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

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Meet Lauren Sunshine: Summer at Sea Glass Cove

Tomorrow sees the launch of my latest novel –

Summer at Sea Glass Cove!!

Let me introduce you to Lauren Sunshine…

Thirty-two year old Lauren Sunshine has already heard every joke you can think of that could be connected to her surname.

Lauren is single. Having vowed never to bother with men again after a disastrous relationship, she’s determined to be a career girl.

A marine archaeologist, who is visiting Lymeton – known to the locals as Sea Glass Cove – for the first time, Lauren is in the process of managing the exploration of the sunken Tudor merchant ship (The Vissen), a few miles off the coastline.

Nervous, but excited, to be in charge of such an important offshore investigation/ excavation, Lauren is working with her right hand man, Dave – a seasoned marine archaeologist – and two students from the local university: Ali and Jack.

When we first meet Lauren she is exploring the village during her lunch hour – and is amazed to find a small museum tucked away at the back of a craft shop. She instantly falls in love with the Museum by the Sea and the All at Sea shop – and forms a bond with Phil (Philippa) and Jules who work there.

But, as can imagine, for Lauren and her new friends, life won’t all be plain sailing…

Extract.

(Lauren has just walked into the museum for the very first time, and is about to meet the Museum by the Sea’s rather acerbic assistant, Sally…)

Stepping through a single green door, which led from the cramped reception into the main body of the museum, Lauren was glad to be alone.

            She found herself standing at one end of a long, slim, clean and well-lit room. Narrow, waist high display cases ran through the centre of the room, while mounted cabinets filled every available wall space, each of them a museum piece in its own right. The units’ contents, clearly labelled, were laid out in an eye-catching fashion, despite being packed to capacity. Instantly, Lauren could see what Phil meant about the difficulty of school visits. There was no way more than six people could fit  at once without everyone having to breathe in.

            Savouring the sense of history that emanated from the walls, Lauren found herself eye to eye socket with the skeleton of a pterosaur, which hung from the ceiling. Having greeted him warmly, Lauren moved on to a display of fossilised insects, and soon became engrossed in reading the associated information panels.

            ‘This stuff is fabulous,’ she muttered as she moved onto a cabinet full of musket shot, cannon balls, chess pieces and pewterware, all washed up from local wrecks. ‘Criminal to be so hidden away. They need more space.’

            ‘Chance would be a fine thing!’ A young woman, a set of keys swinging from her fingertips, stepped through the door. ‘Phil said we had an important visitor.’

            ‘I’m just an archaeologist. This is such a fabulous place. I’m so glad I found it.’

            ‘You didn’t. Jules told you about it.’

            Surprised by the woman’s bluntness, Lauren spoke fast. ‘Well, yes, that is true, but…’

I’m so excited about the launch of this book!

(I can’t wait for you to meet Arthur and Jeff!! – Just saying!)

If you visit this blog tomorrow, you will learn a little more about sea glass cove.

In the meantime, if you would like to get ahead of the game, and pre-order the book, you can buy it from all good retailers, including:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Kobo

WHSmith

Waterstones

Happy pre-ordering,

Jenny x

 

Summer at Sea Glass Cove: Three weeks to go

It’s only three weeks to go until the launch of my latest #feelgood novel, Summer at Sea Glass Cove, is published.

Set on the beautiful Jurassic Coast in Dorset, you can expect a mix of #romance, #newlife adventure, #archaeology and #friendship.

Blurb

Welcome to Sea Glass Cove!

Marine archaeologist Lauren Sunshine is used to life on the go. Her suitcase is always packed ready to explore the country’s underwater heritage so when a shipwreck is found off the Dorset coast, she is thrilled to be leading the excavation team.

Philippa Silver, ‘Phil’ to the folk of Sea Glass Cove, has devoted her life to the Museum by the Sea. But funding is tight, and despite subletting half of the museum to her best friend Jules’s sea glass shop, she fears for the museum’s future.

Phil hopes the wreck discovery could bring more visitors – but there’s a problem – the museum’s too small to house its treasures. Thankfully, new friend Lauren seems as determined as she is to save the museum.

But, when Phil’s brother Ollie catches Lauren’s eye, she begins to wonder if she has more than one reason to be interested in life at Sea Glass Cove…

***

Set in one of my favourite part of the world, writing Summer at Sea Glass Cove was an utter joy to write.

I hope you’ll enjoy it to.

