Jenny Kane & Jennifer Ash

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

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NEWS: Abi Carter has “A Cornish Escape”

Exciting news time – and boy, don’t we all need it!

As you may, or may not, know – last year my publisher (Accent Press) was taken over by Headline Books. As a result, I’m thrilled to be able to announce that my two biggest sellers to date – Abi’s House and Abi’s Neighbour- are getting a new lease of life.

With beautiful new covers- and new titles- Abi Carter and her friends will be down in Cornwall sorting their lives out- and eating a lot of chips again- very soon.

I hope you love the covers!

Blurb – A Cornish Escape (Published on 7th May 2020)

Abi’s life is turned upside down when she is widowed before her thirtieth birthday. Determined to find something positive in the upheaval, Abi decides to make a fresh start somewhere new. With fond childhood memories of holidays in a Cornish cottage, could Cornwall be the place to start over?

With all her belongings in the boot of her car but no real plan, a chance meeting in a village pub brings new friends Beth and Max into her life. Max soon helps Abi track down the house of her dreams but things aren’t as simple as Abi hoped.

Can Abi leave her past behind and finally get her happy ending?

Blurb – A Cornish Wedding (Publication date to be announced)

Abi has what she’s always dreamed of: her perfect Cornish cottage, great friends and a gorgeous boyfriend. But her idyll is shattered when a new neighbour moves in next door.

Rude and obnoxious, Cassandra doesn’t make a good first impression on Abi. But with the unexpected wedding of one of her friends to prepare for, Abi has bigger things to worry about.

However, avoiding her new neighbour proves harder than expected and Abi and Cassandra soon realise they might have more in common than they first thought.

But with the wedding only weeks away, can they set aside their differences before the big day?

***

(Please note- the stories are unaltered- so if you have read Abi’s House and Abi’s Neighbour, you have read these novels before.)

I had so much fun writing Abi’s two novels. Both books mean a great deal to me, as they are based on my childhood memories of my time in Cornwall – especially in and around Penzance, where my grandparents lived their whole lives.

I’ll be in touch soon with buy links – and with news of a blog tour to celebrate the relaunch of Abi’s adventures.

Happy reading – stay safe.

Jenny

PS- Yes, I do have brand new novels coming very soon too xx

 

Improved: Jenny Kane’s Mars Bar Scones

So – in an attempt not to work today (even though I’m home and there’s so much work to do!), I thought I’d have a go at improving my Mars Bar scones before I run out of ingredients for baking!

I’ve just tried this one- and WOW- it is GOOD! (She says modestly!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

(If you don’t have Mars Bars- try Maltesers, or a chocolate bar of your choice. Orange choc is very good!)

You will need…

350g self-raising flour

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

85g butter

3 level tbsp sugar (preferably caster)

175ml milk (warmed in microwave for 25 seconds)

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

5 or 6 mini Mars Bars – sliced thinly or cubed

Baking tray- lightly floured.

 

 

 

 

Method

Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7.

Add the self raising flour salt and baking powder into a bowl

Cut the butter into cubes and rub it into the flour mixture with your fingers until it looks like crumbs

Add in the caster sugar and mix.

Add 1 tsp vanilla extract

Add the Mars Bar pieces

Make a well in the dry mix with a blunt knife. Dribble in the milk, stirring with the knife until you have a dough – save a tiny bit of the milk to paint over the scones at the end., (The mix will seem sticky- dust with flour to ease kneading)

Flour your kitchen surface and place mix over flour. Knead and fold mix in your hands until it smooths out a fraction.

Using your hands (not a rolling pin) push the dough, so it is three to four centimetres thick.

Use a cutter or the top of a mug to make individual scones. (You’ll get 5-7 scones depending on size of cutter)

Brush the tops with the remaining milk and place on the tray.

Bake for 10 mins – eat immediately with butter!

***

Enjoy!!

Oh- and then do heaps of exercise to work the calories off!

Jen x

 

Opening Lines with Charlie Laidlaw

This week’s Opening Lines blog shares the first 500 words of Charlie Laidlaw’s dark comedy, The Space Between Time.

Why not sit back for five minutes, and enjoy the very start of the story?

