Jenny Kane & Jennifer Ash

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

Tag: novels Page 1 of 3

Happy Easter: A Few Easter Facts

Just zipping by to wish you a very Happy Easter!!

 

Did you know…

Although Easter is a Christian festival celebrating Christ’s rising, the holiday has far older pagan origins which concentrate on the arrival of Spring and rebirth.

The ancient Egyptians, Persians, Phoenicians, and Hindus all believed the world began with an enormous egg.

The word Easter itself, comes to us from the Norsemen Eostur, Eastar, Ostara, and Ostar, and the pagan goddess Eostre. All of which were associated with the season of the growing sun and new beginnings.

By medieval times, eggs were an established part of the Spring celebrations. A notation in the 1307 household accounts of Edward I of England showed an expenditure of “18 pence for 459 eggs to be boiled and dyed or covered with gold leaf and distributed to the royal household.”

A North African Christian tribe has had a custom of colouring eggs at Easter for many hundreds of years; possibly even proceeding the first time the term “Easter Eggs” was written down, approximately five hundred years ago.

 

The first chocolate Easter Eggs were developed in France and Germany in the early 19th century.

In 1842, John Cadbury made his first solid chocolate eggs in England.

Fry’s of Bristol made their first hollow chocolate egg in 1873.

In 1875, the first hollow Cadbury’s Easter egg was created.

In 2013 90 millions chocolate Easter eggs being sold in the UK alone.

The world’s most popular egg-shaped chocolate is the Cadbury’s Creme Egg, with1.5 million of them being made every single day!

Cadburys eggs

****

I hope you have a very relaxing weekend, and have the chance to nibble some Easter Egg, put your feet up, and read a good book!!

Happy reading and munching,

Jenny xx

 

13 years and counting: a rethink and a retreat

Over the past few weeks I have been very busy rethinking how I run my writing life.

I have been working as a professional author for 13 years this month- unlucky for some perhaps. I will be honest- it has felt pretty unlucky at times this year. A great many changes have assailed me over recent months, and it has taken some serious thought as to how to keep going – or even if I should keep going.

However, thanks to my family, my incredible friends, a great deal of writerly advice, and an amazing weekend at the Scotswrite17 conference in Glasgow, I can now see a way forward- and normal service will be resumed very soon.

When I say normal service, what I actually mean is normal-ish. I have decided that I will no longer be working 14 hour days , with only 10 days holiday a year, and only weekend mornings off work during the week. No more than 10 hours a day will be worked from now on (yes- I know- that won’t always happen- but my intentions are good), no work on a Saturday, and I will take at least 2 weeks off a yr. Luxury!!!

I need to take more walks- have more adventures- see more people- and as a result- I will have more stories to write about later.

As many of you know, I have recently started a new business with my lovely friend Alison Knight – this being an entrepreneur type is hard work, but very rewarding. Our creative writing workshop business, Imagine, has taken off in ways we never imagined (pun intended!) I never dreamt I’d be teaching dementia sufferers how to write stories- nor that I’d have to turn people away from my classes because the tickets were sold out and there was no more room to sit. I feel honoured to say the least.

This change of focus, away from writing 3 novels a year, down to writing one and a half novels and teaching, has done me a lot of good already. And that is just the start of the changes afoot.

Those of you who have kindly been following my work for some years, will know that my career began at Kay Jaybee (over 18’s erotica). For the time being, Kay Jaybee is having a writing break. All her old work is being re-edited, revamped and- over the next two years- will reappear looking all lovely and shiny, ready for a brand new readership.

My Jennifer Ash side meanwhile, is beginning to gather pace. I am currently awaiting the republication of The Outlaw’s Ransom– and the brand new publication of The Winter Outlaw– watch this space…At the moment neither volume is available- but it won’t be long until they are. I am also doing some other work as Jennifer…but for now my lips are sealed on that..

So that leaves Jenny…All of Jenny’s books are still available- so if you fancy a Cornish romance or a coffee shop adventure, then I’m your girl! I am working on a new novel as Jenny- which is a little different…again I will simply tease you by saying, I’ll keep you informed…

All these teasers…So what can I tell you?