Coming 6th June 2024, you can pre-order from all good bookshops, including Amazon UK and Amazon US

Here are a few of the lovely pre-release reviews my readers have posted on Netgalley

A really enjoyable story about a small village museum at risk of closure and the locals and marine archaeologists there for a dig that try to save it. Such great characters and interesting history. I found it a lovely read. Made me wish I could go sit in a snug by a fire with a pint. – Netgalley

What a unique and beautiful concept for a novel ! I’m so excited to join marine archaeologist Lauren on an adventure with Sea Glass Cove aficionado Philippa to help save the museum. – Netgalley

I am a big fan of Jenny Kane and it got better and better.. You learn a lot about marine archaeologist. You have secret love and new love. An ace pub. Corrupt councillors . .Two of my favourite characters were Arthur and Jeff. Read it  – Netgalley

***

Happy preordering,

Jenny xx

Opening Lines: Her Scandalous Suitor by Rachel Brimble

I’m welcoming my friend and fellow author, Rachel Brimble, back to my website today with the #openinglines from her brand new novel.

Thanks for hosting me today, Jenny!

I am thrilled to be here to share the Opening Lines of my latest historical romance, HER SCANDALOUS SUITOR (previously The Seduction of Emily). The novel is set in the beautiful city of Bath and follows Emily Darson and confidence trickster Will Samson as they are unexpectedly thrown together only to embark on an adventure filled with drama, intrigue & romance. Let the fun & games begin…

BLURB

Emily Darson assumed her future of propriety and privilege amid a loveless marriage was set in stone. At least, she did until confidence trickster Will Samson came into her life…

Then everything changed.

With each revelation about her fiancé and herself that Will uncovers, he also reveals a little more of who he is, what he has suffered, and the volatile vengeance that burns in his heart.

Can Emily really risk security for scandal? Loyalty for love? Only time will tell…

FIRST 500 WORDS

Will Samson stood at the back of the auction house, watching and waiting. Over two hundred people stood around him. Rather than part with their hard-earned cash, he suspected they were there hoping to catch a glimpse of one man in particular. The same man he waited for.

Mr. Nicholas Milne. One of Bath’s most eligible bachelors. Milne was a celebrity. A man written about and either admired…or feared. Will curled his hands into fists.

He was a rapist. A woman-beater. A dead man walking.

Today, Will was coming for Milne, ready or not. He lifted his hat and pushed the hair back from his face. The tension in his neck and shoulders grew worse as each second passed, and the ache in his temples throbbed mercilessly.

He turned his gaze once again to the open double doors at the back of the room. “Come on, you bastard. Where are you?”

The furor surrounding the sale of the day’s most prestigious lot, a diamond, ruby, and pearl necklace known as the Heart of Kingston, had escalated to fever pitch over the last few weeks. The auction house had taken full advantage of the waiting crowd by dragging out the suspense. What better way to heighten the nerves and hunger of bidders than to have them think the real prize—Milne—might not materialize after all?

Replacing his hat, Will slid out of sight behind a marble pillar. Discretion was key. Although confident the people of Bath were unaware of his real occupation, he daren’t run the risk of his carefully prepared disguise as a middle-class gentleman being exposed. When was a confidence trickster ever welcome at a high-class auction?

He closed his eyes and leaned back against the wall, planting the sole of his boot against the white alabaster. His mother’s beautiful face appeared behind his closed lids. She’d asked him countless times not to avenge the beating Milne had inflicted on her two years before, but the fire inside Will would not be extinguished until Milne was nothing but ashes.

Resentment and hatred swirled in his gut. The same emotions had long ago burned and scarred any love he was once capable of feeling for another. So many months of tracking Milne down, so many weeks of wanting to get his hands around his neck had left Will a shadow of his former self. Maybe once Milne was dead or behind bars, Will could start living again. He opened his eyes. But, in the meantime, he would make the man’s life a living hell until he decided how to ruin him completely. The only promise Will would keep to his mother was he wouldn’t hang by the neck for his endeavors. When the fever took her into God’s arms, Will’s heart and soul filled with the heinous intention to wreak vengeance on Milne. God only knew how many more women Milne had hurt in the months it took Will to track him from Bristol to Bath…

***

You can buy Her Scandalous Suitor from all good retailers, including: https://geni.us/yA4XqFR

BIO:

Rachel lives with her husband, two adult daughters and beloved Labrador in a small town near Bath, England. She is the author of 30 novels and has been published by Harlequin Mills & Boon, Kensington Books and others. Her latest series includes the Ladies of Carson Street trilogy and the Shop Girl series, both published with Aria Fiction. She also has several single titles with The Wild Rose Press. Her debut novel with Harpeth Road Press, Dressing The Countess, will be released in May 2024.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Female Entrepreneur Association and has thousands of social media followers all over the world. She is also studying for a history degree with the Open University in her spare time…

To sign up for her newsletter (a guaranteed giveaway every month!), click here: https://bit.ly/3zyH7dt

Website: https://bit.ly/3wH7HQs

Twitter: https://bit.ly/3AQvK0A

Facebook: https://bit.ly/3i49GZ3

Instagram: https://bit.ly/3lTQZbF

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Opening Lines: The Poster by James Marshall

After a bit of a break, I’m pleased to be bringing back my #openinglines blog feature.

It’s always a pleasure to share the work of fellow authors, but this time it is particularly good to be able to share with you the first 500 words of a novel written by one of my former students. 