Blurb

There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth…

Emma Maria Rossini appears to be the luckiest girl in the world. She’s the daughter of a beautiful and loving mother, and her father is one of the most famous film actors of his generation. She’s also the granddaughter of a rather eccentric and obscure Italian astrophysicist.

But as her seemingly charmed life begins to unravel, and Emma experiences love and tragedy, she ultimately finds solace in her once-derided grandfather’s Theorem on the universe.

The Space Between Time is humorous and poignant and offers the metaphor that we are all connected, even to those we have loved and not quite lost.

First 500 words…

Density parameter of the universe

I have decided, somewhat reluctantly, but after careful consideration and under the influence of strong medication, to begin here:

Yippee! Mummy is taking me to the cinema and has told me that it’s a surprise. This doesn’t really make sense, because if taking me to the cinema is a surprise, why has she told me?

But this is typical Mum; opening her mouth and saying something, then realising that she shouldn’t have said it and wishing that she could un-say it. Even in my short life, I know she’s confused a lot of people – and offended many others. Nothing nasty, but if someone at the shops says what a nice day it is, Mum will often disagree, and I’m old enough to know that you’re not supposed to disagree about the weather.

Even if it’s been pouring with rain for hours, you’re supposed to agree that it’s just a passing shower. It’s not intentional, she simply doesn’t think, then realises she may have been rude, and sometimes goes back into the shop to apologise, or doesn’t go back and then frets that she should have done. Mum spends a lot of time worrying, usually about things that aren’t worth worrying about.

My Mum’s called Caitlin, by the way, although most grown-ups call her Cat. It’s a better name than Dog or Mouse, I suppose, and Mum does look a bit feline with her big eyes and unblinking gaze.

But it is a surprise to be going to the cinema because we almost never go to the cinema, and then only to see cartoons about dogs and cats – and big cats like lions. I keep telling her that I don’t like cartoons but – another Mum habit – she’s rarely listening or, if she is, then the information just wafts around her brain like smoke and quickly gets blown out her ears.

She told me recently that her brain is a bit of a butterfly, as if that neatly explained things, which it didn’t. I’d been telling her something really interesting about frogspawn and she’d been nodding and smiling in – mostly – the right places when the phone rang. It was Dad, who Mum spends most of the time worrying about, and who’s rarely here, but does try to phone from London or New York, or wherever he says he is.

When Dad phones, one of Mum’s feet taps on the floor, faster and faster. We have wooden floors, so it’s like living with a large woodpecker. For some reason, Mum rarely believes that he’s where he says he is.

Mum put down the phone and stared at it with narrowed eyes, as if it had done something naughty, then said bastard very loudly. ‘It’s a term of endearment,’ she told me, ignoring my sceptical expression. ‘Now, what were you telling me about toads?’

That’s also when she told me about the butterfly inside her head, which I also didn’t believe, because butterflies are only colourful insects and…

***

You can find out what happens next by buying The Space Between Time from all good retailers, including…

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s?k=the+space+between+time&ref=nb_sb_noss_2 

***

Bio

I’m the author of three novels, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead and The Space Between Time and Love Potions and Other Calamities.

I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault. That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father. That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste.
I was brought up in the west of Scotland (quite near Paisley, but thankfully not too close) and graduated from the University of Edinburgh. I still have the scroll, but it’s in Latin, so it could say anything.
I then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist. I started in Glasgow and ended up in London, covering news, features and politics. I interviewed motorbike ace Barry Sheene, Noel Edmonds threatened me with legal action and, because of a bureaucratic muddle, I was ordered out of Greece.
I then took a year to travel round the world, visiting 19 countries. Highlights included being threatened by a man with a gun in Dubai, being given an armed bodyguard by the PLO in Beirut (not the same person with a gun), and visiting Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave in Samoa. What I did for the rest of the year I can’t quite remember.
Surprisingly, I was approached by a government agency to work in intelligence, which just shows how shoddy government recruitment was back then. However, it turned out to be very boring and I don’t like vodka martini.
Craving excitement and adventure, I ended up as a PR consultant, which is the fate of all journalists who haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, and I’ve still to listen to Oh, Mein Papa.
I am married with two grown-up children and live in East Lothian.  And that’s about it.

