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

Tag: Scotland

Blowing the Dust Off: Jenny Harper’s People we Love

It’s Day 8 of my ‘Blowing the Dust Off’ series. Today we are joined by the lovely Jenny Harper. She is introducing us to one of her Heartlands novels’, People we Love.

Go grab a cuppa, sit down, and enjoy…

 

Finding inspiration in the dark

A couple of years ago, I was sitting in a gig at the Edinburgh Festival. It was African music and dance (traditional and contemporary), and there was lots of bounce and rhythm and colour. I was enjoying myself immensely – but at the back of my mind, something was niggling me. I couldn’t get the right title for my forthcoming novel.

These things can be instant and easy … or they can drive you to insanity because nothing seems to work. I was at the latter end of the spectrum. I closed my eyes and tried to block out my worries and concentrate on the music. After all, it was terrific.

Then it happened.

‘The people we love,’ said the diminutive lead singer of the group, introducing the next song, ‘don’t always love us back.’

Bang! There it was. People We Love. Perfect. The fourth novel in my Heartlands series (set in East Lothian, near Edinburgh), is about a family grieving for a brother, or a son, who was killed in a road accident a year ago in mysterious circumstances. The heroine, Alexa Gordon, is an artist who put her career on hold to support her parents. Tom Gordon (her father) is staunch and buttoned-up, determined to keep his grief in check so that he can go on supporting his family (and inevitably suffering in the process), while her mother, Martha, has completely fallen apart. It’s only after an elderly lady with dementia climbs in through her kitchen window that Alexa begins the long journey back from the dark. There are other characters too – her ex lover Cameron Forrester, who appears back on the scene after an unexplained absence, and Patrick Mulgrew, a suave art dealer who lives near Alexa in the fictional town of Hailesbank, but who works in Edinburgh. Oh, and her best friend Molly Keir, who has ghosts and secrets in her own past.

I loved writing that book. If I say it’s about shoes, it’s not a lie, but don’t get the wrong idea! ‘Shoes tell stories,’ reads the invitation to the exhibition Alexa finally puts together, ‘stories of much-loved babies who can’t even walk, of the tottering steps of little children towards adulthood, of special events in our lives; of dances, and marriages, and mountain climbs and escapes.’

What am I talking about? Sorry – you’ll have to find out for yourself!

Anyway, the inspiration I had that night during the gig had natural consequences – when I decided to write about Molly’s story in my next novel, I used the title Mistakes We Make. It’s the first book in the Heartlands series that actually links to a previous one, other than through the setting. Alexa (Lexie) reappears, and her life has moved on considerably in the months since the end of People We Love, while Molly is still stuck in her hideaway, her problems unsolved. Inevitably, she has to face quite a few ups and downs and challenges, and deal with the mistakes she has made in the past, before she can set things to rights.

I adored the covers Accent Press designed for these two books. They have just the right feel of dreamy mysteriousness. I’m not sure if it was the titles that inspired them or my blurbs, but anyway, sometimes things come together in a very pleasing way – even when finding the path might be difficult in the first instance!

Buy them here

smarturl.it/People_We_Love

smarturl.it/Mistakes_We_Make

Bio

Jenny Harper lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, though she was born in India and grew up in England. She has been a non-fiction editor, a journalist and a businesswoman and has written a children’s novel and several books about Scotland, as well as five novels and a novella in The Heartlands series (set in Hailesbank), a novel set in Edinburgh, and a number of short stories.

Jenny writes contemporary women’s fiction with bite – complex characters facing serious issues. Face the Wind and Fly, about a woman wind farm engineer with a marriage in trouble and a controversial project to handle. Loving Susie, about a female politician with a complicated family history and at odds with the world. Maximum Exposure, in which a newspaper photographer with job to save has some growing up to do. People We Love is about an artist whose life is on hold following the tragic death of her brother and Mistakes We Make follows a high-flying events manager as she works out what is really important in her life. In a sixth title, Between Friends, three women have to work together to take revenge on a man from their past whose reappearance threatens to ruin them all.

Find Me Here

Website          http://jennyharperauthor.co.uk/

Blog                http://jennyharperauthor.co.uk/category/myblog/

Twitter            https://twitter.com/harper_jenny

Facebook       https://www.facebook.com/authorjennyharper

Google +        https://plus.google.com/+JennyHarperauthor/posts

Goodreads     https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/15692421-jenny-harper

Amazon Author Page      http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00HXIE2Q0

Pinterest        https://uk.pinterest.com/jennyharperhome/boards/

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Many thanks Jenny. Great blog.

Come back tomorrow to read all about Richard Gould’s work.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

 

 

 

 

Coffee at Christmas: Jenny Kane’s Christmas Collection is OUT NOW!

Today I’m in festive mood with news of the release of my festive triple bill

Jenny Kane’s Christmas Collection!

Comprising of my three previously published novella length sequels to my debut novel, Another Cup of Coffee (- Another Cup of Christmas, Christmas at the Cotswolds, Christmas at the Castle – ), Jenny Kane’s Christmas Collection is available in both e-book format – and will be available as a paperback very soon!

