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

Tag: murder

Opening Lines with K.M. Pohlkamp: Apricots and Wolfsbane

This week’s opening lines comes from the amazing K.M. Pohlkamp; an aerospace engineer who works in Mission Control no less! In contrast to her up to the minute profession, she has written a fascinating historical novel…Apricots and Wolfsbane.

Over to you…

The world’s first known serial killer was a woman.

That fact struct me after reading an article about forgotten females from history. Locusta was a female poison assassin from Rome (Gaul) who discovered it was more lucrative to use her knowledge of herbs to kill than heal. As a female engineer, I relate to the struggle of going against traditional gender stereotypes. Locusta must have faced challenges, but her gender would have been an asset in a field where surprise provided an advantage. There is not much known about Locusta, which incited my imagination. And the more I thought about her life, a story began to weave in my mind.

At the same time, my priest gave a sermon about the ease of falling into a cycle of sin and penance. How often we realize our actions are incorrect and then feel guilt but after awhile the guilt wears and it becomes easy to commit the sin again. Of course he was talking about minor offenses, but as a matter of reductio ad absurdum, I applied this concept to a murderer and placed Locusta’s inspiration at the height of the Catholic Church in Tudor England.

Synopsis of Apricots and Wolfsbane

Lavinia Maud craves the moment the last wisps of life leave her victim’s bodies—to behold the effects of her own poison creations. Believing confession erases the sin of murder, her morbid desires are in unity with faith, though she could never justify her skill to the magistrate she loves.

At the start of the 16th century in Tudor England, Lavinia’s marks grow from tavern drunks to nobility, but rising prestige brings increased risk. When the magistrate suspects her ruse, he pressures the priest into breaking her confessional seal, pitting Lavinia’s instincts as an assassin against the tenets of love and faith. She balances revenge with her struggle to develop a tasteless poison and avoid the wrath of her ruthless patron.

With her ideals in conflict, Lavinia must decide which will satisfy her heart: love, faith, or murder—but the betrayals are just beginning.

Apricots and Wolfsbane was shortlisted for the 2017 Chaucer Historical Fiction Awards and received 5-stars from Readers’ Favorite.

***

And the first 500 words of Apricots and Wolfsbane:

The violent display of convulsions lasted longer than I anticipated.

With my boots propped on the table, I remember watching beads of wax roll down the candle, marking time between my victim’s spasms. The brothel room was sparse, and the bed in the corner remained undisturbed. I had assumed the role of temptress that evening, but delivered a different climax.

I savored the fear on my victim’s face as much as my own unlaced mead. The sweetness of both danced on my palate. His repulsive gagging, however, I endured with patience.

My target focused upon me. His hand shook, reaching out in a misplaced plea for aid. Instead, I raised my goblet in a final toast while he turned purple. He glanced towards his spilled glass, and then studied my face with new understanding. With his last remnants of life, he pieced together what I had done. Those little moments made the act so delicious. And as his body collapsed upon the floor, I added one more success to my mental tally.

Murder just never got old.

The scratching of my chair sliding across the uneven floor broke the sudden, serene silence of the room. Driven by curiosity, my boots echoed with each step towards my victim.

The man’s eyes contained a lingering remnant of vibrancy despite the departure of the soul they once served. White froth percolated from his open mouth, overflowing the orifice to trail down his neck. It was not an honorable death, but my client had paid for certainty, not dignity.

Curious, I examined the large ruby on the victim’s pointer finger which matched the client’s description — an ornate setting with a coat of arms on one side of the gem and a mare’s head on the opposite. The worked piece of silver did not seem important enough to procure my service, but as a professional, I had not asked for justification, only payment. Material significance so often motivated patrons to fill my coffers. I recognized the inherent sin, but I never judged a client’s reason. I was not qualified to cast the first stone.

I did admire my victim. After all, he was a fellow criminal. I believed his talents as a thief must have been remarkable to pilfer the ring unnoticed from the finger of its owner. I often boasted of my own sleight of hand, but admittedly, I could not accomplish such a feat. Though in my defense, assassin clearly trumped thief.

After donning the black leather gloves concealed within the lacings of my bodice, I returned to business. I pushed the tipped chair out of the way and pulled on the ring, but my motion abruptly halted.

Caught at the knuckle, the gem did not budge.

I stared at his limp hand, dumbfounded, before a flame of focus burst through my body. How I craved and savored that rush. That high, and the feeling of power, motivated my ghastly craft all those years. Despite the stress, I never lost control of my…

 

About the author

K.M. Pohlkamp is a blessed wife, proud mother of two young children, and an aerospace engineer who works in Mission Control. She operated guidance, navigation and control systems on the Space Shuttle and is currently involved in development of upcoming manned-space vehicles. A Cheesehead by birth, she now resides in Texas for her day job and writes to maintain her sanity. Her other hobbies include ballet and piano. K.M. has come a long way from the wallpaper and cardboard books she created as a child. Her debut historical fiction novel, Apricots and Wolfsbane, was published by Filles Vertes Publishing.

Links:

Watch the book trailer

Visit GoodReads and see what others are saying

Amazon.com

Amazon UK

Google Play 

***

Many thanks for some great opening lines.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny

Opening Lines: Ward Zero by Linda Huber

The final opening lines of 2018 is being looked after by suspense writer, Linda Huber.