Well..Imagine is proud to present its first writing retreat! Fancy escaping onto Exmoor next March to write, dream, chat writing, maybe take a class or two, and meet guest speaker, Kate Griffin (writer of brilliant Victorian crime mysteries for Faber Faber), and generally enjoy chill out time? Then book your place soon to take advantage of our 10% off Early bird discount!

All details for the Northmoor Manor retreat can be found here- Imagine

I can also tell you that I am travelling the country doing more writer talks- so if you want to book a writer talk or a workshop- just let me know and I’ll see what I can do! I can be contacted via imaginecreativewriting@gmail.com

Fleet street photographer Richard Lappas had no idea what he was getting into – K Y Eden, Tracey Norman, myself (with P J Reed taking this pic)

I have been lucky enough to become a member of the Exeter Author Association- and so far I’ve had many adventures! Today’s author photo shoot was so much fun- I’m still giggling. I was balanced on a very precarious bridge for some time…just prior to hugging a very lichen cover tree…photos soon! The next Exeter Author Event is the Bampton Charter festival on 26th October – Bampton, Devon. Do come along and see us selling our books, reading, running mini workshops, and generally making folk smile.

Having listed all that – and forgive the indulgence- it has helped me get things straight in my own head- I’d better go and get on with it all. I’ve only worked 9 hours today , so not breaking my own rules just yet!

Perhaps my thirteenth year in the business isn’t so bad after all…

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

 

 

 

Interview with Steven. A. McKay: Robin Hood and Beyond

Today I am delighted to welcome Steven A McKay to my site for a natter. A fellow lover of myths, legends, and things historical; Steven is one of the most successful self-published authors in the UK. He also likes Robin of Sherwood…Enough said!!

So why not go and grab a drink and join us for a quick chat?

When did you first become interested in the Robin Hood legends?

Honestly, it was only when I decided to write a book about him. I have always been interested in King Arthur and I wanted to write something with a similar character and similar setting. You know: the green fields and woods of Britain with hard men drinking and fighting and loving! Bernard Cornwell had already done King Arthur so I had to look elsewhere and Robin Hood was the obvious choice. When I started researching the character I realised he, and the whole legend around him, was much richer and more interesting than I’d ever thought. It really made Wolf’s Head, and the following books, a joy to write.

What type of research did you have to do for your book?

First and foremost I had to learn about the legend. The elements that everyone knows, such as the characters and the golden arrow Robin wins in the Sheriff of Nottingham’s archery tournament. Then I had to really find out about my period (14th century in this case) because to write about a certain time you need to know the tiniest details.

Most of my research was done from books or the internet but I bought the entire Robin of Sherwood TV series on DVD and had a blast watching them. The friendship displayed by those characters, and even the actors portraying them, was a big influence on my novels.

I was very lucky to have Phil Rose, who played Friar Tuck in that show, write a foreword for one of my novellas and even read it out for the Audible version in that wonderful voice of his!

  

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

Well, as I mentioned, most people already know many of the elements of the Robin Hood legend so for those books I had certain things that had to happen. But I was able to put my own spin on the whole thing and, in general, although I have an idea for how to start and end a book, I don’t plan very far ahead. Normally I just write a few scenes and see where it takes me.
I think some people might work best by planning everything out in advance but, to me, letting a book develop organically leads to a much more dynamic, interesting read. I mean, if even the writer doesn’t know what’s coming next how can it be predictable?

Of course, that doesn’t stop people leaving reviews on Amazon saying they always knew what was coming next which is really weird since I didn’t even know myself when I was writing the books…!

You are one of the most successful self published writers I’ve come across. What would be your top three tips for a self published writer?

I think, first and foremost, you need a decent product that can stand up against the big guns in the publishing world. That means having a decent text that isn’t littered with errors, an exciting blurb, and a good cover image with – and this is hugely important for me – decent fonts. So many times I see good cover art on self-published books but the fonts are the standard ones that come free with Paint or whatever and it just looks amateurish. Hire a cover designer and an editor if you can afford it.