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Blurb for the Jenny Kane Christmas Collection-

There is something very special about Christmas…

Jenny Kane’s Christmas Collection combines all three seasonal shorts from Jenny’s best-selling Another Cup of … series in one festive anthology.

In ‘Another Cup of Christmas’, we return to Pickwicks Coffee House in London, the setting for Jenny’s bestselling novel Another Cup of Coffee. Together with old friends Kit, Amy, Scott and Peggy, we meet new Pickwicks waitress Megan, who’s in charge of organising a charity event for the local hospital…is romance as well as seasonal goodwill in the air?

‘Christmas in the Cotswolds’ sees Megan, now an established face at Pickwicks, travelling to the beautiful Cotswold countryside after an emergency call from her friend Izzie. Can Megan help Izzie pull off the perfect Christmas at her Arts and Crafts Centre – and save the business from disaster?

Kit Lambert, Pickwicks’ writer-in-residence, takes centre stage in ‘Christmas at the Castle’. Already nervous about appearing at her very first literary festival, in the grounds of a magnificent Scottish castle at Christmas time, Kit suddenly finds herself co-organising the whole thing – and trying to repair old friendships – with the deadline fast approaching…

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Each novella is deliberately short, so that you can fit a peaceful moments reading into your busy Christmas preparation schedule. Either Another Cup of Christmas, Christmas at the Cotswolds, or Christmas at the Castle, can be easily consumed in one delicious ginger and nutmeg flavoured mouthful at a time!

You can still buy each story as a separate e-book, but now you can buy them in one book as well-

Amazon UK- https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jenny-Kanes-Christmas-Collection-Short-ebook/dp/B01M0ICD7A/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1474386377&sr=8-2&keywords=jenny+kane%27s+christmas+collection

Amazon.com-  https://www.amazon.com/Jenny-Kanes-Christmas-Collection-Short-ebook/dp/B01M0ICD7A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474387008&sr=8-1&keywords=jenny+kane%27s+christmas+collection

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To celebrate the release of my Pickwick’s festive package, here’s the very beginning of Another Cup of Christmas

December 4th 2012

Having politely escaped her third ‘So what are you doing for Christmas?’ conversation of the day, Megan Johnson was retreating back to the counter when she spotted Pickwicks’ most regular customer sit up from her work and brush a stray red hair from her eyes.

Knowing it had been at least half an hour since Kit’s caffeine addiction had been attended to, the waitress swiped up the percolator jug and headed in her direction.

Without bothering to ask if it was required, Megan poured the steaming liquid with practised care, before taking advantage of the lull in Christmas shopping trade, and sitting down opposite her friend. ‘Going OK?’

Swivelling the laptop round to face Megan, Kit rubbed the back of her neck, ‘I’m sure I’ve missed something. What do you think?’

Pickwicks Festive Fundraiser!

Spoil Yourself With An Afternoon of Pickwicks’ Finest Festive Fare.

 In Aid of the Royal Free Hospital’s Spinal Ward.

Saturday 22nd December from 2pm.

Deluxe Buffet And Festive Fundraising Fun!

Tickets are ONLY £25 per person

Don’t miss out!

Book your place at Pickwicks Coffee Shop, Richmond – NOW!!

Megan scanned the poster. ‘Oh, that’s fabulous! I thought you were writing your latest novel.’

‘To tell you the truth, that’s exactly what I should be doing, but Peggy asked me to do some publicity for the fundraiser and I thought I’d better get on with it. Time seems to be dissolving. It’ll be the 22nd before we know it.’

‘I know what you mean.’ Megan started to collect the dishes left by a couple who’d just vacated a nearby table. ‘The next three weeks are going to fly by.’

‘Two and a half weeks!’

‘Oh, hell! Really?’

‘That’s why I want to get these done; otherwise everyone will be too booked up with their own celebrations to have time to come.’ Gesturing towards the kitchen, Kit asked, ‘How’s Scott doing out there, or shouldn’t I ask?’

Megan’s permanent smile widened further across her lightly freckled face. ‘He’s amazing. I have no idea how he does it. The temperature in that kitchen is tropical, and yet Scott’s still beaming that massive toothy grin of his. I’m seriously beginning to think he is physically unable to stop cooking! Surely he must have pre-prepared as much as he can for the fundraiser by now?’

Kit nodded. ‘He probably has, but Peggy is getting paranoid there won’t be enough food.’ Glancing around, checking that Megan wasn’t needed by a customer for a moment, Kit pointed to a fresh pile of abandoned cups. ‘If I clear those, will you have a proper read of the poster? I’m sure I’ve missed something obvious but I can’t put my finger on it?’

Kit was already standing up and taking a tray from Megan’s hands before the waitress said, ‘On one condition.’

‘Which is?’

‘I can check my emails? I’m supposed to be liaising with the hospital about this for Peggy, but we’ve been so busy over the last few days I haven’t had time to see if Nick has got back to me about how many of the ward staff are coming.’

‘Nick?’

Megan silently cursed her inability to prevent the involuntary warm pink blush that hit her pale cheeks, ‘Yeah, he’s the admin guy for the ward that cared for Scott after his accident.’