Over to you Linda…

Writing Ward Zero… the dead ward

I enjoyed writing this book – as an ex-physiotherapist, I loved the hospital setting, modelling Brockburn General on one of the hospitals I worked in, back in the day. I could almost smell that special hospital odour as Sarah visited foster-mum Mim in orthopaedics, and the fustiness of the cellar as she lay there later on, bound and helpless, was equally present in my nose. Ward Zero brought back a lot of happy memories.
The best bit of all, though, was deciding on the cover image. The designer produced a fabulous image of a body, swathed in a white sheet and lying on a trolley. Perfect – but was this Sarah? It looked a bit masculine to me… So we began a hilarious back and forth of cover images, the body having a different bust measurement in each. Eventually, the one the designer christened ‘version supermodel’ was voted winner, and the cover – and the book – went to print.

Here are my first five hundred words:

Prologue

Thursday, 20th July

He stared across the table in the crowded restaurant and his mouth went dry. Sarah. She was so lovely, smiling at him with shiny blonde hair just tipping her shoulders, and her blouse an exact match for the blue of her eyes. And now he would have to kill her too. It was too much to bear.

He reached for his glass, fighting to keep the ‘I’m having the greatest time ever’ expression fixed on his face. But her last remark had confirmed it – she knew way too much. And he, idiot that he was, had just made a monumental mistake. Sarah was busy with her fritters; she hadn’t realised the significance of what he’d said. But she would, and the first thing she’d do was tell that bloody policeman. It was a risk he couldn’t take. Time to switch his emotions off.

He took a deep breath, forcing himself to smile back. All he had to do was keep her busy thinking about other things, and after dessert he would suggest a quick coffee at home. His home. Once he had her safely locked up he could organise her death in peace and quiet. It shouldn’t be too difficult – he’d already had a practice run.

When Sarah was gone too, he’d be safe.

If only he’d never gone to the hospital. He hadn’t wanted things to end like this, not for one minute.

Chapter One

Two weeks earlier: Tuesday, 4th July

Sarah stepped into the arrivals hall at Manchester Airport. What a brilliant feeling – back on British soil for her first long break in two years. And she was ready for it. Teaching in Switzerland and travelling round Europe in the holidays had been exhausting, if exciting. And now – where was Mim?

A glance round the waiting crowd failed to locate her foster mother’s strawberry-blonde head, and Sarah stood still. She hadn’t spoken to Mim since last week, but they’d texted yesterday. At least… Sarah frowned. She had texted her new flight time and Mim had replied with a smiley, which, when you thought about it, wasn’t typical. Mim had the gift of the gab even when she was texting.

‘There you are! Sorry I’m late – I had to park at the back of beyond.’

Sarah spun round to see a short, very pregnant figure beaming up at her, dark curls damp on her brow. ‘Rita! You’re huge! Come here!’

A lump came into her throat as she hugged the other woman, feeling the hardness of Rita’s bump against her own body. Lucky Rita.

Rita hugged back. ‘That’s pregnancy for you. Come on, let’s get out of this rabble.’

Sarah grabbed her case and turned towards the exit. ‘You’re on. But where’s Mim?’

She couldn’t imagine what could have kept Mim away from the airport when the two of them were supposed to be setting off on their long-anticipated tour of Yorkshire that very afternoon.

Rita took her free elbow. ‘Ah. Now don’t shoot the…

***

I’m sure you can guess the 501st word!

***

Ward Zero blurb:

Horror swept through her. Had she been buried alive?
On Sarah’s first visit to see her foster mother, Mim, in Brockburn General Hospital, she is sucked into a world that isn’t what it should be.
Someone is lying, someone is stealing. And someone is killing – but who? With a grieving child to take care of, as well as Mim, Sarah has to put family first. She doesn’t see where danger lies – until it’s too late.

If you think you’re safe in a hospital, think again.

Bio:
Linda Huber grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but went to work in Switzerland for a year aged twenty-two, and has lived there ever since. Her day jobs have included working as a physiotherapist in hospitals and schools for handicapped children, and teaching English in a medieval castle. Not to mention several years being a full-time mum to two boys and a rescue dog.

Linda’s writing career began in the nineties, and since then she’s had over fifty short stories and articles published, as well as seven psychological suspense novels. Her books are set in places she knows well – Cornwall (childhood holidays), The Isle of Arran (teenage summers), Yorkshire (visiting family), as well as Bedford and Manchester (visiting friends) and her home town, Glasgow. Her latest project is a series of feel-good novellas written under her pen name, Melinda Huber.

After spending large chunks of the current decade moving house, she has now settled in a beautiful flat on the banks of Lake Constance in north-east Switzerland, where she’s working on another suspense novel.

Linda Huber’s website:  www.lindahuber.net
Universal Amazon link: getBook.at/WardZero

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LindaHuber19
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorlindahuber/

***

Many thanks to Linda for seeing us out of 2018 in style!

See you next year!

Jenny x

Blowing the Dust Off: Nell Peter’s By Any Other Name

It’s Day 2 of my Blowing the Dust Off series. Today we are in the company of Nell Peters (she of the end of the month blogging epics). She is taking a peak at her first crime novel By Any Other Name.

