him think. Her eyes had shone at the camera. If Jack was honest, so had his. So, in a state of happy but unrealistic nostalgia, he’d gone home, dragged a box of assorted junk out from under his bed, and pulled out the tape.

He had weighed the clear plastic box in his hand. It was time to explain. If Amy was half the girl he used to know then she’d forgive him. And suddenly, from nowhere, Jack had found that he really, really needed to be forgiven.

That was why he’d put Unfinished Sympathy on Amy’s tape. He wanted her to understand that he knew he’d hurt her. That he, himself, had been hurt by having to leave her. But for reasons he hadn’t totally understood at the time, he’d felt he had no choice. A fact which had led him to the record the unbearably twee, but wholly accurate, I Will Always Love You. It seemed to say how sorry he was. It said everything he’d wanted to say then, but couldn’t. He was sorry, really he was. But for Amy to turn up here! Bloody hell.

Stepping out of the shower, Jack began to dry himself with a suitably punishing rough brown towel. Now he was going to have to tell Rob he’d returned the tape, and have another go at talking to Kit.

He hadn’t deliberately failed to tell Kit about Amy. Specific conversations about individual exes had never come up. Jack was pretty sure that Rob hadn’t mentioned Amy to Kit either. Amy had been part of their old life, and Kit was part of their current one. Simple.

Jack knew he had to see Kit soon, before someone else filled her in. He wasn’t sure why he’d walked out on her now he came to think about it. At least she’d understand. Kit always understood. After all, they’d remained friends. Great friends. They had moved on smoothly.

‘Talk about my past catching me up,’ he muttered to his sleep-deprived reflection as he dragged a borrowed razor over his chin. ‘It’s pretty much tripped me up, into a pile of shit, and it’s entirely my fault. Bloody sentimental tape!’

nature books

Approaching his bookshop, Jack peered up at the sign which swung, pub-like, from its low eaves, and silently thanked his grandfather for the money he’d left him.

Even though he’d attained a first degree in Ecology, Jack had never had any intention of taking up a career in that arena. The idea of running a bookshop had started as a faint possibility; an option amongst many. It had developed into a dream, and then, when he’d accidentally come across the empty premises in Kew, it had blossomed into an exciting and challenging project.

Now Reading Nature was a source of real pride, and despite his self-inflicted gloom, Jack got a kick of achievement from seeing its single bay-windowed frontage ahead of him. Through the glass Jack could see Rob’s cropped ginger-haired head bent over the counter. He was busy sorting the mornings post into to do, to send out, bills to pay, and junk to recycle, piles.

‘Morning,’ Rob smiled up at his friend as he came in, but adjusted his expression as he saw the cloud hanging across Jack’s face. ‘What’s up? Club no good last night?’

‘It was fine, busy, you know.’

‘Not really, mate, but then I’m a boring old married fart.’

Jack attempt at a smile failed, ‘I’ve done something stupid. I think.’

Rob pulled a face that clearly said, “No change there then,” but simply said, ‘Go on.’

‘I’ve got in touch with Amy…’

****

If you’d like to read the first novel in the series, it is available as an eBook, and as a paperback from all good online stores and bookshops, including…

Amazon UK- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Another-Cup-Of-Coffee-ebook/dp/B00EVYZC7M/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377952210&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=another+cup+of+coffee+jenny+kane

Happy Reading,

Jenny xx

 

Opening Lines: Little Pink Taxi by Marie Laval

It’s with great pleasure that I invite Marie Laval to my site with her ‘Opening Lines,’ from Little Pink Taxi!

Thank you so much Jenny for welcoming me on your blog today and share the first 500 words of my romantic comedy LITTLE PINK TAXI, which was released a year ago – already! – by Choc Lit.

People often ask me where I find my ideas, and what inspired me to write LITTLE PINK TAXI. Was it a holiday in the Cairngorms of Scotland, a stay in a beautiful old castle, or perhaps a past experience of driving a taxi?