‘Nice, is he?’ Kit gently teased the petite blonde waitress, wondering, not for the first time, why someone as kind and pretty as Megan hadn’t been snapped up years ago.

‘I’ve never met him, but he seems friendly. Well, he does via email and over the phone at least.’

‘You’ve spoken to him then?’

‘There are loads of things to sort out.’ Megan, knowing that the crush she’d developed on Nick’s Irish accent was utterly ridiculous, turned her full attention to the poster on the screen before her…

***

jennykanes-christmas-collection-new

I hope that snippet has tempted you into taking a look at my coffee loving, friendship enhancing, romance brewing, mulled wine sipping, stories.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

PS – These Christmas tales come before the novel, Another Glass of Champagne in the Another Cup of series…

AGOC

Interview with Caroline Dunford

It’s interview time! Today I have the lovely Caroline Dunford dropping by for coffee and cake. So why don’t you take five minutes out of your day and join us for a cuppa?

coffee and cake

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

One of the risks of admitting you’re a writer at parties is you are often immediately asked where do you get your ideas? If you answer truthfully, that you get your ideas from your life experience, and your questioner isn’t yet too full of party cheer, then more often than not your questioner will sidle off looking nervous and muttering about having left the cat in the fridge, or something equally unlikely. They are, of course, terrified you will ‘put them in a book.’ There are those who offer themselves up as excellent characters for books or who have the best ideas for a book, and these are the ones writers tend to sidle away from.

I would like to put on record that I cannot write other people’s ideas. If it doesn’t come from the murky depths of my own subconscious then it simply doesn’t work for me. Like any writer I use my experiences and they are exactly that; they are how I experience my world. There is no way I could ever possibly write about anyone else accurately. Even if I chose to base a character on someone I knew, it would be based on how I saw that person and almost certainly not how they saw themselves.

As a writer I make up inner thoughts and motivation for my characters, but I have no ability to scan the mind of anyone else and collect this information. It would be a lot easier (though possibly libellous!) if I did. This means even if I did base a character on someone I know I can pretty much guarantee they would never recognise themselves. But I don’t. All my characters come from my thoughts, feelings and imagination. When I am writing they become like voices in my head. Even sometimes adding events and speeches to the story that I certainly had not planned on writing. They become alive to me. I know them so well because they have come from me.

All this is a little embarrassing to admit. I do have some pretty awful characters in my books and they must reflect a dark part of my psyche. I can only console myself with the thought that I also have likable and estimable characters in my stories too. These, hopefully, form the most influential part of my psyche in everyday life. Though I suspect Euphemia, my murder mystery heroine, is far braver than me. We are definitely equally stubborn. I only hope I am not as naïve as she can sometimes be – a naivety that invariably leads her into danger.

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

When I am writing a historical novel I research the period – the events, the clothing, the ideas of the era and everything else I can get my hands on. However, I am not an historian. My desire is to create a compelling story and I am more interested in building my characters – their loves, foibles, ideas, fears and ambitions – than anything else. For me the historical era is important because it not only frames these, but also informs them. I also need to know their world, in particular who the important people in their lives are and what they are like. It is often out of the interconnecting personalities that the stories take form.

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Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

In the Euphema Martins Mysteries I use the first person. Euphemia has a unique voice that uses slightly more archaic speech and is invariably full of slips (and even innuendos) that she is unaware of. It is enormous fun as a writer to create these. While Euphemia is saying one thing, the reader is understanding another – and this is often where the humour lies.

Writing in the third person, that is setting yourself up as a narrator outside the story, has the advantage that you can move more easily between events. In the Euphemia books the reader only ever experiences what she experiences. The biggest problem in writing as a narrator is that it is harder to get your audience to emote – they are just that one step removed from the action.

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

In a murder mystery I need to know who the murderer is and I also generally know the main turning points in the story. However, Euphemia and her friends are pretty well formed now after nine books, and they do have a tendency to hijack the plot. Of course, I only let them do this if I think they have come up with something more exciting than I have!

What is your writing regime?

There is only one thing you need to do to be a writer and that is write. It would be lovely to wait from the muse to spring into your mind, but in reality writing novels is a lot about plotting and planning, and agreeing with your editor what you are going to supply. Remember publicity for a book can be created before the book is finished! However, if the story is right then I find it will come alive at your fingertips. But this still means every morning sitting down at the laptop even when you would much rather be reading in bed. Sadly, I find my muse responds to coffee and perseverance rather than wishful thinking.

What excites you the most about your book?

Honestly? Finishing it! I love it when I have a complete story, fully edited and ready to go. I can feel proud of my hard work. No matter how much I love writing when I am creating a novel I am always terrified I won’t be able to complete it, so reaching the end is a huge relief. It’s sort of like sitting a very hard physics exam very time you write one. And I was never very good at physics. I have to work hard to get it right!

***

Bio

Caroline has been creating stories since primary school when she first learnt that creating fictional games could gain her friends! She has held a variety of jobs, but most notably journalist, where she learnt the art of making deadlines, and psychotherapist, where she gained a valuable insight into the human condition. She lives by the sea with her supportive (and long suffering) partner and two sons, both of whom think writing a book is no big deal.

