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

Tag: words

Birthday Perks

There are many advantages to having (yet another) birthday…This is what I’m telling myself as I wake up on my 45th birthday in a state of bewilderment that I’ve got this far through my life without anyone telling me I’m doing it wrong.

I will be honest- the idea of being 45 does not fill my with joy. On the other hand, not reaching 45 would have one hell of a lot worse, and so I’ll go with it- although it had better be a damn site better to me than 44 was!

A lot went wrong when I was 44 –  book deal promises died, publishers dissolved into the ether, writing promises were broken, and so on….On the other hand (again)…out of these professional ashes came Imagine… The creative writing business I am co-managing with the lovely Alison Knight.

It has already been so much fun- and we’ve had some fantastic adventures sourcing potential retreat venues, appearing on BBC Radio Wiltshire, teaching from Penzance to Chippenham, and lots of places in between. My highlight so far…

Carefully easing out the memories of a class of dementia sufferers who all want to get their life stories on paper before it’s too late. Humbling.

This last year has seen me embark upon my first literary tour, taking Abi’s Neighbour on a trip around the South West, ending up in Cornwall, where it is set, amongst the rocks of Penzance, and the yellow sands of Sennen.

Outside of my working life- my eldest daughter left compulsory education, has recently won a prize at the Royal Institution of Science for outstanding work in biology, and is about to head off to university. Meanwhile by youngest daughter has just won a scholarship to Maths school over the Summer, as well as an award for academic excellence in Statistics – not to mention a 2nd Dan Black Belt in mixed martial arts (Don’t mess with daughter number 2!!) I think you can say I’m a proud Mum.


As if to offset the extra wrinkles and gradual general in-toning, a birthday does bring with it some perks.

I get to stay in bed and write this rather than go to the café to write this! I’m going to take part of the day off so that I can explore a little of the beautiful Exmoor countryside, and- it my nostrils don’t deceive me, and I’m not hallucinating the aroma coming from the kitchen, later there will be cake…

If you like a bit of a saucy read, I can also offer you a little pressie- in the shape of my Kay Jaybee novella, Wednesday on Thursday– which is FREE on Amazon this week (over 18’s ONLY)

So, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to see if the postman has been, and to pull on my walking shoes. If I’m a good girl they might just walk me in the direction of a scone or two…

Happy reading,

Jenny x




The Need to Write

It’s pouring with rain outside- it often is down here in the South West of England. Even though it is only 8am in the morning, the corner of the café in which I sit and write every morning is filling up fast.

I’m a familiar face in here. I usually sit at the same table- although only because it has good light – I’m not precious about sitting in the same spot or anything (despite the plaque on the wall that claims the opposite!). Consequently I am something of a fixture and fitting, and people that come to the café regularly see me here, writing away, every time they come through the door. There is even a rumour that I keep a rolled up sleeping bag and pillow under the table, and never actually go home.

Jenny's Corner Costa

A few days ago, one of the lovely regulars came and asked me a question I’m pretty sure they’ve been dying to ask for months. ‘Why are you always writing, don’t you ever get a day off?’

It’s a good question. One my husband asks pointedly every now and then.

The answer is simple- well ‘simple’ is probably pushing it!

I need to write.

Don’t confuse this with being the same as ‘I want to write.’ That is a different thing altogether.

Coffee blog- The Coffee Den Pyle

Once upon a time I did want to write. I dreamt of completed stories, and maybe one day having a book all of my own.

These days it’s an addiction. An unstoppable, nail biting, obsession of disappointment and triumph. A roller coaster I can’t imagine ever getting off.

I used to fit my writing around my job and my life, now it is very much the other way around. As a consequence of course I get massive hits of guilt. So, rather than giving my job less time, I give it more; as I live in fear of letting my employers down, and am frequently to be found processing spreadsheets late into the night.