You can find Charlie at…

www.charlielaidlawauthor.com

F: charlielaidlawauthor

T: @claidlawauthor

***

Many thanks Charlie,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

A sip of champagne

 

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

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

 

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

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

Blurb

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

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

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

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

Extract

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

Happy reading,

Jenny x

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

Opening Lines with Marie Laval: A Paris Fairy Tale

On this week’s Opening Lines I’m delighted to welcome Marie Laval, with the first 500 words of her romance, A Paris Fairy Tale.

Over to you Marie…

It takes me so long to write a novel that I can’t always recall what gave me the original idea for the story. I can however remember exactly where and when A Paris Fairy Tale was born in my imagination. I was with my daughter Clémence at the beautiful John Ryland’s Library in Manchester city centre. If you are in Manchester, this wonderful building is well worth a visit, by the way…

After looking at the various collections on display, I sat in front of a computer and played around with an interactive programme describing the world of illuminated manuscripts in Paris in the Middle Ages. From that moment on, I was hooked… It took me two years to write the story and to get it published. I can honestly say that had it not rained that day, and had I not popped into John Ryland’s Library and had my daughter not been so patient whilst I took frantic notes and muttered to myself like a mad woman, A PARIS FAIRY TALE wouldn’t have existed.

Blurb

Is Paris the city of happily ever afters?
Workaholic art historian Aurora Black doesn’t have time for fairy tales or Prince Charmings, even in the most romantic city in the world. She has recently been hired by a Parisian auction house for a job that could make or break her career. Unfortunately, daredevil journalist Cédric Castel seems intent on disrupting Aurora’s routine.
As Aurora and Cédric embark on a journey across France, they get more than they bargained for as they find themselves battling rogue antiques dealers and personal demons, not to mention a growing attraction to each other.
But with the help of a fairy godmother or two, could they both find their happily ever afters?

A PARIS FAIRY TALE is available as an ebook and audiobook on Amazon and various other platforms.

***

First 500 words…

I love Paris when it’s sunny and I love Paris when it rains… No, that wasn’t right. Aurora sighed as she pulled a tissue out of her handbag to wipe the lenses of her glasses. She had hummed the song ever since landing at Charles de Gaulle Airport. Why could she not remember the lyrics? She should know them by heart. Paris was one of her most favourite places, even if all she had seen of the French capital city that day were thundering grey skies, student protests and wicked motorists who derived great pleasure from driving into puddles as she limped by in her uncomfortable new shoes.

She glanced at her reflection in the mirror and dabbed the soggy tissue under her eyes where the mascara had run. Her mad dash from the metro station in the torrential rain had left her looking like a drowned racoon. What would Florent Maupas think? Not only was she late to his party, but she hardly looked like a respectable historian… or a stylish one, for that matter. Her cocktail dress was, like the rest of her clothes, plain and serviceable, and so rarely worn it smelled of mothballs no matter how much perfume she sprayed on it. Her only concession to fashion was the silly new heels she couldn’t wait to take off.

She slipped her glasses back on, and pushed the tissue back into her bag. Never mind what she looked like. Florent Maupas had hired her for her brain, not her physique or dress sense.

‘Here you are at last, ma chère.I was getting worried.’

There was the man himself. Florent Maupas – handsome, grey-haired millionaire playboy and owner of one of Paris’ most prestigious auction houses.

‘I am sorry to be late, monsieur,’ she said with an apologetic smile. ‘I got lost on my way from the metro.’

‘Why didn’t you phone? My chauffeur would have picked you up from the hotel. The weather is appalling tonight. Poor you…you are drenched.’

She tucked a wet lock of hair behind her ear and smiled. ‘ I’ll be fine. I don’t mind the rain.’

‘That’s because you’re English!’ His bewildered tone suggested that she might as well be from Mars.

Stepping closer, he added in a low voice. ‘Now, my dear, I must remind you not to breathe a word about the manuscript to anyone. It is vital nobody finds out about your real job here until your valuation is complete.’