Go grab a cuppa, sit down, and enjoy…

 

Hi Jenny – is it the end of the month already? Oh no, different gig – I’m here to waffle on about one of my backlist masterpieces! Silly me …

It was on (Friday) 25th April 2014, that I received an email from Greg Rees, then an editor at Accent, telling me he’d finished the complete MS of By Any Other Name and wanted to publish it – as he read through, he’d been flabbergasted not once, but twice apparently. Go me! The offer came as a huge surprise, since when he’d liked the original three chapter submission and asked for the rest, I’d rather dismissed the possibility of things going any further – I expected to receive yet another ‘not right for our list at this time’ or ‘I just don’t love it enough’ type rejection. I’ve had enough of those to metaphorically paper a medium-sized room, although funnily enough, none for that particular book, as I’d only just finished writing it. When I say ‘just finished writing’ I mean the final two thirds of a crime novel started so long ago I can’t actually put a date on it – except that it was just after Queen Victoria died.

The first third of BAON had to be rewritten too from memory, after #3 son managed to crash my PC spectacularly and send all my files spiralling into cyber space, without hope of retrieval – and I had no back-up, nada! Rookie mistake … I dipped into the rewrite now and again over the years, in between writing other stuff, and eventually got to the bit where everything had disappeared in a puff of ether. Then I had to actually start thinking how the plot would evolve and finish the thing – it actually took on a whole different outline to my original mental blueprint.

However, that Friday the excitement and anticipation of publication had to take a back seat very quickly, because the following day was GD Isla-Rose’s first birthday – and she was having a big party, for which I’d promised to make a pink princess fairy castle cake, plus oodles of buffet food. I mentioned the cake making to Greg and he very helpfully sent a link to an M&S creation that would have been perfect, except for the seven day waiting period. Damn! So, into the kitchen toddled the least domesticated female since Lizzie Borden’s stepmother served up that putrefied mutton …

Isla is #4 son’s (now) older daughter and he rocked up to, erm, help with the cake. By the time we’d finished many hours later, all book publication thoughts had left the building and the kitchen had suffered a snow blizzard, covered in flour and icing sugar (as were we!) But we were reasonably pleased/relieved at the result. Happy to report that of the too many people packed into their tiny house, nobody died of food poisoning from the party fodder and a good time was had by all.

The next week, my contract arrived, but before I could sign it (against the advice of the Society of Authors, I might add) my father was taken ill in Twickenham and I had to speed off to his bedside, via long distance trains and a tube strike. Dad was fine, of course – he’s a life-long hypochondriac, but even they become genuinely ill sometimes, and at eighty-nine it was a bit risky to ignore his protestations. I eventually managed to extract myself from his sick bay and return to my lap top in Norfolk to begin the process of whipping the MS into pristine shape for November release.

When the big day arrived, it was something of an anti-climax. There had been no pre-order, ARCs, trumpet or whistle blowing prior to the launch and apart from me posting on social media, the day passed unheralded with me gawping at the lap top. I joined some FB groups to get myself ‘out there’ – from one day to the next I went from being a no-group bod to belonging to four, and rising.

Once your book finally hits the cyber shelves, even as a very unsatisfactory print on demand, reviews are eagerly awaited and after a couple of weeks or so, one landed on Amazon for BAON – a 1*! At that time Accent used to put new releases on a freebie offer for a limited time to encourage sales and ‘Patsy’ (her name is ingrained in my memory forever!), I noticed, made a habit of grabbing any freebie going and rubbishing it, after reading just a few pages. If you have a healthy clutch of reviews, you can weather a low rating, but when it’s the first it takes ages to up your average, which is frankly depressing.

By Any Other Name is a genre-crossing crime novel and admittedly a bit Marmite. There are similarities to I Let You Go in that the plot stands on its head at about two thirds of the way through – it’s difficult to say much more, so why not read the blurb:

A summer job to die for – and people do.

Emily Kelly can’t believe her luck when she is employed as temporary companion to Sir Gerald Ffinche and falls in love with his son, Richard.

However, it’s obvious their happiness isn’t shared by all, when one tragedy is quickly followed by another; and as the body count mounts, subtle clues are left to incriminate Emily and destroy her relationship.

Police involved seem incapable of exposing the real culprit; perhaps a family member, one of the household staff, or someone else close to the Ffinches?

No one is above suspicion, and no one is safe until a psychopath is unmasked – or thereafter.

With a shoal of red herrings and a plot that turns quickly from almost-cosy to taut psychological thriller, this is an enthralling, chilling read that will appeal to those who relish the unpredictability of Clare Mackintosh.

    ‘Twists abound as love blossoms amongst the dead bodies in a genre-crossing novel with a dark undertow all its own.’

Marika Cobbold, best-selling author.

     Fancy reading an excerpt? Be my guest:

Chapter One

As Emily rushed around, scooping up all the stuff she needed to take to work, an advertisement in the local free paper caught her attention:

Footloose and Versatile Female, Aged under 35 years.

Must be free July and August. Telephone in complete confidence …’

Not much to go on, but what could possibly be worse than painting red crescent smiles on toy clowns’ faces day in, day out, until September, she asked herself. Exactly. She ripped out the bottom half of the page, folded it roughly and shoved it in her bag, before heading out the door at speed.

She’d recently finished the first year of a degree course in Psychology, passing all assignments with flying colours and notching up the requisite number of credits to enable her to continue – much to her tutors’ blatant amazement, her attendance record having won no awards. But without visible (or invisible) means of support, Emily had to take a holiday job in a local toy factory just to survive until the next loan cheque arrived on the doormat. Though the work was mind-numbingly awful, it was all she could get; she hadn’t been there long and for the third time in as many days, was about to miss the last bus that would deliver her to her paint pot on time.

