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

Tag: suspense

Opening Lines by Kelly Florentia: Her Secret

For this week’s Opening Lines I’m delighted to welcome Kelly Florentia, with the first 500 words from her romantic suspense novel, Her Secret.

Over to you Kelly…

Her Secret is the sequel to my second novel, No Way Back, and follows the ups and downs of girl-about-town, (well, woman-about-town, she’s forty-two), Audrey Fox. The book is set in affluent Muswell Hill, north London. It’s a romantic suspense novel with a thriller edge. It’s about the consequences of rushing into a marriage, secrets, lies, obsessions and….shoes! Although Her Secret is part of a series it can definitely be read as a stand-alone novel.

BLURB:

You know something.
You can’t share it.
You can’t discuss it.
You can’t stop thinking about it.

Audrey Fox never thought she’d tie the knot, especially after wasting eight years of her life with a man who couldn’t commit. But at the age of forty-two, fate throws her a lifeline and she finally has it all; gorgeous husband, thriving career, beautiful family and fabulous friends. Life couldn’t be better….until someone tells her a secret at a boozy dinner party; something that she wishes she could unhear; something that could wreck lives.
Burdened by the secret, Audrey’s perfect life begins to spiral out of control and the cracks begin to show. She longs to tell her husband but is fearful of the consequences; she’s desperate to discuss it with her friends, but her hands are tied. Then one morning, on impulse, Audrey does something drastic, but will she live to regret it? Because there’s no smoke without fire and everyone has secrets…don’t they?

FIRST 500 WORDS – HER SECRET

IF YOU COULD TURN BACK TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU DO DIFFERENTLY? I stare at the swirly white writing set against the backdrop of a sunset in wry amusement. It’s just the type of thing you’d expect from Vicky, right up her street. I heart my sister-in-law’s Instagram post, just to show my support, notching up her likes to thirty-six. She’ll love that. I don’t bother adding a comment to the twenty-four already listed. I’m not into dwelling on the past, not anymore. I’ve let go–moved on. I’m a new woman now with a new name.

I slide my thumb up lazily, a picture of a fluffy cat fills the screen followed by a bouquet of flowers, then a photo of my gorgeous nephews with George, my brother, looking awful, eyes half closed, mouth ajar. George will have a fit when he sees it. I laugh as I pinch the screen to zoom in, but as I gaze at their familiar faces on my iPhone, curiosity burns in my chest like a hot rod. I flick back to Vicky’s meme and click on ‘View all 24 comments.’ A quick peek at what her followers think won’t hurt, will it?

Comment 1: I’d stay on at school – Did that and came away with two A levels, not a great help in my job as a junior web designer but nice to have all the same.

Comment 2: I would have had my kids later in life – Of no interest.

I slide my thumb up the screen. Comment 3 (from someone called xx_timetraveller_x99): I’d travel more – I’m not that keen on flying, to be honest. The furthest I’ve travelled is the four and a half hour flight to Cyprus, and that was only to visit my parents, because, much too my protest, they retired there earlier this year. But no sooner had I waved them off at Heathrow Airport blubbing hysterically like a five-year-old child abandoned by her parents, than I was sipping a vodka and tonic on a British Airways flight to Larnaca. Pathetic, I know, for a grown, married woman. What can I say? I miss them terribly.

Comment 4: I’d have started using anti-wrinkle cream as soon as I could read! – I snort at that one. I suppose we’d all like to turn the clock back where youth is concerned. Although, thanks to my mum’s genes, I’m often told I look much younger than my forty-two years. I certainly feel it.

I read the next few comments with a smile on my face. Vicky’s got some amusing friends, no wonder she spends so much time on social media, despite my brother’s protests. But it’s the eighth comment that catches my attention. That makes me sit bolt upright in my seat.

Comment 8: I wouldn’t have rushed into marriage. The writing becomes a blur and I have to blink a few times, then as I glance up at the road I cry out in horror. “Watch out!” My mobile phone…..

