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: devon Page 1 of 3

Opening Lines with P J Reed: Welcome to Witherleigh

Opening Lines time has arrived once more!

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

Welcome to Witherleigh.

Over to you Pam…

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

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

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

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

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

First 500 words of Welcome To Witherleigh –

CHAPTER ONE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

Welcome To Witherleigh is available to download from kindle on…

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

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

***

Bio

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

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

poetry by P.J. Reed

Flicker

Haiku Yellow

Haiku Sun

Haiku Gold

Haiku Ice

Haiku Nation

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

Twitter – https://twitter.com/PJReed_author

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

***

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

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

8 Reasons to go on an Imagine writing retreat

Only a few rooms remain! Reserve your place now!

Alison Knight and I are proud to be hosting Imagine’s second writing retreat at Northmoor House.

8 reasons to go on an Imagine Writing Retreat…

1. Writers need writers! No one understands writing and a writer’s life like another writer. Mutual support is the name of the game!

2. Located in the stunning Victorian manor, Northmoor House, Imagine’s retreat gives you the chance to stay in a home untouched by time (Don’t panic, there is Wi-Fi). You can even indulge in the waters of an original Victorian bathtub…don’t forget your bubble bath!

3. With so many of the manor’s period features still in place, Northmoor is the ideal location for sparking inspiration and dreaming up new plotlines.

4. On the edge of Exmoor, near the popular village of Dulverton, there are plenty of beautiful places to explore should you, or any non-writing friends or partners, wish to. There are miles of good walking land on hand. The pre-historic Tarr Steps are but minutes away, and the cafes in Dulverton are excellent. I can personally recommend the poached eggs on crumpets in The Copper Kettle.

Tarr Steps

5. However, you might not want to stray into the village for food because we have employed an excellent local caterer, who is providing a delicious menu that will cater for all dietary requirements. All food is locally sourced.

6. Come along for a confidence boost! At Imagine we pride ourselves on helping everyone to get their words onto the page. We are here for beginners and experts alike.

7. Meet celebrated novelist Kate Lord Brown! Kate will be our guest speaker on the Tuesday evening.

8. Let’s face it – Monday to Friday in a beautiful Victorian Manor, with time to write, all food provided, plus help on tap, a chance to meet Kate Lord Brown, and the opportunity to share writing ideas over a glass of wine (or two) – for only £550 is a BARGAIN.

***

Full details are available at https://www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk/writing-retreats 

If you have any queries please email Alison or myself at imaginecreativewritng@gmail.com

 

Happy writing everyone,

Jenny xx

Opening Lines by Janet Few: Barefoot on the Cobbles

This week’s opening lines comes from fellow Devon based author, Janet Few.

Pop your feet up for five minutes, and take a read of the first 500 words of Barefoot on the Cobbles

Barefoot on the Cobbles – a Devon tragedy by Janet Few

In the euphoria of the armistice a young woman lay dying. Daisy had grown up, barefoot on the cobbles, in a village on the rugged North Devon coast; she was mindful of the perils of the uncertain sea. Her family had also been exposed to the dangers of disease and the First World War but for Daisy, it was her own mother who posed the greatest threat of all. What burdens did that mother, an ordinary fisherman’s wife, carry? What past traumas had led, inexorably, to this appalling outcome?

Vividly recreating life at the dawning of the twentieth century, Barefoot on the Cobbles is based on a real tragedy that lay hidden for nearly a hundred years. Rooted in its unique and beautiful geographical setting, here is the unfolding of a past that reverberates unhappily through the decades and of raw emotions that are surprisingly modern in character.

More details about the novel, including information about how to obtain a copy, can be found at http://bit.do/bfotc; alternatively, visit the publisher’s website https://bluepoppypublishing.co.uk.Opening Lines

The magistrate was saying something. Polly, with throat tightening and heat rising, struggled to focus. He repeated his question but she was transfixed, unable to answer. Images and incidents from the past kaleidoscoped before her eyes. She saw her childhood home in the secluded Devon valley, her courtship with Alb, her firstborn being put into her arms. Her daughter, Daisy, skipping barefoot down the Clovelly cobblestones, living, loving, laughing. Daisy, bone thin and dying. Daisy, whose passing had somehow, in a way that Polly couldn’t comprehend, led to her being here in this crowded, claustrophobic courtroom, with every eye upon her. She must compose herself, pay attention, escape from this nightmare. All she wanted to do was dream of the past, both good and bad times but somehow more certain, safer, predictable. Times before everything began to spiral terrifyingly out of control.