I can say straight away that my inspiration was not driving a taxi! I have never driven a taxi, although ferrying my children between school, home and various friends and activities often felt like it indeed. Regretfully, I have never stayed in an old castle like Raventhorn, although it would be one of my dreams to do so one day.

I have however holidayed in Scotland, and loved the wild landscapes, lochs and forests, as well as the breathtaking architecture and atmosphere of Edinburgh where I went on a couple of city-breaks.

What really inspired me to write LITTLE PINK TAXI was a series I very much enjoyed watching on television a few years ago. You may remember it, because it was a big success at the time. It was called ‘Monarch of the Glen’, and was set in Glenbogle Castle in the magnificent Cairngorms National Park, in Scotland. In my mind, Raventhorn castle – Rosalie Heart’s childhood home – is very similar to Glenbogle. There is a loch and a forest nearby, and of course, the dramatic backdrop of Cairngorms.

My other source of inspiration was a pink taxi I saw a few years ago in Manchester city centre. I know that they are quite common these days, but at the time, it was the first I had ever seen, and I thought it would be fun to have my heroine drive one of them. It gave me ideas about Rosalie’s personality too. She is fun and bubbly, very loyal to her friends and family, and she loves singing but can’t carry a tune! The story developed from there.

First 500 words…

‘I believe you’re waiting for me. I’m Petersen.’

Startled by the deep voice with the hint of a French accent, Rosalie spun round, and tilted her face up to meet a pair of serious grey eyes.

‘Welcome to Scotland, Monsieur Petersen.’

She gave him what she hoped was her most dazzling smile, but Petersen only looked down at her and said, ‘I was expecting McBride.’

Rosalie tucked the heart-shaped board on which she’d written Petersen’s name in pink under her arm. ‘I’m afraid Geoff was taken ill. I shall be driving you to Raventhorn.’

Petersen frowned. ‘I’m sorry to hear that. I hope it’s nothing serious.’

It was nothing that a cup of tea, a couple of headache tablets and a few days away from the malt whisky wouldn’t cure, but Rosalie couldn’t tell him that.

‘A head cold, that’s all. He will have recovered by this evening, I’m sure.’ Her cheeks grew warm. Lying had never come easily to her, but it was even harder when a giant of a man with eyes as cool and uninviting as the winter sky stared down at her.

She pointed at his leather holdall and laptop case. ‘Would you like me to carry your bags to the cab?’

Arching his eyebrows, he gave her a sardonic stare, which made her feel even smaller than her five foot one. ‘No. I don’t think so.’

‘Ah. Very well. Shall we go then? The weather is horrendous today. At least I found a space near the terminal so we won’t get too wet.’

Her last words were drowned in gusts of icy wind and rain as the terminal sliding doors opened. She pulled her key fob out of her pocket and strode towards the cab. ‘Here we are.’

‘Is this McBride’s idea of a joke?’

Droplets of rain clung to Petersen’s dark blond hair and the broad shoulders of his navy coat. He gestured to the bright pink metrocab on which Love Taxis was painted in large letters, then to her matching anorak.

‘I hope you’re not planning to take your clothes off and squirt whipping cream all over me.’

Although his voice was quiet, there was a steely edge to it that made his French accent more pronounced.

She started to laugh. ‘Take my clothes off, in this weather? No thank you! You don’t seriously think I am one of those strip-o-grams people hire to embarrass their colleagues at birthday parties, do you?’

He didn’t smile. No spark of humour lit his eyes. He’d meant what he’d said. The laughter died on her lips, and she pulled the zip of her pink anorak right up to her chin.

‘You have the wrong idea about me. I’m your taxi driver, nothing else. And for the record, the only way I like my whipping cream is on a chocolate brownie or a very large ice-cream.’

Although she tried to sound blasé, her face felt like it was on fire and she stumbled over the last words…

Blurb

Take a ride with Love Taxis, the cab company with a Heart … 
Rosalie Heart is a well-known face in Irlwick – well, if you drive a bright pink taxi and your signature style is a pink anorak, you’re going to draw a bit of attention! But Rosalie’s company Love Taxis is more than just a gimmick – for many people in the remote Scottish village, it’s a lifeline.

