Jenny Kane & Jennifer Ash

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

Tag: thriller Page 1 of 2

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: Dark Magic by Tom Williams

This week’s Opening Lines is just perfect for Halloween.
Please welcome Tom Williams, with the first 500 words of his latest novella, Dark Magic.
Over to you Tom…
Here’s a Halloween treat – the first 500 words of my novella, Dark Magic. It’s a big change from the historical fiction I usually write. I’m not sure quite how to describe it. It’s part thriller, part supernatural horror story (don’t worry, it’s not scary), and part (I hope) comedy. It grew out of an evening spent with a bunch of magicians and a few drinks and it just sort of grew by itself. It’s being published today, as Halloween seems a particularly appropriate launch date. I hope you love it.
Blurb
Two magic shows: the Maestros of Magic touring the country, playing provincial theatres; the Carnival of Conjurors successful in the West End. When the Maestros learn that the Conjurors are using real magic – Black Magic – to do their tricks they decide that they must use their own, distinctly unmagical, stage skills to stop them. Soon people are dying on stage – but can the Maestros really beat a team that has the devil on their side?
FIRST 500 WORDS
“Baby’s blood?”

“That’s what it says. Mix in baby’s blood and use that to mark the pentagram.”

There were six of them, and Claudia looked from face to face waiting for someone to say that this was a ridiculous idea. She could, she supposed, have said it herself, but it was not as if anybody would have listened. Nobody ever listens to the magician’s beautiful assistant.

In fairness, they didn’t exactly rush to agree with the plan either. When Jerry spoke, he had the decency to sound embarrassed.

“Does it have to be a human baby?”

Jerry’s role in their conjuring show was to do the tricks that appealed mainly to children. It brought in family audiences, but the other magicians secretly – or, to be honest, not that secretly – despised him. Still, Claudia thought that one or two might have taken his side here, but Daniel didn’t allow time for any of them to join Jerry in questioning his plan.

“It’s true that it doesn’t specify human.” Daniel smiled. It was an unconvincing smile and Claudia thought he did it mainly to show off his teeth. They were quite startlingly white, though marred, in her opinion, by rather over-developed canines. “But human seems fairly clear from the context.”

“Well, could we try it with something else first?”

Daniel’s smile vanished. It was as if someone had flipped a switch. Where there had been a big white smile, all you noticed now was a very square jaw and full, but rather sulky, lips. And, if you raised your eyes to his, something about his irises that made you look away again very quickly.

“It’s hardly as if the other ingredients were easily come by. We don’t want to mess it up and have to do it again.”

They were quiet at that. Claudia had the impression that they were all thinking of different things. She reckoned they would say the worst was the virgin’s tears. Despite all the tired old jokes, finding a virgin had been the easy bit. It was keeping her crying for long enough to collect a vial of tears that had been wearing on their nerves.

After a pause, long enough for all of them to remember details they would rather have forgotten, Daniel spoke again.

“Baby’s blood, then.”

There was an uncomfortable nodding of heads.

“How much blood are we talking about?” That was Tor – almost certainly not his real name but there was something about the way he looked at you if you questioned him which discouraged you from asking twice. He was an illusionist, constantly fretting about the mechanical details of his act. “And what about clotting? Are we going to add an anti-clotting agent?” Claudia remembered an illusion that involved an arm being cut off. Tor had been dissatisfied with the stage blood most magicians used and had experimented with various concoctions of his own. Claudia had never enquired as to what they were, but one had clotted and spoiled the act and…

***

Links
Bio
TOM WILLIAMS has published six books of historical fiction but this is his first contemporary story and his first novella (33,000 words). He has spent far too much time hanging round with magicians.

***
Many thanks Tom.
Happy reading everyone,
Jenny x

Where Do My Characters Come From? by Jane Fenwick

Today I’m delighted to welcome Jane Fenwick to my site as part of her ‘Never the Twain‘ blog tour.

Over to you Jane…

Where Do My Characters Come From? by Jane Fenwick @jane_fenwick60 #neverthetwain #historicalcrimenovels #romance #victorianwhitby

I love people watching. I also love ear wigging! Put the two together and you can see how some, but not all of my characters are born. The rest I would say come from my imagination. Imaginations need feeding of course and that means I read and watch TV and films – a lot. I also daydream.

I always carry a note book about with me. (Not just any old note book however they have to be just right.)

If I’m on a train, in a bar or a coffee shop, in the queue at the supermarket – anywhere really, and I hear a particularly good conversation I jot down any interesting tid bits I overhear. I have a terrible memory so I need to jot it down straight away otherwise by the time I get home its either gone out of my head or I’ve lost the gist of it. Sometimes I hear a phrase or a single word which sparks a thought. Sometimes it is the tone of the whole conversation. Often it is a funny colloquialism or a slang term pertinent to a particular part of the country. Always be careful what you say within earshot of an author – it might end up in a book.