Second, even before you publish a book, try and find people to read it. Send them advance copies and ask them to post reviews on Amazon so as soon as it hits the virtual shelves potential buyers can find out what others thought of it.

Finally, if you’re going to run promotions such as the KDP Countdown deals, you need to tell people! There’s no point in making your book 99p for a week then complaining no one bought it – you need to tell them it’s on sale and that means using paid ads. Places like Bookbub, Freebooksy, Kindle Nation Daily etc are all worth using. I occasionally post tips about self-publishing on my website so do take a look if you’re interested.

Tell us about your latest book. What excites you the most about it?

Well, I’ve finished my Robin Hood books now – the final novella (The Abbey of Death) has actually found a publisher which is really exciting for me but it means I’ve been able to start work on an entirely new series.

This one is about a warrior-druid in post-Roman Britain and I am loving writing it. It was nice having readymade characters like Friar Tuck and Little John who I simply needed to flesh out and bring to life but this time around I’m coming up with my own creations and its strangely liberating!

The setting is really interesting to research since not much is known about 5th century Britain, especially Scotland, but most exciting for me is my main character. A six foot six, handsome, muscular druid who fights like a hero from legend, on a quest that will take him all around this great island meeting all sorts of weird and wonderful folk along the way…Honestly, it’s just huge fun to write, I’m so lucky to have a job like this.

If you were stranded on a desert island with three other people, fictional or real, who would they be and why?

Obviously my family but for the sake of making this a little more interesting I’ll come up with a different answer. Besides, now I think about it, why would I want to strand my wife and kids on an island just to make my own loin-cloth clad, bearded, pitiful existence more bearable?!

So…we’d need some laughter out there in the middle of nowhere and I reckon Sir Terry Pratchett would have been the ideal companion. I loved his Discworld books and it would have been great to spend time with him talking about writing and just general silliness.

 

Next we’d want some music to keep our spirits up so I’d probably pick fellow Glaswegian Angus Young of AC/DC. I’m assuming he’d have rescued a battered old acoustic guitar from the shipwreck so he’d be able to keep us entertained with folk renditions of “Thunderstruck” and “Hell or High Water”. Maybe I’d get a chance to play the guitar myself although if it came to a fight about it he’d win, even if he is just five inches tall.

 

Finally, I’d choose my own new character, the warrior-druid Bellicus. Not only would he protect the rest of us from wild animals with his martial prowess, but he’s a trained musician and spent many years learning the skills of a druid. He’d heal our wounds, talk for hours about the gods and their foibles, show me and Angus a new chord or two on the shared guitar, and give us the last rites if one of us died in a freak gardening accident.

Actually it sounds like a pretty fun place – where do I sign up?

*** 

Buy Links

viewAuthor.at/SA-McKay

Social Links

Twitter – @SA_McKay

Facebook – www.Facebook.com/RobinHoodNovel

Website with link to my mailing list and a FREE, exclusive Forest Lord story, only available to subscribers! https://stevenamckay.com/mailing-list/

 

Bio

Steven A. McKay was born in Scotland in 1977. His first book, “Wolf’s Head”, came out in 2013 and was an Amazon UK top 20 bestseller. “Blood of the Wolf” is the fourth and final book in the Forest Lord series which has over 95,000 sales so far. Steven is currently working on a brand new tale set in post-Roman Britain.

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Many thanks for taking the time out to join us today Steven. I’m very much looking forward to reading your Robin Hood stories (my Kindle is loaded and ready to go), and indeed your post Roman stories in the near future.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny (Well, I’m Jennifer really, as I have my medieval hat on today!) x 

Did you know that books are invisible?

One of the most popular blogs to feature on my website in 2016 was one I did about the importance of marketing…

Did you know that books were invisible?”

That was the opening line I gave a slightly bemused group of friends when they kindly offered to let me give a ‘pretend’ talk about what to do after you’ve written a book.

invisible

OK- I’d better back track a little bit.

For a little while now I’ve been considering holding a few writing classes, and possibly taking on mentoring. There is one issue however-there are hundreds and hundreds of creative writing classes out there. I want to provide something a little bit different.