I knew James had what it took to become a fabulous writer the moment I read the first short story he created for me a mini-fiction class a few years ago.

Over to you James… 

Blurb

Seemingly abandoned by their parents, siblings Lena and Alek are caught up at different ends of a war – while Lena designs propaganda posters in Plymouth, Alek is forced into the army. Both dream of escape, of another life … but as the war continues and they find each other, they start to question who they can really trust.

When survival is everything, is everyone an enemy?

“It’s brilliant. I was completely engrossed. This isn’t the type of novel I would typically read but I was riveted.” Leslie Wells.

Introduction

“Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” John Stuart Mill.

In order to set the background of the story, I read a lot of books about East Germany. I wanted to tell a story about what could happen to young people if they didn’t pay attention to the world around them.  What would a group of young women do to get food on the table and shoes on her feet?

As fast as I could write the dystopian aspect of this novel, real events were catching up with the fiction. I wrote about conscripts being used in a political war in the second piece I ever sent to Jenny.

In the week of publication of The Poster, the head of the British armed forces stated that conscription would have to be introduced in a war with Russia.  I am hoping no further similarities occur.

Opening 500 words of The Poster

Alek Wasilewski hurdled the yellow gorse bush and sprinted towards the cover of a low stone wall. The enemy was dug in on the edge of a copse seventy-five metres ahead. Alek pushed his heavy helmet back up over his sweaty forehead, his chest heaving as he tried to regain his breath. His section commander, Swales, was signalling to the rest of the boys to catch up.

‘Get a fucking move on,’ Swales said.

Alek wiped his palms on his combat trousers. His neck ached from the rifle sling and helmet strap, his calves were burning from his too-tight combat boots, and he needed to pee.

Swales made several hand signals to accompany his instructions to the section. ‘We’ll have to go around to the left following the stone wall.’ He pointed at Murdo and Trowbridge. ‘You two stay here and lay down covering fire. The rest of you, follow me.’

Alek gripped his empty rifle and bent as low as he could to follow Swales, keeping his head below the wall. His knees groaned after thirty metres and screamed after sixty. He sighed when Swales held up his fist to signal a stop.

‘Hold it here.’ Swales dropped to his stomach.

Alek copied Swales and wriggled forward, thankful that his legs could rest.

‘Check ammo; fix bayonets,’ Swales said. ‘Ski and I will take the left trench. Evans and Williams, the middle trench, and you two –’ Swales pointed at the last members of the section – take the right-hand trench.’

Alek pretended to check his ammo and fix his bayonet. They had neither ammo nor bayonets but had to go through the motions.

‘Ready?’ Swales said.

Alek nodded.

‘Go!’ Swales jumped over the wall.

Alek vaulted the wall and then ran forward. ‘Bang, Bang!’ he shouted, firing invisible rounds from the hip.

Swales dropped to one knee, yelling, ‘Bang, bang!

Alek ran past him and knelt, aiming at the two men in the left trench who were also shouting ‘bang’ as Swales ran a zig-zag pattern to the edge of the trench. Alek leapt up to sprint and jumped into the trench.

‘Bang, bang!’ He pointed his rifle at the enemy soldier still standing.

The soldier did a theatrical spin and dive, clutching his chest and wriggling his legs before letting out one last groan. He grinned at Alek.

‘Stop! End-Ex,’ Corporal Sanderson, their training instructor, shouted from above them. He waved his clipboard in the air and beckoned the support soldiers up to the position. ‘Well done, Swales,’ he said. ‘Good effort from your team.’ He pointed to Murdo and Trowbridge as they walked towards the copse. ‘I can see why you put those slackers in the fire support team.’

Swales turned and winked at Alek.

Alek slumped to the bottom of the cool trench and blinked as salty sweat ran into his eyes. He took a swig of the lukewarm water from his canteen, wishing it was ice-cold lemonade. He had forgotten its taste but could see…

  • You can follow his writing journey on Substack here
  • You can buy, The Poster,’ here

 

Bio

James is a 54-year-old father of two, husband of one. He lives and works in Devon,UK, running a sports club for local children and young adults in Willand.

He started fiction writing under the tutelage of Jenny Kane at her Imagine writing group in Cullompton.

He won the ‘Pen to Print’ 2022 short story competition, and ‘The Poster,’ has been shortlisted for their 2023 ‘Book Challenge Award.’

Apart from writing, James is a Masters weightlifter, a keen barbecuer, and an avid reader.

***

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

 

 

A Tiny Taster: The Outlaw’s Ransom

This week I’m sharing a ‘Tiny Taster’

from the first of #TheFolvilleChronicles with you: The Outlaw’s Ransom

Blurb

When potter’s daughter Mathilda is kidnapped by the notorious Folville brothers as punishment for her father’s debts, she fears for her life. Although of noble birth, the Folvilles are infamous throughout the county for using crime to rule their lands—and for using any means necessary to deliver their distinctive brand of ‘justice’.