Which is something that Marc Petersen will never understand. Marc’s ruthless approach to business doesn’t extend to pink taxi companies running at a loss. When he arrives in Irlwick to see to a new acquisition – Raventhorn, a rundown castle – it’s apparent he poses a threat to Rosalie’s entire existence; not just her business, but her childhood home too.

On the face of it Marc and Rosalie should loathe each other, but what they didn’t count on was somebody playing cupid …

Author Bio

Originally from Lyon in France, Marie has lived in the beautiful Rossendale Valley in Lancashire for a number of years. A member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors, she writes contemporary and historical romance. Her native France very much influences her writing, and all her novels have what she likes to call ‘a French twist’!

LITTLE PINK TAXI is Marie’s second contemporary romance and is published by Choc Lit. It is available here.

You can get in touch with Marie on Facebook and Twitter, and why not check the beautiful photos of Scotland and Denmark on the special Little Pink Taxi Page on Pinterest?

***

Many thanks for your great opening lines, Marie.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Another Cup of Coffee: Amy’s Adventure Begins

Another Cup of Coffee is the story of Amy Crane’s quest to get her life back on track.

This is how her adventure begins…

 

…Once her impulsive decision to go home to England had been made, she’d barely stopped for a break in the haste to work her notice period, sort out the ending of the lease on her rented flat, and arrange somewhere to stay in London. Now that stillness was about to be forced upon her, Amy had to face the reality of what she’d done by throwing in a good job and a nice flat for no job and a rented room in a shared house in London that she’d never even seen.

‘I need coffee,’ she muttered to herself. Hoisting her tatty fabric handbag higher onto her shoulder in a bracing gesture, she headed for the café located next to the departure checkpoint.

Aberdeen airport

…It was only once she’d checked in at Aberdeen airport, her luggage safely stowed, that Amy finally stopped moving. Slumped on a bench, looking around at the people rushing by, she realised that this was the first time she’d been inactive for weeks.

Having successfully managed to purvey her order to the Chinese-speaking assistant via a mixture of words and semaphore, Amy sat down on one of the fiendishly uncomfortable steel seats. Ignoring the unsightly build-up of used cups, half-eaten meals and spilt fizzy pop, Amy briefly allowed herself to contemplate her situation. Almost instantly her nerves regrouped in her gut, and Amy decided to put off any serious thoughts about the future until she was on the plane. That way, any possible temptations to chicken out and stay in Scotland after all would no longer be an option. Major life planning could wait. For now she would just indulge in her drink and watch the world go by. Then she’d have a wander around the meagre collection of shops, and perhaps buy a book or magazine for the flight, putting reality off for a bit longer.

Unable to put off the moment, Amy picked up her backpack and headed over to the departure gate. As she passed the newsagents’ her eyes landed on a copy of one magazine in particular- it had the appropriate headline, New job, New home, New life.

Amy muttered the words over and over in her head like a mantra, as she purchased the magazine fate seemed to have left for her before joining the queue of people who were also turning their back on the Granite City, for to business commitments, holidays, or in her case, for ever.

During the seventy-minute flight, Amy had managed to concoct enough excuses to delay any plan of action as to what to do next for a little longer. She’d examined the flight safety card thoroughly, had uncharacteristically engaged her fellow passengers in mindless conversation, and flicked through her magazine. Amy had read the occasional relevant passage, but had been disappointed not to find an article entitled You’ve Ditched Your Life – So Now What?

Now, trudging down the gloomy concourse at Heathrow to retrieve her luggage and trying to ignore the patina of perspiration on her palms, Amy was suddenly aware that someone was talking to her.

‘You OK?’

The man striding next to her spoke with a soft Irish lilt, ‘You’ve been chatting to yourself ever since we landed.’