Mr Lefroy, the solicitor, had assured her that she wouldn’t hang; this was a manslaughter charge not murder. Nonetheless, phantom gallows haunted Polly’s restless nights. Even when she calmed and the hangman’s noose receded, there was still prison. Prison meant Holloway. Polly’s hazy and fragmented impression of Holloway was gleaned from the terror-ridden stories of suffragettes’ force-feeding, that the pre-war newspapers had revelled in. Or would they say she was mad? Echoes of insanity had touched her in the past. There were barely acknowledged tales of people she knew who had been locked away. When compared to the prospect of prison, the asylum at Exminster was somehow more familiar but no less formidable.

Polly knew she must concentrate, breathe slowly, think about what she should say. Mr Lefroy had explained that all she needed to do was to keep calm and tell the truth, so difficult in this alien environment with all these well-to-do folk looking on. Faces. Faces whirled and blurred in front of her. There was Alb, shuffling in his chair and running his finger round the restrictive collar that she had helped him to fasten only this morning. He looked lost and bewildered, barely recognisable without his beloved trilby hat. Faces of the villagers, reproachful and remote. Mr Collins, her accuser, cold and self-possessed. Mrs Stanbury, gossiping neighbour, once a friend maybe but now here as a witness for the prosecution. Then, overlaying all of these, the vision of Daisy. Daisy looking like a young lady in her new hat, proudly setting off for her first job beyond the security of the village. Daisy fighting, screaming, twisting her head away from the spoon that held the broth that might save her. Daisy dying.

Was it really her fault, as they were saying? Polly wondered. Could she have done any more? She was a mother; mothers should protect their children. She had tried, she really had, struggled in vain to shield them all from harm. The enormity of her many failures consumed her. There was Bertie, not quite the full shilling, Violet and her troubles, the worry over Leonard while he’d been away at sea during…

***

You can find Janet at https://thehistoryinterpreter.wordpress.com/

Many thanks for sharing your first 500 words today Janet,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

8 Reasons to go on an Imagine writing retreat

After the wonderful success of our trip to Northmoor House last October, Alison Knight and I are proud to open the booking for Imagine’s second writing retreat…

8 reasons to go on an Imagine Writing Retreat…

1. Writers need writers! No one understands writing and a writer’s life like another writer. Mutual support is the name of the game!

2. Located in the stunning Victorian manor, Northmoor House, Imagine’s retreat gives you the chance to stay in a home untouched by time (Don’t panic, there is Wi-Fi). You can even indulge in the waters of an original Victorian bathtub…don’t forget your bubble bath!

3. With so many of the manor’s period features still in place, Northmoor is the ideal location for sparking inspiration and dreaming up new plotlines.

4. On the edge of Exmoor, near the popular village of Dulverton, there are plenty of beautiful places to explore should you, or any non-writing friends or partners, wish to. There are miles of good walking land on hand. The pre-historic Tarr Steps are but minutes away, and the cafes in Dulverton are excellent. I can personally recommend the poached eggs on crumpets in The Copper Kettle.

Tarr Steps

5. However, you might not want to stray into the village for food because we have employed an excellent local caterer, who is providing a delicious menu that will cater for all dietary requirements. All food is locally sourced.

6. Come along for a confidence boost! At Imagine we pride ourselves on helping everyone to get their words onto the page. We are here for beginners and experts alike.

7. Meet celebrated novelist Kate Lord Brown! Kate will be our guest speaker on the Tuesday evening.

8. Let’s face it – Monday to Friday in a beautiful Victorian Manor, with time to write, all food provided, plus help on tap, a chance to meet Kate Lord Brown, and the opportunity to share writing ideas over a glass of wine (or two) – for only £550 (£50 less if you book before 28th February) is a BARGAIN.

***

Full details are available at https://www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk/writing-retreats 

If you have any queries please email Alison or myself at imaginecreativewritng@gmail.com

 

PLEASE REMEMBER THAT THE EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT ENDS ON 28th FEB 2019

Happy writing everyone,

Jenny xx

Opening Lines: An Unexpected Affair by Jan Ellis

Here we are again. Thursday has dawned, and there are some wonderful new opening lines to read.

