Jenny Kane & Jennifer Ash

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

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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

20 Quick-Fire Questions – with me!

20 Quick-Fire Questions – With Me!

1.Why have you neglected this blog so much lately?

One of the other mes- Jennifer Ash- has been very busy writing a novella for ITV/Spiteful Puppet, The Meeting Place– a Robin of Sherwood story. You can imagine how excited I am about that- being something of a Robin Hood fan.  What do you mean you hadn’t noticed I was a fan…?.

As ‘Jennifer,’ I have also been researching the historical records prior to drafting the fourth of The Folville Chronicles. This will (eventually) be called Outlaw Justice, and will follow on from The Outlaw’s Ransom, The Winter Outlaw and Edward’s Outlaw.

2. Are you more like Jennifer or Jenny or Kay (Kay Jaybee- erotica) in real life?

Jenny

3.Do you love coffee as much as the characters in your Another Cup of Coffee series?

Even more than they do!

4. How do you take it?

Black- nothing added- Americano for preference

5. How many cups do you drink a day?

Three – none after 2pm.

6. Do you really write in cafes and coffee shops like JK Rowling?

I really do.

7.What is your favourite hot drink – apart from coffee?

Coffee is the only hot drink I like- I HATE tea, and I’m allergic to milk, so can’t have hot chocolate, latte etc

8. Favourite colour?

Purple

9. Boots, trainers, or heels?

Boots – I am not sporty and I’d break my neck in heels. I am very clumsy!

10. Are the characters in Another Cup of Coffee based on real people?

Some of them are.

11. Which ones?

My lips are sealed.

12. Spoil sport- give us a clue?

I knew three of them at University- although I obviously wrote exaggerated versions of them- and they are all still my friends and totally lovely.

13. What did you study at University?

I did an Archaeology degree, and then a Medieval History  PhD.

 

14. Ohhh-  like Amy did in Another Cup of Coffee and like Grace did in Romancing Robin Hood.

Yes- just like Amy and Grace did (at University of Leicester – just like them)- I think I can guess the next question! (Of course I can, I’m making the questions up!…Straight jacket handy anyone??)

15. So  are you Amy or Grace?

I am a little tiny bit both of them.

16. You feature Kew Gardens in Another Cup of Coffee and Another Glass of Champagne. Have you been there, or did you just research in on Google?

I’ve been there a few times. I really like just wondering around the various greenhouses- and sitting in the cafe of course!

 

17. Jack and Rob run a bookshop in Another Cup of Coffee, is that based on a real place?

No, that I invented.

18. Coffee shop or book shop?

Both! But if I was only allowed to go to one – coffee shop (with a book- purchased in a bookshop on a previous trip-  or work in my bag)

19. Do  you prefer being Kay Jaybee- Queen of BDSM Kink- or Jenny Kane- writer of  book chocolate- or Jennifer Ash- medieval crime writer ?

I love being all of them – it is wonderful to be able to create such different styles of work, and thus- hopefully- make more people happy when they read! (Well- that’s the plan!)

20. What is Jenny going to do next?

As Jenny, I’ve just finished the first in a new trilogy of contemporary fiction novels set on Exmoor. This ‘feel good’ story – which obviously contains many servings of coffee and- in this case- generous helpings of lemon cake-  is currently with my agent. Fingers crossed she likes it!

 

Happy reading!

Jenny xx

 

End of the Month Blog: Farewell February

Another month has whizzed by with lightening speed – and a few coughs and colds (and a broken foot in my case)

Let’s see what the lovely Nell Peters has to say for herself this month…

Over to you Nell…

Hi y’all! Good to see you again, on this last day of February – 28th, as it’s not a Leap Year (just in case you hadn’t noticed). The proposals will have to wait, ladies.

Let’s dive straight in, shall we? Looking at a web site listing those with birthdays today, I noticed quite a few of them described as YouTube or Instagram stars – seriously? Needless to say, they’re all very young, mostly American, and I’ve never heard of any of them. Best of all, however, has to be Australian Kai Saunders, seventeen today, whose slightly iffy claim to fame is that he’s a Scooter Rider. My first thought was that the older Grands are scooter riders also – even I can ride a scooter, though it’s been a while – but I hope their achievements later in life will be a little more worthy and substantial. Kai’s mini bio includes the info that he rides for Phoenix Pro Scooters who competed at the Auckland Street Jam in 2017. Now we know.

I wonder if TV chef Ainsley Harriott will be baking his own birthday cake today – he’ll need sixty-one candles. Born in London of Jamaican heritage, as well as training and working as a chef, he dabbled in comedy and singing and formed the duo Calypso Twins with old school friend, Paul Boross. They released a hit record in the early 1990s and went on to be regular performers at the Comedy Store, before crossing the pond to appear on American TV and radio shows. It was via radio that his prolific UK TV career was launched. And he never seems to stop smiling that brilliant smile.