***

I’m a Yorkshire lass so hopefully any Yorkshire in my books comes across as authentic so that the character feels real. When I go to Northumberland for research I make notes about the accent and intonations as the accent is less familiar to me. These accents then help build the characters.

What my characters do as well as say is just as important. Watching body language, a person’s stance or a particular “tic” or gesture someone might have either consciously or unconsciously can also add realism to a character. An action can show you how a character feels without me having to tell the reader ‘she is anxious’.

One aspect of characterisation I struggle with is names. A name can mean different things to different people and getting the name right can influence the character in a big way. Also as an ex teacher I have taught a lot of “names”. I’d never have a romantic character called Wayne. Don’t ask! Add to this that obviously you cannot have a “Kylie” or a “Charlene” in a Victorian novel for obvious reasons and it can become quite restrictive finding just the right name to convey the type of person I want my reader to meet. Names then are very subjective.

However, in Never the Twain I was lucky in that there was a limited choice for my two main characters. The identical twin girls in the story are born either side of midnight as the month turns so they are not only born on different days but different months. Therefore there were only two choices; April or May or May and June. I choose the former.

Particular names are prevalent in different centuries; in Georgian times there was a proliferation of ‘George’s’ and ‘Charlotte’s’ after the king and queen and in the Victorian era there were a lot of ‘Victoria’s’ and ‘Albert’s’ for the same reason. Names also are English, Scottish, Welsh or Irish or even regional or foreign. As Never the Twain is partly set in Scotland I wanted the names of the Scottish characters to reflect this, hence Alistair. But some names are more class driven such as Effie May and Edward. Sometimes a character undergoes a name change as I begin to develop the character and realise the name is not quite working. Again I have a note book and make a note of names I think of or hear which may come in useful. I recently bought a punnet of strawberries that were produced by Sean Figgis. Expect that name to crop up in a future book!

Real people are seldom black and white and so it is with characters. People and characters are seldom all good or all bad. In Never the Twain April and May are identical twins who share some character traits but have different personalities nonetheless. I wanted my characters to be well rounded and ‘real’ therefore they are flawed and contradictory on occasions.

It can be fun getting inside someone else’s head and literally putting words in their mouths. Seeing how characters think and react to circumstances is easy once you know your character inside and out. I constantly ask myself how each character would react in a situation and once that is established it is important that they stay true to themselves and don’t suddenly behaviour totally out of character. Yet sometimes we do act out of character under difficult, unfamiliar circumstances. It is a fine line to draw. However the reader will spot if someone suddenly behaves completely erratically unless there is a very good reason. April and May’s twin bond means they have a debt of loyalty to each other but when things get tough May’s dark side manifests itself to April’s detriment.

My characters are like my babies; I watch them grow and develop, change and adapt to their environment. They lead me in all sorts of directions and turn the plot on its head sometimes. As I am a ‘punster’ not a planner I find this exciting and I hope you do too when you read Never the Twain.

Never the Twain: A twin tale of jealousy and betrayal, love and murder.

The year is 1890. The port of Whitby is heaving with sailors and where there are sailors there are brothels doing a roaring trade. Beautiful identical twins April and May are in desperate straits. They have been abandoned by their actress mother and are about to have their virginity auctioned off to the highest bidder by a notorious brothel madam.

Their fate is hanging in the balance when Captain Edward Driscoll a handsome, wealthy shipping tycoon from Glasgow saves them before they can be deflowered.

But have they exchanged one form of slavery for another?

April, reluctantly swept up in her twin’s secrets and lies unwittingly becomes embroiled in a murderous conspiracy. Is May’s jealousy stronger than the twin bond which has always connected them?

Available from:
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2mbA6hp
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2ksAaZI

Never the Twain: A dark blend of Gothic romance and murder.

Jane Fenwick lives in the market town of Settle in Yorkshire, England. She studied education at Sheffield University gaining a B.Ed (Hons) in 1989 and going on to teach primary age range children. Jane decided to try her hand at penning a novel rather than writing school reports as she has always been an avid reader, especially enjoying historical and crime fiction. She decided to combine her love of both genres to write her first historical crime novel Never the Twain. Jane has always been a lover of antiques, particularly art nouveau and art deco ceramics and turned this hobby into a business opening an antiques and collectables shop in Settle. However her time as a dealer was short lived; she spent far too much time in the sale rooms buying items that ended up in her home rather than the shop! Animal welfare is a cause close to Jane’s heart and she has been vegetarian since the age of fourteen. For the last twenty years she has been trustee of an animal charity which rescues and rehomes cats, dogs and all manner of creatures looking for a forever home. Of course several of these have been “adopted” by Jane!

