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

Tag: family

Opening Lines with Kellie Butler: The Broken Tree

It’s Opening Lines time again.

This week I’m delighted to welcome Kellie Butler, with the first 500 words from her brand new novel, The Broken Tree.

 

Hi, my name is Kellie Butler and I’m back again for another installment of the first 500 words from my new book The Broken Tree. Thanks so much for having me back, Jenny!

The  Laurelhurst Chronicles family saga follows the Cavert family from the beginning of the Second World War through the mid-1970s. It centers on siblings  Lydie Cavert and her brother Edward. My initial inspiration for this series was writing about trauma from the perspective of an adolescent that endures a lot of things we go through in life and then some. Every family has secrets, and her family certainly has a bevy full. I draw inspiration from classic film, television, literature, and historical research.

For the third installment in the series, I was initially inspired by a camping story a friend of mine from Lancashire told me about lightning striking a tree up on Pendle Hill. It reminded me of a story I had heard long ago of a tree holding the curse of a young boy who was shunned by his community for the practice of divination, even though he had made his community wealthy. If the tree ever broke or fell, the curse would come alive. It inspired me to research the Lancashire Witch Trials and craft a story of how events from those times during the summer of 1612 would affect the Cavert family in the late 1950’s.

Here’s the blurb of this captivating story of love, loss, and betrayal.

An anxious homecoming. A three-hundred-year-old curse. A betrayal that threatens to tear the Cavert and Bainbridge families apart. Welcome home to Laurelhurst.

Lancashire, Summer 1959. Fifteen years ago, Lydie Cavert Bainbridge left the dark memories of her youth at Laurelhurst Manor behind her.

Now thirty-two, an expectant Lydie returns with her family of five with two goals: to protect her children from her horrific experience at Laurelhurst and to spend a peaceful summer before the arrival of her fourth child.

When Lydie comes across an ancient oak tree split in the middle on the edge of the estate, an old secret from three hundred years ago involving an enemy is revealed, along with  specters of the past she had hoped to leave behind.

As the tree casts a shadow upon the house and loyalties are tested, Lydie must choose between the love she holds for her family and the love for her brother. Can the Cavert family stay together, or will splinter like the tree found on the moors?

***

First 500 words…

On a balmy June afternoon in 1959, the waters of Morecambe Bay shimmered in the sun. Yet underneath the surface, danger lurked for any unfortunate person who might have misjudged the swift currents and shifting sands, as five of Lancashire’s rivers emptied into the bay. Lydie had relayed to her husband, Henry, the stories she had heard in school of fishermen who had perilously misjudged the sands and lost their lives in search of a bountiful catch of cockles. She had warned him on their way towards the beach not to venture too far from the shore, as some areas of the bay contained quicksand. Henry took the story to heart.

Lydie lounged on a blanket while Henry played with their three children—Robert (Bobby), Eleanor (Nora), and Soon-Li (Suzy). While the children were far away from danger, Lydie still placed an instinctive hand upon her pink gingham shirtdress. She was four months pregnant, and she barely showed.

Henry tossed a frisbee while he kept a watchful eye on all three tots. Lydie’s lips curled into a smile as she watched his tall, trim body, lean muscles rippling underneath his short-sleeved white cotton shirt and khaki shorts.  His short, golden brown hair, still cut in the same sleek cut he had sported since his Ivy League days, appeared like caramel in the sun.  Lydie knew she was blessed to have such a wonderful husband. She heard many stories in the beauty parlors and at the occasional bridge game she attended with young mothers. Stories of husbands who told their wives they were working late in the city while they were actually out carousing around.  She knew two women in her neighborhood who sat alone many a night without a word from their husbands.

The years hadn’t always been easy. Only three months after they had married, almost nine summers ago, the army had drafted Henry into service in Korea under the Doctor’s Draft of 1950. Within months, Henry had left for several weeks of basic training and by the time they had rung in 1951, he had been on a flight west, missing their first anniversary together.

Henry’s homecoming came at the end of summer in 1953. Lydie had met him at Idlewild Airport in their Buick Roadmaster and drove him to a cabin just north of Ithaca near Tannenhough State Park. After a surprise welcome home party, they had spent a week making up for lost time. Bobby and Nora were conceived on a hot August night by the shores of Cayuga Lake. The sound of the lapping waves had lulled them to sleep after their ardent lovemaking. The twins arrived in 1954, and Suzy, who was the same age as the twins, became a part of their family in 1955.