This week Jan Ellis, friend, fellow RNA member and contemporary fiction author, is with me to share the very beginning of her novel, An Unexpected Affair.

Over to you Jan…

The 500 words I’ve chosen for you come from An Unexpected Affair, which began life as an e-novella back in 2013. When it came out, I was intrigued by the reactions I got from friends: these ranged from jaws dropping in disbelief to barely suppressed hilarity. This is not because I can’t write – I write and edit other stuff for a living – it was more the thought of a cynical old bag like me writing romcom that set them off.

I never intended to write fiction (you can find out more here https://jennykane.co.uk//?s=jan+ell) but once I sat down and thought about the settings and the basic plot, I was amazed by how quickly ideas flowed. As soon as my bookselling heroine Eleanor Mace appeared, the personalities of her mother Connie, sister Jenna and other family and friends followed on quite naturally.

Later I wrote A Summer of Surprise because I wanted to know what had happened to Eleanor and the other characters in the seaside town of Combemouth. The e-books no longer exist, but you can read both stories in one lovely paperback. I hope you enjoy the extract and decide to read on…

First 500 words…

SHE CAREFULLY SLIPPED THE BLADE of the knife under the tape and cut. Peeling back the flaps, she lowered her face to the contents and inhaled deeply. Erika, her assistant, smiled conspiratorially.

“You’ve gone over to the dark side. You’re definitely one of us now.”

“You’re right,” said Eleanor as she lifted the pile of paperbacks from the box, sniffed them and set them on the counter. “My name is Eleanor Mace and I am addicted to books.”

It was three years since Eleanor had bought the bookshop. Three years since she’d left her boring office job and caused her friends’ collective jaws to drop by announcing that she was leaving London and moving to Devon. She might as well have said she’d got a new career as a yak herder for the consternation this had caused. They clearly thought she was deranged, though only her sister Jenna had told her so to her face.

“Just because you’re divorced from Alan doesn’t mean you have to lock yourself away from the world.”

“Jen, I’m moving to the English countryside, not entering a convent.”

“I can see it now,” said Jenna, ignoring her. “In six months’ time you’ll have stopped shaving your legs, embraced tweed and discovered jam-making.”

“Now you’re being silly,” said Eleanor, thinking that it had already been some time since her pins had seen a Gillette disposable. “It’s not the end of the earth, Jen. There’s a train station and you and Keith can come and stay any time you wish.”

“I’d rather come on my own,” said Jenna, wrinkling her nose as she tipped the last of the Chardonnay into Eleanor’s glass. “You finish it. They probably don’t run to white wine where you’re heading. And what on earth will you do down there?”

That had been easy to answer: with the money from her divorce Eleanor could afford to buy a slightly crumbly bookshop with an adjoining cottage in a small, unfashionable seaside town. It had been a huge leap and scary at times, but running the shop made her happy, and her enthusiasm for what she sold and her knowledge about the books and their authors was undoubtedly behind the small success she had managed to build for herself. She’d made sure the shop was a welcoming place with comfy sofas to sit on and coffee and homemade biscuits on offer. With help from her son Joe, she had built a kind of den at the back of the shop where children could read, and there was always an eclectic selection of new and second-hand books to browse through.

“Don’t forget you’ve got that house clearance to go to this afternoon,” said Erika, bearing coffee and biscuits.

“Nope, it’s in the diary,” said Eleanor, eyeing up a chocolate cookie. “Do you think you can control the rampaging hordes for an hour or two while I’m over there?” she asked, looking at her watch.

“Oh, I think we’ll cope, won’t we Bella?” said Erika, addressing the…

***

Those 500 words were taken from A Summer of Surprises and An Unexpected Affair, available from all good bookshops as well as online via https://goo.gl/cZUFmR

Blurb

An Unexpected Affair

After her divorce, Eleanor Mace decides to begin a new life running a quirky bookshop in a quiet corner of Devon. She adores her seaside home in Combemouth and her bookshop is a hit and yet … Eleanor is still unsettled. So when she rediscovers an old flame online, she sets off for the South of France in search a man she last saw in her twenties. But will she find happiness on the Continent or does it lie in rural England?

A Summer of Surprises

In this enjoyable and eventful sequel to An Unexpected Affair, Eleanor Mace is finding life sweet and rosy in her Devon bookshop, but unexpected clouds on the horizon in the form of an ex-wife and a town-planning monstrosity are about to bring our charismatic bookseller a summer of surprises.