Mathilda must prove her worth to the Folvilles in order to win her freedom. To do so, she must go against her instincts and, disguised as the betrothed of Robert de Folville, undertake a mission that will send her to Bakewell in Derbyshire, and the home of Nicholas Coterel, one of the most infamous men in England.

With her life in the hands of more than one dangerous brigand, Mathilda must win the trust of the Folville’s housekeeper, Sarah, and Robert Folville himself if she has any chance of survival.

Never have the teachings gleaned from the tales of Robyn Hode been so useful…

Tiny Taster:

Mathilda thought she was used to the dark, but the night-time gloom of the small room she shared with her brothers at home was nothing like this. The sheer density of this darkness enveloped her, physically gliding over her clammy skin. It made her breathless, as if it was trying to squeeze the life from her.

As moisture oozed between her naked toes, she presumed that the suspiciously soft surface she crouched on was moss, which had grown to form a damp cushion on the stone floor. It was a theory backed up by the smell of mould and general filthiness which hung in the air.

Trying not to think about how long she was going to be left in this windowless cell, Mathilda stretched her arms out to either side, and bravely felt for the extent of the walls, hoping she wasn’t about to touch something other than cold stone. The child’s voice that lingered at the back of her mind, even though she was a woman of nineteen, was telling her – screaming at her – that there might be bodies in here, secured in rusted irons, abandoned and rotting. She battled the voice down. Thinking like that would do her no good at all. Her father had always congratulated his only daughter on her level-headedness, and now it was being so thoroughly put to the test, she was determined not to let him down.

Stretching her fingers into the blackness, Mathilda placed the tips of her fingers against the wall behind her. It was wet. Trickles of water had found a way in from somewhere, giving the walls the same slimy covering as the floor.

Continuing to trace the outline of the rough stone wall, Mathilda kept her feet exactly where they were. In seconds her fingertips came to a corner, and by twisting at the waist, she quickly managed to plot her prison from one side of the heavy wooden door to the other. The dungeon could be no more than five feet square, although it must be about six feet tall. Her own five-foot frame had stumbled down a step when she’d been pushed into the cell, and her head was at least a foot clear of the ceiling. The bleak eerie silence was eating away at Mathilda’s determination to be brave, and the cold brought her suppressed fear to the fore. Suddenly the shivering she had stoically ignored overtook her, and there was nothing she could do but let it invade her…

You can buy The Outlaw’s Ransom for your Kindle or as a paperback from-

Kindle-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07B3TNRYN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519759895&sr=8-1&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B3TNRYN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519760741&sr=8-1&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

Paperback-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Outlaws-Ransom-Folville-Chronicles/dp/1999855264/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520007697&sr=1-2&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

https://www.amazon.com/Outlaws-Ransom-Folville-Chronicles/dp/1999855264/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520007771&sr=1-1&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

(Please note that if you have read Romancing Robin Hood by Jenny Kane and Jennifer Ash- then you will already be familiar with the story with The Outlaw’s Ransom)

Happy reading,

Jen xx

Opening Lines: The Outlaw’s Ransom

As I’m fresh (okay, not fresh – more like totally knackered with no voice), from the latest Hooded Man event – celebrating all things Robin of Sherwood – it seems fitting to share the opening lines from The Outlaw’s Ransom. This – the first in #TheFolvilleChronicles – was inspired by my love of the show.

 

Here’s the blurb to The Outlaw’s Ransom-

When potter’s daughter Mathilda is kidnapped by the notorious Folville brothers as punishment for her father’s debts, she fears for her life. Although of noble birth, the Folvilles are infamous throughout the county for using crime to rule their lands—and for using any means necessary to deliver their distinctive brand of ‘justice’.

Mathilda must prove her worth to the Folvilles in order to win her freedom. To do so, she must go against her instincts and, disguised as the betrothed of Robert de Folville, undertake a mission that will send her to Bakewell in Derbyshire, and the home of Nicholas Coterel, one of the most infamous men in England.

With her life in the hands of more than one dangerous brigand, Mathilda must win the trust of the Folville’s housekeeper, Sarah, and Robert Folville himself if she has any chance of survival.

Never have the teachings gleaned from the tales of Robyn Hode been so useful…

Mathilda thought she was used to the dark, but the night-time gloom of the small room she shared with her brothers at home was nothing like this. The sheer density of this darkness enveloped her, physically gliding over her clammy skin. It made her breathless, as if it was trying to squeeze the life from her.

As moisture oozed between her naked toes, she presumed that the suspiciously soft surface she crouched on was moss, which had grown to form a damp cushion on the stone floor. It was a theory backed up by the smell of mould and general filthiness which hung in the air.