Links

Caroline is @verdandiweaves on twitter

Her facebook fan page is Caroline Dunford fanpage

All her books are available from Amazon uk at http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_13?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=caroline+dunford&sprefix=Caroline+dunf%2Cstripbooks%2C170

And amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_13?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=caroline+dunford&sprefix=caroline+dunf%2Caps%2C255

A Death for a Cause

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Cause-Euphemia-Martins-Mysteries-ebook/dp/B015ZM4A2Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452035955&sr=1-1

Coming May 2016 A Death by Arson

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Arson-Euphemia-Martins-Mysteries/dp/1783757159/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452036026&sr=1-1&keywords=A+Death+by+arson+Caroline+dunford

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Highland Inheritance

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Highland-Inheritance-Caroline-Dunford-ebook/dp/B00M0FZMAG/ref=sr_1_15?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452036100&sr=1-15

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Playing for Love

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Playing-Love-Caroline-Dunford-ebook/dp/B011OG0L3O/ref=sr_1_16?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1452036100&sr=1-16

ALL OF THE ABOVE ALSO AVAILABLE DIRECT FROM

https://www.accentpress.co.uk/caroline-dunford

Young Adult Fantasy

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The Mapmaker’s Daughter

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mapmakers-Daughter-Caroline-Dunford-ebook/dp/B00J5JE346/ref=sr_1_12?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1452036321&sr=1-12

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Many thanks for such a great interview Caroline,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

 

 

Christmas at the Castle: Scottish romance, with coffee

Read as a stand alone story, or as a sequel to Another Cup of Coffee, Another Cup of Christmas and Christmas in the Cotswolds, Christmas at the Castle takes author Kit Lambert away from the comfort of Pickwicks Coffee Shop, and into the beautiful Deeside region of Scotland…

Christmas at the Castle

Christmas at the Castle is a seasonal treat from Jenny Kane, featuring much-loved characters from her bestselling novel Another Cup of Coffee.

When hotshot businesswoman Alice Warren is asked to organise a literary festival at beautiful Crathes Castle in Scotland, her ‘work mode’ persona means she can’t say no – even though the person asking is her ex, Cameron Hunter.

Alice broke Cameron’s heart and feels she owes him one – but her best friend Charlie isn’t going to like it. Charlie – aka famous author Erin Spence – is happy to help Alice with the festival…until she finds out that Cameron’s involved! Charlie suffered a bad case of unrequited love for Cameron, and she can’t bear the thought of seeing him again.

Caught between her own insecurities and loyalty to her friend, Charlie gets fellow author Kit Lambert to take her place. Agreeing to leave her London comfort zone – and her favourite corner in Pickwicks Café – Kit steps in. She quickly finds herself not just helping out, but hosting a major literary event, while also trying to play fairy godmother – a task which quickly gets very complicated indeed…

tartan christmas

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Here’s a tasty taster for you… Author Charlie, and her business woman friend Alice are in a café in Banchory, Scotland, discussing the literary festival they are trying to run. Charlie is convinced that Alice is holding out on her- but she doesn’t know why…

“…Charlie was convinced her friend was lying, but she wasn’t sure why. ‘Loads of Scottish towns have festivals. Come on, Alice, why did you choose here?’

‘It’s a beautiful place. More people should see it; although I grant you the festival is three miles away at the castle, so not everyone will come into the town itself.’

‘I can’t argue with the knock-out location argument,’ Charlie said, ‘but why really? Please don’t do the mysterious hot-shot businesswoman bit with me Alice..’

Not looking at her companion, Alice reached into her designer bag and pulled out a notebook and matching pen, and mumbled, ‘Cameron asked me to.’

Charlie’s cheeks instantly went red. ‘Cameron Hunter? He doesn’t live here anymore. I thought you guys were a thing of the past?’

‘We are. But I owe him. He asked me for help. He’s working up at Crathes Castle, running the estate management team. Tasked with bringing in new events to improve the out-of-season tourist figures.’

Speaking slowly, as if trying to get her head around a difficult sum, Charlie said, ‘Cameron Hunter is back? Cameron who treats me as though I’m invisible?’

Alice rolled her eyes. ‘He never thought you were invisible! Honestly, Charlie, I can’t believe you’re still going on about that. I thought you were paranoid at the time, but it was five years ago! And you wouldn’t want him now anyway, would you?’ She studied her friend more shrewdly. ‘Or would you?’

‘Not even if he was soaked in chocolate, but that is not the point.’ Charlie couldn’t believe Alice had put her in this position. ‘He made me feel small and worthless. I bet if you mentioned me by name to him he wouldn’t know who the hell you were talking about.’ Charlie closed her eyes for a second while she tried to calm the anger that was rapidly tightening in her chest. ‘We used to spend hours chatting while he waited around for you to beautify yourself, and yet the second you arrived he acted as though you two were the only people in the world.’