‘Oh, God, have I?’ Amy’s face flushed. ‘I’m sorry; I’m always talking to myself. You must think I’m nuts.’

‘No!’ His eyes twinkled at her as he spoke. ‘Well, maybe just a bit.’

Amy wondered how old he was. Roughly her age perhaps; she always found it difficult to tell with men in suits. Amy didn’t want to think about it, or she’d get onto thinking about how much time had passed since she’d last smiled at a man of her own age, let alone spoken to one, and that way lay madness. ‘You’re probably right. I’ve just chucked in my life, so perhaps I’m insane.’

‘A lot on your mind then,’ he nodded his bespectacled head.

Amy carried on rambling. ‘No job, a home I’ve only seen from a brochure, and I’m getting a serious case of cold feet.’

They reached the dimly-lit baggage collection area as the carousel sparked into life. The whole room spoke of transitory lives, and the dank atmosphere made Amy shiver inside.

The man had obviously noticed her growing unease. ‘Look, I know I’m a total stranger, and it’s none of my business; but if it helps, I think it sounds fantastic. Exciting and brave.’

rucksack

Spotting her luggage heading towards her, Amy grimaced. ‘I don’t feel very brave.’ She grabbed her heavy bag before it lumbered out of reach.

‘You have a blank page. A new canvas to start from. I’d swap what I’ve got for that, and so would most of this lot.’ He gestured to the anonymous crowds that surged around them. ‘Go with the flow, have fun, be yourself, and smile. You have a nice smile.’ Then he scooped up his navy executive wheeled case, extended the handle, and rapidly disappeared, his grey suit merging with hundreds of others in the crush.

Amy stood there, oblivious to the fact that she was in everybody’s way. A blank page. For the first time in days excitement overtook the fear, as she hurried off to hail a taxi to transport her into the unchartered wilds of Richmond…

***

Obviously I don’t want to ruin the story for you- so for the really meaty bits you’ll have to buy a copy!!

***

Buy links

Another Cup of Coffee is available as an e-Book and in paperback from all good bookshops/book retailers

Happy Reading,
 
Jenny xx

Opening Lines: Light From Other Windows by Chris Chalmers

Opening Lines time is here! This week Chris Chalmers is with me to share the first 500 words of his novel, Light From Other Windows.

Light From Other Windows — Blurb

How many secrets can a family hide?

19-year-old Josh Maitland is at the end of a gap-year trip round the world when the tsunami hits the Canary Islands. His family are devastated at the loss of someone they thought would outlive them all: mother Diana, advertising executive and shatterer of glass ceilings; older siblings Rachel and Jem, each contemplating a serious relationship after years of sidestepped commitment; and stepfather Colin, no stranger to loss, who finds himself frozen out by his wife’s grief.

Only with the discovery of the private blog Josh was writing for his friends does the significance of his travels become clear. It reveals secrets he knew about everyone in his family — and one about himself that will change the way they think of him forever.

Can bring tears to your eyes on one page and make you laugh the next.” SUZI FEAY, literary journalist

“Once again Chris Chalmers combines sensitivity and wit in his observation of human behaviour with a cracking storyline. Unputdownable.” PENNY HANCOCK, bestselling author of Tideline

You can choose your friends but…

How I was inspired to write Light From Other Windows — by Chris Chalmers

In every novel I’ve written, there’s been someone or something I can point to and say ‘Yep — that’s me!’ In the case Light From Other Windows, it’s not a character so much as a position within the family.

Nineteen-year-old Josh Maitland is the youngest child of three by a good decade. His older brother and sister feel more like secondary parents than siblings — and that was certainly the case when I was growing up. I was always “the little one”, which was nice in a way when I was very young; when I was eight or nine, my big sister was earning a living and kind enough to give me pocket money. And since she and my brother had long since left home I was ostensibly an only child, with all the advantages of full parental attention that can bring.