Celebrating his seventy-eighth birthday today is Barry Fantoni, whom I knew very briefly eons ago. As a gangly late teen, I was at St Martin’s Art College (I had a few false starts before I decided what I wanted to do) when Gary Withers, as editor of the college mag, took advantage of students and Private Eye bods frequenting the same Soho pub (St M’s was then in Charing Cross Road) to approach BF bar side and request an interview. Gary couldn’t keep the appointment and asked me to go instead, as chez Fantoni wasn’t a million miles away from where I lived, a smallish detour on the way home.

I duly presented myself at the door of the Clapham Common basement flat, pad and pen poised for action and absolutely no idea what I was doing, as I seldom read the publication let alone contributed to it. It went surprisingly well, as I recall, and for someone very much in the public eye at that time, he came across as super-friendly and refreshingly modest. I learned later that he had a bit of a dodgy reputation for female conquests, but I have to say he was a perfect gentleman while I perched on his uncomfortable sofa. I sent him a copy of the piece I’d written for approval and we stayed in touch for a while. I once met cartoonist/artist/writer Ralph Steadman at the flat – which impressed the OH last Christmas when I revealed that snippet from my shady past, rather more than the Steadman coffee table book his mother gifted us. It wasn’t great.

For those sweet young things amongst you who have no idea who Barry Fantoni is, meet the London-born author, satirist, cartoonist, TV/radio presenter and jazz musician of Italian and Jewish descent, who was in many ways the epitome of Swinging Sixties cool. Already writing scripts for That Was the Week that Was (from 1962) and cartoonist for Private Eye (from 1963), his TV break came after he was asked to design a Pop Art backdrop for Ready, Steady, Go – the rock music programme that kicked off the weekend on Friday evenings for a whole generation – which he also sometimes presented.

From there he went on to have his own show, A Whole Scene Going On (named after the Bob Dylan track) which went out live, had sixteen million viewers and earned Fantoni the 1966 award for TV Personality of the Year, ahead of Cliff Richard, Tom Jones and Mick Jagger. The Daily Mirror wrote of him in 1967, ‘Barry doesn’t so much know what is in – he decides it.’ Strangely enough, like me he now churns out crime novels, only his desk is in Calais.

And what of the aforementioned Gary Withers? While I shamefully never used the qualification I earned at St M’s (now Central Saint Martin’s) and wandered off elsewhere, he was driven by an overwhelming need to succeed, coming from a single parent home in a rundown area of London. And succeed he most certainly did – he is now the zillionaire head of a global design company, The Imagination Group Ltd, which he founded while still at college. The boy done good – hats very much off to you Gary, old chap.

On this day in 1646, one Roger Scott was tried and punished for nodding off in church in Massachusetts – judging by some of the soporific sermons we had to sit through during monthly Girl Guide church parades, he would be neither the first nor last; talk about a captive audience. Massachusetts (who has the Bee Gee’s song bouncing around their head now? You’re welcome!) was probably not the best place to grab forty winks during worship, with its wall-to-wall devout Puritans, rabid intolerance of heretics, and (albeit forty-odd years later) the Salem witch trials.

Roger was roused from his nap when a tithingman – a powerful officer of the church – whacked him over the head with his trusty staff. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Roger hit back and it was decided he should receive a whipping as punishment, as well as have his card marked as ‘a common sleeper at the publick exercise.’ Oh the shame …

Staying in Mass – the US state, not the religious rite – 1704 was a Leap Year and it was on 29th February that the Deerfield Massacre took place during the Queen Anne’s War. The French and their Native American allies fought many tit-for-tat battles against the English between 1702 and 1713, in an effort to gain control of the continent (shouldn’t that have been the birthright of the indigenous Red Indian tribes anyway? Just a random thought …) Under the command of Jean-Baptiste Hertel de Rouville, the English frontier settlement at Deerfield was attacked before dawn, and much of the town burned to the ground, killing forty-seven. The colonial outpost was a traditional New England farming community, the majority of settlers being young families with wives and mothers who had moved west in search of land – the labour  that these women provided was essential to the survival of the settlement and its male inhabitants.

You might think that earned the women and their descendants an automatic right to absolute equality? Nope – in the US, much like the UK, from the mid 1800s several generations of women had to fight for the right to vote and although concessions varied from state to state, it wasn’t until the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in August 1920 that all women were given those rights. In practice though, the same restrictions that hindered non-white men’s right to vote now also applied to non-white women – that took rather longer to sort out. In Canada, the enfranchisement of women timetable happened according to Province, starting in 1916 with Manitoba and good old (French Canadian) Quebec coming very much up the rear in 1940.

This month in the UK, we celebrated the centenary of suffrage for (some) women. Under the 1918 Representation of the People Act; women over the age of thirty who either owned land themselves or were married to men with property, or who were graduates, were able to put their cross in the box. The same act also dropped the voting age for men from thirty to twenty-one – so, not exactly on a level pegging. It was another whole decade until the 1928 Equal Franchise Act granted women in the UK truly equal voting rights, almost doubling the number of eligible females. That doesn’t really compare too favourably with democratic New Zealand, where all women were given the vote in 1893.

I mentioned the Girl Guides several paragraphs back: I so looked forward to meetings on a Friday evening (pre the Ready, Steady, Go years) and the two best hours of the week when I was free to let my hair down and actually have fun. We were exposed to all sorts of activities most of us would never have dreamed of or encountered otherwise – I can still recognise the star constellations I learned, but might struggle to tie a round turn and two half hitches knot – and we went away to an annual (usually wet, cold and muddy) camp for a week. Heaven – burned bangers, leaky tents, stinky latrines and all!