Jane has always loved the sea and although she lives in the Yorkshire Dales she is particularly drawn to the North East coast of Yorkshire and Northumberland. This coastline is where she gets her inspiration for the historical crime and romance novels she writes. She can imagine how the North East ports would have looked long ago with a forest of tall masted ships crammed together in the harbours, the bustling streets congested with sailors, whalers, chandlers and sail makers. These imaginings provide the backdrop and inspire her to create the central characters and themes of her novels. As she has always loved history she finds the research particularly satisfying.

When she isn’t walking on Sandsend beach with her dog Scout, a Patterdale “Terrorist” she is to be found in her favourite coffee shop gazing out to sea and dreaming up her next plot. Jane is currently writing a historical saga series again set on the North East coast beginning in 1765. The first two books are being edited at the moment; My Constant Lady and The Turning Tides. Look out for My Constant Lady in 2020.

Find her on Twitter , Instagram , Facebook , Pinterest or Web.

GIVEAWAY! – You can take part in the Never the Twain giveaway here- 

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/8b9ec5be191/?

 

***

Many thanks for visiting today Jane,

Happy reading everyone.

Jenny

Opening Lines by Lucy V. Hay: Do No Harm

Opening Lines time is upon us.

This week I’m delighted to welcome bestselling author, award winning blogger, writing guru, and owner/manager of the brilliant Bang2Write website, Lucy V. Hay to my place.

Lucy is sharing the first 500 words of debut dark crime/thriller, Do No Harm

BLURB

Till death do us part… After leaving her marriage to jealous, possessive oncologist Maxwell, Lily and her six-year-old son have a second chance at happiness with headteacher Sebastian. Kind but vulnerable, Sebastian is the polar opposite of Maxwell, and the perfect match for Lily. After a whirlwind romance, they marry, and that’s when things start to go wrong… Maxwell returns to the scene, determined to win back his family, and events soon spiral out of control. Lily and Sebastian find themselves not only fighting for their relationship, but also their lives… Chilling, dark and terrifying, Do No Harm is a taut psychological thriller and a study of obsession, from one of the most exciting new voices in crime fiction. ‘Well written, engrossing and brilliantly unique’ – Heat. ‘Prepare to be surprised’ – Closer. ‘A claustrophobic and complex read’ – Culture Fly. ‘Sharp, confident writing’ – Peter James. ‘Original, daring and emotionally truthful’ – Paul Burston.

FIRST 500 WORDS…

I’m early.

I regard the hotel in the wing mirror of my car. I see my own reflection  – my nostrils flaring as I take in the venue. If you’d listened to me, you could have had so much more than this. Modern build on an industrial estate? Ugh.

Behind me I can see the gawdy, fluorescent signs for a chain cinema, a bowling alley, various fast-food restaurants, one of which offers an ‘all you can eat’ buffet bonanza. It’s what the Staceys and Chads like to call an ‘entertainment park’, though I cannot for one second imagine what’s so entertaining about these places. Give me a low-key, low-lit restaurant

with a ludicrously expensive wine list any day.

Oh no, this is no good. If it had been up to me, I would have found you somewhere far more flash to celebrate your nuptials. But that ship has sailed. For now.

I might be down, as they say – but I’m not out.

A group of people appear behind my car. I watch their reflections. They’re in frocks and suits – two couples, the women tottering on high heels, holding on to their men’s elbows. They must be going to your wedding. Then behind them, a tired-looking family: the man is in a shirt and tie, an incongruous pink cloth over one shoulder. He carries a sleeping baby girl in a flowery dress with an overly large bow on the back. The woman wears a trouser suit, the jacket just a smidge too small across her bust. Two little boys in bow ties run ahead of her; she holds her arms out to them as if she’s shepherding geese.

A woman in a purple beautician’s tabard stops next to the wedding party. She smiles and laughs, beckoning them with her. She’s diminutive and young-looking, orange panstick caked on her pale skin. There will be a subterranean salon somewhere in the hotel’s depths. The smell of stale sweat will be masked by scented candles, vanilla or patchouli, but the tang

of human musk will persist. You can scrub the masseuse tables, the floors, the jacuzzi; you can launder the towels, spray liberal amounts of deodorant and air freshener, strip away our clothes, our pretensions. But it’s always there. Flesh – animal, predatory. Demanding domination, submission.

It’s what we all are, underneath it all.

I look at my watch. In just one and a half hours you will be married. I suppose I ought to have prepared myself for this day. I felt sure you would wander – as you claimed you needed to – then return, certain you could do no better. I guess I never thought you would leave me so finally, splashing about in your wake.

I’m such a fool.