Trying not to think about how long she was going to be left in this windowless cell, Mathilda stretched her arms out to either side, and bravely felt for the extent of the walls, hoping she wasn’t about to touch something other than cold stone. The child’s voice that lingered at the back of her mind, even though she was a woman of nineteen, was telling her – screaming at her – that there might be bodies in here, secured in rusted irons, abandoned and rotting. She battled the voice down. Thinking like that would do her no good at all. Her father had always congratulated his only daughter on her level-headedness, and now it was being so thoroughly put to the test, she was determined not to let him down.

Stretching her fingers into the blackness, Mathilda placed the tips of her fingers against the wall behind her. It was wet. Trickles of water had found a way in from somewhere, giving the walls the same slimy covering as the floor.

Continuing to trace the outline of the rough stone wall, Mathilda kept her feet exactly where they were. In seconds her fingertips came to a corner, and by twisting at the waist, she quickly managed to plot her prison from one side of the heavy wooden door to the other. The dungeon could be no more than five feet square, although it must be about six feet tall. Her own five-foot frame had stumbled down a step when she’d been pushed into the cell, and her head was at least a foot clear of the ceiling. The bleak eerie silence was eating away at Mathilda’s determination to be brave, and the cold brought her suppressed fear to the fore. Suddenly the shivering she had stoically ignored overtook her, and there was nothing she could do but let it invade her…

You can buy The Outlaw’s Ransom for your Kindle or as a paperback from-

Kindle-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07B3TNRYN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519759895&sr=8-1&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07B3TNRYN/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519760741&sr=8-1&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

Paperback-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Outlaws-Ransom-Folville-Chronicles/dp/1999855264/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520007697&sr=1-2&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

https://www.amazon.com/Outlaws-Ransom-Folville-Chronicles/dp/1999855264/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1520007771&sr=1-1&keywords=the+outlaw%27s+ransom

(Please note that if you have read Romancing Robin Hood by Jenny Kane and Jennifer Ash- then you will already be familiar with the story with The Outlaw’s Ransom)

Happy reading,

Jen xx

Cornish Romance for St Valentine’s Day?

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Why not treat yourself, or a loved one, to a little Cornish romance? 

My first Cornish novel, A Cornish Escape, was never meant to be a romance. I hadn’t noticed, until after I’d written it, that within this tale of friendship and self discovery there lies an old fashioned love story. 

Newly widowed at barely thirty, Abi Carter is desperate to escape the Stepford Wives-style life that Luke, her late husband, had been so keen for her to live.

Abi decides to fulfil a lifelong dream. As a child on holiday in a Cornwall as a child she fell in love with a cottage – the prophetically named Abbey’s House. Now she is going to see if she can find the place again, relive the happy memories … maybe even buy a place of her own nearby?

On impulse Abi sets off to Cornwall, where a chance meeting in a village pub brings new friends Beth and Max into her life. Beth, like Abi, has a life-changing decision to make. Max, Beth’s best mate, is new to the village. He soon helps Abi track down the house of her dreams … but things aren’t quite that simple. There’s the complicated life Abi left behind, including her late husband’s brother, Simon – a man with more than friendship on his mind … Will Abi’s house remain a dream, or will the bricks and mortar become a reality?

If your loved one – or you – enjoys the Cornish countryside, a touch of romance, a story with twists and turns- and a cute Labrador…then this is the book for you! 

A Cornish Wedding also contains a love story- but this time it’s the older generation having all the fun!

Abi Carter has finally found happiness. Living in her perfect tin miner’s cottage, she has good friends and a gorgeous boyfriend, Max. Life is good. But all that’s about to change when a new neighbour moves in next door.

Cassandra Henley-Pinkerton represents everything Abi thought she’d escaped when she left London. Obnoxious and stuck-up, Cassandra hates living in Cornwall. Worst of all, it looks like she has her sights set on Max.

But Cassandra has problems of her own. Not only is her wealthy married lawyer putting off joining her in their Cornish love nest, but now someone seems intent on sabotaging her business.

Will Cassandra mellow enough to turn to Abi for help – or are they destined never to get along?

Complete with sun, sea and a gorgeous Cornwall setting, A Cornish Wedding is the PERFECT summer escape.

***

Buy Links-

A Cornish Escape is available as an ebook or paperback from all good retailers, including Waterstones and Amazon 

A Cornish Wedding is available as an ebook or paperback from all good retailers, including Waterstones and Amazon.

 

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

 

Opening Lines with Lizzie Fry: The Coven

I’m delighted to welcome friend, and fellow author, Lizzie Fry to my place today, with the Opening Lines from her debut thriller, The Coven.

BLURB

An electrifying dystopia that imagines a world where a populist demagogue outlaws peaceful witchcraft, The Coven is a page-turning thriller with profound things to say about contemporary global society.

Let me repeat myself, so we can be very clear. Women are not the enemy. We must protect them from themselves, just as much as we must protect ourselves.

Imagine a world in which witchcraft is real. In which mothers hand down power to their daughters, power that is used harmlessly and peacefully.