The trouble is, roles within the family have a habit of sticking. In my case until I was in my thirties, with a successful career and home of my own, when I realised my siblings still saw me just as they always had. It wasn’t malicious. Far from it, they’re both lovely people. But it took a flashpoint to end it; an argument in which the worm turned and told them he’d had enough of being treated like a man-child. My brother and sister were very contrite. In their defence, I don’t think either of them knew they had been doing it.

So that’s the dynamic I was working with in this book. The events are fiction. Unlike Josh, I didn’t go on a gap-year trip round the world, and mercifully I’ve never been caught in a tsunami. But the subtle way the members of the Maitland family perceive each other is very much based on personal experience.

Accidents of birth have a lot to answer for — and so do accidents of promotion (excuse the clunky segue). Light From Other Windows has been out for a while, but with the support of Amazon and its inscrutable algorithms, it has found a very healthy readership. If it’s new to you and you’d like to know more, here are the first 500 words:

 

First 500 words…

PROLOGUE

Funny. The bedroom still had his smell.

She paused in the doorway. The room was bathed in a milky January light; utterly lifeless, like someone had pulled the plug. It was never this quiet when he was here. The little blue chest of drawers was on the desk, just like he said. She left the door ajar and kept to the rug, avoiding the bare boards.

A wad of papers was tucked inside the bottom drawer, and as she yanked it out the drawer came with it. She pushed it back as she unfurled the papers. Licking her thumb, she flicked through for the right one… Ripped-out page from a glossy mag — something about the next iPad… Three old greetings cards (— one from her, ah!)… Flier for some club they’d never been to –  And something else, creased into quarters…

One glimpse of the lion-and-unicorn crest in the corner was enough.

Gotcha!  

She folded up the birth certificate, tucked it into the waistband of her skirt and slipped the rest back in the drawer. As she turned, his posters stared back at her from the wall. A couple of them — more of those god-awful rappers — were new, but some of those rugby pics had been there since they were twelve or thirteen. Mad…

Mad, but typical. He didn’t care! Even his ancient teddy was still there, wedged between the wardrobe and the wall, one paw sticking out like it was hitching a ride from the Teletubbies. When was he going to get rid of —

Laughter! Seeping up from downstairs. Four strides and she was back on the landing. A quick peep over the banister —

All clear. She nipped into the bathroom and flushed.

The casement window on the turn in the stairs sparked a memory: a circular rainbow. She could see the bracelet of sherbet sweets looped over the latch so clearly she could still taste its plasticky fizz… They’d been playing Treasure Hunt at one of his birthday does, his big bro and sis roped in to organise party games and hating it…

The house was shabbier back then.

As she reached the bottom stair, she slid the paper out of hiding and into the pocket of her jacket hooked over the banister. Her hand was on the kitchen door as she checked her watch.

Best not hang around too long. She just had time for a cup of tea if she was going to catch the Post Office.                                                       

CHAPTER ONE

“And finally –” said Diana Maitland, “Brad and Dan?”

Johnnie Grange, her deputy in the advertising agency’s Creative Department, was lounging with his bony knees splayed in a chair on the other side of her desk. The tongue of his ever-present raffia belt dangled tumescently.

“Doing enough to get by, I guess,” he said. “Though that last viral for Nissan kicked the budget into touch…”

Diana looked up from her list. Her ash-blonde bob and Moschino jacket suggested the kindlier judge on a reality show…

Chris Chalmers lives in South-West London with his partner, a quite famous concert pianist. He has been the understudy on Mastermind, visited 40 different countries, and swum with iguanas. Aside from his novels, his proudest achievement in writing is making Martina Navratilova ROFLAO on Twitter.

You’ll find him on Facebook @chrischalmersnovelist, on Twitter @CCsw19, and at www.chrischalmers.net

BUY LINK, paperback and ebook:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Light-Other-Windows-Chris-Chalmers-ebook/dp/B013GNUDD6/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8 

***

Many thanks Chris.

Come back next week to read 500 words from Suzi Stembridge.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

Opening Lines: Full Circle by Regina Timothy

Opening Lines time is here!