This was before Health and Safety turned the sensible world upside down, which was just as well, as our means of transport was a huge home removals van with our luggage (kit bags) thrown in, followed by perhaps thirty Guides and their leaders who simply piled in the back on top of one another. Not a seat belt (no seats!) between us, just bodies diving in to make themselves as comfy as possible for the duration. Scariest of all, the back was left open so that we could actually see – as far as I remember, we didn’t ever lose anyone overboard.

And now I’m going to pinch the opening line of all Barry Fantoni’s rhyming obits to the famous in Private Eye, written under the by-line of E J Thribb; So. Farewell then …

Thanks, Jen – and toodles!

NP

Author.to/nellpeters 

***

Another smashing blog! Who knew our Nell knew Barry Fantoni!? (Who I have to admit I have never heard of until now…ummm….xxx)

Have a smashing March everyone,

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Twenty Questions with Jenny Kane

Jenny KaneI have been neglecting this blog a bit lately, and thought I should put that right! So, I asked a friend to pretend she didn’t know me, and ask me 20 quick-fire questions she thought my readers might want to know the answers to! Yes- I know that’s a little bit mad- but I’m a writer- insanity is only ever inches away!!

  1. 1.Why have you neglected this blog this week?

One of the other mes- Jennifer Ash- has been very busy writing ‘her’ third novel, ‘Edward’s Outlaw’ that will be out this Winter. She is also preparing for the publication of her first two novels, The Outlaw’s Ransom and The Winter Outlaw (Out in March and April- published by Littwizz Press)

  1. 2. Are you more like Jennifer or Jenny or Kay (Kay Jaybee- erotica) in real life?

Jenny

  1.  Do you love coffee as much as the characters in your Another Cup of Coffee series?

Even more than they do!

  1. How do you take it?

Black- nothing added- Americano for preference

coffee cups

  1. 5. How many cups do you drink a day?

Three – none after 2pm.

  1. 6. Do you really write in cafes and coffee shops like JK Rowling?

I really do.

  1. 7.What is your favourite hot drink – apart from coffee?

Coffee is the only hot drink I like- I HATE tea, and I’m allergic to milk, so can’t have hot chocolate, latte etc

  1. Favourite colour?

Purple

  1. Boots, trainers, or heels?

Boots – I am not sporty, and I’d break my neck in heels. I am very clumsy!

  1. Are the characters in Another Cup of Coffee based on real people?

Some of them are.

  1. Which ones?

My lips are sealed.

  1. Spoil sport- give us a clue?

I knew three of them at University- although I obviously wrote exaggerated versions of them- and they are all still my friends and totally lovely.

  1. What did you study at University?

I did an Archaeology degree, and then a Medieval History  PhD.

  1. Ohhh-  like Amy did in Another Cup of Coffee and like Grace did in Romancing Robin Hood.

Yes- just like Amy and Grace did- I think I can guess the next question!

  1. So  are you Amy or Grace?

I am a little tiny bit both of them.

  1. You feature Kew Gardens in Another Cup of Coffee and Another Glass of Champagne. Have you been there, or did you just research in on Google?

I’ve been there a few times. I really like just wondering around the various greenhouses- and sitting in the cafe of course!

  1. Jack and Rob run a bookshop in Another Cup of Coffee, is that based on a real place?

No, that I invented.

  1. What would you say always surprises people when they meet you?

That I wear hearing aids. I am 80% deaf.

  1. Do  you prefer being Kay Jaybee- Queen of BDSM Kink- or Jenny Kane- writer of  book chocolate- or Jennifer Ash- medieval crime writer ?

I love being all of them – it is wonderful to be able to create such different styles of work, and thus- hopefully- make more people happy when they read! (Well- that’s the plan!)

  1. What is Jenny going to do next?

Jenny has just finished a new novel – it’s being edited at the moment. Meanwhile, I’m preparing for the re-launch of Romancing Robin Hood! very exciting- it will be out the first week of February- not long now

 

Thanks for dropping by!

Jenny xx

 

End of the month with Nell Peters: There goes October!

Somehow we’re here again. The end of the month- and that only means one thing…

Over to you Nell…

Hi, y’all – and happy Halloween, All Hallows Eve, or Samhain if you prefer. Like the proverbial bad penny, I’m back again – well, at least I hope I am. Let me explain:

I’m writing this blog even more in advance than usual because we are away from 22nd October to 30th – flying back then from a late break in the sun (hopefully!) That’s assuming the OH is still in one piece after his flight to Monaco on Friday 13th (cue spooky music!) – he’s due back practically minutes before we set off. Could be worse; I’ve had to meet him at the airport before now. With all the shenanigans going on with air travel recently – so glad we are booked on BA and not Monarch or Ryanair – I have fingers and toes crossed that our flight isn’t delayed until the 31st, because historically that has been a very bad day for plane crashes.