She frowned. ‘Of course, monsieur.’ Who did he take her for? She was a professional, and as such knew that discretion was of the utmost importance.

He nodded. ‘Good. Now, let’s join our guests.’

She did her best not to limp as she followed him, even if pain clawed at her left foot so fiercely that she bit back a gasp of pain and dug her nails into her palm. Why didn’t she stick to her usual no-nonsense pumps? Whatever the shop assistant had said, glamorous high heels weren’t for…

Bio

Originally from Lyon in France, Marie now lives in Lancashire with her family. She works full-time as a modern languages teacher and in her spare time she loves writing romance and dreaming about romantic heroes. She writes both historical and contemporary romance and her best-selling Little Pink Taxi was her debut romantic comedy novel with Choc Lit. It was followed by A PARIS FAIRY TALE and BLUEBELL’S CHRISTMAS MAGIC. Marie belongs to Authors on the Edge and writes short stories for the best selling Miss Moonshine’s anthologies. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors. Her native France, as well as her passion for history and research, very much influences her writing, and all her novels have what she likes to call ‘a French twist’!

***

Many thanks Marie.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

Inspired by…

On a recent break from my editing mountain, I decided to clear up the documents on my laptop – of which there are thousands. As I was deleting old blogs, I came across an interview I did several years ago, when I talked about the influence my Nan had on my work.

The inspiration of certain people in our lives can never be underestimated.

Here’s what I had to say about my incredible grandparent…

Although many people have inspired my writing over the years, it was my Nan, (my mum’s mother), who had the biggest impact on my work- or rather, on my desire to write.

A stalwart of the local WI; a poet, script writer and all round word lover, my Nan had a creative talent I could only dream of. Unfortunately, her own parents were of the mind that she should not put herself forward. That she wasn’t clever enough to go to university (she was) and that she should not put herself forward, but should stay at home and help with the family business.

Of course, as she was born in 1926, this was not a new, surprising, or even resented attitude. It is just how it was. My Nan was not confident in her abilities, and never really appreciated just how much people enjoyed her comedy shows or her dramas- but I loved them. I remember sitting, when I was ten years old, watching one of her shows, thinking how wonderful it would be to make people laugh like she did; just with the clever use of words.

I didn’t notice that I was following in her writing footsteps until I was in my thirties. That was when I accidentally wrote a short story (it came from now where and simply had to be written), which miraculously got published. That short story became the first of forty short stories, and now, twenty-one novels later, I’m still going.

One day I might be as good as Nan was. I just hope she’d approve of my books!

I wrote both Abi’s House and Abi’s Neighbour in her memory.  Set in Cornwall, they feature Sennen Cove and Penzance, where my Nan and Grandad had their honeymoon (and, coincidentally, where my other grandparents lived). There is a character called Dora in Abi’s Neighbour – and that is my Nan. She wasn’t called Dora- but if she’d been allowed to be who she had the intelligence to be- that would have been her. No question.

If Nan was still here, I’d thank her every day. She was an amazing woman, who did an awful lot for me as I grew up.

Passing on her love of words to me was a gift beyond price.

Happy reading evryone,

Jenny xx

 

 

Recipe for writing success: Scones anyone?

Some of you will have heard the story about how my writing life came about- if you haven’t heard it- then basically, it was all down to a Mars Bar scone.

This week I was lucky enough to be speaking at the Weston Writer’s – ‘How to Be a Writer’ event – and the subject of Mars Bar scones came up.

I rashly promised to share the recipe…so….

Ingredients

8 oz self raising flour

2 oz butter

1 oz caster sugar

Half a teaspoon of baking powder

Quarter pint of milk (semi or full fat)

2 large or 6 mini Mars Bars (chopped into small pieces)

Method

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl

Rub in the butter

Sprinkle in the diced Mars Bar

Make a well in the centre of the dry mixture

Pour in almost all the milk and stir slowly with a knife, gradually blending in the mixture to form a dough

Sprinkle some flour onto a dry hard surface

Roll out with a rolling pin until the dough is approx half an inch thick.

Use a cutter to cut into scone shaped rounds. (You will have approx 6 scones)

Paint the top with the remaining milk

Cook at Gas mark 8 or 230 degrees for 7-10 mins.