She forgot all about the ad until lunchtime, when she was sitting eating crisps with Doreen and some of the other women who worked in the paint section.

‘What do you think about this, Dor?’ she asked, waving the scrap of paper under her nose.

Doreen adjusted her half-moon glasses and scrutinised the print. ‘Well, if I was ten years younger…’

‘And the rest!’ scoffed Peroxide Pam, who was reading over Doreen’s shoulder, gnashing her Wrigley’s for all to see and hear.

Doreen pursed her lips, ignoring Pam, ‘As I was saying, if I was ten years younger, Em, I’d apply for it meself – what have you got to lose?’

The arrival of Mr Spinks, their line supervisor, put an end to any further debate.

‘Come, come now ladies. Idle chatter won’t get the baby bathed – not in a month of Sundays.’ Spinks was a short, round man – a regular sleaze ball, who vastly overestimated his levels of charisma and importance. ‘The lunch break is finished – now back to your work stations, quick as you can.’ He clapped raw sausage fingers together, the effort of movement making his chins wobble.

She took a moment to suck the last traces of nicotine from her roll-up and stubbed it out on the handy ‘No Smoking’ sign provided – which meant the others left without her and she found herself alone in the locker room, with Spinks blocking the exit. Damn!

‘Well, if it isn’t Miss Smarty Pants…’ he was getting a little too close for comfort, ‘I don’t know why you think you are so much cleverer than the rest of us – just because you managed to cheat your way into university, that doesn’t make you any better than me…’ His damp breath was making her hair frizz and she wanted to get away from his horrible disrobing gaze.

Thank goodness, Doreen’s antennae were on top form. She reappeared at the end of the dingy corridor, ‘There you are, Em. I wondered where you’d got to – mustn’t waste company time, now must we?’ She smiled ingratiatingly at Spinks, who jumped back from Emily as though she had broken out in seeping plague boils.

He scowled, ‘Very good, Mrs Mason, that’s the Dunkirk spirit. Carry on, now.’

She started to follow Doreen, changed her mind and spun around to face him once more, ‘Actually, Mr Spinks, I’m working here during the vacs to earn money – that’s why everyone works here isn’t it, to earn money? I don’t think of myself as any better or any worse than anyone else – including you.’ She felt Doreen’s sharp tug at her elbow, ‘And the name is Kelly, Emily Kelly – not Smarty Pants. She left last week, I believe.’ Then she allowed herself to be dragged away.

Spinks stalked off in the opposite direction, gargantuan buttocks flubbing together and one arm held awkwardly behind his back, like Prince Charles. ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day, you know,’ he called over his shoulder.

‘Wazzock,’ hissed Doreen, not too loudly, ‘don’t you take no notice of him, Em, Mrs Spinks is probably keeping him on tight rations in the bedroom department.’ She inclined her head and winked a blue-shadowed crêpe eyelid.

‘I’m amazed there is a Mrs Spinks.’ Emily suffered a gruesome mind’s eye flash of him in the nude – even his spare tyres had spare tyres – which sent shivers up and down her neurological pathways.

‘Oh yeah, right under the thumb he is,’ Doreen was one of those people who seemed to know everything about everybody.

‘Does she have a Seeing Eye Dog and a white stick?’

Doreen shrugged, ‘Never met the woman in person, but I saw them out shopping on a Saturday once. She’s one of them scrawny, mean-looking women – probably a terrible nag. And Spinks never brings her along to the Christmas parties.’

‘Lucky escape for her, I imagine?’ Emily scoffed.

She looked genuinely shocked, ‘You must be joking! It’s the social event of the year round here.’ Emily made a mental note never to sink that low. ‘Okay, Miss Smarty Pants – time we was getting back to our work of national importance.’

Back at the production line, plastic clowns were standing all in a row, waiting for her to make them look happy and appealing and well worth their outrageous price tag. Doreen hitched up her weighty boobs with equally weighty forearms and waddled off to her seat, her lumpy backside straining to be free of the tight brown overall. As always, she was anxious to catch the beginning of The Archers – which was the highlight of her day.

Not being a fan of radio drama, Emily loaded her paintbrush with crimson gloop and settled down to switch off from life in the sweatshop and daydream her way through to clocking-off time. Johnny Depp featured regularly in her fantasy world and that afternoon, she was guest of honour at his sumptuous mansion, high in the Hollywood Hills. Dearest Johnny couldn’t do enough for her, waiting on her hand and foot as she soaked up the Californian sun at the side of his turquoise infinity pool, sipping vintage champagne through a sparkly straw.

Her imagination took a detour to that interesting advertisement and the possible scenarios it might throw up. Was it possible a terminally ill Adonis was searching for someone like her to sooth his fevered brow, during his final, tragic weeks? As a reward for her unstinting care, he would bequeath to her all his money, plus a controlling share portfolio in a selection of designer dress and shoe shops. Or could it be an eccentric zillionaire sought a beautiful, lithe young woman (such as Emily, obviously) to work an hour a day on his very own Caribbean Island? Naturally, her allotted tasks wouldn’t be too taxing – perhaps grooming the Guinea pig twice a week, arranging vases of exotic flowers to his satisfaction, pouring just the right amount of expensive, scented bath oil into his hot tub; that sort of thing.