Exactly a hundred years ago during WWI, a Fokker (careful how you say that) piloted by a Lt. Pastor suffered structural failure and crashed – it was the second such accident in three days, and needless to say, all those aircraft had to be grounded until the design fault could be identified and rectified. Pastor was under the command of infamous fighter ace Manfred von Richthofen, aka as the Red Baron, because he held the hereditary title of Freiherr (free lord) and painted his plane red – all the unit’s planes were brightly coloured, hence their epithet, The Flying Circus.

I’ve mentioned before that my grandfather was a youthful pilot with the Royal Flying Corps – a sepia photograph of him sitting in his flimsy plane hangs on one of our landings. As I drift past and glance his way, it never ceases to amaze me how incredibly brave those young airmen (of whatever nationality) were, when their life expectancy was a mere seventeen flying hours – they were indeed ‘Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines’. Unlike my grandfather, the Red Baron didn’t survive to see peace declared despite his eighty air combat victories; his luck ran out in April 1918. Drat – I have that song rattling around my head now … they go up tiddly up up, they go down tiddly down down.

 

Coincidentally, The Battle of Britain ended on this day in 1940 – since 10th July, nearly three thousand RAF pilots, including many from what was then the British Empire plus refugees from Nazi-occupied countries in Europe, had been defending British air space over southern England against the Luftwaffe’s relentless attempt to wipe out airborne defences. Flushed with his successful infiltration of much of Europe, this was the prelude to Hitler’s ultimate plan to invade and conquer this ‘Sceptred Isle’. The pilots of Fighter Command, dubbed ‘The Few’ by Churchill, had an average age of just twenty and were paid £264 pa (a little over £30,000 in today’s money). Sadly, during ‘Our Finest Hour’ (Churchill again) five hundred and forty-four fliers were killed and over a thousand aircraft lost – but (fortunately for us) they were victorious and Adolf backed off to lick his wounds.

In 1949 a pilot conducting secret tests of a prototype aircraft died when he crashed into houses in Yeovil, also killing two victims on the ground – and the following year a British European Airways (now part of BA) Viking failed to make it off the runway at Heathrow (then London Airport) in foggy conditions. Of the thirty people on board, only a stewardess and one passenger lived to tell the tale. Fast forward to 1964, when NASA astronaut Theodore Freeman perished after a goose smashed through the cockpit canopy of his Northrop Talon jet trainer in Texas, causing shards of Plexiglas to enter the engine, which caught fire. Although Freeman ejected, he was too close to the ground for his parachute to open properly. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart.

More Halloween air disasters in 1979, 1994, 1996 and 1999, and in 2000 there were two – in total, hundreds of passengers and crew lost their lives. Most recently, in 2015, on the day that New Zealand beat Australia 34-17 during the Rugby World Cup final at Twickenham, a Russian airliner came to grief in Egypt and two hundred and twenty four people died. So you see my point? Maybe not a good day to fly, if you have a choice. There have been some good aeronautically-associated events on 31st October, however – like Rear Admiral George J Dufek becoming the first American to land an airplane at the South Pole in 1956, and BA taking on its first female pilots in 1987. Shall we move along, feet firmly planted on terra firma?

George Dufek

No more cheerfully, Indira Gandhi was assassinated on this day in 1984 (very George Orwell) by two of her security guards – you can’t trust anyone, can you? Both men were in turn shot by other guards, and although one survived, he was executed when found guilty of murder. In a speech given on the day before her death, Mrs G declared prophetically, ‘I am alive today, I may not be there tomorrow…I shall continue to serve until my last breath and when I die, I can say that every drop of my blood will invigorate India and strengthen it. Even if I died in the service of the nation, I would be proud of it. Every drop of my blood will contribute to the growth of this nation and make it strong and dynamic.

Indira Gandhi

Indira (no relation to Mahatma) was India’s first and so far only woman PM. Politics were obviously in the genes, because her dad was India’s first PM, Jawaharal Nehru. She had two sons – Sanjay, the younger, had been her chosen successor politically, but died in a flying accident in 1980, leaving Rajiv (a pilot) to take up the reins following her death. He was himself assassinated in 1991.

Dangerous stuff, politics, as Italian fascist PM Benito Mussolini may have noticed in 1926, when an assassination attempt was made on his life – not a brilliant way for him to celebrate his fourth anniversary of taking office. Fifteen year-old schoolboy, Anteo Zamboni tried to shoot the leader in Bologna during a parade, but the unfortunate youth missed and was immediately set upon by squadistri (fascist squads) who didn’t ask any questions and lynched him.

This was the second unsuccessful attempt on Il Duce’s life that year – in April, middle-aged Irish woman, The Honourable (but not very) Violet Gibson, daughter of Lord Ashbourne, shot him as he walked among the crowds in Rome after delivering a speech. Armed with a revolver disguised by her shawl, she fired once, but Mussolini moved his head at that moment and she hit his nose (no ‘on the nose’ jokes, please); when she tried again, the gun misfired. Poor old Vi was almost lynched (what is it with Italians and lynching?) by an angry mob, but police intervened and escorted her away for questioning. Mussolini’s wound was slight, and after being patched up, he and his bandaged nose continued walkabout. Violet was deported to Britain and spent the rest of her life in a mental asylum.