***

BIO:

Lucy V Hay is an author of fiction and non-fiction. Publishing as LV Hay, Lucy’s debut crime novel, The Other Twin, is out now and is to be adapted by Agatha Raisin producers Free@Last TV. Her second crime novel, Do No Harm, was a finalist in the Dead Good Books Readers’ Awards 2019. Her next title is Never Have I Ever for Hodder Books, out this December.

***

Many thanks Lucy. Cracking opening lines, from a very clever story.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny

Opening Lines with P J Reed: Welcome to Witherleigh

Opening Lines time has arrived once more!

This week I’m delighted to welcome my friend and fellow author, P J Reed with the first 500 words from her brand new release,

Welcome to Witherleigh.

Over to you Pam…

I would like to thank Jenny Kane for inviting me onto her wonderful blog to write about my new novel ‘Welcome To Witherleigh.’

I am P.J. Reed, a multi-genre writer, from Devon. My background is in history and archaeology research which I like to use to add authentic flavours to my writing.  I have written several short horror stories, six poetry  collections, and one high fantasy novel. Most of my work is set in Devon, Exmoor, and Dartmoor and explores the darker side of country living. Welcome To Witherleigh is based on the little village of Witheridge, set on the outskirts of Exmoor. If you visit Witheridge after reading this book, you might even recognise some of the buildings described within its pages.

This book concerns a young man, Richard Radcliffe who has left the stresses of London under in order to start a new life for himself in Devon. He finds work as a church appointed playleader and looks forward to the local villagers and living life at a gentler pace. Unfortunately, as soon as he arrives in Witherleigh,he realises that something is very wrong with the village as he is pulled into an alley and warned that he will be next. He then sets out to solve the riddle of the village and to find out why the ghosts of Witherleigh still walk the streets.

This book is a paranormal, murder mystery with a dark vein of humour running through it.

The story appeared to me when one day Richard Radcliffe walked into my walk, sat down next to me, and told me about his adventures in Witherleigh.

First 500 words of Welcome To Witherleigh –

CHAPTER ONE

The car jolted unhappily through the mud-splattered lane. At least he hoped it was mud. Black and white cows peered knowingly at him through breaks in the overgrown hedge. That’s the last time I clean you until we get safely back to London, Richard thought grimly as he slowed to avoid a pair of suicidal pheasants. One stood in the road, frozen in fear, the other ran and disappeared into the hedgerows. He stopped the car and let the pheasant cross safely to rejoin its companion. He saluted the bird and watched as it ran into the lines of gnarled trees which flanked each side of the narrow road. The trees stooped over each side of the road. Their branches joined together above the middle of the lane, like skeletal brown arms twisting into each other, blocking out the late autumn sun. Richard stared at the crowding trees. There were melted faces in the lines of the bark. He shivered as a feeling of panic surged through his body.

Richard gripped the steering wheel. His knuckles whitened as electrical pulses ran up and down his spine. He swallowed and pinged the rubber band around his wrist. The sharp pain broke through his thoughts. The trees straightened, and their faces became lost in the creases of the bark. He twanged the band again. Important things had to be performed twice. Then he restarted the car and drove carefully past the sullen trees.

He had to be at the Witherleigh Day Centre by two o’clock. The ladies of the Anglican ministry were putting on a special cream tea and he could not be late.

The cluttered trees gave way to the rugged open fields of the North Devon wildlands. Undulating fields of dark green, broken by rows of hedges and the occasional windswept tree; dejected and alone amid a sea of grass.  This was a harsh land. Richard felt as if every mile nearer Witherleigh dragged him further backwards in time. He pinged the rubber band around the wrist twice. The change to a simpler life will be good.

‘It’s just what I needed,’ he whispered to himself.

He drove past a long wooden farm fence. A buzzard perched on a fence post sat so still it looked like a wooden carving. The bird flew away disturbed. Richard half-smiled.  He had never seen a bird of prey in flight and was captivated by the effortless majesty of its wings slow movement as it soared into the steel grey sky.

A four-wheel drive beeped loudly. Richard swerved back to his side of the lane, the old cars wheels squelching to a halt in the mud which ran in gulley’s along the side of the road. He let out a deep breath and waved an apology at the red-faced driver who shouted something inaudible as the Range Rover roared past him.

The little white pills were not good for his concentration levels. He shook his head. Perhaps down here he could be rid of them…

***

Welcome To Witherleigh is available to download from kindle on…

amazon.co.uk – https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07SVQJ6ZR/ref=rdr_ext_sb_ti_hist_1

amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07SVQJ6ZR/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb

***

Bio

P.J. Reed, writer of warlocks. Destroyer of worlds.