Alice raised her eyebrows. ‘Don’t be ridiculous, it was never like that. And it’s hardly his fault you got a crush on him.’ Shaking her head as if to dismiss a non-existent problem, like she would at work, Alice said, ‘The thing is, his job at Crathes is currently temporary. Cameron has to secure a profit-making event in the first four months of his job for it to become permanent.’

Crathes Castle

Crathes Castle

Charlie’s palms had gone as clammy as if it was the middle of summer. ‘But we’re holding the festival at the castle.’

‘That’s what I’m saying! Cameron couldn’t find anyone willing to run an event at such short notice so close to Christmas. Craft fairs have been done to death and it’s too cold for outdoor theatre. So he came to my company for ideas.’

‘The man whose heart you broke. The man you left without a word so you could go and be a big city success?’ Charlie couldn’t get her head straight. ‘Why didn’t you tell me he was here, or that it was his festival I was helping plan?’

Sensing that she might have pushed Charlie’s good nature too far, Alice said, ‘Because you’re my friend. You’re helping me, not Cameron. I need you, sweetie. My reputation is on the line. I promised I’d make this one hell of an event.’

Seeing the thunderous expression on the normally calm Charlie’s face, Alice realised she was close to losing the help of the person she’d been depending on most. ‘Please, Charlie! I’ve secured a top line-up of authors and no one wants to see them!’

Speaking through gritted teeth, Charlie said, ‘You mean I’ve secured you a top line-up of authors.’

‘Yes, well, same thing,’ Alice flipped open her notebook. ‘But despite that, this festival isn’t getting any local interest.’

Keeping quiet her thought that things not going to plan for once could do Alice a lot of good, Charlie had to agree that even though the posters displayed all over town proclaimed a line-up of bestselling authors that would be the envy of many established festivals, the situation was far from rosy.

There were eight main events, but not one ticket had been sold. The website for the festival was up and running, but no one had visited it yet. The Facebook and Twitter pages were in full working order, but the number of followers was lacklustre to say the least. People obviously had more important things to spend their money on so near to Christmas.

Forgetting her determination not to let her hair do its unruly impression of a haystack, Charlie ran a hand through its curls and let out a strangled cry of frustration as she got to her feet.

‘You’re right, you do need help.’ Charlie grabbed her bag and scarf. ‘I’m glad you’ve finally worked out you can’t always be a one-woman band. In a small town, you need lots of volunteers to run something like this. You also need to learn how to ask nicely for that help, rather than assuming one flutter of your eyelashes will do the trick.

‘Obviously, I won’t be helping any more. You knew that I wouldn’t be able to once I learned Cameron was involved, which is presumable why you didn’t tell me before.’ Without pausing, Charlie leant across the table and whispered, ‘You let me watch while you took what you wanted from Cameron, knowing I liked him more than you did, and then, once he’d fallen for you hook, line, and sinker, you disappeared and dumped him by text. I made a total fool of myself trying to comfort him. The relief I felt when he left was huge, and yet, fool that I am, I still missed seeing him around. The only good thing I ever got from Cameron was the plot to The Love-Blind Boy!’

Catching her breath, gratified by the shocked expression on Alice’s face, Charlie added, ‘As it happens, I don’t want this festival to fail. Too many hardworking authors are travelling a long way to come here.’ She scribbled two names onto a paper napkin. ‘These people might help, if you’re nice to them.’

Slamming the napkin onto the table, Charlie gathered her coat into her arms and walked away, leaving a stunned Alice staring after her…

***

If that has whetted your appetite, you can find out what happens next, and if there is a literary festival left, by the time Kit Lambert leaves London for Scotland, you can buy Christmas at the Castle from-

Amazon UK

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christmas-at-Castle-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B015J87DTI/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1442588560&sr=1-2&keywords=christmas+at+the+castle

Amazon US

http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-at-Castle-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B015J87DTI/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1442603723&sr=1-1&keywords=christmas+at+the+castle

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Happy reading,

Jenny xx

Guest Blog from Marie Laval: What’s in a name? Or how I found my ideas for THE DREAM CATCHER!

I’m delighted to welcome Marie Laval back to my blog today to give us some background information on her brand new novel, The Dream Catcher.

Over to you Marie…

Someone asked me recently for some advice on how best to start writing a novel.

‘I just don’t know what to do,’ she said. ‘How do you get your ideas? Do you just sit down and write or do you plan ahead? And what comes first, the plot or the characters?’

She looked at me expectantly, but I couldn’t really give her any answer. Not only were her questions very tricky, but in my case, every story has a different starting point. Sometimes my main source of inspiration is a character, and everything slots around him or her. Other times it’s a vague idea about the plot which comes to my mind first.

The Dreamcatcher FINAL

In the case of THE DREAM CATCHER (and THE DANCING FOR THE DEVIL Trilogy), however, I can answer without the trace of a doubt that what came first was the location. Cape Wrath. What a name! As soon as I saw it on the map of Scotland, I knew it had to be the location of my novel. I looked it up immediately and found beautiful photos of wild and angry seas, of forbidding cliffs and miles of deserted moorland and deserted beaches stretching under moody skies.