Eat hot with lots of butter! (This is not the time to think about your diet!!)

ENJOY!!

Happy munching

Jenny x

PS- If you don’t know the Mars Bar scone story…I’ll tell it again very soon!

 

 

End of the month blog: end of an era

It’s that time again – for the very last time!

I’d like to extend a huge thank you to Nell Peters for writing so many of these fabulous blogs over the years. You’ll be missed hun!

Sit back, relax, and enjoy this final summary of the month, with a decidedly Nell take on life!

Good morning, everyone, on this last day of January. So, how has 2020 been for you so far? Whatever your answer, grab a drinkie poo and come with me now to while away a mo looking back upon what has happened on this day in years gone by – plus whatever else takes my fancy.

Over a hundred years ago during WWI (even I can’t remember this), Germany initiated large-scale use of poisonous gas during the Battle of Bolimów against Russia (1915). Exactly two years later, Germany announced that its U-boats would resume submarine warfare after a two-year hiatus – and following a series of collisions during a foggy night in Scotland in 1918, two Royal Navy submarines were lost with over a hundred fatalities, while another five British warships sustained substantial damage.

Fast forward to the Second World War and in 1945, US Army private Edward Donald (Eddie) Slovik was executed for desertion following a court-martial, the first such execution of an American soldier since the Civil War (1861-5). This was on the same day that approximately three thousand inmates of the Stutthof concentration camp were forcibly marched into the Baltic Sea at Palmnicken (now Yantarny, Russia) and executed.

On a less depressing note, two days before my mother was born in 1927, Mrs Pransky gave birth to a son, Norman Zachary, in Boston, Mass. He grew up to be Norm Prescott, co-founder (with Lou Sheimer) of Filmation Associates, an animation studio. Amongst their prolific output were Star Trek, The US of Archie, The New Adventures of Gilligan, The Original Ghostbusters, Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle and Ark II – all during the mid to late seventies. Norm died in California aged seventy-eight and was survived by his business partner, wife and two sons.

Comedian and TV/radio presenter, Patrick Kielty celebrates with forty-nine candles today. Born in County Down, N Ireland, he is one of three sons born to businessman John (Jack) Kielty, who was shot dead on 25 January 1988 (six days before Patrick’s seventeenth birthday) by the Ulster Freedom Fighters, allegedly to stop him appearing as a key witness in Central Television’s defence of a libel action brought by Jim Craig.

Craig was suing the television company over a broadcast which suggested he was a racketeer and he is said to have ordered the assassination. Almost twenty years later, Patrick was invited to conduct a joint in-depth TV interview at 10 Downing Street with then UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair and Irish Taoiseach (I have no idea how you’d pronounce that!) Bertie Ahearn, to discuss the Northern Ireland peace process. Since 2012, he has been married to fellow presenter Cat Deeley.

 

Also in 2012, on this day, the Toyota Corolla was announced as the best-selling car of all time, having sold over 37.5 million. When I had #1 son in Montreal, I got rid of my Pontiac Firebird (sniff) and opted for a Corolla as a rather more sensible vehicle for maternal to-ing and fro-ing – and regretted the decision for every second that I drove the thing. Even though the model was bigger than those produced for the European market and hefty snow tyres are de rigueur for everywhere in the east, it really couldn’t handle winter driving – no chance whatsoever of making it through a six-foot snow drift, which would present no problem at all for the average American gas guzzler.

I knew for sure we had to part company when I’d had it for about a year and I was driving the boy to a paediatric appointment – it was coming to the end of snow season and there were huge filthy, icy puddles everywhere. Driving through one such half-frozen mess, there was a resounding bang and the inside of the car – plus the child in his car seat – were covered in dirty globs of ice and muddy water. Not a good look. When I could pull over, as well as taking some very deep breaths to try to regulate my heartbeat – the son finding it all highly amusing – I found that most of the rear floor had rusted away and the upward force of the water I’d driven through had sent the mats in the footwells flying, providing a complimentary shower in the process. Cars are old and rusted at five or six years maximum there, because of the amount of salt and grit they have to spread to keep roads anywhere near passable – but wrecked at a little over a year old was beyond a joke. Having learned my lesson, I opted for a very substantial Oldsmobile tank next.