She is an outrageously eclectic writer. Reed lives in Devon with her two daughters, a rescue dog, and one feral cat called Sammy.

poetry by P.J. Reed

Flicker

Haiku Yellow

Haiku Sun

Haiku Gold

Haiku Ice

Haiku Nation

Website – https://pjreedwriting.wixsite.com/horror

Twitter – https://twitter.com/PJReed_author

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/p.j.reedauthor

***

Many thanks for sharing your opening lines with us today, Pam.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

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: Here Casts No Shadow by Bronwen Griffiths

This week’s Opening Lines blog comes from Bronwen Griffiths. I’m delighted to be able to introduce the first 500 words (exactly) from

Here Casts No Shadow.

 

Here Casts No Shadow is a novel about war and conflict – told from a woman’s perspective.

I have no direct experience of war but I was on holiday in the southern Libyan Desert in February 2011 when the uprising against Gaddafi began. After a hair-raising time driving through military check-points, our small group was air-lifted out of the country by the Italian military. The consequences of that experience were life-changing, and fed into my first novel.

Here Casts No Shadow is set in a fictitious county also beset by war and ruled by a ruthless dictator. The inspiration for the book has come, in large part, from my campaigning work for Syria, and with Syrian refugees. But for me, what’s most important is that it’s the story of one woman and her fight for justice – a woman who must also face her own demons before she can move forward in life.

 

First 500 words

I’m in my apartment overlooking the square, watching the snow fall. The snow is like stars, you once said. Not stars, but birds, I argued; tiny flying birds.

You were so impatient that day. Do you remember? You kept asking me when the snow would come. ‘Will it be like a fairy tale? How many days will it snow?’ You wouldn’t stop. You were like that. A chatterer. Always asking questions. I never imagined a time when you wouldn’t talk at all.

A Saturday. Early January. Kaz in bed with a cold. Baby Moe yelling his head off downstairs in the kitchen. Ma banging pots. Pa out in the garden shed doing whatever he did out there. You were stood on tiptoes, at the window, your nose pressed against the glass. I was sprawled on the rug, pen in hand, planning a house –a house for Tam and me to live in overlooking the lake where Grandma lived. I so loved Tam. You just can’t imagine it, Pearl, how he dizzied me, how my heart danced every time I set eyes on him. I still love him, though he is long gone now. He kissed me once, in the summer before everything turned. It was one of those hot summer days, the likes of which we never have here; the soles of my shoes stuck to the asphalt, the air shimmered like gossamer. Tam ran down the university steps, where I waited for Kaz. He ran down those steps, flung his arms around my shoulders and kissed me smack on the lips. The kiss didn’t mean much, I knew that. I was only Kaz’s sister, someone Tam liked to flirt with. But I kept hold of the hope his kiss brought me. Maybe one day, I thought, maybe one day life could bring another possibility like that.

You never knew how I felt about Tam. You were too young. You still don’t know. There’s so much you don’t know. So much I should tell you.

 

We’d been out in the garden making snow angels and throwing snowballs, and dancing about like dervishes. Even Kaz had come out to join us, in spite of his cold. But Pearl slipped and got wet; she cried and said she was turning into ice, so Kaz took her back into the house. I was going to follow but then I saw a tall figure at our back gate. My heart jumped – just like the fish Kaz and I had seen leaping for insects by the old stone bridge – because it was Tam.

‘Hi, Mira.’ Tam was breathing fast, as if he’d been running. ‘Is Kaz home?’

‘He’s gone inside with Pearl.’ Don’t you want to talk to me?

Tam was dressed as always: in a long black coat and steel-tipped army boots without laces. He wore these clothes winter and summer. His one concession to the weather was a striped woollen hat: the dark, damp tendrils of his hair curled out from underneath it…

***

Here Casts No Shadow is available from all good bookshops as well via…

Bronwen Griffiths is also the author of A Bird in the House, (2014) and Not Here, Not Us – short stories of Syria, (2016). Her flash fiction and short stories have been widely published. She lives on the Sussex/Kent border.

www.bronwengriff.co.uk

https://twitter.com/bronwengwriter

***

Many thanks for your great opening lines Bronwen.

See you next week for some more opening lines.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

 

 

Opening Lines: STORM LOG-0505 by James D Mortain

This week’s Opening Lines come from fellow Devon based author, James D Mortain. It’s a pleasure to welcome James back to my blog to share the first 500 words from the very start of his acclaimed trilogy.

I am very grateful to have been invited back onto Jenny’s blog, this time with ‘Opening Lines’ to the first instalment of the Detective Deans Trilogy, STORM LOG-0505.

Here are the first 500 words…

Prologue

What made someone the ideal victim? he speculated.

Were they created that way, right from the start? Was it a case of nature or nurture? On the other hand, was it all down to luck, perhaps? Maybe they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. He chuckled. There was no such thing as the wrong time. Everyone had a time, regardless of how it may play out.

He stared down intently at the washed-out family snap as if it was the first time he had seen it. The truth was, he had studied this photo many times before and with equal fascination.