Then comes the real guilt- when you find yourself only half listening to what your child has been up to at school because you have just thought of a killer line for your latest book and if you don’t write it down NOW, you’ll actually explode!

exploding head

My children (who luckily for me are both very creative in their own right, and totally get the feeling of absorption which producing something unique brings), are wonderful. Whenever I apologise to them for being only half as attentive a parent as I should be, they tell me off for being daft. Telling me they are just fine thank you very much- and could they have a life to karate, their friend’s house, the cafe now please…

Sometimes I look around at my undusted house, with the fluff on the carpet sometimes reaching epidemic proportions, and feel very sorry for my husband. He didn’t sign up for this. When we met and married almost 18 years ago, I was almost the complete opposite of who I am now. My home was cleaned and scrubbed to within an inch of its life. Dust was captured long before it had the chance to settle, and it was a rare day when there wasn’t a fresh cake baking in the over. And somehow, alongside all this, I had 3 part time jobs and was doing a PhD.

My husband must miss that multitalented woman, domestic goddess, and fellow academic. Sometimes I think he deserves a medal for putting up with me, because- to get back to the point of this blog- I really do only have a one week off a year for a holiday, along with a few random days off at Christmas and Easter each year. Not because I have a maverick boss yelling at me, not because I am forced to- but because I can’t stop. I just can’t.

pen and paper

Okay, there are lots of deadlines to deal with, and there are times when I am genuinely very much up against time- but often I have to work because- well, I have to work! If I don’t I’m a ratty, fidgety, grumpy person who is in serious danger of losing my usually permanent smile.

And why wouldn’t I smile all the time- I am addicted to the best job in the world!!

So be warned anyone out here who hopes to write a book some day. You too could also be kidnapped by the world of the imagination- a world that is so much safer than the real one, because you are always in charge. You get to pick the words that shape the lives of everyone you invent- a powerful narcotic indeed…. (Oh- and if you do want to risk it and write-make sure you are married to a very very understanding husband or wife!!!)

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

Tiverton Literary Festival: Photo Gallery

After 7 months of planning, weeks of rushing around, and 5 days of full on excitement, the second Tiverton Literary Festival has drawn to a close.

Myself and the team, Kerstin Muggeridge and Sue Griggs, would like to thank each and every one of you who came along as a guest, visitor, or helper.

Kate Lord Brown's Historical Fiction Masterclass

Kate Lord Brown’s Historical Fiction Masterclass

With Katie Fforde and the TivLitFest team

With Katie Fforde and the TivLitFest team

Crime Thru Time- Michael Jecks, Kate Griffin, Ruth Ware & Chris Ewan

Crime Thru Time- Michael Jecks, Kate Griffin, Ruth Ware & Chris Ewan

Sky News Reporter, Faisal Islam talks to Alex Sehmer

Sky News Reporter, Faisal Islam talks to Alex Sehmer

Authors Laura Wilkinson and Jonathan Green

Authors Laura Wilkinson and Jonathan Green

Story Competition winner Hazel Prior talks to Angie Sage

Story Competition winner Hazel Prior talks to Angie Sage

With Story Trail helpers Loreley Amiti and Debbie Jones

With Story Trail helpers Loreley Amiti and Debbie Jones

Rebecca Hall is a 'Girl Gone Greek'

Rebecca Hall is a ‘Girl Gone Greek’

The end of the story trail with myself, John the stilt walker, Jonathan Green and the mini Muggeridge's!

The end of the story trail with myself, John the stilt walker, Jonathan Green and the mini Muggeridge’s!

Katie Fforde enchants her audience

Katie Fforde enchants her audience

Crime Panel in full flow

Crime Panel in full flow

Loreley reading to the children on the story trail

Loreley reading to the children on the story trail

Here’s to Tiverton Literary Festival 2017!

Jenny. xx

Coming Soon: The Tiverton Literary Festival

Between the 3rd and 7th of June this year, Tiverton in Devon, will be hosting its very first literary festival!


I am delighted to be one of the organisers, along with fellow author Kerstin Muggeridge, and the town mayor, Susie Griggs.


When we took this venture on, we weren’t at all sure if any one would want to take part- how wrong we were! We have been so overwhelmed with authors wanting to take part that the festival has already expanded from being a two day affair to a five day celebration of books, reading, writing and the imagination.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be sharing more details about the festival, as we confirm more and more guests. But I can already announce a fantastic romance panel with the brilliant Julie Cohen, Rachel Brimble and Alison Rose, hosted by yours truly at the gorgeous Oak Room in Tiverton (3rd June, 7pm)

Julie Cohen

Julie Cohen

There will be an exclusive talk by the wonderful medieval murder mystery writer, Michael Jecks, about Devon in the Hundred Years War, at The Oak Room in Tiverton (4th June 7pm)

Michael Jecks

Michael Jecks

Saturday 6th June sees a jam packed day full of children’s stories, fancy dress competitions, a best selling author packed crime panel (with Simon Hall, Nicola Upson, Cal Moriarty and Clare Donaghue),- and then there is a family literary quiz at the Costa café on Bampton Street.