Yes, I thought, this is it!

capewrath

My hero was born at that very moment too. What kind of man would live there? I asked myself. What personality would he have, what would he look like, what would be his family background, his struggles, his dreams?

It didn’t take much research to find out that nobody actually lived there. It is too exposed, too wild, and has been used as a military firing zone for years. That didn’t deter me at all. I would build an old castle on the cliff there and set up a fishing village too! My hero would be Lord Bruce McGunn, the local laird, and he would be as dark, moody and troubled as the name Cape Wrath suggested. And never mind the fact that Cape Wrath doesn’t actually have anything to do with ‘anger’ and ‘rage’ like I first thought, but that it finds its origins in the Norse for hvarf, which means “turning point”, since Vikings are believed to have used the cape as a navigation point where they would turn their ships.

So there you are. I saw an intriguing name on a map. That’s how THE DREAM CATCHER came to be.

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THE DREAM CATCHER blurb

Can her love heal his haunted heart?

Cape Wrath, Scotland, November 1847.

Bruce McGunn is a man as brutal and unforgiving as his land in the far North of Scotland. Discharged from the army where he was known as the claymore devil, haunted by the spectres of his fallen comrades and convinced he is going mad, he is running out of time to save his estate from the machinations of Cameron McRae, heir to the McGunn’s ancestral enemies. When the clipper carrying McRae’s new bride is caught in a violent storm and docks at Wrath harbour, Bruce decides to revert to the old ways and hold the clipper and the woman to ransom. However, far from the spoilt heiress he expected, Rose is genuine, funny and vulnerable – a ray of sunshine in the long, harsh winter that has become his life.

But Rose is determined to escape Wrath and its proud master – the man she calls McGlum.

DREAM CATCHER is the first of the DANCING FOR THE DEVIL trilogy and is followed by BLUE BONNETS and SWORD DANCE. It is published by Áccent Press and is available on Amazon.

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Marie Laval author bio

Originally from Lyon in France, Marie has lived in Lancashire for the past few years. She has three children and teaches French in a large secondary school. When she isn’t busy looking after family, or marking books and planning lessons, she loves dreaming up romantic stories. THE DREAM CATCHER is her third historical romance and is published by Áccent Press. It is related to her two other historical romances, ANGEL HEART and THE LION’S EMBRACE, also published by Áccent. Marie also writes contemporary romance. A SPELL IN PROVENCE was released last January and is available from Áccent Press too…

You can find Marie here

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Marie-Laval/e/B00A03UV3I/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

and here

https://www.facebook.com/marielavalauthor/?fref=ts

https://twitter.com/MarieLaval1

***

Thanks ever so much for visiting today Marie,

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

 

OUT TODAY! Christmas at the Castle

OUT TODAY! CHRISTMAS AT THE CASTLE

The fourth in the Another Cup of Coffee series

Read as a stand alone story, or as a sequel to Another Cup of Coffee, Another Cup of Christmas and Christmas in the Cotswolds, Christmas at the Castle takes author Kit Lambert away from the comfort of Pickwicks Coffee Shop, and into the beautiful Deeside region of Scotland…

Christmas at the Castle

Christmas at the Castle is a seasonal treat from Jenny Kane, featuring much-loved characters from her bestselling novel Another Cup of Coffee.

When hotshot businesswoman Alice Warren is asked to organise a literary festival at beautiful Crathes Castle in Scotland, her ‘work mode’ persona means she can’t say no – even though the person asking is her ex, Cameron Hunter.

Alice broke Cameron’s heart and feels she owes him one – but her best friend Charlie isn’t going to like it. Charlie – aka famous author Erin Spence – is happy to help Alice with the festival…until she finds out that Cameron’s involved! Charlie suffered a bad case of unrequited love for Cameron, and she can’t bear the thought of seeing him again.

Caught between her own insecurities and loyalty to her friend, Charlie gets fellow author Kit Lambert to take her place. Agreeing to leave her London comfort zone – and her favourite corner in Pickwicks Café – Kit steps in. She quickly finds herself not just helping out, but hosting a major literary event, while also trying to play fairy godmother – a task which quickly gets very complicated indeed…

***

Here’s a tasty taster for you… Author Charlie, and her business woman friend Alice are in a café in Banchory, Scotland, discussing the literary festival they are trying to run. Charlie is convinced that Alice is holding out on her- but she doesn’t know why…

 

“…Charlie was convinced her friend was lying, but she wasn’t sure why. ‘Loads of Scottish towns have festivals. Come on, Alice, why did you choose here?’

‘It’s a beautiful place. More people should see it; although I grant you the festival is three miles away at the castle, so not everyone will come into the town itself.’

‘I can’t argue with the knock-out location argument,’ Charlie said, ‘but why really? Please don’t do the mysterious hot-shot businesswoman bit with me Alice..’

Not looking at her companion, Alice reached into her designer bag and pulled out a notebook and matching pen, and mumbled, ‘Cameron asked me to.’

Charlie’s cheeks instantly went red. ‘Cameron Hunter? He doesn’t live here anymore. I thought you guys were a thing of the past?’