***

Buy a copy from Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Her-Secret-page-turning-sequel-Back-ebook/dp/B07CK9JHM1/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&linkCode=sl1&tag=books0c3-21&linkId=0ef3dd3a9d2e1d3c82daf2ed05fb72fb

BIO:

Kelly Florentia was born and bred in north London, where she continues to live with her husband Joe. HER SECRET (2018) is her third novel and the sequel to NO WAY BACK (2017).

Kelly has always enjoyed writing and was a bit of a poet when she was younger. Before penning her debut The Magic Touch, relaunched and updated in 2019, she wrote short stories for women’s magazines. To Tell a Tale or Two… is a collection of her short tales. In January 2017, her keen interest in health and fitness led to the release of Smooth Operator – a collection of twenty of her favourite smoothie recipes.

As well as writing, Kelly enjoys reading, running, drinking coffee, scoffing cakes, watching TV dramas and spending way too much time on social media. She is currently working on her fourth novel.

Website: www.kellyflorentia.com

Twitter: @kellyflorentia

Facebook: @KellyFlorentiaAuthor

Instagram: @kellyflorentia

***

Many thanks for your opening lines, Kelly.

Happy reading everyone,

Jen xx

Opening Lines: Ward Zero by Linda Huber

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

Over to you Linda…

Writing Ward Zero… the dead ward

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

Here are my first five hundred words:

Prologue

Thursday, 20th July

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

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

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

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

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

Chapter One

Two weeks earlier: Tuesday, 4th July

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

***

Ward Zero blurb:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

***

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

See you next year!

Jenny x

Opening Lines: Simon Farrant’s Famously Ordinary

Opening Line’s blog day is upon us.

Today, Simon Farrant is joining me to share the first 500 words from his very first novella, Famously Ordinary.

Over to you Simon…

 

Hello! I’m Simon Farrant, and this is my submission for the great 500 words blog. I haven’t heard of this concept before and I think it is intriguing. I hope that you enjoy the excerpt!

My book is called Famously Ordinary about a man called James Dean!

Many years ago I met a young man called James Dean while I worked in a mobile phone shop. I wondered what it would be like to have the name of a famous person. Of course, being British, I didn’t ask him.

Fast forward to last year, and I started to write stories. The young man came back to mind; I wanted to write a horror short story for an anthology. As it happened, the anthology never came about. This was good news for me in an unexpected way because a year later I rejigged the story and this novella was born.

I hope that you enjoy it!

The Blurb:

‘James Dean is an ordinary man with a famous name. But when he sees his father die in a traumatic car crash, something in James’ subconscious snaps with lethal consequences.

Caught in the perfect storm of grief and anger, James has blood on his hands. With the famous name weighing heavily on his subconscious mind, will his conscious mind be able to save him from himself?‘

***

The First 500 words:

James Dean hated his name.

Several times a week he thought about why he didn’t have a regular name. James blamed his father; he more than likely took charge of naming him. Like most things in his parents’ relationship, his father liked to think he was ‘the man of the house’ and dominated all the decisions. He decided what companies to use for utilities, and everything else. Denise sometimes asked to be more involved, but she got nowhere.

Dean Dean, his father, was hung up on his name, but unlike his son, he tried to not let it show to the outside world. Being from an older generation, it wasn’t the done thing to let your emotions shine through. James survived school and college unscathed; youthful ignorance meant most of the kids didn’t connect to the movie star, and those who did thought having the same name as a famous person was cool. Still, he had a lot to be happy and content about. James had a nice job in the same warehouse his father worked in that paid well, a nice car he had chosen because it was what he wanted rather than just being what he was able to afford after scraping the money together to buy it, and a nice detached house with an integral garage. He could buy nice new clothes as and when he wanted, which he was grateful for because he didn’t like to wear the same clothes repeatedly. Nice. Such a small word, James thought, but damning by faint praise.