He was alone. There was no noise from the TV or radio, only the sound of his own trancelike, metronomic breathing, eyes refusing to deviate from the photo as he gazed down at Mum, Dad and himself.

To anyone else it would be a classic family photograph: two children, a boy of about six and a girl of about eight, wearing woolly hats and scarves, frolicking in the snow with their parents. For him, though, it was more. It had always meant much more.

Back, then, to the question. He smiled, and closed the two halves of the black faux-leather photo album, carefully placed it into the box and slotted it in the correct position, the right way around, between number 3 and number 5.

He snorted joss stick-scented air through his flared nostrils and cast his mind back. The first was easy – he had been left with little alternative. The second fell somewhere between curiosity and education. And what of the next? He had been counting down her final days since they first met. She was… ideal, but she was not going to be alone. The one after her, he would leave to fate, and for the sporting hell of it.

 Chapter 1

 Carl considered himself fortunate to be with Amy. She was widely regarded as the university babe, especially amongst his mates. He would just smile, go along with what they would say, join in the banter so as not to lose face. If only they knew.

She was stunning, and fun – too stunning, and much too fun. He wished she were less popular, especially with the blokes. He despised the heads that would turn, the eyes that would undress her, the endless attempts to lure her. He carried a snail’s shell of doubt and suspicion. They had been together almost a year, and each month, each week and each day was increasingly destroying who he used to be. Who he should be.

His last conversation with Amy was on Friday afternoon in the university’s east car park.

‘So, you’re off to Devon again tonight,’ he said glumly.

She frowned. ‘You know I am.’

‘I was just wondering if something might have changed.’

‘No. But you know I’m back on Monday. We can meet up at lunchtime, if you like?’

Carl looked away.

‘God, what’s wrong with you?’ Amy nipped.

Carl…

 

BLURB

Detective Andrew Deans’ life was unremarkable, until the day he was handed his latest case.

Now, a psychic medium challenges everything Deans has been trained to believe, as the search for a missing student becomes the hunt for a savage murderer.

Forced to leave his wife at a time when she needs him most, Deans travels to a small coastal town where he is exposed to a supernatural dimension he could never have imagined existed.

Closing in on a unique killer, Deans must confront an even greater challenge – he can hear the voice of his dead victim.

Facing his own ‘spiritual awakening’, Deans’ life is in turmoil, but destiny has dealt its hand and Deans has placed those he loves most in ultimate peril.

***

STORM LOG-0505 is available in paperback (ISBN: 978-0993568701), on Amazon Kindle, and free on Kindle Unlimited. Click the links or visit my website to find out more. Amazon UK  Amazon US

Book 2 in the trilogy, DEAD BY DESIGN, is also available in paperback, on Amazon Kindle and free on Kindle Unlimited, and the final part of the Detective Deans Trilogy, THE BONE HILL, is due for release early 2019.

BIO

A former CID Detective with the Avon and Somerset Constabulary, writing came as a something of a spontaneous act, when in 2012, following a chance encounter in a Bath bar with SAS veteran, TV personality and author, Chris Ryan, the spark of creativity ignited. I wanted to create a main protagonist in Detective ‘Deano’ Deans whose strengths and vulnerabilities were in equal measure, but frequently at odds. Using real-life experience within a busy CID department to give gripping authenticity, the Detective Deans Trilogy is an atmospheric, powerful, riveting and often emotional story of life, love, loss, and a touch of the miraculous.

With Chris Ryan’s words, “write what you know” ringing in my ears, STORM LOG-0505 is a true-to-life crime thriller with a pinch of paranormal spice, set between the city of Bath and the North Devon coastline.

Visit my social media pages and check out my website for the latest news and a chance to read all future books for free!

Website: jamesdmortain.com

Email: jdm@manverspublishing.com

Twitter: @JamesDMortain

Facebook: James D Mortain – Books

Instagram: jamesmortain

Thank you, Jenny xx

Thanks for a great blog James.

Come back next week to read 500 words from Bronwen Griffiths

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Opening Lines: Life…; and Other Dreams by Richard Dee

I’m delighted to welcome friend and fellow member of the Exeter Author Association, Richard Dee, to my place today for this week’s ‘Opening Lines.’

Let’s get cosy, sit back and enjoy the first 500 words (exactly), of some fabulous fantasy fiction…

 

Hi everyone, my thanks to Jenny for the opportunity to post here. I’m Richard Dee and I mainly write Science Fiction adventures, although I also dabble in Cosy Crime and Steampunk. Up to now, I’ve kept to straightforward tales of adventure, corporate misdeeds and conspiracy. With the odd murder thrown in.

Life and Other Dreams, the story I’m sharing with you today is a hybrid, a dual-time thriller. It started with a dream I had, where I found myself living in a slightly different version of my real life. That gave me the idea for Rick and Dan, two men separated by half a galaxy and six-hundred years.