If you’d like to read more, here’s the international link.

http://mybook.to/BAON

Toodles.

Nell Peters

***

Thanks Nell – fabulous blog as ever.

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to see which book Marie Laval is going to share with us.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Guest post from Cheryl Rees-Price: A Fascination With Murder

I’m delighted to welcome Cheryl Rees-Price to my place today to talk about her new novel, Frozen Minds. Just what is it about murder anyway…

Over to you Cheryl…

Recently I was asked to give a talk in my local library. Having worried that no one would turn up I was relieved when a bunch of people sat around the table seemingly interested to hear about my writing process. As I progressed through the talk I noticed a few eyes light up when I arrived at the subject of the murder weapon. I now had the room’s full attention as I displayed my reference book of poisons and weapons.

library

Following the talk the discussion soon turned to true crime and particularly a murder which occurred locally some 40 years ago. Some of my guests had a clear memory of the event. They remembered the shock and speculation that ran through the village. This turned to other murders that had occurred in various locations in wales, then followed a list of favourite crime authors. The age range of my audience varied but all agreed that they liked a good ‘whodunit’ or ‘thriller.’ This got me thinking about our general fascination with murder. Why do we find murder a source of entertainment?

We are surrounded by crime, true or fictional, on TV, in books, and newspapers. Most evenings you can turn on your television and find a detective series or true crime documentary. Have we become de-sensitised to murder? Or have we always had some morbid curiosity when it comes to crime?  If we look back a few hundred years it was not much different. I read recently of stage production which puts all 74 of Shakespeare’s death scenes in one sitting. Imagine 74 in one evening! That certainly gives Midsomer some competition. 

shakepeare

The Victorians were also known to be obsessed with crime and death, broadsheets were full of the gruesome details of Jack the ripper and then there was public executions, reportedly souvenirs such as copies of the death speech were sold.

So is it our sense of justice that draws us into world of murder? A need to see the perpetrator get caught and punished. This isn’t always the case in true crime. There are reportedly some 564 unsolved murders across the UK in the past ten years. That should be enough to make us stop and think, am I safe? Perhaps reading the details helps us get some perspective, we can make judgements on the victim, locality and circumstances to calculate the risks to our own lives.

When watching a crime drama or reading a crime book we can do so in a safe environment. We are in no danger and we can play along being detective, taking in the clues and guessing the final outcome. We can escape reality, and get a dose of adrenalin. We satisfy our inquisitive nature, being given full details from crime scene to arrest and a glimpse into the killers mind.  All this is done as we drink tea with our feet up on the sofa.

reading

Whatever our reasons for enjoying a good crime story we still expect our happy ending. One where the killer is caught and locked up securely. Then we can feel safe as we curl up with a book on a cold winter’s night and seek our next thrill.

***

frozen-minds

FROZEN MINDS

When a man is found murdered at Bethesda House, a home for adults with learning difficulties, local people start to accuse the home’s residents of being behind the killing. The victim was a manager at the home, and seemingly a respectable and well-liked family man. DI Winter Meadows knows there’s more to the case than meets the eye. As he and his team investigate, Meadows discovers a culture of fear at the home – and some unscrupulous dealings going on between the staff. Does the answer to the case lie in the relationships between the staff and the residents – or is there something even more sinister afoot?

Links

Frozen Minds Amazon

Website

Facebook

***

Bio

Cheryl Rees-Price was born in Cardiff and moved as a Young child to a small ex-mining village on the edge of the Black Mountains, South Wales, where she still lives with her husband, daughters and two cats.  After leaving school she worked as a legal clerk for several years before leaving to raise her two daughters.

Cheryl returned to education, studying philosophy, sociology and accountancy whilst working as a part time book keeper. She now works as a finance director for a company that delivers project management and accounting services.

In her spare time Cheryl indulges in her passion for writing, the success of writing plays for local performances gave her the confidence to write her first novel. Her other hobbies include walking and gardening which free her mind to develop plots and create colourful characters.

***

Many thanks for a great blog Cheryl,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

 

 

 

 

Birthday Blog: Sherwood in Dartmoor?

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

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

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

RRH- new 2015

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

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

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

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

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Guest Post from Jane Risdon: Life gets in the way

Today I’m welcoming a fellow Accent author to my site- the lovely Jane Risdon.

Over to you Jane…

Hello Jenny and everyone, thanks so much for this opportunity to introduce myself and to chat about my writing and blogging with you. I really appreciate it and I hope you will find something here of interest which might lead you to delve into my work a little further.

A little about myself for those of you who have not already made my acquaintance. I came to writing a little later than I had wished. I’ve always wanted to write, but you know how it is, life gets in the way.

Jane Risdon

When I was young – still at school – I met a young rock musician whose band came to live next door whilst they were in England touring; it was love at first sight but I was due to go overseas and so it was four years later, and a lot of trips back and forth to England to visit him, before we got together long enough to get married. By this time I had a career in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London – I got a posting from Germany where I was working with the Ministry of Defence, to be near him eventually — so at least we got to spend some time together in the same country, and town, and sometimes even the same building now and again. Though we did share a house with some of his band in the early days. If you have a vivid imagination, let it wander….you won’t be far off the truth. My dreams of writing were put on hold. Someone had to have a regular income.