James believed his life was normal, like other successful people. Yet he aspired to be something more. His mind was always on fast forward, daydreaming. He was fascinated by the adverts on television for the RAF Reserves. That looked extraordinary; he just needed a push in that direction. He hoped Dean would dare him to apply and say he thought James wasn’t cut out for it just so he could prove him wrong.

To entertain himself when he saw someone on the street, he would often invent a story about them for a few minutes. These stories were detailed, and they came to life in his imagination when he saw them play out in his mind’s eye.

Facebook didn’t yet have a group for ‘Normal People with a Famous Name’. Maybe no one wanted to start one for fear of the unknown and the inevitable ribbings, or maybe because they just wanted to keep a low profile.  Perhaps they didn’t even pay their moniker any attention at all. Maybe James needed to see a psychiatrist to help him with his problems, but he was in denial that his mind was a swirling pit with unseen depths. In his daydream world, which he was sure was created by having the hated name, the characters he created were normal people with the curse of stupid famous names. James had always been bitter, even as a schoolboy. He hid behind a mask of fake smiles…

***

Buy Link:

Mybook.to/famouslyordinary

My social links:

Facebook.com/simonfarrantofficial

Twitter – @asfarrant

Email – simon@farrantfiction.com

Bio:

It is true, what they say; you never know where life is going to take you.

I’m lucky enough to have had a diverse experience of life thus far.
Back in 1975, yeah I’m ancient, I was born in Doncaster; a town in South Yorkshire, England. I’m proud of my Yorkshire roots.

Over the following few decades, I lived in various places. I went to university in Derby and gained a HND and a BA (Hons). Since then, I lived and worked in a few more places before finding the love of my life.
We moved in together, got married and had three kids. What an adventure; it started almost fifteen years ago. Since then, I am proud to have served as a Special Constable. I wanted to join up full time, but life had another plan. At the time, I was working for a major national supermarket as a HGV (large truck) driver, which I did for over a decade. I became ill, I think it was during 2011, but the illness never went away. Now I am disabled with various chronic illnesses, which resulted in my losing my job about four years ago.
I did wonder where life would take me next.
Mark Nye, a superb writer and a friend, asked for submissions for an anthology. I wrote a short story called Famously Ordinary. To my delight, Mark told me it was a good story. By then, I had caught the writing bug!
The anthology was never actually published, so I made it into this novella, which, I feel, is a much better story.

***

Many thanks Simon,

Good luck with your first publication.

Don’t forget to come back for Jane Risdon’s first 500 words next week.

Happy reading,

Jenny. xx

 

Opening Lines: What’s Mine by Fiona Morgan

It’s that time again!

This week’s ‘Opening Lines’ blog come from the lovely Fiona Morgan. Let’s dive into the first 500 words of What’s Mine.

Blurb

Bronagh seems to have it all; her own flat, a fantastic new job as a party planner and a blossoming romance with long-term friend Max.  Little does she know that some is plotting to take everything away from her.

Elaine, now out of work, having been replaced by Bronagh, is hell-bent on revenge.  She begins a campaign of terror, beginning with abusive text messages, which quickly escalates leading to devastating consequences.

Will Bronagh and Max’s relationship survive the turmoil that ensues? Will Elaine get the revenge she so desperately wants?

Set in Glasgow this is a powerful tale of love, hate, manipulation and control, which examines the wide-ranging consequences and damage inflicted by a callous act of revenge.

I started writing my first book Free to push myself to do something I had always wanted to do and I knew that if I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t get done, so I bought a pad of paper and went for it.  After finishing all the writing and editing, and Free was away being proofread, I felt there was something missing, I had lost friends, so I sat down and started again with What’s Mine.  I love writing, telling my stories and the fact that people not only read them, but are enjoying them is amazing and something I am always grateful for.

Here is the first 500 words of my new book ‘What’s Mine’, I hope you all enjoy it.