Lydie watched their beautiful twins as they joined another group of children in play. Suzy and Henry retreated to the blanket. Now in the late afternoon sun, she smiled on her happy family and reached over to hold …

***

If you want to read more, go to http://getbook.at/brokentree  for the paperback and Kindle editions. You can also purchase the eBook through Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and other retailers at this link: https://books2read.com/u/3JJkxE. Thank you very much for reading!

About the Author: Kellie Butler is the author of The Laurelhurst Chronicles, which has received excellent reviews.  A freelance writer and paralegal, she lives in a quaint small town in the southeastern United States. She enjoys  hiking, cooking, knitting, reading, and walks with her dog, Chip. Visit her website www.kellierbutler.com to connect with her on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram) and to sign up for her newsletter.

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Many thanks for joining us today Kellie,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

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

 

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 

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Thanks for your great opener Regina.

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

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Mum, Nan and Nan: Thank you

Officially, I have been a writer for the past twelve years. Deep down however, I suspect I have always been a writer; I have certainly always been a creative person. How could I not be, when I was influenced from childhood by both of my grandmothers who were both physically incapable of doing nothing, and had imaginations that would have made Roald Dahl proud?

From a very early age I remember watching my maternal Nan performing plays, poems, and comedy sketches on stage for the WI, all of which she’d written herself.

I vividly recall sitting in the audience of one charity production where my Nan’s poem, ‘Hats’ was performed to shrieks of laughter and delight. I was only ten years old, and as I sat and laughed alongside the rest thinking how wonderful it would be to be able to make people happy like that- if only I wasn’t so shy…

hats

My paternal Nan on the other hand, was a knitter extraordinaire. There was literally nothing she couldn’t produce out of wool with just the aid of a pair of needles and a decent drama to watch on the TV at the same time. I never saw her glance at what she was knitting, and I certainly never saw a pattern. The jumpers, gloves, toys, or whatever she was making, seemed to magically appear at a speed that would be the envy of any conjurer.

Both my grandmothers loved to read, but neither of them had any time for books that contained waffle. If a story didn’t grab them instantly it was jammed back onto the library shelf before the second page got so much as dabbed with a damp finger.

knitting

Standing in Princes Risborough, getting restless while book after book was dismissed with the words “If you ever write a book, make sure you get to the point faster than this lot!” ringing in my ears became a regular feature of my grandparental visits. This advice stayed with me, and I have always made an effort to grab my reader’s attention before the end of the first chapter. I have to confess, that as a reader, I’m now just as picky as my Nan’s were. I am notoriously hard to please!

A love of words, crosswords, and word puzzles in general- usually completed at a coffee shop table with my Nan- was something that was very much part of my childhood. This love of words and puzzles was inherited by my Mum, and has been passed on to me as well. It is perhaps not surprising then, that as I spent a great deal of my childhood (and indeed my adulthood) playing with words in cafes, I ended up writing a series of stories set in the fictional Pickwicks Coffee Shop. (Another Cup of Coffee, Another Cup of Christmas, Christmas in the Cotswolds, Christmas at the Castle, and Another Glass of Champagne)

My bestselling novel, Abi’s House (pub. Accent Press, June 2015), was written in dedication to my grandparents. Set in the Sennen Cove area of Cornwall, Abi (recently arrived from London), creates a new life for herself not far from Penzance, where my paternal grandparents lived.

Abi's House_edited-1

On Abi’s arrival in Cornwall, she meets Beth, a young woman who has recently inherited her grandfather’s cobblers shop. My maternal grandmother’s family owns Wainwright’s Shoe Shops in Buckinghamshire, where I spent many hours with both my Nan and my Grandad, who was the company’s chief cobbler!

Both of my grandmothers influenced my writing, and the way I approach the production of my stories, more than they ever knew. Their creativity and encouragement (my maternal Nan was forever telling me I’m make my mark on the world with words, long before I even contemplated trying my hand as a writer), has carried on into the next generation, with my Mum, an excellent artist and needlewoman, cheering me on.

And now, proving that the creative gene is strong on the female side of my family, my daughters have picked up the baton, and both have had poetry of their own published already!

Look out world- the next generation is on its way!

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

 

 

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