This was the day in 1959 when ex-marine and accomplished marksman Lee Harvey Oswald decided to visit the US Embassy in Moscow and declare he wanted to renounce his American citizenship. It was a Saturday, so perhaps he was at a loose end. Officer Richard Snyder accepted Oswald’s passport and a written note, but told him that further paperwork would need to be completed. Oswald didn’t follow through with the process and when he became disaffected with life in Russia (not too many burger joints there at that time, I imagine) returned to the United States in 1962. News of the defection made the front pages of American newspapers, four years before he would be reviled globally as the alleged assassin of JFK. Speaking of the late President, he held his last meeting with FBI Director, J Edgar Hoover this day in 1963.

Lee Harvey Oswald

31st October falls within the zodiac sign of Scorpio (23/10 to 21/11). Honesty and fairness are two qualities that make Scorpios a good friend to have – they are dedicated and loyal, but if they feel let down, it’s curtains. Quick-witted and intelligent, they are full of surprises but also very emotional. Ideal careers for Scorpios include scientist, physician, researcher, sailor, detective, business manager and psychologist.

 

I can think of only four Scorpios I’ve known – although I’m sure there are probably many others – one being super-blogger and lovely lady, Anne Williams (23/10) of Being Anne, a great supporter of writers and thoroughly good egg (whatever that means?) Then there’s a sister-in-law (10/11) who is mad as a box of frogs … seriously.

She’s the sort of person that if you pick up the phone and hear her voice on the other end, you really, really want to pretend nobody is in and you are the answering machine. Another I haven’t been in touch with for many years now – he (7/11) was a member of the Bomb Squad and worked in all sorts of hairy situations worldwide. I don’t know if it’s true, but he told me that a group of them were drinking in a bar (are the military allowed to drink in uniform off-base?) and someone asked what the bomb insignia on their sleeves stood for – they told him they were the Army darts team. The third (21/11) is a lecturer in Sociology, has OCD by the bucket load and is tattooed almost everywhere on his body (he tells me!) Typical Scorpios? You decide – I know who I’m voting for.

Boston Custer was born on 31st October 1848 – one of the younger brothers of Lt Colonel George, of Little Big Horn fame, or infamy. Boston – unlike brothers George and Thomas – was unable to officially join the army due to ill health and so became a civilian contractor. In this capacity he was a guide, forager, packer and scout for the regiment on the 1876 expedition against the Lakota Indian tribe. On June 25th, along with his teenage nephew Henry Armstrong (Autie) Reed, Boston was with the pack train at the rear of George’s troops when a messenger reported that his big bro had requested ammunition for an impending fight. Boston and Autie left the train to take the ammo forward and joined the main column, as it moved into position to attack a sprawling Indian village along the Little Big Horn River. If they had stayed put, they might have survived the battle that became known as Custer’s Last Stand. But they didn’t, and perished along with George and Thomas. A fourth brother, Nevin, became a farmer because he suffered from asthma and rheumatism and was not fit for the military, even as a civilian contractor – strangely lucky for him.

A century after Boston Custer, English actor Michael Kitchen was born in Leicester – although he’s been in many TV and film dramas, he’s perhaps best know now as DCS Christopher Foyle in Foyle’s War, who is driven around by the splendidly-named Honeysuckle Weeks and always gets his man.

Continuing the parts of a house name theme, American soap actress Deidre Hall was born a year before Michael, so Happy 70th today! – her twin sister, Andrea, is also an actress. In sharp contrast to MK’s prolific and varied career, Deidre has played the role of Dr Marlena Evans in Days of Our Lives for forty years – wow! She won her first award for the part in 1982 – the year another set of twins, aka the Cheeky Girls, were born on Halloween. I’m sure Monica and Gabriela Irimia have heard all the jokes, so I’ll leave it there.

Thanks again for having me, Jenny – and no, I am not wearing a horror mask, I always look like this.

Toodles.

NP

Nell Peters writes mainly Crime. Her two Accent Press novels can be found here: www.myBook.to/hostilewitness and www.myBook.to/BAON and other books are on Amazon KDP.

***

Thank you ever so much Nell. Another stunning blog. Loved it.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

Apaches, Blues and Cadillacs – The ABC of Growing Up With American As A Second Language

I’m delighted to welcome Richard Wall to my place with a fascinating blog about living- and writing- with the duel influences of American and British culture.

Over to you Richard…

Apaches, Blues and Cadillacs – The ABC of Growing Up With American As A Second Language

The USA has been in the news lately for all the wrong reasons. A new president who comes across as petulant, ignorant and divisive, and a spate of mass shootings is giving a great nation extremely bad press when it comes to world opinion.

As ever, the actions of the “few” has created a backlash of bad feeling towards the “many” – ordinary Americans just trying to get on with their lives.

America, it seems, is like Marmite. But whether you love the place with a passion or hate it and all it stands for, there is no denying the huge cultural impact the United States has made on life in Great Britain since the end of WW2.

Opinion varies as to whether this is a good thing or not, but what follows is my personal viewpoint.