After chatting to fellow authors it transpired that what wasn’t so available was advice on what to do after you’d created your story. I have spent some time thinking about this.

There are so many authors in the world putting their life’s blood into their words. They pour themselves into their work, then perhaps they are lucky enough to find a publisher, or they decide to self publish their book, and then…nothing.

Big Fat Zero 2

This brings me to my original point. Unless you are with one of the top six publishers who have contracts to get books into the mainstream bookshops and supermarkets, books are invisible. They only exist if people know about them- and when I say people, I don’t mean your family, friends, work colleagues, and the people they happen to know.

Marketing- that’s what writers have to do. Writing is fairly important as well of course- but if you write something in the hope of earning an income, and then don’t market it, then what’s the point?

I can’t say I enjoy the marketing side of my job- and I’m lucky enough to have a publisher that does a little marketing for me- but if you don’t have a Facebook page for your books, and a Twitter account from which to shout about your literary wares, then there is a real danger of disappearing into the ether of the eBook world. You need a blog, you need constant presence, and you need to – every now and then- share just a little of the real you to engage your audience.

Sadly, there is no magic wand when it comes to selling books. People won’t know you’ve written a book unless you make them sit up and take notice of the fact.

 

OK- lecture over!

I’ll pop off now, because I need to think up exactly what my ‘after-writing’ course will contain…any ideas (polite ones only!) will be very welcome!

Thank you!!

Happy reading, writing and marketing,

Jenny x

Twitter- https://twitter.com/JennyKaneAuthor 

PS- I will shout as soon as the writing courses are up and running x

 

Interview with Tracey Sinclair: Romance and Fantasy

I’m delighted to welcome Tracey Sinclair to my site today to tell us about her latest books. Why not grab a cuppa, a slice of cake, put your feet up, and join us for a chat! 

coffee and cake

What inspired you to write your book?

I know one of the most commonly asked questions for writers is, where do you get your ideas from, but the only honest answer is, everywhere! My romance, Bridesmaid Blues, was inspired by the fact that, as a single woman, I was bridesmaid to an awful lot of friends (I used to joke that the film 27 Dresses was my autobiography!) I was also the only bridesmaid at a wedding where my ex-boyfriend was best man, and though that worked out fine in real life, I saw the comic possibilities of it as a basis for a story.

For the Dark Dates urban fantasy books, it was a little different – I was sick of the wimpy, whiny heroines I was seeing in some books (naming no names, but sparkling vampires may have been involved!) and I wanted to create a series based around someone who wasn’t like that, but also wasn’t some kind of superwoman – just a normal, relatable woman thrown into extraordinary circumstances.

Bridesmaid Blues Final High res

Do you model any of your characters after people you know? If so, do these people see themselves in your characters?

I do, quite often, though usually I take a mix of characteristics from several people and combine them so as to protect the guilty! Funnily enough, I often combine siblings’ characteristics into one person. The glamorous Hali from Bridesmaid Blues is based on a brother and sister who were great friends to me when, like Luce in the novel, I first moved to London, while Katie in Dark Dates is loosely based on a couple of dryly funny, no nonsense sisters who are also good friends of mine. Sometimes people see it, but I try not to make them too much of a carbon copy, otherwise I think you worry too much about offending people instead of staying true to the characters.

Do you prefer to plot your story or just go with the flow?

I usually have an idea for the start of the book, and the end, but the middle is left to unfold as it will. It’s a bit nerve-wracking, and often ends up being quite surprising, but it works out – although I do a lot of advance notes, sketching out scenes, and an awful lot of rewrites.

What is your writing regime?

I write loose fragments and character sketches, to test or flesh out ideas, characters or scenes, then I do a first draft in longhand. Then, depending on how well it’s going, I’ll do another longhand draft and then at least a couple more on the computer.

In terms of routine, I tend not to write a lot over the winter as I have a lot of other commitments (I’m a freelance writer and editor, so I work around a lot of deadlines) but from March-October I usually write every day, depending where I am in the story.

What excites you the most about your book?