Author bio:

Jan Ellis began writing fiction by accident in 2013. Until then, she had led a blameless life as a publisher, editor and historian of early modern Spain. In 2017, her four e-novellas were published in paperback by Waverley Books who also commissioned a brand-new title, The Bookshop Detective.

Jan describes her books as romcom/mystery with the emphasis firmly on family, friendship and humour. She specialises in small-town settings, with realistic characters who range in age from young teens to 80-somethings.

As well as being an author, Jan continues to work at the heart of the book trade. Jan Ellis is a nom-de-plume.

Website: www.janelliswriter.com

Follow Jan on Facebook and Twitter @JanEllis_writer

Jan’s Amazon page: http://goo.gl/yqmAey

Instagram (even if I don’t know how it works…)

https://www.instagram.com/jan_ellis_writer/ 

***

Many thanks Jan,

Great opening lines.

Don’t forget to come back next week to read what Roger Price has to offer.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

A day in the life of a romcom writer – by Nicola May

I’m delighted to welcome Nicola May to my site today as part of her ‘The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay’ blog tour.

A day in the life of a romcom writer – by Nicola May

I would love to tell all you lovely blog readers that I get up at ten, and after a hearty breakfast cooked by my private chef, I then lay on my velvet chaise. This is then where I’m then fanned and fed grapes by a scantily clad toy boy whilst reciting my next masterpiece into a Dictaphone.

However, the reality of being a romcom author is sadly not quite so romantic. Especially as I still also work as an Events Manager.

No two days are the same, but this is my general routine on a writing day –

0600 – my alarm catapults me into reality. I crawl to the kitchen, make a strong cup of tea (always PG Tips) and get back into bed to catch up on the news on TV and spend a bit of time with my wonderful RSPCA cat Stanley. That’s if he’s not waiting at the door with some form of livestock. Little shrews are his favourite at the moment.

0645 -After vowing I won’t eat bread all week, I then wolf down two slices of toast with real butter. Before the last mouthful is down, I don exercise gear and head to Ascot Racecourse. Walking is my time to think about plot lines, characters etc. Sometimes I have a mad Eureka moment when I see where a new story can go and it really excites me. Yes, I am that mad woman shouting ‘Yes’ out loud when a new idea forms in my mind!

0745 – Back home, I shower, drink more tea and then the laptop is opened. I check my emails, then on to social media to try and put up a witty or interesting post on Twitter and Facebook.  I try not to get too side-tracked or I would never get any writing done.

0930 – Generally, I aim to start writing around 0930, but with The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay launching on April 9th, I’ve been in a whirl of writing blog posts, and making video clips. As I am choosing to self-publish again, I am also working very hard to secure as many PR opportunities as I can.

When I’m fully focused on writing, the rest of my day just flies. I tend to be relentless, only stopping when my stomach rumbles its disapproval. Occasionally, I have been known to write into the early hours and have previously been known to lose whole weekends.

The one guarantee at the end of the day is that wine is quite often taken!

Nicola May lives in the UK, five miles from the Queen’s castle in Windsor, with her black-and-white rescue cat, Stan. Her hobbies include watching films that involve a lot of swooning, crabbing in South Devon, eating flapjacks – and, naturally, enjoying a flutter on the horses.

 

***

Praise for Nicola May’s books

‘This book will twang your funny bone & your heartstrings’ – Milly Johnson

‘A fun and flighty read’ the Sun

‘A funny and fast-paced romp – thoroughly enjoyable!’  WOMAN Magazine

*

Rosa Larkin is down on her luck in London, so when she inherits a near-derelict corner shop in a quaint Devon village, her first thought is to sell it for cash and sort out her life. But nothing is straightforward about this legacy.  While the identity of her benefactor remains a mystery, he – or she – has left one important legal proviso: that the shop cannot be sold, only passed on to somebody who really deserves it.

Rosa makes up her mind to give it a go: to put everything she has into getting the shop up and running again in the small seaside community of Cockleberry Bay. But can she do it all on her own? And if not, who will help her succeed – and who among the following will work secretly to see her fail?

There is a handsome rugby player, a sexy plumber, a charlatan reporter and a selection of meddling locals. Add in a hit and run incident and the disappearance of a valuable engraved necklace – and what you get is a journey of self-discovery and unpredictable events.