As a writer, people often ask me why, as an Englishman, my stories contain so many references to American culture. Well, you could say I had no choice in the matter! Despite growing up in the backwater of a small market town in rural Herefordshire, I’ve been around Americans all my life.

I was born in 1962 and my g-g-generation was (I think) probably the first to be subjected daily to the American way of life without ever having to leave British shores. In the early 1960’s, television technology advanced and TV sets became accessible to more and more UK households; the numbers of channels and programmes increased and TV influences from across the pond came thick and fast. As a result of this, I, like everyone else in my age-group, grew up with American as a second language, absorbing an influence that reflects strongly in my writing.

My earliest memories are of watching John Wayne movies on our old black and white TV, and then playing cowboys and indians (I always wanted to be Geronimo, leader of the Apaches). I watched Neil Armstrong step onto the moon and news reports of the Vietnam war.

There were also countless US TV shows: Champion The Wonder Horse, Casey Jones, Bonanza, Kojak, Starsky and Hutch, The Rockford Files, M*A*S*H, Taxi, and many more.

When I began to take an interest in music I learned that blues men from the 1930’s inspired the Beatles, the Rolling Stones (also in their 50th year), Led Zeppelin and other British bands who took this music back to America to a white audience who were largely unaware of their own musical heritage.

American movies introduced me to classic American cars: Steve McQueen’s 1969 Ford Mustang (Bullitt), Gene Hackman’s 1971 Pontiac Le Mans (The French Connection), Jim Rockford’s Pontiac Firebird and Barry Newman’s Dodge Challenger (Vanishing Point).

Someone once said; “if you can’t see the beauty in an old American car, then you’ve got no soul.

American writers, such as: Stephen King, Andrew Vachss, Elmore Leonard, John Steinbeck, and Langston Hughes (and lately Ran Walker), added layers of depth and context to my TV and film influences, and gave me an ear for US colloquialisms.

When I finally realised my dream and visited the USA (Florida, and Rhode Island, courtesy of a nuclear submarine), I found it every bit as cool and exciting as I imagined it to be as a child.

Since then I have returned many times; visiting California, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Texas, Colorado and including one memorable road trip through Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta, visiting blues heritage sites and seeing with my own eyes the places where my blues heroes were born, lived and died.

All of these lifetime influences have been bubbling and fermenting in a cultural stew that I hope adds flavour to my writing.

My first short story to be published on Amazon was ‘Evel Knievel and The Fat Elvis Diner

An Englishman in Oklahoma is watching a storm approaching when he receives an email on his phone. As he waits for the email to download, it causes him to reflect on his childhood in 1970’s England, his relationship with his father and the journey that brought him to the USA.

Five Pairs of Shorts’ a collection of short stories, some with strong American influences, followed soon after.

In 2015 came my first novel, Fat Man Blues, inspired by the Mississippi road trip, and which has attracted a great deal of interest (and praise) across the world since its release. Fat Man Blues has opened the doors to a fascinating world where I have been extremely fortunate to meet and become friends with talented and creative people from across the planet.

Earlier this year I wrote another short story: ‘Hank Williams’ Cadillac’:

Vince and Stu’s road trip through Texas is cut short when Stu’s ancient Honda breaks down in the quiet town of Rambling. Nearby is Bubba’s used-car lot, containing a collection of classic American cars. Following a bizarre encounter with a talking crow, and a deal signed in blood, Stu trades in his Honda for a powder-blue 1952 Cadillac convertible. Back on the road, the two buddies continue their journey in style, until a series of Burma Shave road signs and an encounter in a cemetery changes things forever.

This was inspired by a road trip with friends, from Oklahoma City to Colorado, which took us along parts of Route 66, where glimpses of the America from my childhood imagination can still be seen. By the way, the cover photograph (taken by me in 2012) features the beautiful 1955 Cadillac in which we took a tour of Memphis.

The American influence continues with another short story due to be released at the end of the year. Beelzebub Jones will accompany the spaghetti western-themed concept album of UK Blues Man, Andrew ‘HalfDeaf’ McClatchie.

So, America. Good guys or bad guys?

Well, my personal view is that I’m British and proud to be so, but I can also speak American, because I grew up with it. At the end of the day we are all just people.

Ordinary Americans just want a quiet life, like we all do, and are among the friendliest people on the planet.

 

In the town of Kingfisher, Oklahoma, I was honoured to meet a WW2 veteran who, it transpired, fought in North Africa around the same time as my late father. He shook my hand with an iron grip and said: In North Africa we had everything and the Brits had nothing. I got nothing but respect for them; you push ’em back and push ’em back and push ’em back until they’re up against the wall and then they come back at you like tomcats…”

These words from an American made me proud to be British.

Oh, and I love Marmite.

***

Richard Wall can be found loitering around www.richardwall.org 

***

Many thanks for sharing your blog with us today Richard. Great stuff.

Happy reading,

Jenny x

Guest Post from Tim Walker: Postcards from London

Today I’m delighted to be able to welcome Tim Walker to my site. A successful independent author and former journalist, Tim is sharing a short story from his new collection, Postcards from London. All I’ll say is- this is a must read for any Beatles fan!