It’s different things for different books, I think. With Bridesmaid Blues, I relished the idea of writing a rom-com that was set in my home city of Newcastle, because you see so many books about women being whisked off to glamourous lives in New York or Paris, and I wanted a more down to earth setting. With Angel Falls, which is the latest in the Dark Dates series, it’s the thrill of writing about characters I’ve become familiar with, and that readers have become attached to – knowing you’re putting out a book that people are looking forward to, and that feature characters that readers have come to really care about is pretty much the biggest thrill I can think of!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00027]

Links – darkdates.org

Facebook.com/darkdates

Twitter – @thriftygal

Books:

Angel Falls – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Angel-Falls-Cassandra-Bick-Chronicles-ebook/dp/B01AMOGRBY/

Bridesmaid Blues: http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Bridesmaid-Blues-Tracey-Sinclair-ebook/dp/B00M83Y3VO/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/510122.Tracey_Sinclair

Author image

Bio

Tracey Sinclair is a freelance editor and writer, theatre reviewer, author and playwright. She has been published widely in both print and online magazines, and included in a number of print anthologies. Her play Bystanders was produced at Baron’s Court Theatre in 2011, and again at the White Bear, Kennington and Tristan Bates Theatre, London in 2015, and Dark Dates: An Audience with Cassandra Bick, which she co-wrote with Zoe Cunningham and Peta Lily, has been performed at the Tristan Bates Theatre and the Brighton Fringe. Her first two books were published by Kennedy & Boyd, and her latest series is the Dark Dates/Cassandra Bick novels. A Northerner by birth and temperament, after spending most of her life in Newcastle and Glasgow, she bailed for sunnier climes and now lives happily by the sea in Brighton, with only occasional yearnings for a stottie sandwich or a macaroni pie.

You can follow her on Twitter under the profoundly misleading Twitter name, @thriftygal, or keep up with Dark Dates via darkdates.org or www.facebook.com/darkdates

***

Many thanks Tracey- great interview!

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

 

Romantic Reads For Valentine’s Day: With Coffee and a Smile

Have you got that special reader in your life a Valentine’s gift yet? No? Well, don’t panic!! Here are a few book ideas to help out.

Valentines book

All of these Rom Com’s have enough romance to hit the required ‘Romantic Gesture’ button- but are satisfyingly short of being twee or sickly sweet!

 Another Cup of Coffee

Another Cup of Coffee - New cover 2015

Thirteen years ago Amy Crane ran away from everyone and everything she knew, ending up in an unfamiliar city with no obvious past and no idea of her future. Now, though, that past has just arrived on her doorstep, in the shape of an old
music cassette that Amy hasn’t seen since she was at university.

Digging out her long-neglected Walkman, Amy listens to the lyrics that soundtracked her student days. As long-buried memories are wrenched from the places in her mind where she’s kept them safely locked away for over a decade, Amy is suddenly tired of hiding.

It’s time to confront everything about her life. Time to find all the friends she left behind in England, when her heart got broken and the life she was building for herself got completely shattered. Time to make sense of all the feelings she’s been bottling up for all this time. And most of all, it’s time to discover why Jack has sent her tape back to her now, after all these years…

With her mantra, New life, New job, New home, playing on a continuous loop in her head, Amy gears herself up with yet another a bucked-sized cup of coffee, as she goes forth to lay the ghost of first love to rest…

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Another-Cup-Coffee-Jenny-Kane/dp/1783751126/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377605533&sr=8-1&keywords=another+cup+of+coffee

Abi’s House
Abi's House new cover
Newly widowed and barely thirty, Abi Carter is desperate to escape the Stepford Wives lifestyle 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 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, 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?
Romancing Robin Hood
RRH- new 2015

Dr Grace Harper has loved the stories of Robin Hood ever since she first saw them on TV as a girl. Now, with her fortieth birthday just around the corner, she’s a successful academic in Medieval History, with a tenured position at a top university.