With surprising and heartfelt results, Rosa, accompanied at all times by her little sausage dog Hot, will slowly unravel the shadowy secrets of the inheritance, and also bring her own, long-hidden heritage into the light.

Purchase from –

Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B8KML35/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07B8KML35/

Amazon CA – https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07B8KML35/

Amazon AU – https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07B8KML35/

 

About Nicola May

She won Best Author Read at the Festival of Romance for The School Gates and Christmas Evie, in 2012 and 2014 respectively.

She classes her novels as ‘chicklit with a kick,’ writing about love, life and friendships in a real, not fluffy kind of way. She likes burgers, mince pies, clocks, birds, bubble baths and facials – but is not so keen on aubergines.

Nicola’s website is www.nicolamay.com. She is on Twitter @nicolamay1, Instagram as author_nicola and has a Facebook page (just google Book Page of Nicola May).

Details of The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay  – Published on April 9 can be found here (add link)

You can learn more about Nicola and her other books here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nicola-May/e/B004QUBKWW

Follow Nicola May

Website – www.nicolamay.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/NicolaMayAuthor

Twitter – https://twitter.com/nicolamay1

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/author_nicola/

Giveaway – Win x 3 Paperback copies of The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay (Open Internationally)

*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome.  Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below.  The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over.  Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data.  I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.

ENTER HERE-  http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/33c6949475/?

Many thanks for coming by today Nicola!

Don’t forget to visit all of the other blogs on the tour. 

Good luck with the giveaway!

Jenny xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything happens for a reason: James D Mortain

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

Over to you James…

Everything happens for a reason!

I consider myself something of an accidental author.

Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Biography

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

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

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

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

STORM LOG-0505

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

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

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

Amazon UK  Amazon US

DEAD BY DESIGN

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

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

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

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

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

Amazon UK  Amazon US

THE NIGHT SHIFT (A SHORT STORY)

Thursday, 17th August. Ten years before…

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

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

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

Amazon UK  Amazon US 

***

Fantastic blog- thank you so much James,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

Opening Lines: The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay by Nicola May

It’s Thursday – which means it is ‘Opening Lines’ day.

Today I’m delighted to welcome Nicola May back to my site to share the first 500 words (exactly) of her brand new novel.

Over to you Nicola…

Blurb

Rosa Larkin is down on her luck in London, so when she inherits a near-derelict corner shop in a quaint Devon village, her first thought is to sell it for cash and sort out her life. But nothing is straightforward about this legacy.  While the identity of her benefactor remains a mystery, the will states that the shop cannot be sold, only passed on to somebody who really deserves it.

 Rosa decides to throw herself into getting the shop up and running again. But can she do it all on her own? And if not, who will help her succeed – and who among the small seaside community of Cockleberry Bay will work secretly to see her fail?

With surprising and heartfelt results, Rosa, accompanied at all times by her little sausage dog Hot, slowly unravels the shadowy secrets of the inheritance, and also brings her own, long-hidden heritage into the light.

***

The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay – The First 500 words

‘Are you sure you’ve got the right person?’

Rosa took off her bright blue woolly hat and scratched the back of her head, causing her dark brown curls to become even more unruly.

The tall, pinched-faced solicitor nodded. ‘Yes, of course we have. Evans, Donald and Simpson do not make mistakes. You, Miss Larkin, are now the official owner of the Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay.’

He handed the bewildered twenty-five-year-old a battered leather briefcase and pointed to a small combination padlock on its brass clasp.

‘Here. The will stated that you – and only you – can open this, using your date of birth.’

‘This is all very strange,’ Rosa said.  ‘And where exactly is this Cockleberry Bay?’

‘Devon, dear, Devon.’  The solicitor looked under his rimless glasses. ‘I take it you know where that is?’

‘I may have a cockney accent, Mr Donald, but I’m not stupid.’

‘Well, open it then.’ The solicitor was shifting from foot to foot in anticipation. He confided, ‘We’ve been wanting to know what’s in there for days.’

Showing no emotion, Rosa gazed at him with her striking green eyes and asked coolly: ‘Is there anything else I need?’

‘Er, no – but are you not going to . . .?’

‘I need to get to work.’ Rosa put her hat and scarf back on, zipped up her fur-lined bomber jacket and headed for the door. ‘Thank you so much for your help.’