This week I’m delighted to welcome Regina Timothy to my blog with the first 500 words of her contemporary novel, Full Circle.

Blurb

Eight years after the 9/11 attacks, Samia-Al-Sayyid an Iraqi immigrant is living a quiet life in New York City after she fled her home to avoid imminent death.

She works hard for her cold, heartless, high-strung boss, loves her seventeen-years-old-son, and cherishes the close friendship she has formed with her best friend Susan.

Nothing can go wrong, or so she thinks – until the estranged brother she left back in Iraqi shows up on her door step. Then she finds herself in a cab, on her way to the hospital to identify her son, a terror suspect who has blown the city, and with it her boss’ husband, and her best friend’s son. With everything lost, she is forced to flee to Iraq where she confronts her past. Will she make peace with her past? Can she get forgiveness for all the damage she has caused?

Full Circle is a contemporary fiction tale of friendship, family, and hope. It explores the devastation of loss, the great capacity to forgive and the lengths our loved ones will go to protect us.

Here are the first 500 words (exactly)

15th November 2001

Three months had passed. Three months since Samia received her last paycheck. Three months since the attack that robbed her of the little haven she had created for herself and her ten-year-old son, Aazim. Three months since she stood in her old employer’s study and with horror saw the twin towers crumble into nothing, and with them Mercy’s only daughter Carol.

She could picture that day in her mind like it was yesterday. Tuesday, 11th September 2001. It had been a beautiful sunny morning when Samia rode the elevator to the sixth floor of her employer’s apartment building in Greenwich Village on 42 West 9th Street.

But all that changed the minute she stepped into Mercy’s home office and found her pacing up and down the floor, phone in hand. “Carol, Carol can you hear me?” she yelled over the phone. She glanced at Samia as she placed the coffeepot on the table and motioned her to stay. She covered the mouthpiece with her hand and whispered, “Something’s happened to Carol.”

“What?” Samia asked as her heartbeat quickening. Her eyes fell on a photo of Carol on Mercy’s desk. It was the same photo Samia had in her living room along with hers and Aazim’s; a headshot taken in an open field on a windy day, her wheat-colored hair mussed, and a gentle smile playing on her cherry lips as her sea blue eyes looked straight into the camera.

Samia turned to Mercy, who walked up to the phone base and put the call on speaker. Her heart thumped painfully in her chest, and she felt icy cold fear coursing through her veins.

“Baby, can you hear me?” Mercy’s voice crackled with emotion.

“Yeah,” Carol answered. She coughed and sputtered for a few minutes. “Something has happened, Mom; something is wrong.” Carol stammered. “I… I don’t know what, but there is rubble and dust everywhere. The ceiling above us fell in. I don’t know what is happening.”

“Stay calm, everything will be okay,” Mercy said as she paced in front of the large window overlooking the balcony opposite the desk. “Where are you now?”

“I’m in an office under a desk,” Carol responded before another bout of coughing took over.

“Are you hurt?”

“I… I don’t think so; let me check.” Silenced ensued before she came on again. “No, I’m not hurt.” They heard a groan and movement. “Help!” Carol shouted. “Somebody help me! Mom, I think someone’s out there. I’ll go see, hold on.”

“Okay, baby, just be careful,” Mercy replied. She stopped in front of the telephone listening to Carol shuffle things out of her way and crawl from under the desk. “Oh my God!” Carol exclaimed. Mercy stared at Samia, who stood frozen on the other side of the desk as they waited for Carol’s voice.

“Oh my God!” They heard Carol’s voice again.

“What’s wrong?” Mercy froze.

“It’s horrible, it’s just… I think I saw a person’s hand. And there is a gaping hole in…

***

You can buy Full Circle from all good retailers, including- http://amzn.to/2EdNl5L

Bio

Regina lives in a picturesque village in Kenya where she enjoys amazing landscapes, exotic wildlife, and beautiful sunsets and sunrises. She always had active imagination. By chance, she started blogging in 2010, which rekindled her love for writing and telling stories. When not writing she enjoys watching classic movies (she’s a movie buff), going to the theater and auto shows.