‘We are. But I owe him. He asked me for help. He’s working up at Crathes Castle, running the estate management team. Tasked with bringing in new events to improve the out-of-season tourist figures.’

Speaking slowly, as if trying to get her head around a difficult sum, Charlie said, ‘Cameron Hunter is back? Cameron who treats me as though I’m invisible?’

Alice rolled her eyes. ‘He never thought you were invisible! Honestly, Charlie, I can’t believe you’re still going on about that. I thought you were paranoid at the time, but it was five years ago! And you wouldn’t want him now anyway, would you?’ She studied her friend more shrewdly. ‘Or would you?’

‘Not even if he was soaked in chocolate, but that is not the point.’ Charlie couldn’t believe Alice had put her in this position. ‘He made me feel small and worthless. I bet if you mentioned me by name to him he wouldn’t know who the hell you were talking about.’ Charlie closed her eyes for a second while she tried to calm the anger that was rapidly tightening in her chest. ‘We used to spend hours chatting while he waited around for you to beautify yourself, and yet the second you arrived he acted as though you two were the only people in the world.’

Alice raised her eyebrows. ‘Don’t be ridiculous, it was never like that. And it’s hardly his fault you got a crush on him.’ Shaking her head as if to dismiss a non-existent problem, like she would at work, Alice said, ‘The thing is, his job at Crathes is currently temporary. Cameron has to secure a profit-making event in the first four months of his job for it to become permanent.’

Crathes Castle

Crathes Castle

Charlie’s palms had gone as clammy as if it was the middle of summer. ‘But we’re holding the festival at the castle.’

‘That’s what I’m saying! Cameron couldn’t find anyone willing to run an event at such short notice so close to Christmas. Craft fairs have been done to death and it’s too cold for outdoor theatre. So he came to my company for ideas.’

‘The man whose heart you broke. The man you left without a word so you could go and be a big city success?’ Charlie couldn’t get her head straight. ‘Why didn’t you tell me he was here, or that it was his festival I was helping plan?’

Sensing that she might have pushed Charlie’s good nature too far, Alice said, ‘Because you’re my friend. You’re helping me, not Cameron. I need you, sweetie. My reputation is on the line. I promised I’d make this one hell of an event.’

Seeing the thunderous expression on the normally calm Charlie’s face, Alice realised she was close to losing the help of the person she’d been depending on most. ‘Please, Charlie! I’ve secured a top line-up of authors and no one wants to see them!’

Speaking through gritted teeth, Charlie said, ‘You mean I’ve secured you a top line-up of authors.’

‘Yes, well, same thing,’ Alice flipped open her notebook. ‘But despite that, this festival isn’t getting any local interest.’

Keeping quiet her thought that things not going to plan for once could do Alice a lot of good, Charlie had to agree that even though the posters displayed all over town proclaimed a line-up of bestselling authors that would be the envy of many established festivals, the situation was far from rosy.

There were eight main events, but not one ticket had been sold. The website for the festival was up and running, but no one had visited it yet. The Facebook and Twitter pages were in full working order, but the number of followers was lacklustre to say the least. People obviously had more important things to spend their money on so near to Christmas.

Forgetting her determination not to let her hair do its unruly impression of a haystack, Charlie ran a hand through its curls and let out a strangled cry of frustration as she got to her feet.

‘You’re right, you do need help.’ Charlie grabbed her bag and scarf. ‘I’m glad you’ve finally worked out you can’t always be a one-woman band. In a small town, you need lots of volunteers to run something like this. You also need to learn how to ask nicely for that help, rather than assuming one flutter of your eyelashes will do the trick.

‘Obviously, I won’t be helping any more. You knew that I wouldn’t be able to once I learned Cameron was involved, which is presumable why you didn’t tell me before.’ Without pausing, Charlie leant across the table and whispered, ‘You let me watch while you took what you wanted from Cameron, knowing I liked him more than you did, and then, once he’d fallen for you hook, line, and sinker, you disappeared and dumped him by text. I made a total fool of myself trying to comfort him. The relief I felt when he left was huge, and yet, fool that I am, I still missed seeing him around. The only good thing I ever got from Cameron was the plot to The Love-Blind Boy!’

Catching her breath, gratified by the shocked expression on Alice’s face, Charlie added, ‘As it happens, I don’t want this festival to fail. Too many hardworking authors are travelling a long way to come here.’ She scribbled two names onto a paper napkin. ‘These people might help, if you’re nice to them.’

Slamming the napkin onto the table, Charlie gathered her coat into her arms and walked away, leaving a stunned Alice staring after her…

***

If that has whetted your appetite, you can find out what happens next, and if there is a literary festival left, by the time Kit Lambert leaves London for Scotland, you can buy Christmas at the Castle from-

Amazon UK

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Christmas-at-Castle-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B015J87DTI/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1442588560&sr=1-2&keywords=christmas+at+the+castle

Amazon US

http://www.amazon.com/Christmas-at-Castle-Jenny-Kane-ebook/dp/B015J87DTI/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1442603723&sr=1-1&keywords=christmas+at+the+castle

***

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

An Interview with Caroline Dunford- The Euphemia Martins series

I’m welcoming the brilliant Caroline Dunford, author of Euphemia Martins Series, to my site today. Why not grab yourself a cuppa, and sit down for five minutes, and check out this great interview!