31/01/12 was the day that (His Eminence, if you’re that way inclined) American RC Cardinal, Anthony Joseph Bevilacqua, died aged eighty-eight in Pennsylvania, after suffering from cancer and dementia. He was joined at the Pearly Gates, or the other place, by American artist Dorothea Tanning aged one hundred and one; Tristram Coffin aged eighty-nine, an American folklorist, seen off by a bout of pneumonia and Mike Kelley, also an American artist, who committed suicide aged fifty-seven. After Kelley’s death, art critic of The New York Times, Holland Cotter, described him as ‘one of the most influential American artists of the past quarter century and a pungent commentator on American class, popular culture and youthful rebellion.’ Pungent, eh?

Who remembers the US TV drama series, Ally McBeal (1998-2002)? The part of young lawyer, Nelle Porter, was played by Australian/American actress Portia de Rossi, who was born as the not-quite-so-exotic-sounding Amanda Lee Rogers, on 31st January 1973. No prizes for guessing she’s hitting the ripe old age of forty-seven today. Aged fifteen, Amanda decided to reinvent herself, so pinched the name of a character from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and added a random Italian last name. Like Prince Charles, she was educated at Geelong Grammar School (other alumni include media mogul Rupert Murdoch; John Gorton – Australian PM 1968–1971; Mizan Zainal Abidin of Terengganu – King of Malaysia 2006–2011; Tim Macartney-Snape – mountaineer and author; billionaire businessman, Kerry Packer; and singer-songwriter Missy Higgins) and went on to study law at Melbourne University. How appropriate. Portia’s second marriage was to comedian, actress, and TV chat show host, Ellen DeGeneres, in 2008. So, does that make her Portia de Rossi DeGeneres? We won’t go there.

Since we last spoke, we’ve had a General Election, Christmas and New Year, to name but a few. We voted on the same day as middle GD’s school year Christmas assembly, when they performed the story of Kris Kringle (which they called Christingle) in a huge, freezing cold church in town. Because of the setting, in theory anyone could attend, and I was indeed honoured to have a local vagrant come and sit next to me halfway through. If he was hoping to warm his bones, he picked the wrong place. Meanwhile, each child climbed up the several steep steps of the pulpit to speak their lines – and as they are only six or seven years old, some could hardly see around the lectern, let alone over it! But they all did brilliantly, encouraged to do their best by very supportive teachers. It’s a lovely little school and we’re hoping that little sis will also get a place there from September.

A few days before the big event, I stayed over in Twickenham, meeting #2 son for dinner and #3 when he flew in from Mumbai the next morning. As is becoming our usual routine, we ‘did’ the three family graves at the cemetery (this time in rather inclement torrential rain and freezing, howling winds) and then went to visit my mother in her care home. After as much random, repetitive and off-the-wall conversation we could cope with, we sped back to Norfolk for early dinner with #4 and his family – the OH was noticeable by his absence from the gathering, as he was off to watch the Rod Stewart gig at the O2, a work/client thing. Phew. I’m definitely getting way too old for all this! The next morning, #3 and #4 flew to Amsterdam for a few days, returning on Christmas Eve, #4’s birthday.

The OH also returned on 24/12, after a visit to his elderly mother in Dorset, so I spent our anniversary on 23rd alone, apart from a sparkly tree, a bulging fridge and a couple of glasses of wine. Hic.

We had a great family Christmas – #3 hasn’t been home to celebrate the 25th with us for a few years, globe trotting as he does, so it was an especially happy break. No time for dust to settle and we were all back down to London for a few days over NY, including our annual trip to the panto in Richmond. This year it was Snow White – intriguingly, the dwarfs were not vertically challenged, but of average size and crawled along with the front of their costumes depicting short legs. Does that make any sense? Comedian Jo Brand played the Wicked Queen, but appeared bored out of her skull by the whole thing and should probably stick to stand-up and appearances on Have I Got News for You etc. Nevertheless, everyone enjoyed it – and the dinner we had afterwards at Zizi’s, before those old enough (or indeed young enough!) to stay up, saw in 2020.