So pop the kettle on, put your feet up for five minutes, and indulge a few moments of reading pleasure.

***

Blurb to Postcards of London

The city of London is the star of this collection of fifteen engaging stories from author Tim Walker. Drawing on the vivid history of the city where he has both lived and worked, Postcards from London celebrates the magnificently multifaceted metropolis that is home to 8.8 million people.

Imagine Iron Age fishermen, open-mouthed to see Roman galleys, rowed by slaves, dropping anchor at their village – a place the Romans would turn into the port and fortified town of Londinium. These Romans were the first of many men of vision who would come to shape the city we see today.

London’s long and complex history almost defies imagination, but the author has conjured citizens from many familiar eras, and some yet to be imagined. Turn over these picture postcards to explore his city through a collage of human dramas told in a range of genres. See the tumult of these imagined lives spotlighted at moments in London’s past, present and, who knows, perhaps its future.

 

Let it Be

A flash fiction postcard in Postcards from London by Tim Walker…

A bright, chilly January morning in 1969 saw Brian on the West End beat. Rounding the corner into Savile Row, he found a small crowd gathering outside Apple Records, the headquarters of world-famous pop group, The Beatles. First bobby on the scene, he asked a young man what was going on.

“We’ve heard a rumour that The Beatles are going to play on the rooftop,” the excited youth said.

PC Brian Smith radioed it in, and was told to enter the building and wait for further instructions. He squeezed past busy roadies carrying equipment up three steps and into the narrow front door of what was a large grey stone converted townhouse – glancing at a row of framed gold records on the walls before his eyes settled on the receptionist. Her pretty face, heavily made-up with Mary Quant mascara on long lashes framed by a lacquered brown bob, wore a pensive look. She hesitated before confirming that the band would be giving a brief performance of their new songs on the rooftop.

“Can I see the manager please?” Brian asked, showing initiative.

“Would that be the Apple General Manager or the manager of The Beatles?” she asked, holding a white phone to her neck.

“Erm, both, if I may… Emily.” He said stiffly, leaning forward to read her name on a green Apple badge.

She punched some numbers on her switchboard and spoke in a quiet voice. “A police officer would like to see you.”

Brian gazed over her head at pictures of his music heroes, the Fab Four. The smell of weed drifted into the room from what looked like the post room behind reception. Emily, seeing him sniff the air, hurriedly pushed shut the door.

“Mr Taylor, the GM, will see you in his office. You’ll have to walk up the stairs, I’m afraid, as there’s no lift. All the way to the fourth floor, left at the top of the stairs.”

Brian thanked her and followed a film crew carrying camera equipment and tripods up the narrow staircase. His radio crackled into life and he stepped into the first floor corridor to improve reception. His CO told him he had no report of permission being granted to hold a public performance on the rooftop, but was unsure if they would be breaking any laws by doing so in their own building, unless it was so loud that it caused a disturbance.

“Find out what you can and report back,” he said tersely. “I’m sending more bobbies for crowd control outside the building.”

Brian looked about him and saw the name ‘John’ on an office door. He pushed the door open and found himself looking at John Lennon, sat with his feet on a desk, leaning back in a swivel chair, smoking a joint.

“Oh, hell, is this a raid?” he asked, looking momentarily startled as he saw Brian’s uniform.

“Erm, no, Mr Lennon. I’m just here to find out about this concert on the roof. Would you mind telling me what it’s all about?”

John pointed to a chair and sat up, squeezing the lit end of his joint and throwing it in a bin.

“Sorry about that, Officer…?”

“PC Brian Smith,” he said, easing himself into a leather armchair, cradling his helmet in his arms. “Oh, don’t worry about that, I’m a big fan, you know.”

“Glad to hear it,” John said, leaning over the desk to shake his hand. “We’ve just decided to play some of our latest tunes for our next album on the roof and make a promo film, if you know what I mean?”

“Erm, yes, but if you make too much noise you’ll disturb the other businesses in the area and we’re bound to get complaints. My boss tells me you’ve not notified the police, and a crowd is already gathering in the street, so maybe…”

John got to his feet and put his arm around Brian’s shoulders. “Look, PC Brian, it’s just a few songs and won’t take long. Why don’t you come up onto the roof and watch? Honest, we won’t make that much noise. You see, the wind will carry our music away into the ether.”

John guided Brian up the stairs, collecting the other Beatles as he went.

“You see, Brian, each of us has our own floor, because we can’t stand the sight of each other after ten years together, ain’t that right Ringo?”

The mop-topped drummer grinned sheepishly as John gathered each group member as they made their way to the roof. Once up there, Brian saw the instruments and speakers set up on a wooden platform, and the camera crew buzzing around their equipment.

“We’re nearly ready, John,” said a smartly-dressed man who looked like he was in charge. He smiled at Brian and held out his hand. “Hi, I’m George Martin. Why don’t you come over here with me? We’ll be starting in a few minutes.”

Brian’s radio crackled and he heard his CO saying, “They’ve barricaded the door, we can’t get in, what’s happening, Smith?”

“I can’t hear you sir, I’ll try to move to get a better reception.” He grinned at George Martin and clipped his radio onto his belt, turning the sound dial down.