Or are they?

Rick lives here on Earth, now, with Cath. His life is boring, writing adverts for cat food and exotic holidays. When he’s asleep, he dreams vividly. In his dreams, he lives as Dan, spending his time with his wife Vanessa. They live in the future, exploring another planet, searching for valuable minerals on an alien paradise. However, Dan is oblivious to Rick, he has no dreams about Ricks life, as far as he is concerned, he lives on Ecias and has no alter ego.

When the two worlds start to overlap, Rick starts to question what is real. Events in his waking and sleeping lives are mirrored, similar people inhabit both and coincidences mount up.

Then disaster strikes in each world at the same time. In his dreams, Dan is accused of a crime he didn’t commit. Meanwhile, after one coincidence too many, Rick’s wife thinks that his dreams are hiding an affair and leaves him.

Is Rick going crazy, or can he be living in two places, two times, at once? And which one of them is the reality? Will one life carry on when the other is on hold?

The first 500 words are set on the planet Ecias, six hundred years from now…

“Whoa! Vanessa, what are you trying to do? What’s the rush?”

The words were torn out of my mouth as we raced over the bumpy road, the open top of the buggy meant that you had to shout, especially when Vanessa was driving. She approached driving like she approached everything else, flat out and head on, daring it to get in her way or spoil her fun.

I gripped the armrests firmly and felt the harness dig into my shoulders every time we bounced, the suspension was doing its best, but at this speed it was fighting a losing battle with the rough surface. The road had been cut through the forest; the uneven sections filled in and levelled with rows of hardwood logs, held in place with a hard-packed mixture of earth and stones. The road swerved around the bigger trees and clung to the hillside. It was the sort of journey that you could sell to adventure-seeking tourists. At best, it was only just wide enough for two vehicles to pass.

You were supposed to sound your horn and slow down at the corners, in case there was a lorry coming the other way. Vanessa, predictably, didn’t bother. She kept the speed on and we shot around the corners not knowing what would be in front of us. “You can see the lorries through the trees,” she had explained to me, “if you keep your eyes open and look in the right place.” Maybe that was right, I had to hope that it was.

On either side of us, the tall trees were in full leaf; the equatorial sunlight shining through them was casting shadows over the road, exposing us to patches of light and dark as we headed into town. The air was warm and still, at least it would have been if we hadn’t been moving so fast that it felt like a full gale in our faces. Ecias was a paradise, with amazing scenery and beautiful wildlife. It was how Earth had probably been before we humans had got our despoiling hands on it. The trees had large flowers as well as their leaves; they were a magnet for bees, butterflies and multicoloured birds that looked like Earth’s hummingbirds. If you were quiet you could get right up close to them. Like all the wildlife on Ecias, they had not yet learned to fear man or what he could do to a planet.

We raced past a large warning sign. Fixed to a huge tree, it informed us in red letters that five-hundred metres ahead there was a sharp right-handed curve. An arrow underneath the letters emphasised the point. The good news was that after we had got around it, we could start our descent down the side of the hill into Richavon.

We weren’t in any particular hurry. While it was true that the supply ship was due, it would be here for at least a day.  Vanessa just liked the exhilaration that speed…

My current plan is for the novel to be published in late February 2019. You can keep up with its progress and find out more about me on my website at richarddeescifi.co.uk. Head over there to see what I get up to, click the FREE STUFF tab or the PORTFOLIO tab to get all the details about my work and pick up a free novel or short story.

I’m on Facebook at RichardDeeAuthor  and Twitter at Richard Dee Sci-Fi 

***

Many thanks for visiting today Richard.

Come back next week for some opening lines from Rachel Brimble.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Opening Lines: Vengeance by Roger A. Price

It’s that time again! Opening Lines blog day is upon us. This week I’m welcoming Roger A. Price to my place, with the first 500 words of his crime thriller, Vengeance.

Over to you Roger…

I’m thrilled to a guest on Jenny’s Opening Lines blog which serves as such a great opportunity for authors and readers alike, and I can only thank her for all the work that running her blog must entail. I’m an ex-detective from a CID and Specialist Ops background who can’t really talk about what I did, but love to use those experiences to drive my pen. Authentic, gritty and pacy, my novels don’t  let you rest for too long, hopefully. I hope you enjoy the opening to Vengeance, and thanks again to Jenny for having me stop by.

First 500 words

Chapter One

Jack Quintel didn’t need to be here, he’d requested his usual proof of death, but as he hadn’t used this killer before, he wanted to see it for himself. It took him a while to find a spot among the trees, and he was conscious of not flattening too many bluebells that were everywhere at this time of year. He knew the killer Charlie was no mug, nor was the target, Jim Reedly. If all went well Quintel planned to use Charlie again. The last thing he wanted was for him to realise he’d been here checking up on him; after all, he’d asked for his normal, if not unusual, evidence that the job had been done. He just wanted to satisfy himself, and watch the killer’s craft. Enjoy the show.