You can join her on the following platforms:

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17539626.Regina_Timothy

Librarythings – https://www.librarything.com/profile/Regina-Timothy

Twitter – https://twitter.com/gina_wann

Blog – http://reginatimothy.wordpress.com 

***

Thanks for your great opener Regina.

Don’t forget to come back next week for some words from Chris Chalmers.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Another Cup of Coffee: Cover Story

As the mini anniversary blog tour, celebrating 5 years since the launch of ‘Another Cup of Coffee‘ continues, I thought it would be fun to look at the cover incarnations it’s had over the years.

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…

When the paperback version of Another Cup of Coffee came out, it was a little different from the current version of the story. It had some genuine erotica snippets within it as Kit, one of the lead characters, writes erotica for a living.

This was pre- Fifty Shades- and the contemporary fiction market wasn’t keen- so out those extracts came!

At that time, the cover looked liked this.

With the rewrite, came a brand new look.

Then, more recently, it was revamp time again! This version, seems to be the most popular so far. What do you think?

The latest cover- complete with novel- is available from all good book sellers including…

in eBook format from Amazon UK and Amazon US, and paperback format from Amazon UK and Amazon US, and all good book stores.

***

Make sure you don’t miss any of the stops on my tour!

Happy reading,

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

Opening Lines: Karen Ankers’ The Crossing Place

Another week has flown by, and it’s ‘Opening Lines’ time once more!

This week I’m delighted to welcome Karen Ankers to my blog. Why not grab a cuppa, put your feet up for five minutes while you join our chat and enjoy some fabulous first words.

What inspired you to write your book?

My original inspiration was a book by Brian Weiss, called Only Love Is Real, where he examines the idea of love transcending lifetimes.

Do you model any of your characters after people you know? If so, do these people see themselves in your characters?

All my characters have something in them from people I know, or have observed.  I do a lot of people watching!  The barefoot man in the opening scene of the book was inspired by a young man I found in a similar situation, many years ago.

What type of research did you have to do for your book?

The book is really Laura’s journey towards self-acceptance, so I had to explore her character, rather than do research.  It is set in Chester, where I grew up, although I did have to check on some of the details from the sections set in the eighties.

Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

I don’t really have a preferred point of view.  It depends what works for the story.  The Crossing Place is third person, but my current project, The Stone Dancer, is in first person.

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

A bit of both.  My first draft is never planned.  But once that’s written and I know the basic shape of the story, I will then write a plan to work from, to help with structure.  I don’t usually stick to it, though!

What is your writing regime?

I write every day, usually in the afternoons.  I started my writing career as a poet, and I will usually start by writing a poem, as a way of loosening up the creative muscles.  Then I work on the novel.  I try and write 1,000 words a day, but I know better than to force it.  I’ve usually got other projects on the go – poems, plays and short stories – so if I’m struggling, I will work on one of those.

What excites you the most about your book?

I’m really excited by the reviews it is getting!  It’s brilliant to know that other people are enjoying it.  What I really enjoyed about the story is Laura’s realization that she is not damaged if she chooses to see life differently from other people.

If you were stranded on a desert island with three other people, fictional or real, who would they be and why?

Ok…D.H. Lawrence would be an interesting companion!  Jeremy Corbyn would be great company, although I imagine he’d have a few arguments with D.H.L!  And Robin Williamson.  He could just sing and tell stories to keep everyone calm.  I’d like some non-human companions as well, if that’s possible?  Lots of dogs and cats!

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

My new novel, The Stone Dancer, will hopefully be out next year, if all goes well.  It’s set in North Wales and has echoes of Celtic myths.  I didn’t think I would be able to write another novel – the characters in The Crossing Place had such a grip on me I was worried they wouldn’t let go!  But they did, and it’s fine.