But Grace is in a bit of a rut. She’s supposed to be writing a textbook on a real-life medieval gang of high-class criminals – the Folvilles – but she keeps being drawn into the world of the novel she’s secretly writing – a novel which entwines the Folvilles with her long-time love of Robin Hood – and a feisty young girl named Mathilda, who is the key to a medieval mystery…

Meanwhile, Grace’s best friend Daisy – who’s as keen on animals as Grace is on the Merry Men – is unexpectedly getting married, and a reluctant Grace is press-ganged into being her bridesmaid. As Grace sees Daisy’s new-found happiness, she starts to re-evaluate her own life. Is her devotion to a man who may or may not have lived hundreds of years ago really a substitute for a real-life hero of her own? It doesn’t get any easier when she meets Dr Robert Franks – a rival academic who Grace is determined to dislike but finds herself being increasingly drawn to… 

Amazon.com- http://www.amazon.com/Romancing-Robin-Hood-love-story-ebook/dp/B00M4838S2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409936409&sr=8-1&keywords=romancing+robin+hood

Hope this has given you a few ideas.
Happy almost Valentine’s Day!!
Jenny x
PS- sorry for the awful spacing of this blog- WordPress is not playing nicely today! x

Did you know that books are invisible?

“Did you know that books were invisible?”

That was the opening line I gave a slightly bemused group of friends when they kindly offered to let me give a ‘pretend’ talk about what to do after you’ve written a book.

invisible

OK- I’d better back track a little bit.

For a little while now I’ve been considering holding a few writing classes, and possibly taking on mentoring. There is one issue however-there are hundreds and hundreds of creative writing classes out there. I want to provide something a little bit different.

After chatting to fellow authors at the Tiverton Literary Festival in June, it transpired that what wasn’t so available was advice on what to do after you’d created your story. I have spent some time thinking about this.

There are so many authors in the world putting their life’s blood into their words. They pour themselves into their work, then perhaps they are lucky enough to find a publisher, or they decide to self publish their book, and then…nothing.

Big Fat Zero 2

This brings me to my original point. Unless you are with one of the top six publishers who have contracts to get books into the mainstream bookshops and supermarkets, books are invisible. They only exist if people know about them- and when I say people, I don’t mean your family, friends, work colleagues, and the people they happen to know.

Marketing- that’s what writers have to do. Writing is fairly important as well of course- but if you write something in the hope of earning an income, and then don’t market it, then what’s the point?

I can’t say I enjoy the marketing side of my job- and I’m lucky enough to have a publisher that does some marketing for me- but if you don’t have a Facebook page for your books, and a Twitter account from which to shout about your literary wares, then there is a real danger of disappearing into the ether of the eBook world. You need a blog, you need constant presence, and you need to – every now and then- share just a little of the real you to engage your audience.

Sadly, there is no magic wand when it comes to selling books. People won’t know you’ve written a book unless you make them sit up and take notice of the fact.

OK- lecture over!

I’ll pop off now, because I need to think up exactly what my ‘after-writing’ course will contain…any ideas (polite ones only!) will be very welcome!

Thank you!!

Happy reading, writing and marketing,

Jenny x

Twitter- https://twitter.com/JennyKaneAuthor 

 

 

Do I Write Romance?

I was recently lucky enough to have the lovely Richard Gould post on this blog, and within the comments of that post he raised an issue that I have often discussed with fellow writers and readers of my work. Am I a romance writer?

My work is certainly defined as romance from a marketing point of view- but are they romances?

hearts

I’d love to think that I was a romantic- but I know I’m not. Overdoses of romance make me feel suffocated and a bit trapped- and yet here I am, a romance writer…. Or am I?

In  my mind I’m not. I write stories about ordinary people, who live in recognisable places, with the same issues that we all face (to a greater or lesser extent- it is fiction after all), and the same hang ups about themselves as we all have. Sometimes these characters fall in love with other characters, but only as part of a wider story.

Another Cup of Coffee for example is- in my mind- a story about the reknewing of old friendships and finding the strength to start a new life by exorcising the ghosts of the past. To others it is three different love stories all intertwined- a fact I hadn’t even noticed until it was pointed out to me.

Another Cup of Coffee - New cover 2015

And yes, there is a love story in Romancing Robin Hood– but that  (to me) is secondary to the fact that leading lady Grace is working hard to come out from her obsession with the past so that she can build herself a future- plus there’s a medieval murder of course- and you can’t get less romantic than that… Although apparently, that novel was romantic as well. So maybe it isn’t the love story that is romantic, but the over coming adversity to find love that’s romantic? In which case, I am a romance writer- but an unintentional one!