Later we ventured into the Music Business on the other side of the desk, and went into Artist Management, Production and Publishing. We managed Recording Artists, Song Writers, Record Producers, and Actors, for our sins, and we worked, travelled, and lived all over the world but mainly in Singapore, America, and Europe. So you can imagine touring with rock bands and spending months on the road, then months in recording studios trying to babysit a bunch of eighteen years olds, isn’t really conducive to writing, or anything else for that matter. Life as I knew it went flying past as I spent my time working hard to create and sustain success for our artists. Writing? Well, that was something I’d get round to one day.

I guess one of the good things to come out of my life experience working in the FCO and various other government-related jobs and within the International Music Business, is a wealth of stories. Stories about life on the road, and stories inspired by my time working within the corridors of Whitehall and stories about life in Hollywood living and working with the movers and shakers in the Movie and Music Industry. We worked with some of the most iconic people in those businesses and yes, I admit it, Pamela Anderson kissed my cheek and everyone told me not to wash for a week, and working on Baywatch was a blast; the guys liked it anyway. David Cassidy was a babe, Alice Cooper was a real gent, Gloria Estefan a star, Weird Al was a laugh, and working with the guys from Queen, was, well, an experience! Just name dropping a few to get you in the mood.

Having survived earthquakes, tornadoes, race riots in LA, fires, floods and mudslides, I am waiting for the plague of locusts, knowing my luck they are sure to come. So I knew that there was something out there, keeping me alive, so I could write.

I’ve always been an avid reader of Crime, Thrillers, Mysteries, and Espionage, so it is little wonder that when I eventually got the chance to have some time to myself, I found myself writing Crime stories, sometimes with an Espionage edge, and often with a musical theme as well. Write about what you know, right?

If it hadn’t been for an old friend, someone who is now a very successful writer in her own lunch-time, I might never have had the courage to go naked with my work. She was originally my husband’s Fan Club secretary – well, the group’s – and she was also a rock and pop journalist working on music magazines, interviewing rock stars, and writing for Jackie and Romeo and the like as well. Later she wrote books which became a huge hit with fans of romance and comedy, and she still is.

We got chatting about my stories and she was kind enough to read a load of them, and she loved them, some made her laugh, others made her cry and some made her nostalgic for the good old days of Rock n’ Roll. The cool thing is she encouraged me to carry on, and because of her I am now writing full time.

I started off with online publications in writing blogs which went down well with readers, so I even ventured into Flash Fiction which I must say I really love. Anyway, eventually some of my short stories were Pod-cast and soon people were asking me to write stories for anthologies in aid of various Charities. They were published in print and e-book formats and were well received. I was chuffed to bits. I have written for a couple of online magazines too. In the past the only magazines I’d written for were Music related.

You can find some of my Short Stories and Flash Fiction with Pod-casts, over on Morgen Bailey’s Writing Blog:

http://wp.me/p18Ztn-4ID Follow this and you’ll find links to my other work or just type Jane Risdon into Morgen’s search bar and lots of my work will pop up.

I don’t want you to think I just write short stories; I don’t, but more about that a little later if you haven’t dropped off and gone into a coma.

Blogging came to my attention and so I thought I’d have a bash at it as a means of reaching potential readers and also because I love writing. I get to write about anything I want and I do. I love photography so I try and add a few photos taken when I’ve been out walking, or visiting places. Last time I looked over 2,000 people were following me on WordPress. Get a load of that!

My WordPress Author Page is at: http://wp.me/2dg55

I also have a Facebook Author Page where the numbers are creeping up to 1,500, so I think I am doing something right.

My Facebook Author Page is at: www.facebook.com/JaneRisdon2

Through my blog I got to know another crime writer who is also an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing in the USA. She has been a wonderful support to me which I appreciate so much. In 2013 she asked me to contribute two crime stories to her anthology In A Word: Murder, which had to be set in the world of publishing.

ina-word-murder-cover - Copy - Copy

In A word: Murder is in print and e-book – UK/USA links:

http://www.amazon.com/In-Word-Murder-An-Anthology-ebook/dp/B00GFXNZYE/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1383674275&sr=8-8&keywords=in+a+word%3A+murder

http://www.amazon.co.uk/In-Word-Murder-An-Anthology-ebook/dp/B00GFXNZYE/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1383674321&sr=8-12&keywords=In+word+Murder

Various award winning authors were contributing as well, so you can imagine the trepidation I felt putting my work alongside theirs.

To cut a long story short – I can hear the huge sigh of relief – my stories were well received. Dreamer – about a London based rock band in 1989 about to hit the big time when the big money was about to roll in, with a super-star American manager wanting to sign them, who wrote what suddenly becomes an issue, leading to murder. (Extract below!)

Hollywood Cover Up – about an English girl working as a PA to a big Hollywood mover and shaker who witnesses something at an Industry bash involving a Presidential candidate, and is fired from her job. Unable to find work she decides to write a novel based on her experiences, and soon she and her publisher are in mortal danger, not just from the Politician and the Hollywood elite, but from the Secret Service too, all wanting to prevent the publication of her book.

Shiver

My work came to the attention of various publishers in 2014 and after a lot of thought and consideration I am now published by Accent Press Ltd.   My first outing with them was in their Halloween Anthology, Shiver.

Shiver – links: http://t.co/qw98OdKs9C

Shiver on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUofhdwu8JE

My story ‘The Haunting of Anne Chambers,’ has been really well received with some fab comments on Amazon which has cheered me no end. This was my first real attempt at a Ghost Story and I set it in Cornwall where I’ve worked over many years with some of my artists. It’s about Pirates (privateers) Anne and Andrew who are lovers. They’re planning to run away together to a new life after one last raid. But when Anne is knocked out cold, she comes round to find that the world has changed disturbingly.