***

First 500 words

Laura’s breath caught in her throat as her foot slipped at the top of the worn, icy steps.  Her hand scraped the rough sandstone wall as she grasped for the metal handrail and missed.  She landed sprawled across a heap of clothes that lay across the pavement.  Dazed, she lay still, mentally examining her body for damage.  Nothing seemed to be broken.  When she tried to get to her feet, the pile of clothes moved, and she screamed.

As she scrambled away to a safe distance, the face of a man turned slowly towards her.  Pale, unshaven, his mouth cracked and blistered.  Greasy curls of black hair stuck out from beneath a grubby green and yellow striped hat.  Wearing a thin grey coat, he sat like a broken doll on the frozen ground, leaning against the low wall that led to the busy Kale Yard car park.   Tired turquoise eyes struggled to focus.  Long legs lay limp across the pavement, his bare feet blue and swollen.

It was the first Sunday in February and winter was unwilling to loosen its icy grip.  People pale and pinched with cold stared at the pavement as they hurried to their various destinations.  Carefully wrapped in bright, warm clothes, they walked past the man with no shoes and the fallen woman without a glance.  Laura felt her face turning red as she realized they thought he and she were both drunk.  She tried to guess his age.  A little older than her, perhaps.  In his thirties.

As she stared, he frowned. “Sorry.  I’ll get out of your way.”

He tried to stand, wincing with the effort of trying to move cold, cramped limbs.

Laura wondered if she ought to help.

“It’s ok,” she said hurriedly.  “Stay there.”  If he fell, she wouldn’t have the strength to hold him.

Her side ached where her ribs had bounced along the edge of the steps.  A glimmer of colour distracted her as a butterfly landed on the snow-lined wall.  Fragile crimson wings with blue circles that looked like eyes.

The man stretched out a pale hand towards it.

“You’re in the wrong place, mate,” he murmured.

Laura gazed across the road towards the hardware store where she worked.  The shortcut behind the cathedral onto the city walls and down the steps into Frodsham Street had seemed a good idea after a dawdling bus ride.  Now her coat was torn, and a bruise was forming on her left hand.  She pulled herself to her feet and looked at her watch.  If she went now, she would only be a few minutes late for her shift.   But the more she tried not to look at the man’s swollen, bare feet, the more she saw the pale blue of skin deprived of blood.  Brushing the dirt and snow from her coat, she opened her green leather handbag to reach for her purse, but then snapped it shut. This man needed more than money.  His head had dropped onto his chest…

***

Blurb 

A desperate decision made by a young homeless couple has far-reaching consequences.  Years later, Laura’s life is disrupted by a series of unsettling dreams.  The man who appears to offer her a way of understanding these dreams is charming and plausible, but has a questionable past.  When danger comes from an unexpected source, Laura has to deal not only with very real threats in the present, but also doubts and fears from the past.

Buy Links

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crossing-Place-Karen-Ankers-ebook/dp/B078THPLYJ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1540071292&sr=8-1&keywords=karen+ankers

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crossing-Place-Karen-Ankers/dp/1948200708/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1540071340&sr=8-2&keywords=karen+ankers

https://www.amazon.com/Crossing-Place-Karen-Ankers-ebook/dp/B078THPLYJ?crid=37C7SY770K58K&keywords=karen+ankers&qid=1540071391&sprefix=karen+ankers%2Caps%2C569&sr=8-1&ref=sr_1_1

 

Bio

Karen Ankers is a poet, novelist and playwright who lives in Anglesey.  Her poetry has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, and her recently published poetry collection, One Word At A Time, was described by poet/performer Laura Taylor as “a collection that shines with honesty and integrity”.  Her one-act plays have been performed in the UK, USA, Australia and Malaysia.  Her debut novel, The Crossing Place was published in January 2018 and is currently receiving excellent reviews, being described as “gripping”, “compelling”, “captivating” and “brilliant”.  

https://sites.google.com/site/karenankers/

https://www.facebook.com/karenankers37/?ref=settings

***

Many thanks for such a great blog, Karen.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

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