Then imagine that the US President is a populist demagogue who decides that all witches must be imprisoned for their own safety, as well as the safety of those around them – creating a world in which to be female is one step away from being criminal…

As witches across the world are rounded up, one young woman discovers a power she did not know she had. It’s a dangerous force and it puts her top of the list in a global witch hunt.

But she – and the women around her – won’t give in easily. Not while all of women’s power is under threat.

The Coven is a dazzling global thriller that pays homage to the power and potential of women everywhere.

FIRST 500 WORDS

Green light was leaking under the bedroom door.

The sight of it made Li stop in her tracks and back up, dropping the washing basket she’d been holding. Her brain attempted to push the realisation away in sluggish disbelief. She had prayed to the triple goddesses she would never have to deal with this. Her heartbeat thundered in her ears as anxiety crashed through her body.

The day Li had been putting off had finally arrived.

Until that moment, it had been a completely ordinary Friday in March. Li had been stripping the beds, her usual end-of-the- week routine, when Chloe had returned from college around midday, her lectures finished for the weekend. As usual, Li had asked her daughter how her day had been; as usual, Chloe had rebuffed her with that sneering way of hers. Li tried to not let it bother her. Since puberty had struck around the age of four- teen, Chloe had made it clear she had no time for her parents. At nineteen, almost twenty, she should have grown out of such juvenile power-plays, but Li understood it wasn’t entirely her only child’s fault.

Seeing the green light now, pooling on the floor like liquid, Li knew it was all hers.

Fear gripped her, guilt rushing up behind it. As if in a nightmare, her bones felt as heavy as concrete. She hesitated, unable to raise her arm to push the door and go inside. Blinking back the tears pricking her eyelids, she took her phone from her jeans pocket and pulled up her call log; DANIEL was first on the list.

Bar the odd errand in town, Li saw only two people most days: Daniel and Chloe. Apart from a dozen Facebook and Twitter followers she spoke with online regularly, she had few real-life friends and worked from home. Her love of travel and a degree from a British university twenty years ago had led her to make a life for herself on the other side of the world. Too late, she realised she was isolated and alone when it really counted.

Li finally managed to press the button to call her husband. ‘Hi.’ Daniel’s gravelly voice filtered down the line.
‘You need to—’
The voicemail kicked in. He hadn’t really answered at all.

Keying off, Li swore in Mandarin, the sound of her native tongue discordant in her own ears. Her hands were shaking so much she almost dropped the phone. She redialled again with difficulty, irritation and fear clashing together. Daniel had to pick up this time. Had to. She couldn’t deal with this alone. Not any more.

She would tell him everything…

BIO

Lizzie Fry is a debut author of high concept thriller The Coven (published by Sphere books), but you might know her better as LV Hay. LV’s books previous books were crime fiction: The Other Twin, Do No Harm (Orenda Books) and Never Have I Ever (Hodder). The Other Twin is currently being adapted for the screen by Agatha Raisin producers Free@Last TV.

LINKS

Universal link >> http://myBook.to/covenwitch

Signed copies from Liznojan Books >> http://www.liznojanbooks.co.uk 

***

Many thanks for joining us today, Lizzie,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

Opening Lines with Alison Knight: Mine

Welcoming my good friend, business partner, and all round lovely person, Alison Knight, to my place today.

Put your feet up and enjoy the ‘Opening Lines’ from her brand new novel- Mine.

Over to you Alison…

I’m delighted to be Jenny’s guest today and to share with you the opening lines of my book, Mine, which was published by Darkstroke Books on the 25th November. This novel is very personal for me as it is based on real events in my family. I’m the only one left who can tell this story. It is set in London in the late 1960s and shows how ordinary people ended up in an extraordinary situation.

I wrote it as fiction rather than memoir because much of what really happened is lost. I therefore used memories, newspaper cuttings, court papers and knowledge of the culture of the time to piece together what might have happened.

This was the hardest thing I’ve ever written, but I also think it’s my best work yet. I hope I’ve done the story justice and brought the people involved to life so that the younger generations of my family can get to know a bit more about the people involved. I can’t say much more than that without giving away spoilers! All I can say is that writing Mine has given me the opportunity to understand things that I was too young to realise at the time. The people involved were victims of the prevailing attitudes of their times. If the same things happened in today’s world, I believe the outcome might have been very different.

FIRST FIVE HUNDRED WORDS 

Bow Church, East London, October 1968

A jangling siren broke through into the quiet interior of the church, disturbing hushed conversations.

“What’s all that noise?” asked Lily’s mum. “It sounds like it’s going to come through the flipping door.”

Lily kept her attention on the stained-glass window behind the altar, watching as the soft autumn sunlight made the blues and yellows glow. She felt so alone in the midst of her extended family as they gathered for her youngest sister’s wedding. Her husband Jack was driving the wedding car, so Lily sat beside her mother in the pew reserved for the close family of the bride.