 
What inspired you to write your book?

The Euphemia Martins series is one of those ideas that arrived all in a rush but still continues to unfold. The stories are set in a time that I love but with which I also have a very personal connection.

The heart of my novels is inspired by a family legend. My great-grandmother came from a very wealthy background but, after a falling out with her father, was forced to make her own way in the world. Euphemia is forced by the death of her father, and her mother’s estrangement from her own father, an Earl, to also go into service.

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My great-grandmother had the choice of becoming a ‘fallen woman’ or going into service so she chose to enter service as a maid. However, a life of luxury had not prepared her mentally or physically for any kind of work. Her story led to her meeting a handsome tobacconist and a marriage that saw her eventually escape from service and go on to have thirteen children, all of whom survived to adulthood. She never reconciled with her family and stayed poor all her life, but I like to think she was happy. I also think she was an enormously brave woman, and while Euphemia has not (yet) escaped service by marriage, her central characteristics are her bravery, her wits, her innate sense of justice and, of course, the most potent weapon of any virtuous young woman, her scream.

The Euphemia Martins Mysteries are set between 1910 and 1918. It is a time I have long been fascinated by. So much happened and so much changed. Not least the breakdown of the class system and the rise of the Suffragettes. In the decade before WWI the majority of the British population had no idea what was about to happen but, behind the scenes, all the pieces were being lined up for war. During the war itself people at all levels were challenged in terrible ways and certainly the beginning of the end for most of the Great Houses of Britain.

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

No. My life, and the people I meet, inspire me, but generally the people I know are far too complex and far too odd for any reader to ever believe in them! Euphemia is the only person who has a figure of real world inspiration although, of course, I never met her.

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

I spend a lot of time visiting the Great Houses of Britain (sadly, as a visitor buying a ticket at the door rather than as a guest). I also investigate the major historical incidents and societal shifts that took place during Euphemia’s life. I want to keep my heroine rooted in events of the time. She is not always at the heart of things, but when major incidents, like the sinking of the Titanic, take place it has an effect on her. And then, of course, there is that sneaky spy Fitzroy who has made his way more and more into the novels and led to me investigating the many elements espionage of the time.

Which Point of View do you prefer to write in and why?

I write entirely from Euphemia’s point of view. She is caught between the worlds of upstairs and downstairs and so has a very unique perspective. While she is intelligent, Euphemia is also very naïve and this may mean the reader sees more in her narrative than she herself understands. This is hopefully intriguing, but also often comical. Euphemia is also uniquely placed to comment on what she sees, especially as her deceased father has gifted her with an innate and unshiftable sense of justice in world where the rich can overrule the legal system and the servants (and the poor in general) do not expect to receive justice. Euphemia is an outsider, an unusually modern voice for her time and someone who regularly challenges the rules, not to mention the people around her. However, just because she challenges, it does not always mean she is necessarily successful in her desire to bring justice.

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

I always know the murder mystery at the heart of the novel. I often make reference to historical events, which I have to plan how to weave into the novel. However, as the series develops the characters are taking on much more of a life of their own, and side plots (romance, conflicts, passions etc.) often develop as I am writing the stories. I have to keep the mystery on track, but at the same time allow for the organic development of my somewhat headstrong characters. Bertram, Euphemia, Rory and the slippery Fitzroy are all rather persistent and stubborn characters that push for more and more time in the limelight!

What is your writing regime?

When I am writing a book (which is most of the time) I aim for at least 2,500 words a day. I like to write earlier on in the day, so I know my main work for the day is accomplished. As well as writing I spend a fair amount of time on publicity and social media, as well as research. Writing is often the fun and easy part of my day.

Euphemia Martins Books available

Currently there are six Euphemia books available. In chronological order these are

A Death in the Family

A Death in the Highlands

A Death in the Asylum

A Death in the Wedding Party

A Death in the Pavilion

A Death in the Loch

(A Death for King and Country is will be published very shortly.)

All books are available in both ebook and print form.

Thank you Jenny, for the great interview. I love being able to reach out to my readers.

Links

http://www.accentpress.co.uk/Contributor/10221/Caroline-Dunford.html

https://www.facebook.com/CarolineDunford

Find me on twitter as @verdandiweaves

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Bio

After time spent as a journalist and a psychotherapist I became a full-time author and playwright in 2002. I write murder mysteries, contemporary Scottish romance and YA. My plays cover a variety of subjects from the life of Burke and Hare to what can happen to you if you are an over dedicated Elvis fan!

How we interact as human beings has been a life-long fascination for me, and even led me to do a second degree is psychology. I believe that stories are at the heart of the human condition. We need to tell them to help understand the world and others around us.

I live in a cottage by the sea with my partner, my two young sons and an awful lot of on-going building repairs. I love reading, cooking, chatting with friends and learning.

***

Many thanks for such fantastic interview answers Caroline.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

 

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