Don’t misunderstand me here, I like a good dose of romance, and some books are unquestionably romance stories. During the Tiverton Literary Festival in June, I had the good fortune to host the Romance Panel, which included Rachel Brimble, Alison Rose and Julie Cohen. The question of whether or not we were romance writers, or writers who happened to include romance in our plotlines came up then. Alison, Julie and myself were all of the opinion that we wrote stories which happened to include romance. Rachel however, had no hesitation in declaring herself an all out romance writer.

Julie Cohen, Rachel Brimble, Alison Rose and Jenny Kane

Julie Cohen, Rachel Brimble, Alison Rose and Jenny Kane

Having read books by all Rachel, Alison and Julie, I can see the truth in their convictions. Rachel’s fabulous novels are all about the love story from the word go, with subplots that help weave the tale to its happy ever after. Alison, Julie and myself however, write books that don’t aim for the happy ever after (although there usually is a happy ending because that’s what people like to read- and who can blame them!). We generally have a great deal else going on of equal plot importance to any romance involved.

So as I sat in Jenny Kane’s Corner, pondering the question of whether I write romance or not , I thought I’d ask two of the regulars in the café, that I know read my work, if they thought I was a romance writer? The answer was a resounding ‘Yes

Tiverton Authoer Jenny Kane at Bampton Street's Costa Coffee for a signed book launch on Monday

‘How can you even ask?’ said one of them. ‘Abi’s House is a real romance, set in a romantic location and everything!’ With her friend nodding in agreement next to her, I couldn’t help but smile. I thought Abi’s House was primarily a story about a young woman escaping an unhappy life. Apparently it’s mostly about two women finding their happy ever afters.

So there you go! Apparently my readers think I am a romance writer, but I think I’m not. However cross-eyed and contradictory that seems, I think I’ll stick to my guns and carry on believing I don’t write romances- because if I start thinking I do write romance, my readers might start thinking I’ve stopped, and give up buying my books!

Happy reading folks!

Jenny xx

 

Guest Post from Carol McGrath: My Writing Journey

I am delighted to welcome fellow Accent writer, medieval history lover, and Robin Hood fan, Carol McGrath to my site today!

Over to you Carol…

First of all thank you, Jenny, for hosting me on your blog today.

I always find authors’ writing journeys intriguing. Usually a writer’s expedition into the world of publication is a mix of very dedicated work mingled with that precious little bit of good fortune when it comes to finding the right agent and/ or publisher for your work.

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My own writing history towards the golden globe of publication was the result of a dedicated effort to hone my writing skills and to an extent it was accidental. I’ve always scribbled. I wrote little books as a small child that were usually inspired by Enid Blyton’s adventure stories and the legends of Robin Hood. I also loved to write poems. My first published piece was more serious and poetic. It was about Vietnam’s terrible war and appeared in our school magazine. For the very first time, this month I am visiting Vietnam and Cambodia. It will be a fascinating trip.

I never thought anyone would seriously want to actually read anything I wrote. Whilst my children were growing up, I taught part-time in a High School. I attended day-school writing courses at Oxford Continuing Education. We were a close knit group that signed up year after year to the same tutor’s course. Some of my fellow writers came from writing families. I remember Eliza Packenham’s suffragettes fondly and Molly Keane’s daughter, Virginia, who was writing a children’s book set in the west of Ireland. Our tutor, Angela Hassell, encouraged me to send chapters of a novel I was working on to agents. This oeuvre was a saga set in Ireland in 1919 at the dawning of the Irish Civil War. I never did attempt to publish this novel because I had little free time to end the tale. However, writing it was a wonderful escape from a busy modern life. Now, so many years later, I often think of finishing it.

Handfasted Wife

I studied for a two year diploma course in creative writing at Oxford University’s Continuing Education. Again, I never considered publishing. The seeds of my first published novel The Handfasted Wife were sown at this time, after a trip to Bayeux in Normandy. I wanted to write a radio play for my portfolio and was fascinated by a story I came across then, that King Harold’s wife identified her husband’s body on the battlefield by marks only known to her. King Harold had been defeated by William of Normandy who famously invaded England in 1066. I wrote the play and for a time forgot all about it. Only today I have been listening to it on audible, thinking of those voices from history that came to me all those years ago when I first wrote the play. The narrator got those tough Anglo-Saxon noble women right. It is a pleasure to listen to them speak via my I pad. Who would ever have thought I would one day hear them?

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Some years later, after completing an MA in Creative Writing at Queens University Belfast, I did consider that I was ready to send my work out to agents. Another Irish story set in 1910 was completed inspired by my MA. work. I called it The Damask Maker. A number of agents read the full manuscript. It clearly was not ready because they all suggested I did this or that to it. It is still waiting my attention and a possible name change.

Instead of reworking the spongy mid-section of that novel, I went on an MPhil course ( English and Creative Writing) at Royal Holloway, University of London, and fell utterly in love with the story I began to write there. My first published novel, The Handfasted Wife, inspired by that long ago trip to Bayeux, was written on this course along with a thesis on how Romance tempers Historical Fiction. The novel took me three years to write. Its protagonists haunted me and, equally, England, before and after The Norman Conquest intrigued me. This manuscript was picked up by my RNA New Writer’s Scheme reader, jay Dixon, who had just become a commissioning editor for Accent Press. When I told jay that I was thinking about a trilogy to continue the story I had begun in The Handfasted Wife, she commissioned all three for Accent Press. If I liked writing The Handfasted Wife, I liked writing The Swan-Daughter even more. This is the story of King Harold’s younger daughter Gunnhild and her fate after The Norman Conquest. I have just sent The Betrothed Sister, the final novel of this trilogy to Jay. I have not looked back. I am researching a new trilogy set in the thirteenth century, so Jenny, watch out because I shall be consulting you about ballads of the period, on which you are an expert.

The Swan Daughter

I have thoroughly enjoyed my road to publication. There was no angst and no stress. I think I gradually grew into my route to publication, and looking back it feels as if it was a natural progression for me. I have always loved writing and telling stories. Reading Historical fiction was ever a passion and writing it well, whilst challenging, has been a very satisfying experience. Nowadays, what was a once upon a time hobby is now a full time job and it is certainly one that I enjoy.

I have one obvious tip if you want to be published- enjoy what you write, write it well, hone it and stay with it. Make sure it is ready and be determined to publish it when it it.

I wish Jenny Kane every success with Cup of Champers. I have read her novels and love them.

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Carol’s Links-

Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6942793.Carol_McGrath

Twitter – @carolmcgrath

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/daughtersofhastings

Pinterest-http://pinterest.com/carol0275/

Blog- www.carolcmcgrath.co.uk 

Scribbling in the Margins- http://scribbling-inthemargins.blogspot.gr/ 

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Thank you Carol x

Great blog! I would be honoured to help out with your ballad research when the time comes- Ronin Hood fans unite! There is something very special about the stories from our medieval past. They had a magic that encapsulates the period.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

CLIC Charity Sargent Get in Character Auction- Bid to name one of my characters!

Get In Character

I am delighted to announce that I have been asked to donate one of the characters from my forthcoming novel- Abi’s House– to the CLIC Sargent charity auction.

And what company I’m in!! Katie Fforde, Lisa Jewell, Milly Johnson, Rovbrt Thorogood, Lee Child and many more!!

So for your chance to pick a name for the characters in some amazing books- just check out the information below…

CLIC logo

BE A NAMED CHARACTER IN MY NEXT NOVEL

As part of CLIC Sargent’s yearly eBay Get in Character auction, I’ll be offering the highest bidder the chance to appear as a named character in a forthcoming novel along with 60 other best-selling authors.

We’re all taking part to help raise vital funds for children and young people with cancer so please get bidding from 8pm 26th Feb! http://ow.ly/IoQdC

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Abi's House_edited-1

Good luck- happy bidding!!

Jenny xx

 

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