“It’s an ambulance,” she said as its strident warning got louder and louder and then dwindled away as it sped past the building on its way to save some poor soul’s life. “Or maybe a police car, I don’t know. Either way, someone’s in trouble.”

She felt like rushing out of the church and chasing after it – to get them to take her away and lock her up in a ward or even a prison cell. Maybe then she might find some peace. Instead she had to stay where she was, acting as though everything was all right. But it wasn’t. There was nowhere she could go to forget about what a mess her life had become – at home she was losing every battle and at work she was terrified everyone would find out what a bloody mess she’d made of everything. She was so ashamed. It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

 

She hadn’t been happy when her daughter Beverley had decided to hide at the back of the church with her three-month-old baby. If she had to come to the wedding at all, they ought to stick together, hold their heads up high and brazen it out. By hiding in the back, Beverley was accepting that her illegitimate child was something shameful. If she was determined to keep her, Lily told her, she should be prepared for the stares and the comments because they weren’t going to go away. But she’d lost that battle with her daughter as well. She’s mine, Bev had said, and I’m not giving her up. Now everyone would be whispering about how the teenager and her baby had been banished to the back of the church.

Anyone looking at Lily at this moment would think she was a model of calm. Pride wouldn’t let her show just how spitting mad she was, but her hands shook as she smoothed out an imaginary crease in her new tailored dress, then fiddled with the carnation pinned to the matching jacket. Lily knew she looked good. She worked hard to make sure she always did. But she couldn’t find any joy in it today. She took a deep breath, trying to dispel the huge knot of butterflies in her stomach.

She had a headache. It had been there for weeks, squeezing her temples, making her eyes hurt. From the back of the church she heard a …

***

BLURB- Mine by Alison Knight

“What’s mine, I keep.”

London, 1968.

Lily’s dreams of a better life for her family are shattered when her teenage daughter refuses to give up her illegitimate child. It doesn’t help that Lily’s husband, Jack, takes their daughter’s side.

Taking refuge in her work at a law firm in the City, Lily’s growing feelings for her married boss soon provides a dangerous distraction.

Will Lily be able to resist temptation? Or will the decisions made by these ordinary people lead them down an extraordinary path that could destroy them all?

Mine – a powerful story of class, ambition and sexual politics.

Award-winning author of My Name is Leon, Kit de Waal, said this about Mine:

A heart breaking account of love and loss told by a great storyteller. Alison takes you into the heart of the tragedy with compassion, wit and even humour. A beautiful story.”

BUY LINK: mybook.to/mineknight

 ***

INVITATION TO AN ONLINE BOOK LAUNCH: On Saturday 28th November 2020, Alison will be joining four other authors for a joint event via Zoom called Darkstroke Defined: The five writers will talk about their new books, read extracts and answer questions. For your free ticket, go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/darkstroke-defined-tickets-125793372363

BIO-

Alison has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other interesting places in between.

In her mid-forties, Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.

Mine, published by Darkstroke Books is a domestic drama set in 1960s London based on real events in her family. She is the only person who can tell this particular story. Exploring themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, Mine shows how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.

Alison co-manages Imagine Creative Writing with Jenny. She teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS – ALISON KNIGHT

www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk

www.darkstroke.com/dark-stroke/alison-knight/

www.facebook.com/alison.knight.942

@Alison_Knight59 on Twitter

Many congratulations on your new novel, Alison,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

Opening Lines with Jan Baynham: Her Sister’s Secret

This week I’m delighted to welcome Jan Baynham back to my blog with the Opening Lines from her latest novel,

Her Sister’s Secret.

Over to you Jan…

Her Sister’s Secret, with its sub-heading of ‘the Summer of ‘66’, is my second novel of three I’ve been contracted to write for Ruby Fiction. All three novels involve secrets and forbidden love, explore mother and daughter relationships and are partly set in countries other than Britain. ‘Her Sister’s Secret’ was published on September 15th as an e-book. Much of it is set in beautiful rural mid-Wales and the rest in a fictional area of northern Sicily. The story opens in 1946 when a young Welsh woman, Rose Howells, begins work in the kitchens of a large country house. She has a tempestuous relationship with her father whom she suspects of dealing on the Black Market. When matters come to a head after a particularly serious argument, she leaves home and eventually makes a decision that will have repercussions for the whole family. Her name is never mentioned again and what she did becomes a deeply held family secret. In 1966, that secret is partly revealed and Jennifer Howells travels to Sicily to find out why she and Rose have been kept apart for over eighteen years. In the novel, I try to give a glimpse of what life was like in both eras and how society judged women living in both times. Jen’s search for her true identity takes her to a wonderful island so different from rural mid-Wales in terms of climate, the colours, foods and way of life. I hope the book encourages readers to think about the decisions Rose made and whether, under the circumstances, they were the right ones. The role Aunt Edie plays in both stories is a crucial one.