And she was gone.

‘Rude!’

The solicitor peered crossly out of the window of the offices in Staple Inn and watched as the young woman, the briefcase in her arms, strode across the frosty cobbled courtyard and out into the bustle of London’s ancient legal quarter.

*

‘You’re late again, Rosa. This is a discount store, not a charity shop.’

‘Oh, turn that frown upside down, Mr Brown. I’m here now, aren’t I?’

But there wasn’t even a glint of the usual smile from her now reddening supervisor.

‘I’m going to have to let you go, Rosa. I need committed staff and to be honest, I don’t think you know what that word means. You’ve had all your warnings. I will speak to Head Office, and they will settle your final pay.’

Rosa sighed. ‘Really?’  When Mr Brown said nothing, she picked up the briefcase from the floor and added: ‘Whilst you’re at it, maybe you could tell them I’ve been wanting to stick this shitty, unfulfilling job right up their pound-coin-shaped backsides for weeks anyway.’

*

Rosa’s elderly neighbour was putting a holly wreath on her front door when she arrived at home, mid-morning.

‘You’re back early, dearie.’

Rosa murmured under her breath, ‘And Ethel Beanacre wins the award for the Nosiest Neighbour of the Year.’

‘What was that, love?’

‘Nothing, Ethel, just talking to myself.’

The sight of the worn briefcase secured further interest.

‘Robbed a bank, have you?’ Ethel’s awful cackle reminded Rosa of Catherine Tate’s ‘Gran’ character.

Rosa scrabbled for her key. ‘Don’t tell anyone, will…

***

Available from 9th April – you can pre-order your copy of The Cockleberry Bay here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Corner-Shop-Cockleberry-Bay-ebook/dp/B07B8KML35/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

 

Bio

The Corner Shop in Cockleberry Bay is Nicola May’s ninth novel. In 2012 she won Best Author Read at the Festival of Romance for The School Gates and again in 2014 for Christmas Evie. Nicola likes to write about love, life and friendship in a realistic way, describing her novels as ‘chicklit with a kick’.

Nicola May lives near the famous Ascot racecourse with her black-and-white rescue cat, Stan.  Her hobbies include watching films that involve a lot of swooning, crabbing in South Devon, eating flapjacks – and, naturally, enjoying a flutter on the horses.

Follow Nicola on Twitter: @nicolamay1

See her on Instagram: author_nicola

She also has her own Nicola May Author Page on Facebook

Find out more about her and all of her books at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Nicola-May/e/B004QUBKWW

***

Fabulous stuff. Thanks Nicola.

Come back next week to read the first 500 words from one of Kate Thompson’s novels.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

Opening Lines: CRONE by Jeannie Wycherley

Welcome to my brand new ‘Opening Lines’ blog series.

Each Thursday an author will share a little about their work – and JUST the first 500 words of one of their novels – even if that means leaving things mid-sentence…

I’m delighted to welcome Jeannie Wycherley as my first guest of the series.

Over to you Jeannie…

Crone is my debut novel, set in and around Ottery St Mary and Sidmouth in Devon (the fictional Abbotts Cromleigh and Elbury of the novel). It’s a story that emanates very much from the landscape. The physicality of Aefre, whom we meet as she is being reborn in the opening lines, is actually drawn from the detritus of the forest floor.

Birth and death are central to the novel, and in between those events some of the intriguing characters, such as the enigmatic Mr Kephisto (also known as the Story Keeper) live extremely long lives. Crone is a dark fantasy novel, so as the author I was able to play with the longevity of each character’s existence, but at its heart it is actually a mystery with supernatural elements, and I have been contacted by many readers who start their email with the words, “This isn’t the sort of book I would normally read, but …” I am so thrilled that Crone has drawn such a diverse audience and appeals to such a cross section of readers.

It was vitally important to me to maintain truth within the supernatural, so yes, you have to suspend some disbelief as you do in any fantasy novel, but all the magic involved, among the elderly Guardians who are hunting Aefre for example, is ultimately feasible. I wasn’t interested in writing about sparkly wizards, and glittery unicorns. This is witchcraft with dirty hands and broken nails. It’s about real human experience. But ultimately, it is the age old story of a mother’s love for her child.

Crone Blurb

Heather Keynes’ teenage son died in a tragic car accident. Or so she thinks. However, deep in the wilds of the Devon countryside, an ancient evil has awoken … and is intent on hunting the residents of Abbotts Cromleigh.