It was starting to go dusk so that would help; he just hoped Reedly wasn’t late home and it became too dark – he knew that wouldn’t bother Charlie, but he was beginning to wish he’d brought a pair of night-vison glasses.  It took a couple of minutes to settle himself as he took in the surroundings. The house was a fairly new build, but a grand affair nonetheless, detached in its own grounds with a tree-lined private driveway – the privileges of rank. Its location was handy though, Fulwood was an established district of Preston and had more than its share of such houses – especially on the eastern side of the city where a lot of the newer builds were situated. It wasn’t far away from the industrial unit Quintel had hired, or had had hired for him. That was in a traditional brown field estate behind a newish built Asda supermarket. Perfect; as it backed onto the M6 motorway. Quintel always liked an emergency egress from anywhere he used; he was cautious, he had to be.

Quintel passed the time trying to fathom out where Charlie would be. He guessed somewhere where the car would stop, somewhere near the house-front. He could see a turn-around in front of the property which would seem to be the obvious place, but he couldn’t see Charlie, which wasn’t entirely surprising, given the circumstances. He just hoped his suspicions were ill-founded; it was not that easy finding a good assassin. You couldn’t just type ‘killer wanted to join enthusiastic team’ into an internet search engine, well, not without a world of trouble landing on you. It was just that he had learned long ago not to ignore his hunches; he wouldn’t have reached his forties if he had.  The setting sun was dropping behind him now so he made sure he had good cover behind the oak trees. A peaceful vista, which was about to be shattered…

***

Blurb

Jack Quintel is a hit man. When a job comes in to kill the Deputy Chief Constable of the Greater Manchester Police Jim Reedly, he contracts it out to a new guy, Charlie Parker…
Watching in the shadows, Quintel sees Parker shoot out Reedly’s windscreen, then drag him into the woods and thinks the job’s been done.
But when Parker tries to pass off a pig’s heart as Reedly’s, things start to go very wrong. Jack’s right hand man Jason kills Charlie, who it turns out is an undercover police officer.
Detective Vinnie Palmer is with the Preston police. He was called in when they received the information about the impending hit.
Now he has to figure out how to clean up the mess.
And he wants whoever killed Parker bad. He finds the man who put Parker in touch with Quintel, a low life hood named Dempter, living in an estate in Preston.
He doesn’t know much, but motivated by money, agrees to be an informant for the police.
Christine Jones is a TV reporter. She and Vinnie had worked together before, chasing a serial killer.
They meet again at the warehouse where Charlie was killed, and realise their relationship could be more than professional.
But first, Christine wants to know what’s happening. Christine is working on a documentary about positive discrimination against non-Catholic officers in Northern Ireland since the peace process. She makes contact with a former police officer in Northern Belfast named Paul Bury, who feeds her some of the information she needs.
Meanwhile, as the bodies start to pile up in Preston, there’s another attempt on Reedly’s life, when a grenade is thrown at him at his brother-in-law’s funeral.
As Vinnie fights to keep Reedly alive, suddenly Christine’s life is in danger.
And they both start to wonder if the contract against Reedly has anything to do with her documentary on Northern Ireland. But how could it?
Filled with twists and turns and gritty detail, Vengeance is must read for crime fans everywhere.

***

LINKS:

Amazon UK Author Page: https://goo.gl/h2IYX8

Amazon UK for Vengeance: https://goo.gl/oxy9BI

Amazon US Author Page: https://goo.gl/tqFi0h

Amazon US for Vengeance: https://goo.gl/NSeSZi

Roger’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/CrimethillersbyRogerAPrice/

Roger’s Twitter:  https://twitter.com/RAPriceAuthor

Roger’s website: www.rogerapriceauthor.com

Bio

Roger spent thirty years in the police retiring as a detective inspector in charge of a covert undercover drugs unit which received national acclaim, before turning to the pen. His first two novels – By Their Rules, and A New Menace – are in their own series driven from the covert side of crime and his ‘Badge and the Pen’ series is too but with normal investigative fiction thrown in as well.

Vengeance is the second in this series which stars maverick DI Vinnie Palmer and his sidekick, investigative TV news reporter, Christine Jones. They are unlikely bedfellows, which makes their relationship interesting as they chase dark forces which only become even darker.

The third book in this series – Hidden – is written and will hopefully be next year. Roger’s novels can be read in any order as they work well as standalones too.

Roger is also developing an original TV drama script and is planning to adapt some of his existing novels into script too.

***

 

Many thanks Roger. Great opener.

Don’t forget to come out next week for some opening lines from Gilli Allan.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

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