BLURB:

How far would you travel to find the truth?

It’s 1966 and Jennifer Howells is a young woman with the world at her feet, just on the cusp of leaving her Welsh village for an exciting life in the city.

Then the contents of an inconspicuous brown envelope turn Jennifer’s world upside down. The discovery leaves her spiralling, unsure who she is. Overnight, Miss Goody Two Shoes is replaced by a mini-skirted wild child who lives for parties and rock’n’roll.

But Jennifer’s experience with the excesses of sixties’ culture leaves her no closer to her true identity. She soon realises she’ll have to travel further – first to Cardiff, then across the ocean to Sicily – if she wants to find out who she really is …

***

FIRST 500 WORDS

Prologue

24 August 1943

A loud knocking echoed along the passageway of the cottage. Joe Howells opened the front door to a solemn-faced young man in uniform.

‘Mr Joseph Howells? A telegram for you.’

The blood drained from Joe’s face. As he took the envelope, his hand shook. His pulse raced so fast, he steadied himself against the hall table. Please, God. Don’t let it be what I think it is.

Walking back into the scullery, he slid a finger under the flap of the envelope and unfolded the telegram with its Post Office logo heralding the message he didn’t want to read.

MR AND MRS J. HOWELLS, 1 PENRHOS, PONTCARREG.

I REGRET TO INFORM YOU THAT YOUR SON, GUNNER BRIAN JOSEPH HOWELLS (ARMY NUMBER: 864499) OF THE 8TH ARMY, HAS BEEN KILLED IN ACTION NEAR MESSINA IN SICILY.

Joe couldn’t read any more. Transported back to the horror of the trenches in his war, he slumped to the floor and cradled his arms around his head. He tried to shut out the noise of shells exploding around him. He gagged on the stench of bloodied bodies, relived the pain of the gas blistering his skin under his damp uniform, tasted the burning bile in his throat and in his lungs as he tried to breathe. His hand traced the shape of the metal plate in his skull where they’d patched him up. Physically, at least.

The back door opened.

‘Joe. Whatever’s wrong?’ Violet put down the washing basket and rushed to her husband.

It was then she saw the telegram discarded on the flagstone floor beside him.

‘Oh, noo-oo!’ she wailed. ‘Not our beautiful boy.’

 

Chapter One

Rose

1946

‘What do you mean you know what I’m up to, you little madam?’

Joe Howells’s voice rose to a bellow. He went to strike his daughter, but Rose backed away and he caught the back of his hand on the door post instead. He swore and Rose ran upstairs. She slammed the bedroom door behind her and, with tears pricking her eyes, fumbled to turn the key. She clenched her hands so tightly that her nails dug deep into her palms, flung herself on the bed and pictured her father pacing the floor in the kitchen below.

She heard him shouting angrily. ‘The girl’s gone too far this time. She needs to be taught a lesson.’

Her mother’s voice was softer. ‘Why do you two always have to annoy each other? You’re both as bad as each other.’

But her mother didn’t know what was really going on, did she? Her father’s voice was closer now. He was at the foot of the stairs.

‘Come down here at once, Rose, or I’ll break the door down to make you!’

‘No. Go away! I’m not coming out.’

Rose pulled the bed clothes closer to her chest and buried her head in the silky eiderdown to shut out her father’s rage.

He hammered on the door with his fists.

Her throat tightened…

***

‘Her Sister’s Secret’ is available on:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Her-Sisters-Secret-Summer-66-ebook/dp/B08F5H7YQF/

https://www.amazon.com/Her-Sisters-Secret-Summer-66-ebook/dp/B08F5H7YQF/

https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/search?query=her+sisters+secret+jan+baynham

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/her-sisters-secret-jan-baynham/1137428123?ean=2940162698852

You may find out more about Jan here:

Twitter – @JanBaynham https://twitter.com/JanBaynham

Facebook – Jan Baynham Writer https://www.facebook.com/JanBayLit

Blog – Jan’s Journey into Writing https://janbaynham.blogspot.com/

BIO

After retiring from a career in teaching and advisory education, Jan joined a small writing group in a local library where she wrote her first piece of fiction.  From then on, she was hooked! She soon went on to take a writing class at the local university and began to submit short stories for publication to a wider audience. Her stories and flash fiction pieces have been longlisted and shortlisted in competitions and several appear in anthologies both online and in print. In October 2019, her first collection of stories was published.  Her stories started getting longer and longer so that, following a novel writing course, she began to write her first full-length novel. She loves being able to explore her characters in further depth and delve into their stories.

Originally from mid-Wales, Jan lives in Cardiff with her husband. Having joined the Romantic Novelists Association in 2016, she values the friendship and support from other members and regularly attends conferences, workshops, talks and get togethers. She is co-organiser of her local RNA Chapter, Cariad, and a member of the Society of Authors.

Many thanks for sharing your fabulous Opening Lines today, Jan,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

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