Wishing on a Star

Wishing on a Star followed Christmas 2014 with my short story, ‘Merry Christmas Everybody,’ included.

Wishing on A Star – links: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wishing-Star-seasonal-collection-stories-ebook/dp/B00PQL5H3I/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416250379&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=Wishing+on+a+Star+by+Accent+Press+Ltd

This story is based on true events with names etc., changed to preserve the dignity of those involved. There are tensions in the studio when Twister record their new album. The band members are at each other’s throats and someone is messing up their recordings. The band blames their producer, but it soon becomes clear that someone unexpected is trying to get a message of festive goodwill through to them….

If you haven’t dropped into a coma I shall add some further detail here about the full length books I am writing. As I said before I write mainly Crime/Mystery stories, although I have ventured into other genres from time to time. For the last couple of years I’ve been working on a number of projects, all in various stages of completion. I know, I know, I get it. I see many other authors publishing one, two, three books a year and here I am plodding along year after year without a full length book published. I’d hoped to have completed all my projects early last year but a fall down the stairs, Christmas 2012, put paid to that. I’ve been unable to spend too long writing as a result of breaking my shoulder and collar bones in a peculiar way. My consultant, a professor who is also an Army Colonel, says he’s never seen injuries like it on a lady of any age, and usually only on soldiers in combat or young lads coming off their Harley’s after doing the ton. When I do something, I do it well. Hence things are a little slower than expected. And following my operation saga, I am now having physiotherapy to get mobility and strength back in my left arm and shoulder.

Back to my main project. Ms Birdsong Investigates is a series I am working on. Lavinia Birdsong is a fortyish former MI5 Officer forced into ‘voluntary retirement,’ following a disastrous mission which included her now ex-lover and partner, on secondment from MI6. He got sent to Moscow and she ended up in The Vale of the White Horse, in the fictional village of Ampney Parva, where she is trying to keep a low profile, hiding from her enemies and her ex-lover, whilst also trying to make a life for herself. She can’t help herself, old habits die hard and soon she has her fellow villagers under surveillance, nothing heavy, just curiosity, causing her to keep notes on them and their activities. Lavinia soon finds herself investigating a missing woman. From the shifty playboy Solicitor to the Russian Oligarch in the early stages of Alzheimer’s; nothing is what is seems. Murder is afoot. Lavinia is in her element.

Ms Birdsong Investigates and a couple of other books I am working on in the series should, I hope, be finished later in the summer ready for publication, if my publisher likes the end product of course. You can find some information about my projects and writing, on my WordPress blog and of course the books I have been published in are available via Amazon. Sadly one book I contributed two stories towards, Telling Tales, in aid of charity, is no longer in print, but the other three are still on sale. Both books for Accent are available also. If you buy/read anything do please leave a comment on Amazon and my blog, I would really appreciate it and so would the other authors. I have an Author Page on Amazon with links to my work as well.

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00I3GJ2Y8

I Guest Blog often and have been interviewed several times, and also written articles and you will find links on my Author page. I have a regular Guest Blogging spot on Creative Frontiers where I have 300 words, every fortnight, to come up with stories about my life and experiences in music. If you find yourself over there, do check them out and let me know what you think; they have a comments section.

Creative Frontiers: Parts 1: Snore Poison so I’ll remember it:

http://creative-frontiers.com/blog/writing-desk/snore-poison-ill-remember/

Creative Frontiers: Part 2: The Auditions:  http://wp.me/p3YvQS-14Q

Creative Frontiers: I must have a criminal mind:

http://creative-frontiers.com/blog/profiles/must-criminal-mind/#comment-20529

I’ve got a blog spot over on Chill with a Book:

Chill with a book, blog spot:

http://chillwithabook.blogspot.com.es/2015/02/wishing-on-s

***

I Am Woman-vol-1-

I have also contributed to the anthologies, Telling Tales Anthology by Writers for Welfare (http://www.lulu.com) and I Am Woman Anthology vol 1 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Am-Woman-Anthology-Anthologies-ebook/dp/B00817P8DI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1427798013&sr=8-1&keywords=I+am+woman+volume+1)

***

Extract from my Short Story Dreamer published in In A Word: Murder.

Dreamer

(c) Jane Risdon 2013

No-one spoke, they couldn’t look him in the eye; instead they fidgeted and stared at the floor, the mixing desk, anywhere rather than register the hurt and shock on his face; anywhere other than confront the affect their duplicity had upon their now former band mate.

‘I formed this band, at school. I asked you to join me!’ Jake nearly choked, his throat tight and dry. He stared at his three best mates in the world, his band, disbelief all over his face.

‘Why?’ he almost sobbed, ‘What the hell’s going on?’ He held his Gibson to his chest as if it would comfort him, he never felt whole without it in his hands.

‘Nothing personal mate, you gotta believe that, we can still be mates.’ Bozz, pretty-boy lead singer, and last to join the band all those years ago tried to brighten his voice as if it would soften his words.

‘Nothing bloody personal, what is it then, eh? Tell me what’s not fuckin’ personal about being sacked from my own fuckin’ band?’ Jake’s voice broke and he turned away, fighting tears welling up.