Simon Hall

Simon Hall

There will be a number of workshops for writing fiction, screen writing, self publishing and children’s story writing, as well as much much more!

Keep an eye on the web site for all the latest events and the forthcoming ticket sales!!

Come back soon for more news!

Happy reading,

Jenny xxx


Guest Post from Julie Frayn: Writing is…


I am thrilled to be welcoming Julie Frayn back to my site today. Today Julie is discussing what writing is. I have to say, she has nailed it for me! How about you?

Over to you Julie…

Writing is… a warm puppy?

I have a day job. It’s a lovely job that I’m very good at, at a wonderful organization (charity, theme park, museum, shopping and great food – and a full-size steam train – all rolled into one. Can’t beat that).

In my spare time, I write. Now, that makes it sound like writing is my hobby. Oh, no. It’s so not.

The writing’s the thing. I’m talking THE THING! Get it? But the rest of life finds ways to throw roadblocks up, to prevent accomplishment of THE THING.

There are dishes to do, children to support, laundry and cooking and vacuuming and other such drudgery. As Alzheimer’s eats at my mother’s independence, she needs more of her family’s time to ensure she stays in her home. There’s that day job, of course, along with a myriad of other priorities that keep me away from what I wish was my true full-time career. (That would be writer, in case it wasn’t clear).

Heritage Park with Mom, Julie and Irene Frayn at the front gates.

So on days like this, where responsibility is tugging at me to visit Mom, where the taxes have yet to do themselves (stupid taxes), where I have too much to do and not enough hours in the day, I wonder if it’s time to quit writing.

Oh, hell no.

Why not? Because this is what writing is to me.

Writing is red.  It is the stuff of life, the crimson that flows through my veins.  It is that spark of color in a neutral room.  It is scarlet patent leather stilettos punctuating a black suit.

Writing is my third child.  A child that embodies all the characters I love.  All the broken souls (the ones I broke on purpose for the sake of story) whom I can’t hug in person, whose hair I can’t stroke and tell them it’s going to be all right.  Because, for some of them, it never will be.

Writing is release.  To quote the Red Hot Chili Peppers song, My Friends, release is peace.  Finding the right combination of words, the perfect sentence, prompts me to moan yes, yes, yes at my monitor. It hits the writing g-spot. Some days I have multiple literary orgasms.  But I am only temporarily sated. I always hunger for more.

Writing is solitude.  It is me time.  Better than any spa day.  Better than shopping.  No, really.  It is that time I can be crazy in private, sing at the top of my lungs, pace the floor and swear at my computer, then pet the screen in apology because, really, is it the computer’s fault when I can’t get it right?  When I do that stuff in public, people look at me funny.

Writing is connection.  When I write, I touch others.  Not in a creepy, get your hand off my thigh before I scream, kind of way. Virtual touching. Emotional touching. Get inside their head and make them feel something they didn’t expect, touching.

Writing is hope.  It is everything I am not.  Everything I am afraid to be.  Everything I can be.  Everything I will be.

Writing is breath.  Without it, I fear I may die.



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Julie Frayn


Julie Frayn pens award-winning novels and short stories that pack a punch. And a few stabs. She has published three novels and two short, short story collections. Suicide City, a Love Story won two gold medals in the 2013 Authorsdb cover contest, It Isn’t Cheating if He’s Dead won the Books and Pals 2014 Readers’ Choice award for women’s fiction, and Mazie Baby was named to three Best of 2014 lists by Suspense Magazine,, and and is currently nominated for a Big Al’s Books and Pals Readers Choice Award in Women’s Fiction. You can vote for her here if you like!

A bean counter by day, Julie revels in the written word. When she is not working or writing, she spends as much time as possible with her two children (grown adults, really), while they still think she’s cool.

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Many thanks Julie- brilliant post!

So, lovely readers- what s writing to you?

Happy reading,

Jenny x 








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