Just before he was due to fly back to Bangkok, #3 needed to get his iPad looked at, as something was malfunctioning – that meant a trip to the Apple store in either Norwich or Cambridge, both approx. an hour’s drive for us. He set off early for Norwich, but was back after thirty minutes or so. The person who has a really responsible job running operations throughout India, Thailand and Hong Kong (I’ve heard him on business calls and can see why he earns the big bucks) had forgotten to take his iPad. You couldn’t make it up. He also very nearly left his passport behind, as he was heading out the door for Heathrow at the end of his visit.

Multi-married film star, Elizabeth Taylor, got hitched to #2 groom, British actor Michael Wilding in February 1952. He was twenty years her senior and while Taylor found their age gap appealing because she wanted the ‘calm and quiet and security of friendship’ from their relationship, he hoped that the marriage would aid his flagging career in Hollywood. They had two sons together, but while Taylor was away filming, Wilding was allegedly entertaining strippers at their house – classy. Taylor said ‘I do’ for the third time on 2nd Feb 1957 (my mum’s thirtieth birthday), two whole days after her divorce from Wilding was finalised on 31st January.

Talking about divorce, unless anything major occurs between me writing this (in advance, as always) and Brexit on 31/01, the UK will leave the EU today. Decision made, let’s hope Boris pulls – if not a rabbit – at least a hamster out of the hat. Meanwhile, we have the shenanigans of the royal family to keep us amused on darker days. I imagine Arrogant Andrew is rubbing his podgy little entitled hands together, not quite able to believe his luck after others also blotted their copybooks quite spectacularly, taking public attention away from him. At least long enough for him to nip down to Woking for a pizza. Off with their heads!

Finally, I am also doing a bunk. This is my last guest blog for Jenny, at least for the foreseeable. I really need to devote more time to salvaging what little remains – if anything – of my writing career!

So, I’ll bid you all a final ‘Toodles!’, with huge thanks to readers for coming along for the ride, and to Jenny for putting up with me for so long.

Take care.

NP x

Once again, many thanks Nell. Wonderful stuff. Wishing you much success with your writing.

Jenny xx

 

 

 

 

Welcome to 2020

It’s 2020 – a year I’ve already named ‘the year of busy.’

This is not a complaint- far from it. I love to be busy. In fact, I’m pretty hopeless at resting, relaxing and having days off.

Why so busy? Well, I have just (as you’ll know if you are a regular visitor to this blog) been extremely fortunate, and secured a deal with Aria (an imprint of Head of Zeus), to write three romantic novels set on Exmoor.

This is ultra exciting- and I’ll be honest- all I’ve dreamed off for years. A “proper” publishing deal with a major publisher. I am still in shock.

The price of this is a lot of work. Book One (Midsummer at Mill Grange) is written- but book two needs to be down and perfect on paper by March- which is scarily close! Then book three, has to be started and finished by October this year.

Northmoor House, Exmoor (The ‘real’ Mill Grange.)

I have a feeling I ought to be panicking- but I don’t have time. In fact, I am loving it. The words are just flowing, and I adore the characters and the location. As soon as I can tell you all about them I will.

This year isn’t all about Mill Grange however. In May, my bestselling novels, Abi’s House and Abi’s Neighbour, republished by Headline Books. They will be re titled, The Cornish Escape and A Cornish Wedding. More on that soon! (The original books are still available)

My Jennifer Ash side also has her hands full. The fourth Folville Chronicle, Outlaw Justice, has been drafted, and as soon as I can, I’ll edit it. It will be out by October this year!

I’m also teaching all year for Imagine. If you’re in the Devon or Somerset area, and are looking for a writing course, why not look us up!

Right then – I’d better crack on!

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 

A VERY HAPPY COFFEE AND CAKE FILLED CHRISTMAS

I would like to wish you each and every one of you…

A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!

blue-christmas-2015-lights-missouri

Many many thanks for all your support over the last year.

I hope you are all having a truly peaceful and huggled Christmas, with extra coffee and a mince pie or three.  Jenny xx

 

 

 

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