No one is safe.

When Heather delves into a series of coincidental deaths, she is drawn reluctantly into the company of an odd group of elderly Guardians. Who are they, and what is their connection to the Great Oak? Why do they believe only Heather can put an end to centuries of horror? Who is the mysterious old woman in the forest and what is it that feeds her anger?

When Heather determines the true cause of her son’s death, she is hell-bent on vengeance. Determined to halt the march of the Crone once and for all, hatred becomes Heather’s ultimate weapon.

Furies collide in this twisted tale of murder, magic and salvation.

 

 

500 words – Opening Lines

Prologue

The cracking and snapping of dry bones reverberated through the stillness of the night. In the freezing air, at the very heart of the wood, in the slumped ruins of a long-forgotten dwelling, something dark began to manifest itself.

Little more than a mummified corpse, she unfolded her outer layer in a shower of dust and dry mould. Her skin, what remained of it, creaked like ancient leather and her flesh stretched taut over foul stringy innards. Then reaching, stretching, groaning, retching—she hauled herself upright. Once risen, she floated inches above the ground, while the mist—salty from the nearby sea—enveloped her like a pall and covered her foul nakedness.

She slipped out of her shack, and the wildlife in the undergrowth shrank from her black charisma, keeping their distance from her rancid stench, the stink of putrefaction.

In the treetops, caught out by her rapid manifestation, an owl blinked uneasily. Fearful, he observed her as she moved beneath him, then hopeful of evading her gaze he casually pivoted his head, pretended she was unseen and he was unseeing. But Aefre, even in her newly woken state, was both observant and deadly.

She was fast, lashed out at the owl, a missile of energy directed from her mind. His body exploded in a cloud of downy feathers. Her deformed claw-like fingers caught his remains as he fell from his perch, and she stuffed him into her mouth, whole. She chewed once, twice. Swallowed. A single line of blood dribbled from her chin, and the thinnest layer of fresh skin started to form a mouldering translucent veneer.

There was a halo of light to the east. Civilisation. For Aefre, the time was ripe. She was awake. It was time to bask in the thrill of the hunt. This time she would locate her sisters and join them in a merry dance of carnage.

First things first, however. She needed sustenance. She headed for town. She would find everything she needed there.

***

The boys tumbled out of the multiplex, blinking in the garish sodium lights of the car park, high on an adrenaline kick after enjoying the latest blockbuster. Max was grateful that James now had a driving licence and a car to go with it and they weren’t dependent on the non-existent bus service. It was hell being stuck in Abbotts Cromleigh with nothing to do.

Max was completing his A levels this year, and come September he would be off to University in a city where you didn’t need a car. Everything he needed would be on his doorstep. Live music venues, sporting facilities: Sheffield promised to be everything his small Devon home town couldn’t be.

He’d miss The Storykeeper though. Sheffield had bookshops, sure, but The Storykeeper was something special. It was housed in a higgledy-piggledy Elizabethan structure that had been added to time and again over the years, and thus appeared to stretch back and up endlessly. Shelves meandered like mysterious rivers throughout the building…

Buy link

Crone: myBook.to/CroneJW 

Jeannie Wycherley Bio

Jeannie Wycherley is the author of Crone (2017) and Deadly Encounters (2017) and numerous short stories that favour the weird including A Concerto for the Dead and Dying (2018). Crone is the recipient on an Indie B.R.A.G Medallion, and a Chill with a Book Readers’ Award. Jeannie’s next novel Beyond the Veil is due April 2018. Jeannie runs a gift shop with her husband in Sidmouth, adores her dogs, and make her evening meals in a cauldron. She lives somewhere between the forest and the sea in East Devon, England and draws literary inspiration from the landscape.

Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Thecushionlady

Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/jeanniewycherley/

Website: https://www.jeanniewycherley.co.uk/

Thank you for such a fabulous blog, Jeannie. Intriguing first 500 words…

Next week, Opening Lines, will feature contemporary fiction/romance writer, Nicola May.

Happy reading,

Jenny

 

Pop-Up Bookshop in Tiverton: 28th Nov- 2nd Dec

Come along to the CreaTIVHub in Tiverton between 28th November and 2nd December for your chance to purchase books from local authors!

See you there!!

Jenny x

 

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