‘They want someone more, well, you know, sexy.’ Rab said bashful all of a sudden. He carried on restringing his Warwick bass, determined not to see Jake’s hurt.

‘Sexy! Fuckin’ sexy? What the fuck?’ Jake couldn’t help yelling. ‘Don’t I pull enough is that it?’ He was outraged. ‘I get totty, more than plenty. What’s it gotta do with them or the friggin’ music anyway?’

‘The record company won’t sign us if you’re still in the band.’ Mickey twirled his sticks as he spoke. He was always the ambitious one and he was damned if he’d let personal allegiances get in the way of his chance to hit the big time. If the label wanted Jake to go, Jake had to go.

‘More of a showman sort of thing; the girls like that,’ whispered Bozz, ‘a proper axe-man.’

‘Won’t sign the band? Are you friggin nuts? I write the bloody songs.’ Jake towered over Mickey, the Gibson now resting against the SSL mixing desk, his fists at his sides, ready to strike. ‘Not enough of a …..? They saw the festival video; they loved it, that’s why they wanted us they said.’

‘They think you’re too static, you don’t move enough, and I think they’ve got a point,’ Mickey smirked, ‘you just ain’t sexy mate. As for pulling, well, you pull all right but you’re too scared to do anything about it, it doesn’t look good; you’re almost married, it’s not cool.’

‘I don’t fuckin’ pull…what about you then, eh Mickey? Who do you pull eh?’

Jake grabbed a nearby mic stand, swinging it at Mickey who ducked down in his seat just in time, ‘Hey, man, cool it!’

‘Seems they want us, Jake, not you,’ Rab looked up sheepishly, ‘and the video convinced them you don’t cut it live mate. They want a real axe-man, like Page or Townsend or Slash even…’

‘Yeah, sorry mate, after coming to all the gigs, that video did it,’ Bozz shrugged at his friend, glancing at the others, ‘they don’t think you’ve got it, we tried to change their minds, didn’t we?’

‘Right! I just bet you friggin’ did.’ Jake shook his long blonde curls and grabbed the mic stand again. ‘So what’s the deal then? Who’ve you got just happened to be waiting in the wings then, eh? Not that fucker from Dawn Treader?’ Jake stuck his face right into Mickey’s. ‘Yeah, that’s about right, that wanker’s always hanging around you isn’t he, Mickey – got well in has he?’

‘Cool it Jake.’ Their engineer/producer Bo Baldacci came into the studio, DAT copies of the final mixes for their label financed demo ready to hand over to the A&R manager at Gypsy Records. ‘Take that shit outside; I don’t want any aggro in here.’

‘So you’re some sort of bloody Freddie Mercury or Robert Plant, are you Bozz? That’s a friggin’ laugh! And don’t forget our ultra-sexy bass player, what a joke! Of course we’ve got Moonie on the drums, or is it John Bonham?’ Jake fumed.

‘If I’m out the band you can’t use my songs, so hand over all the mixes Bo, let them write their own fuckin’ songs, see how far they get then.’ Jake made a grab for the DATs and Mickey leapt up and smacked Jake in the face with his unopened can of Stella.

‘They’re not just your songs you pillock, we co-wrote them, you agreed; four-way splits on all the songs, so they’re not YOUR bleedin’ songs anymore!’ Mickey ducked as the mic stand headed his way again.

‘But Mickey, we never did…..’ Bozz didn’t finish as the mic stand whooshed over his head.

‘I’m taking them back; you’ll get nothing without them, nothing without me. I can prove they’re mine, you can’t.’

‘Cut it out!’ Bo shouted grabbing the mic stand as it narrowly missed his head as well. ‘Jake, haul your arse out of here, now!’

Jake held his face where Mickey had bashed him; eyes filled with hatred he grabbed his guitar case and placed his beloved Gibson inside. He took his book of lyrics off the desk and shoved it inside his back-pack. Bozz stared at the floor, totally gutted at what had just happened to his childhood mate. He really didn’t like this one bit. Rab shook his long brown hair, his face in his hands, seriously freaked by it all. But neither would rock the boat, ruin their chances, and miss out of the chance of a lifetime, however distasteful.

Only Mickey seemed to be fine with things, he glared at Jake, and then sat back down tapping out a rhythm on the arm of the sofa with his new Zildjian sticks. The band was getting sponsorship deals for their gear, arranged by the record company; lots of perks were coming their way. And not just perks; there were the advances from the record deal and the publishing to look forward to. Why should they lose out on all this because of Jake? Nope, he wasn’t going to miss out because of that stupid bastard. No way.

‘Go home Jake, I’ll get your stack to you and the rest of your gear tomorrow.’ Bo held the control room door open.

‘This isn’t the end, you bunch of shits; you’ll come crawling back when you need new material. Well screw you, screw the fuckin’ lot of you!’ Jake kicked the desk as he passed Bo…

***

A taster from my Short Story, Dreamer, which is included in In A Word: Murder and is available on Amazon. The anthology is in memory of Crime Writer, Editor and blogger Maxine Clarke and all proceeds go to The Princess Alice Hospice where she passed away.

I really hope you enjoyed my Guest Blog and the sampler from my story. I’d love to know your thoughts.

Thanks so much Jenny for allowing me this opportunity to connect with your readers. I really appreciate it.

***

Wow!! What an amazing life!!! Thank you ever so much for visiting today Jane.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén