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

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10 REASONS TO GO ON AN IMAGINE WRITING RETREAT

Alison Knight and I are proud to present our very first “Imagine” writing retreat…

10 reasons to go on an Imagine Writing Retreat…

1                    Writers need writers! No one understands writing and a writer’s life like another writer. Mutual support is the name of the game!

2                    Located in the stunning Victorian manor, Northmoor House, Imagine’s retreat gives you the chance to stay in a home untouched by time (But don’t panic, there is Wi-Fi). You can even indulge in the waters of an original Victorian bathtub…don’t forget your bubble bath!

3                    With so many of the manor’s period features still in place, Northmoor is the ideal location for sparking inspiration and dreaming up new plotlines.

4                    On the edge of Exmoor, near the popular village of Dulverton, there are plenty of beautiful places to explore should you, or any non-writing friends or partners, wish to. There are miles of good walking land on hand. The pre-historic Tarr Steps are but minutes away, and the cafes in Dulverton are excellent. I can personally recommend the poached eggs on crumpets in The Copper Kettle.

Tarr Steps

5                    However, you might not want to stray into the village for food because we have employed an excellent local caterer, who is providing a delicious menu that will cater for all dietary requirements. All food is locally sourced.

6                    Come along for a confidence boost! At Imagine we pride ourselves on helping everyone to get their words onto the page. We are here for beginners and experts alike.

Kate Griffin

7                    Meet Kate Griffin! One of Faber and Faber’s most successful crime writers. Kate Griffin is the author of the brilliant Kitty Peck Mysteries. An expert on Victorian London, Kate will be our guest speaker on the Wednesday evening.

8                    Find your inner writer’s peace of mind. Let mentor and fellow writer, Trina Stacey, help you” Set Your Sails for Writing Success”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9                    Let’s face it – Monday to Friday in a beautiful Victorian Manor, with time to write, all food provided, plus three optional workshops, a chance to meet Kate Griffin and Trina Stacey, and the opportunity to share writing ideas over a glass of wine (or two) – for only £450  is a BARGAIN.

10             It would make a BRILLIANT Christmas present for the write in your life.

***

Full details are available at https://www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk/writing-retreats 

If you have any queries please email Alison or myself at imaginecreativewritng@gmail.com

Now is the time to drop heavy hints about wanting a writing retreat for Christmas… 

Happy writing everyone,

Jenny xx

Bampton Charter Fair

Next week, on 26th October, I’m delighted to say I will be at the Bampton Charter Fair, selling my books, reading, and giving talks to adults and children about my work, and the joy of playing with words.

I will be with my fellow authors from the Exeter Author Association- you’ll be able to find us in the Community Hall on Station Road, conveniently next to a café and a nonstop supply of coffee!

The Devonshire Bampton Charter Fair has been an established tradition for centuries. here’s what the official Charter Website has to say-

Bampton Fair existed even before King Henry III granted it a Royal Charter in 1258 and it is always held on the last Thursday of October. It is one of the oldest surviving Charter Fairs in the country.

For centuries, the fair mainly sold sheep and cattle and was the largest sheep fair in the South West of England. During the 1880’s to the 1980’s it evolved to become the famous Bampton Pony Fair trading in Exmoor ponies.
Today this traditional Devon fair continues to attract local producers of foods and livestock, crafts and traditional skills from Exmoor and its surrounding villages. The streets, church, pubs and venues of Bampton are filled to over flowing with around 100 stalls, entertainments  including craft and music workshops, demonstrations and concerts, and funfair.

Opening from 9am, the Charter Fair regularly attracts in the region of 10,000 visitors- so why not come along and join the fun, pick up a few early Christmas presents, and hear a story or two along the way.

Hope to see you there!

Jenny xx

10 REASONS TO GO ON AN IMAGINE WRITING RETREAT

Alison Knight and I are proud to present our very first “Imagine” writing retreat…

10 reasons to go on an Imagine Writing Retreat…

1                    Writers need writers! No one understands writing and a writer’s life like another writer. Mutual support is the name of the game!

2                    Located in the stunning Victorian manor, Northmoor House, Imagine’s retreat gives you the chance to stay in a home untouched by time (But don’t panic, there is Wi-Fi). You can even indulge in the waters of an original Victorian bathtub…don’t forget your bubble bath!

3                    With so many of the manor’s period features still in place, Northmoor is the ideal location for sparking inspiration and dreaming up new plotlines.

4                    On the edge of Exmoor, near the popular village of Dulverton, there are plenty of beautiful places to explore should you, or any non-writing friends or partners, wish to. There are miles of good walking land on hand. The pre-historic Tarr Steps are but minutes away, and the cafes in Dulverton are excellent. I can personally recommend the poached eggs on crumpets in The Copper Kettle.

Tarr Steps

 

5                    However, you might not want to stray into the village for food because we have employed an excellent local caterer, who is providing a delicious menu that will cater for all dietary requirements. All food is locally sourced.

6                    Come along for a confidence boost! At Imagine we pride ourselves on helping everyone to get their words onto the page. We are here for beginners and experts alike.

Kate Griffin

7                    Meet Kate Griffin! One of Faber and Faber’s most successful crime writers. Kate Griffin is the author of the brilliant Kitty Peck Mysteries. An expert on Victorian London, Kate will be our guest speaker on the Wednesday evening.

8                    Find your inner writer’s peace of mind. We all know that authors suffer from imposter syndrome: “Why am I writing? I’m not good enough!” We all say it! Local happiness mentor and fellow writer, Trina Stacey, will be available for optional one-to-one conversations about how to believe in your abilities, and convince you that you are allowed to do what makes you happy.

9                    Let’s face it – Monday to Friday in a beautiful Victorian Manor, with time to write, all food provided, plus three optional workshops, a chance to meet Kate Griffin, and the opportunity to share writing ideas over a glass of wine (or two) – for only £450 (10% less if you book before 31st October) is a BARGAIN.

10               IT WILL BE A LOT OF FUN!

***

Full details are available at https://www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk/writing-retreats 

If you have any queries please email Alison or myself at imaginecreativewritng@gmail.com

PLEASE REMEMBER THAT THE EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT ENDS ON 31ST OCTOBER

Now is the time to drop heavy hints about wanting a writing retreat for Christmas… 

Happy writing everyone,

Jenny xx

Summer Wedding: Romancing Robin Hood

To celebrate the paperback version of Romancing Robin Hood being available at the new price of £7.99,  I thought I’d share a little taster of what lays hidden within its modern/medieval pages.

RRH- new 2015

Romancing Robin Hood is a contemporary romance is based on the life of Dr Grace Harper, a medieval history lecturer with a major Robin Hood obsession. So much so, that instead of writing a textbook on medieval life, Grace is secretly writing a novella about a fourteenth century girl called Mathilda, who gets mixed up with a real outlaw family of the day, the Folvilles. (Which you can also read about within this same novel)

The problem is that Grace is so embroiled in her work and passion for outlaws, that real life is passing her by. A fact that the unexpected wedding announcement of her best friend Daisy, has thrown into sharp focus…

summer wedding

Extract

…Daisy hadn’t grown up picturing herself floating down the aisle in an over-sequinned ivory frock, nor as a doting parent, looking after triplets and walking a black Labrador. So when, on an out-of-hours trip to the local vet’s surgery she’d met Marcus and discovered that love at first sight wasn’t a myth, it had knocked her for six.

She’d been on a late-night emergency dash to the surgery with an owl a neighbour had found injured in the road. Its wing had required a splint, and it was too big a job for only one pair of hands. Daisy had been more than a bit surprised when the locum vet had stirred some long-suppressed feeling of interest in her, and even more amazed when that feeling had been reciprocated.

It was all luck, sheer luck. Daisy had always believed that anyone meeting anybody was down to two people meeting at exactly the right place, at exactly the right time, while both feeling precisely the right amount of chemistry. The fact that any couples existed at all seemed to Daisy to be one of the greatest miracles of humanity.

She pictured Grace, tucked away in her mad little office only living in the twenty-first century on a part-time basis. Daisy had long since got used to the fact that her closest friend’s mind was more often than not placed firmly in the 1300s. Daisy wished Grace would finish her book. It had become such a part of her. Such an exclusive aim that nothing else seemed to matter very much. Even the job she used to love seemed to be a burden to her now, and Daisy sensed that Grace was beginning to resent the hours it took her away from her life’s work. Maybe if she could get her book over with – get it out of her system – then Grace would stop living in the wrong timeframe.

Daisy knew Grace appreciated that she never advised her to find a bloke, settle down, and live ‘happily ever after,’ and she was equally grateful Grace had never once suggested anything similar to her. Now she had Marcus, however, Daisy had begun to want the same contentment for her friend, and had to bite her tongue whenever they spoke on the phone; something that happened less and less these days.

Grace’s emails were getting shorter too. The long paragraphs detailing the woes of teaching students with an ever-decreasing intelligence had blunted down to, ‘You ok? I’m good. Writing sparse. See you soon. Bye G x’

The book. That in itself was a problem. Grace’s publishers and colleagues, Daisy knew, were expecting an academic tome. A textbook for future medievalists to ponder over in the university libraries of the world. And, in time, that was exactly what they were going to get, but not yet, for Grace had confided to Daisy that this wasn’t the only thing she was working on, and her textbook was coming a poor third place to work and the other book she couldn’t seem to stop herself from writing.

‘Why,’ Grace had forcefully expounded on their last meeting, ‘should I slog my guts out writing a book only a handful of bored students and obsessive freaks like myself will ever pick up, let alone read?’

As a result, Grace was writing a novel, ‘A semi-factual novel,’ she’d said, ‘a story which will tell any student what they need to know about the Folville family and their criminal activities – which bear a tremendous resemblance to the stories of a certain famous literary outlaw! – and hopefully promote interest in the subject for those who aren’t that into history without boring them to death.’

It sounded like a good idea to Daisy, but she also knew, as Grace did, that it was precisely the sort of book academics frowned upon, and she was worried about Grace’s determination to finish it. Daisy thought it would be more sensible to concentrate on one manuscript at a time, and get the dry epic that everyone was expecting out of the way first. Perhaps it would have been completed by now if Grace could focus on one project at a time, rather than it currently being a year in the preparation without a final result in sight. Daisy suspected Grace’s boss had no idea what she was really up to. After all, she was using the same lifetime of research for both manuscripts. She also had an underlying suspicion that subconsciously Grace didn’t want to finish either the textbook or the novel; that her friend was afraid to finish them. After all, what would she fill her hours with once they were done?

Daisy’s mobile began to play a tinny version of Nellie the Elephant. She hastily plopped a small black guinea pig, which she’d temporarily called Charcoal, into a run with his numerous friends, and fished her phone from her dungarees pocket.

‘Hi, Marcus.’

‘Hi honey, you OK?’

‘Just delivering the tribe to their outside quarters, then I’m off to face the horror that is dress shopping.’

Her future husband laughed, ‘You’ll be fine. You’re just a bit rusty, that’s all.’

‘Rusty! I haven’t owned a dress since I went to parties as a small child. Thirty-odd years ago!’

‘I don’t understand why you don’t go with Grace at the weekend. It would be easier together wouldn’t it?’

Daisy sighed, ‘I’d love to go with her, but I’ll never get her away from her work more than once this month, and I’ve yet to arrange a date for her to buy a bridesmaid outfit.’

‘Well, good luck, babe. I’m off to rob some bulls of their manhood.’

Daisy giggled, ‘Have fun. Oh, why did you call by the way?’

‘Just wanted to hear your voice, nothing else.’

‘Oh cute – ta.’

‘Idiot! Enjoy shopping.’

As she clicked her battered blue mobile shut and slid it back into her working clothes, Daisy thought of Grace again. Perhaps she should accidentally invite loads of single men to the wedding to tempt her friend with. The trouble was, unless they wore Lincoln Green, and carried a bow and quiver of arrows, Daisy very much doubted whether Grace would even notice they were there…

RH- RoS 2

Blurb

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…

Buy Links Romancing Robin Hood is available from all good paperback and e-retailers.

Amazon UK- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Romancing-Robin-Hood-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B00M4838S2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407428558&sr=8-1&keywords=romancing+robin+hood

Amazon.com- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Romancing-Robin-Hood-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B00M4838S2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407428558&sr=8-1&keywords=romancing+robin+hood 

Kobo link – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/romancing-robin-hood

***

Happy reading,

Jenny x

From Tiverton to Penzance- via Chippenham…

It’s almost the summer. In writer land that means the literary festival circuit is in full swing.

This year I’m embarking upon a mini-circuit of my own – starting in my home town of Tiverton, Devon this very week – before heading to Chippenham Literary Festival in Wiltshire on 30th June, and then turning towards the very South West of the country, and taking part in Cornwall’s Penzance Literary Festival.

It would be wonderful to meet lots of you lovely folk along the way. If you’d like to drop by and say hello, here is a run down of my schedule over the next few weeks.

On Friday 23rd of June I will be in Tiverton Library, Tiverton selling my latest novels, chatting to readers and writers, and signing any books that you wave in my direction (Make sure they’re mine- I can get a bit carried away with my biro!)

On Sunday 25th June I will be joined by my business partner, the lovely Alison Knight, to teach a writing workshop entitled ‘Who, What, Where , When.’ There are still places left- so feel free to book a seat now if you’d like to take part. (Alison also has a workshop on writing Young Adult fiction – do not miss it!!)  Tickets are available from www.tivertonlitfest.co.uk 

Then it’s off to Chippenham, Wiltshire for the second leg of my tour.

On the evening of Friday 30th June I’m joined by a star line up of romance authors, to chat about our work, writing in general, and share the joy – and peculiarities- of our working lives! There will be wine and cake – enough said!!

The following day, 1st July, Alison and I are teaching our ‘How to Write Romance’ workshop at the nearby Wiltshire History Centre. Details can be found here- www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk

Leg three of my exhibition, will find me on a train from Tiverton Parkway to Penzance Literary Festival in Cornwall on 6th July. This is quite a big deal for me as I haven’t been back to Penzance since the death of my beloved grandparents.  My father was born and raised in Penzance, but I have no family in the town at all now, and it is going to be strange experience indeed being there on my own.

On 6th July, between 3-4pm I am taking part in the Local Authors panel, talking about how Cornwall inspires fiction.

On 8th July, between 10am and 1pm, I will be teaching a Life Writing workshop for beginners and new writers to the genre.

Details of both events can be found here- http://www.pzlitfest.co.uk/speaker/jenny-kane/

On the 9th July I intend to sleep – lots!!

Abi’s Neighbour and I – for that is the novel I’m touring with- would be delighted to see you on our travels!

 

Get those tickets booked (at the Chippenham event tickets are on the door), and I’ll see you soon!

Happy travels,

Jenny xx

Tiverton Literary Festival: 22nd-25th June

I am proud to be able to announce that the third Tiverton Literary Festival is only a few days away!

Started in 2015 by myself, Susie Griggs and Kerstin Muggeridge – I am delighted to see the festival going from strength to strength.

After two years at the helm, Kerstin and I have taken a step back to attend our families and our books (well, both actually) and the festival is now in the capable hands of Rachel Gee, Susie Griggs and Caro Bushnell.

The new team have got a fantastic line up- you will not want to miss out.

Check out the website for the full line up-

Here are a few of the events on offer…

Thursday 22nd June

7.15pm – 8.30pm.

Tiverton Library. Tickets: £5

TivLitFest Launch Event: Jane Corry in conversation with BBC journalist Simon Hall
Sunday Times bestselling psychological thriller writer Jane Corry will talk about her hit My Husband’s Wife and new book Blood Sisters with BBC South West crime correspondent Simon Hall.

Friday 23rd June

All day

Pop-up book swap @ CreaTIV Hub, Fore Street.
Pre-loved give a book, take a book event brought to you by CAG Devon Sustainable Villages.

 10am – 12 midday

Tiverton Library. Free Admission.

Author Showcase
20 authors from all over the South West all in one place, including Tiverton’s own Jenny Kane. (Ohh– me!!)  Lots of different styles and genres to suit all tastes. Come and meet some local talent and buy their books!

 

1.00 – 3.00pm

CreaTIV Hub, Fore Street. Free Admission.

Book Chat & Signing: Frank Westworth and Tyrrel Francis
Meet the authors of the Killing Sisters crime series and local combat sports drama Blood, Sweat and Tears

 

2.00 – 3.30pm.

Tiverton Library. Tickets: £15

WORKSHOP: So You Want To Be A Writer? Cathie Hartigan & Margaret James
How to give yourself the best chance of success. Have you entered competitions but got nowhere? Are those rejection letters pilling up? Read your opening paragraphs at this informal session and find out how to make your work stand out from the crowd. Come away with bags of hints and tips on how to find the best route to publication for you. Award winning writers themselves, Margaret James and Cathie Hartigan have many years of experience as creative writing teachers and competition judges. Apart from their own successful novels, they are co-authors of the #1Best Selling The Creative Writing Student’s Handbook.

4.30 – 6pm.

Elsie May’s Cafe, Phoenix Lane.

 £7.50 per child.

Elsie May’s Magical Teatime Stories: Family Event
Magical storytelling event aimed at under 10s and their families, older children welcome too. Come in your best party clothes for interactive stories, munch on high tea, make party hats, and experience magical surprises. Perhaps a tiger will come to tea!

High teas also available for adults by arrangement.
Book via facebook.com/elsiemaystiverton or call 01884 235935

7.00 – 8.00pm.

Tiverton Library. Tickets: £5

Crime Night: Rebecca Tope, L V Hay and James D Mortain
From Cosy crime in the Cotswolds, the suspense of an unsolved death in Brighton and strange goings on in North Devon our panel has something to offer all crime fiction buffs.

Saturday 24th June

All day

Brendon Books @ CreaTIV Hub, Fore Street.

New books available from the TivLitFest Book Shop, pick up titles from participating authors.

All day

Pop-up book swap @ CreaTIV Hub, Fore Street.

Pre-loved give a book, take a book event brought to you by CAG Devon Sustainable Villages.

 All day

The Oak Room Café

will be open all day for refreshments and book chat. Coffee and a cake anyone?

Meet at 10.30am.

Tiverton Library. Free: no ticket required.

Secret Story Trail: Family event
Start the trail with Amy Sparkes reading Ellie’s Magic Wellies, then visit some secret locations for more tales from Loreley Amiti and Olli Tooley. The trail ends with Exmoor Ponies writer Victoria Eveleigh at The Oak Room from 11.45am. Come in wellies or fancy dress. Free face painting from Alannah and craft session. NB. The end of the trail is not suitable for buggies. All children to be accompanied by an adult.

Start the trail with Amy Sparkes reading Ellie’s Magic Wellies, then visit some secret locations for more tales from Loreley Amiti and Olli Tooley

Loreley Amiti

11.00am-1.00pm.

Tiverton Library. Tickets: £15.

WORKSHOP: Writing for Children – Breaking Through with Amy Sparkes
A workshop with successful children’s author Amy Sparkes whose work has been published by Scholastic, Egmont and HarperCollins.

2.00-3.30pm.

Tiverton Library. Tickets: £3

Dan Metcalf – Code Breakers Workshop (age 7-11 years): Family Event
Meet author Dan Metcalf, listen to him read one of his books from the Lottie Lipton Adventures series and try your hand at code-breaking . Great fun for children aged 7-11 years.

2.00-3.00pm.

Tiverton Castle.

Tickets: £5 including refreshments

Historical Anecdotes and Research
Conversations with M J Colewood about the Chester Bentley medieval mysteries and local historian Douglas Rice about ‘The Siege of Tiverton Castle’. Sorry no wheelchair access inside the castle.

3.45pm (approx. 1 hour).

Meet at Tiverton Castle.

Free – no ticket required.

Guided History Walk – Tiverton Civic Society
Historical walking tour. Learn about Tiverton’s merchants and wool and textile heritage. The walk will end at The Oak Room where you will have the opportunity to buy refreshments.

3.30-5.00pm.

The Oak Room. Tickets: £15.

WORKSHOP: Exploring the young adult market with Alison Knight.
The market for books written for young adults (12-18 year-olds) is growing, thanks to the popularity of authors like JK Rowling, Bella Forrest and Anthony Horowitz.  As well as creating fantasy worlds that have caught the imagination of millions of teenagers and adults alike, a wide range of YA fiction also tackles life problems head on, providing emotional support and growth for young people.  Author Alison Knight will lead a workshop looking at YA stories, with writing exercises for teens and adults who are interested in writing for this market. This session is suitable for beginners and experienced writers and anyone who wants to know more about the growing YA book market.  Bring along your favourite YA book to add to the discussion! Sorry no wheelchair access at The Oak Room.

4.30 – 6.00pm.

Elsie May’s Cafe, Phoenix Lane. 

£7.50 per child

Elsie May’s Magical Teatime Stories: Family Event
Magical storytelling event aimed at under 10s and their families, older children welcome too. Come in your best party clothes for interactive stories, munch on high tea, make party hats, and experience magical surprises. Perhaps a tiger will come to tea!

High teas also available for adults by arrangement.
Book via facebook.com/elsiemaystiverton or call 01884 235935

Judi Spiers and Christopher Biggins

7.00 – 10.30pm.

The Oak Room.

Tickets £10 (includes canapes).

TivLitFest Party with Christopher Biggins, Judi Spiers & Lucy English
Showbiz legend Christopher Biggins in conversation with Judi Piers, award winning performance poet Lucy English, acoustic vibes from local music acts. Join us at this fabulous festival fundraiser and mingle with other festival supporters. Licensed bar. Over 16s only please. Sorry no wheelchair access.

Sunday 25th June

12.30 – 2.30pm.

Tiverton Town Hall. Tickets: £15

WORKSHOP: Who, what, when, where! Jenny Kane & Alison Knight
Experienced novelists Alison Knight and Jenny Kane will help you to shape four of the most vital elements for any story; be it long or short. Characters, situation, time period, and location.  For beginners and those who wish to finesse their writing technique.

2.45 – 4.00pm.

Tiverton Town Hall. Tickets: £5

Female Author Panel
Exeter Novel Prize winner Su Bristow, #1 Bestselling writer Cathie Hartigan, Jan Ellis and Alison Knight. Listen to this lively panel of women writers talk about their work and books. Refreshments available from Gin & Jam WI.

4.30 – 6.00pm.

Elsie May’s Cafe, Phoenix Lane.

£7.50 per child.

Elsie May’s Magical Teatime Stories: Family Event
Magical storytelling event aimed at under 10s and their families, older children welcome too. Come in your best party clothes for interactive stories, munch on high tea, make party hats, and experience magical surprises. Perhaps a tiger will come to tea!
High teas also available for adults by arrangement.
Book via facebook.com/elsiemaystiverton or call 01884 235935

 5.00 – 6.30pm.

Tiverton Town Hall. Tickets: £5.

Maeve Haran and Liz Fenwick in conversation with Judi Spiers
This event is sponsored by Five Cedars Health & Beauty.
International Bestseller Maeve Haran and author of sweeping Cornish sagas Liz Fenwick will be in conversation with Judi Spiers, discussing their new books An Italian Holiday and The Returning Tide. Refreshments will be available from Gin & Jam WI.

7.30-9.00pm.

Tiverton Rugby Club.

£9 in advance, £10 on the door.

Johnny Kingdom’s West Country Tales: Festival Finale
An evening with man of Exmoor Johnny Kingdom. Watch clips from his wildlife filming and listen to some West Country Tales from the very entertaining and much loved Johnny. You will also have to opportunity to buy his books, DVDs and prints and chat to the man himself! Licensed bar. Free Parking.

***

All further details are on the Tiv Lit website. www.tivertonlitfest.co.uk

You can order tickets online or you can buy tickets in person from Tiverton Library or Reapers Health Food shop on Bampton Street, Tiverton.

***

See you there!!

Jenny xx

Wedding Thinking: Romancing Robin Hood

As many of you will know, I spend the majority of my writing time in the corner of a café in a small town in Devon. The shop next door but one to the café is one of those establishments that seems to change hands at least once a year. Recently it opened as a wedding dress retailer. At the moment it has some beautiful pseudo-medieval dresses making up the window display- and they got me thinking about the wedding in my part modern/part medieval novel, Romancing Robin Hood.

That in turn got me thinking about my forthcoming medieval novel, The Winter Outlaw…but more about that later…

RRH- new 2015

Romancing Robin Hood is a contemporary romance is based on the life of Dr Grace Harper, a medieval history lecturer with a major Robin Hood obsession. So much so, that instead of writing a textbook on medieval life, Grace is secretly writing a novella about a fourteenth century girl called Mathilda, who gets mixed up with a real outlaw family of the day, the Folvilles. (Which you can also read within my novel!)

Blurb

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…

***

The problem with Grace, is that she is always so embroiled in her work and passion for outlaws, that real life is passing her by.

With the wedding of Grace’s best friend, Daisy, approaching fast, she can’t help wishing for some personal happiness herself…

summer wedding

Extract

…Daisy hadn’t grown up picturing herself floating down the aisle in an over-sequinned ivory frock, nor as a doting parent, looking after triplets and walking a black Labrador. So when, on an out-of-hours trip to the local vet’s surgery she’d met Marcus and discovered that love at first sight wasn’t a myth, it had knocked her for six.

She’d been on a late-night emergency dash to the surgery with an owl a neighbour had found injured in the road. Its wing had required a splint, and it was too big a job for only one pair of hands. Daisy had been more than a bit surprised when the locum vet had stirred some long-suppressed feeling of interest in her, and even more amazed when that feeling had been reciprocated.

It was all luck, sheer luck. Daisy had always believed that anyone meeting anybody was down to two people meeting at exactly the right place, at exactly the right time, while both feeling precisely the right amount of chemistry. The fact that any couples existed at all seemed to Daisy to be one of the greatest miracles of humanity.

She pictured Grace, tucked away in her mad little office only living in the twenty-first century on a part-time basis. Daisy had long since got used to the fact that her closest friend’s mind was more often than not placed firmly in the 1300s. Daisy wished Grace would finish her book. It had become such a part of her. Such an exclusive aim that nothing else seemed to matter very much. Even the job she used to love seemed to be a burden to her now, and Daisy sensed that Grace was beginning to resent the hours it took her away from her life’s work. Maybe if she could get her book over with – get it out of her system – then Grace would stop living in the wrong timeframe.

Daisy knew Grace appreciated that she never advised her to find a bloke, settle down, and live ‘happily ever after,’ and she was equally grateful Grace had never once suggested anything similar to her. Now she had Marcus, however, Daisy had begun to want the same contentment for her friend, and had to bite her tongue whenever they spoke on the phone; something that happened less and less these days.

Grace’s emails were getting shorter too. The long paragraphs detailing the woes of teaching students with an ever-decreasing intelligence had blunted down to, ‘You ok? I’m good. Writing sparse. See you soon. Bye G x’

The book. That in itself was a problem. Grace’s publishers and colleagues, Daisy knew, were expecting an academic tome. A textbook for future medievalists to ponder over in the university libraries of the world. And, in time, that was exactly what they were going to get, but not yet, for Grace had confided to Daisy that this wasn’t the only thing she was working on, and her textbook was coming a poor third place to work and the other book she couldn’t seem to stop herself from writing.

‘Why,’ Grace had forcefully expounded on their last meeting, ‘should I slog my guts out writing a book only a handful of bored students and obsessive freaks like myself will ever pick up, let alone read?’

As a result, Grace was writing a novel, ‘A semi-factual novel,’ she’d said, ‘a story which will tell any student what they need to know about the Folville family and their criminal activities – which bear a tremendous resemblance to the stories of a certain famous literary outlaw! – and hopefully promote interest in the subject for those who aren’t that into history without boring them to death.’

It sounded like a good idea to Daisy, but she also knew, as Grace did, that it was precisely the sort of book academics frowned upon, and she was worried about Grace’s determination to finish it. Daisy thought it would be more sensible to concentrate on one manuscript at a time, and get the dry epic that everyone was expecting out of the way first. Perhaps it would have been completed by now if Grace could focus on one project at a time, rather than it currently being a year in the preparation without a final result in sight. Daisy suspected Grace’s boss had no idea what she was really up to. After all, she was using the same lifetime of research for both manuscripts. She also had an underlying suspicion that subconsciously Grace didn’t want to finish either the textbook or the novel; that her friend was afraid to finish them. After all, what would she fill her hours with once they were done?

Daisy’s mobile began to play a tinny version of Nellie the Elephant. She hastily plopped a small black guinea pig, which she’d temporarily called Charcoal, into a run with his numerous friends, and fished her phone from her dungarees pocket.

‘Hi, Marcus.’

‘Hi honey, you OK?’

‘Just delivering the tribe to their outside quarters, then I’m off to face the horror that is dress shopping.’

Her future husband laughed, ‘You’ll be fine. You’re just a bit rusty, that’s all.’

‘Rusty! I haven’t owned a dress since I went to parties as a small child. Thirty-odd years ago!’

‘I don’t understand why you don’t go with Grace at the weekend. It would be easier together wouldn’t it?’

Daisy sighed, ‘I’d love to go with her, but I’ll never get her away from her work more than once this month, and I’ve yet to arrange a date for her to buy a bridesmaid outfit.’

‘Well, good luck, babe. I’m off to rob some bulls of their manhood.’

Daisy giggled, ‘Have fun. Oh, why did you call by the way?’

‘Just wanted to hear your voice, nothing else.’

‘Oh cute – ta.’

‘Idiot! Enjoy shopping.’

As she clicked her battered blue mobile shut and slid it back into her working clothes, Daisy thought of Grace again. Perhaps she should accidentally invite loads of single men to the wedding to tempt her friend with. The trouble was, unless they wore Lincoln Green, and carried a bow and quiver of arrows, Daisy very much doubted whether Grace would even notice they were there…

RH- RoS 2

***

As I said above- it isn’t just Romancing Robin Hood that came to mind when I saw the historically inspired wedding dresses in the shop window.

In a few weeks time I will finish the publisher’s edits for my second Jennifer Ash novel, The Winter Outlaw. This story continues from where we left the medieval mystery solver, Mathilda of Twyford (that Grace invented in Romancing Robin Hood), telling you what happens after Mathilda settles herself into life in the Folville family household. (Mathilda’s story is told without Grace Harper’s accompanying story in The Outlaw’s Ransom) There may – or may not- be a wedding….

Buy Links for Romancing Robin Hood – E-book and paperback

Amazon UK- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Romancing-Robin-Hood-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B00M4838S2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407428558&sr=8-1&keywords=romancing+robin+hood

Amazon.com- http://www.amazon.co.uk/Romancing-Robin-Hood-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B00M4838S2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1407428558&sr=8-1&keywords=romancing+robin+hood

***

Buy Links for The Outlaw’s Ransom – E-book only

Amazon.co.uk – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Outlaws-Ransom-Jennifer-Ash-ebook/dp/B01LZDKPQM/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1475660907&sr=1-1&keywords=The+Outlaw%27s+Ransom+Jennifer+Ash

Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/Outlaws-Ransom-Jennifer-Ash-ebook/dp/B01LZDKPQM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1475660990&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Outlaw%27s+Ransom+Jennifer+Ash

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Interview with Jennifer Macaire

I’m delighted to welcome Jennifer Macaire to my place today for coffee and chatter. Why not grab yourself a soothing beverage and some cake, and come and join us? Then you can read the fabulous book extract at the bottom of this page…

Hi Jenny, thank you for having me as a guest blogger! I’m here to talk about my upcoming book “The Road to Alexander”, the first in a series about a time traveller who is sent back to interview Alexander the Great. He mistakes her for Persephone, goddess of the dead, and kidnaps her, stranding her in his time.

What inspired you to write your book?

It started out as a short story – I had been writing and selling short stories to magazines, and I just had an idea of a sort of alternate history short story where Alexander the Great is never bitten by the mosquito that caused his fatal malaria. I wrote it from the viewpoint of a woman time-traveler/journalist, but when I came to the part where she slaps the mosquito away…I just kept going. In fact, I kept going for seven novels which became the Time for Alexander series. In the first book, The Road to Alexander, I even left the part about the mosquito in and you can catch it if you’re paying attention, although it’s no longer part of the plot! I ended up shifting everything around, because he dies in Babylon and I needed to introduce the time-traveling character at the beginning of his great adventure.

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

I used Alexander the Great as the hero, but I took a lot of liberties. In fact, I used my husband’s character to flesh out the great hero (please don’t tell my husband, he’s quite conceited enough as it is!) I had a lot of fun imagining how my husband would react to such-and-such situation, and I have to admit he did really well. It helps that he’s a high goal polo player, so a fantastic rider. He also loves to travel, is charismatic, and speaks several languages fluently. But I also tried to stay true to history’s Alexander, and so (unlike my husband) he has terrible flashes of temper, is bi-sexual, and is polygamous.

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

I researched extensively. I used several books on Alexander the Great, including “In the Footsteps of Alexander the Great”, but Michael Woods, which was produced by the BBC. It was extremely helpful, because the author literally took the path Alexander’s army took across Persia and Bactria, and so was indispensable for calculating how long it took to get from one place to another. More research was done on the army, how it moved, who was in it, and how Alexander fought his battles. Still more was for daily rituals, things like food, medicine, clothes, money, toothpaste, and religious ceremonies. I researched constantly – every time I had a question I’d either write to an expert or hit the library and search out books. I’m not big on Internet research, too hard to verify facts, but I did use the Internet to put myself in touch with authors and historians. Everyone was very helpful, and I learned a great deal about ancient Greece and Rome!

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

I am a plotter and use outlines. I’ve written a couple books just “going with the flow”, but they took forever to finish because I kept getting distracted.  I much prefer a chapter by chapter outline.

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

My husband, of course, and then it would be fun to be stranded with the Swiss family Robinson couple – because, did you ever see their tree-house in Disneyland? It’s amazing.

If I had to be stranded on an island, it would have to be with someone who could build a really luxurious shelter, find food, and be easy to get along with. My husband is fun to be with, but he can’t build a lean-to – he’s hopeless with a hammer and nails!

Links:

The Road to Alexander: https://authorjennifermacaire.wordpress.com/category/tme-for-alexander-series/

Tree house in Disneyland: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_xlsW6WQkYI

Author site: https://authorjennifermacaire.wordpress.com/

Blog: https://jennifermacaire.wordpress.com/

***

Bio: Jennifer Macaire lives in France with her husband, three children, & various dogs & horses. She loves cooking, eating French chocolate, growing herbs and flowering plants on her balcony, and playing golf. She grew up in upstate New York, Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. She graduated from St. Peter and Paul high school in St. Thomas and moved to NYC where she modelled for five years for Elite. She went to France and met her husband at the polo club. All that is true. But she mostly likes to make up stories.

You can see her books at her author site, and read her blog here.

***

Excerpt:

Alexander tilted his head. “There’s something so strange about you,” he said, and he sounded almost sad.

I looked at him and wished that I could tell him everything. But I knew that if I changed the course of history, the people at the Time-Travel Institute would activate their infernal machine and erase me from time, as easily as Alexander was taking out the small villages on his map with the poke of a stick. I would cease to be. I didn’t want that to happen.

Marrying Alexander might change a few things, but nothing radical. Alexander had had numerous wives; supposedly he married one woman in every city he conquered. No one knows for sure how many he married. Officially, there were Roxanne and Darius’s daughter. However, marriages at the time were not like our marriages. They weren’t written contracts. They were often, as he’d said, politics. His heirs would be the boys or girls he cared to claim. Alexander had been born to his father’s concubine.

I wasn’t worried about suddenly appearing in the history books. The written word was rare. I was in an aural society, where speaking was more important than writing; where people chose what they said with care. Pledges were made orally, and they held as much power as a document would centuries later. When someone asked a question, he listened carefully to the answer because survival could depend on what was said. Stories were told, but lies were few. People in this time picked up every nuance in speech. When they talked, it was to communicate. They would gather and discuss religion and philosophy, and the latest way to make purple dye. Everything interested them. They had come to a point in history where the world was changing and people were traveling more than ever. New ideas were coming from the four corners of the known world, and all ideas were considered. Everyone embraced everyone else’s notions. They were new, different, and amusing. It was a time of expansion and people were ready.

Alexander’s army had been carefully chosen. As a soldier, he wanted fighting men. However, as a keen politician, he wanted men who would impress people in other lands. He wanted his men to be educated, so he would often talk to them about the things he’d learned from Aristotle. And the men listened. Most were young men eager for travel and change, open-minded and curious. They remembered his words. Afterward, when they were left behind in a garrison town, either because they had been wounded or had been married to a local girl, they continued Alexander’s mission. They repeated everything he’d told him, and people listened and told their families and friends. So, much faster than you would expect, Greek civilization swept across Asia.

With Alexander’s army were doctors, biologists, priests, merchants, historians, minstrels, actors, whores, soldiers’ wives, children, and diplomats. And then there was myself.

I was an only child of elderly parents; a freak accident that my mother, well into menopause, could never explain. She found she was pregnant when it was too late to do anything about it, and she resigned herself to being a mother at an age when most women are grandmothers.

To say I was an embarrassment would be an understatement. My mother hardly dared tell her closest friends. I believe most people thought I was the cook’s daughter. When I was old enough to be toilet-trained, I was shipped off to boarding school. I came home for vacations and wandered around our huge, empty house alone. I had no friends in the neighborhood, and my schoolmates were never allowed to visit. Summers were the worst. Our house was the biggest one in the village, my parents were the richest people, and the other children hated me. My mother had our chauffeur drive me to the country club for my lessons every day. I had swimming lessons, golf lessons, riding lessons, and tennis lessons. At home, there were piano lessons, and I was tutored in French and Italian. Everywhere I went I was alone, except for my various tutors and our ancient chauffeur, whose only attempt at conversation was to ask me every day if “Mademoiselle was well”.

My father died of old age when I was ten. I dressed in black and paraded down the street behind the hearse to the cemetery. It was the first time I’d ever walked through the village. I walked behind the hearse, alone. My elderly mother rode in the car. I must have looked ridiculous, but the people lined up along the streets nodded sympathetically to me. I remember seeing them and wondered where the parade was. When I realized I was the parade, I was glad of the black veil hiding my face.

At the cemetery, my mother and I stood in front of a huge crowd of mourners. I didn’t cry. I had already learned to smother my feelings. The mourners walked back to the house where a huge banquet was set up on the lawn. It was mid-July, and the whole atmosphere was like a garden party. Except for the black clothes, you would have thought it was a fiesta.

After my father’s death, my mother took a bit more interest in me. It was the sort of interest one takes in a rough gemstone. She decided to polish me and put me in the best setting she could find. That’s how, when I was only sixteen years old, I found myself married to a French Baron.

Married. I had been standing still, thinking about all this, while Alexander watched me. He had stopped poking holes in the map and his eyes had their jaguar look.

I blushed. “I’m sorry, did you say something?”

He shook his head. “No, but some day you’ll tell me about it. You’re face is thawing, my Ice Queen. You are turning into a human being.”

***

Many thanks Jennifer- great interview and fabulous taster…

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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