Bronagh walks from her job interview at House of Fun part planning fearing the worst, but hoping for the best. She feels she must have come across as a desperate crazy lady, and to a certain extent she is desperate. Desperate to get a start on her own wedding coordinating business.  She has decided that working as a party planner is the best way to gain experience and showcase her talents before breaking out on her own.  At twenty-five years old Bronagh is fed up working in retail shops and pubs, so after her best friend Max, noticed the job advert online and sent her the link, she knew it was time to get her plans, and hopefully her life, started.

Max has always been kind and thoughtful towards her, plus he is absolutely gorgeous.  Bronagh would love fir him to see her in a romantic way, but he never seems to, so she has resigned herself to not being his type and accepting the fact that she will only ever be his best friend, or at least she tries to accept it.

Max is broad shouldered with sandy short hair and crystal blue eyes. He is a good bit taller than her five feet five inches.  She guessed about six foot, and always seemed to have a tall blonde on his arm, which is nothing like her. Bronagh has auburn waves, that shine like copper in the sun, freckles dusting her nose and is a curvy size twelve. She loves her curves and has never wanted to be straight up and down.

She sighs as she makes her way back to her car, a green 1999 W plate Ford Fiesta that could be temperamental at best in the cold weather. She chastises herself, remembering that she needs to stop thinking about Max in a romantic way and stop worrying about the job interview. Trying to put everything out of her mind she mutters to herself, ‘Que Sera Sera’, what will be will be, and what will be should be found out in a few days, or so David and Erin (the married couple who own House of Fun party planners) had said.

The weather that day is clear and bright for a late February afternoon and Bronagh is g;ad to see the sun after a week of rain, so much so it manages to lift her mood and gives her something to smile about. Climbing into her car she turns the key in the Fiesta’s ignition, and after the second try and a few pumps of the accelerator the car roars to life.

***

Sitting in her bright red 64 plate Audi TT, Elaine glowers at the redheaded woman that has just left David and Erin’s house. That is, was her her job the redhead had just been interviewed for and she has no right getting it, unless, Elaine thinks, the redhead was part of the plan to get her fired all along! In Elaine’s opinion they had no…

***
Huge thank you Fiona- another fabulous opening sequence!
Come back next Thursday fro some opening lines from Jennifer Wilson.
Happy reading,
Jenny x

OUT NOW ON KINDLE: The Outlaws’ Ransom

The Outlaw’s Ransom is OUT NOW on KINDLE!!

Every single book I am lucky enough to have published means a lot to me. Writers talk about ‘putting something of themselves’ into their work – and it’s true. For the months while we are writing a story, we live it- breathe it- sweat over it- and become part of it. This book however- which will become a series of 5 novels called The Folville Chronicles– has a special place in my heart.

For a start, it was inspired by my love of the stories of Robin Hood – but it isn’t about him. It’s about a family who took crime as their way of life in the Fourteenth Century- the Folvilles. The parallels between their real lives and the stories of Robin Hood have not gone unnoticed by historians- including myself. I studied the Folvilles in depth for five years back in the 1990’s- and I knew then that they had a story worth telling.

Writing a novel about the Folville brothers was only a distant dream back then. I had never written anything other than essays and research papers- 24 years later things are rather different… I now have one or two novels under my belt. It wasn’t until I wrote Romancing Robin Hood however, that I felt brave enough to have a go at writing a medieval crime series. Something I was encouraged in by the good folk I met at the last Hooded Man Event in 2016 (A conference/event for Robin of Sherwood fans), where I was selling my earlier novels.

Here’s the blurb…

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

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

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

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

Those of you who have read Romancing Robin Hood, will already recognise The Outlaw’s Ransom. It is the same tale of Mathilda of Twyford that appears within my Jenny Kane novel. However- it has been expanded slightly, with more history added in. The story I must stress- IS THE SAME. If you want a new Mathilda story you will not have to wait long- Book Two of The Folville Chronicles- The Winter Outlaw– will be out next month.

***

Here is that all important KINDLE buy link-

The Outlaw’s Ransom will also be out in paperback very soon.

Happy reading,

Jen xx

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