After a brief soundcheck, The Beatles started playing. Brian looked down to the street below and saw the crowd had built up considerably, as workers on their lunch break began to converge on the building. Brian knew it would only be a matter of time before his colleagues gained entry. In fact, he had listened with great enthusiasm to five songs before the first of the officers barged their way onto the roof. Turning to George Martin, Brian asked, “How much time do you need?”

Martin smiled and replied, “We’re almost through. Thanks for your support. About ten minutes should do it.”

Brian pushed his way to a burly sergeant and said, “I’ve told them to wind it up, Sarge. Just a few more minutes.” The sergeant glared at him but said nothing. The Beatles were playing a third take of ‘Get Back’ and Paul, seeing that their time was up, cheekily changed the lyrics – “You’ve been playing on the roof again, and you know your Momma doesn’t like it, she’s gonna have you arrested.”

At the end of the song, John cheekily said, “I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves and I hope we’ve passed the audition.”

Brian turned to George Martin who thanked him and shook his hand.

“What will the album be called?” Brian asked.

“Not sure yet – it’ll either be ‘Get Back’ or ‘Let it Be’,” Martin replied.

Brian filed downstairs behind the line of policemen. He would stick to his story that he had negotiated a swift end to the impromptu gig. It was a memory that he would carry forward – much more than another drinking-out story – it was a sense that he had been part of something special that somehow crowned the swinging sixties, and that he was one of the very few privileged people to witness it. That it was to be The Beatles’ last ever performance made it more of a poignant landmark in his London life. It left him with a sense of belonging; a sense of pride; a sense of location on the continuum of history.

***

Author Bio-

Tim is an independent author and former journalist based near Windsor in Berkshire, UK.

Born in Hong Kong, he grew up in Liverpool and studied in South Wales, before gravitating to London where he working in newspaper publishing for ten years. In the mid-90s he went to Zambia in Africa to do publishing-related voluntary work. Following this, he stayed on and set up his own publishing and marketing business, before returning to the UK in 2009.

The River Thames was the inspiration for his first book, an anthology of short stories Thames Valley Tales published in July 2015. This collection of fifteen contemporary stories combines modern themes with the rich history and legend associated with towns and places along the Thames Valley.

In 2016 he published his first novel, a near-future/dystopian thriller Devil Gate Dawn and is currently writing an historical fiction series, A Light in the Dark Ages. The first two parts, Abandoned! (a novella) and Ambrosius: Last of the Romans (a novel) are now available from Amazon in e-book and paperback formats. Part Three, Uther’s Destiny, should follow in early 2018.

In January 2017 he published a children’s book, co-written with his 12-year-old daughter Cathy, called The Adventures of Charly Holmes in e-book format. The paperback was published by Xlibris Publishers in February 2017. In September 2017 he published his second collection of short stories, Postcards from London.

Author website: http://timwalkerwrites.co.uk

Author Central: http://Author.to/timwalkerwrites

Twitter: http://twitter.com/timwalker1666

Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/timwalkerwrites

 

Book Links:

Postcards from London: http://myBook.to/PostcardsFromLondon

Abandoned: http://myBook.to/Abandoned

Ambrosius: Last of the Romans: http://myBook.to/Ambrosius

Devil Gate Dawn: http://myBook.to/DevilGateDawn

Thames Valley Tales: http://myBook.to/ThamesValleyTales

The Adventures of Charly Holmes: http://myBook.to/CharlyHolmes1

***

Many thanks to Tim for such a great story. Wishing you much success with your new book.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

Guest Post from Jane Risdon: Life gets in the way

Today I’m welcoming a fellow Accent author to my site- the lovely Jane Risdon.

Over to you Jane…

Hello Jenny and everyone, thanks so much for this opportunity to introduce myself and to chat about my writing and blogging with you. I really appreciate it and I hope you will find something here of interest which might lead you to delve into my work a little further.

A little about myself for those of you who have not already made my acquaintance. I came to writing a little later than I had wished. I’ve always wanted to write, but you know how it is, life gets in the way.

Jane Risdon

When I was young – still at school – I met a young rock musician whose band came to live next door whilst they were in England touring; it was love at first sight but I was due to go overseas and so it was four years later, and a lot of trips back and forth to England to visit him, before we got together long enough to get married. By this time I had a career in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London – I got a posting from Germany where I was working with the Ministry of Defence, to be near him eventually — so at least we got to spend some time together in the same country, and town, and sometimes even the same building now and again. Though we did share a house with some of his band in the early days. If you have a vivid imagination, let it wander….you won’t be far off the truth. My dreams of writing were put on hold. Someone had to have a regular income.

Later we ventured into the Music Business on the other side of the desk, and went into Artist Management, Production and Publishing. We managed Recording Artists, Song Writers, Record Producers, and Actors, for our sins, and we worked, travelled, and lived all over the world but mainly in Singapore, America, and Europe. So you can imagine touring with rock bands and spending months on the road, then months in recording studios trying to babysit a bunch of eighteen years olds, isn’t really conducive to writing, or anything else for that matter. Life as I knew it went flying past as I spent my time working hard to create and sustain success for our artists. Writing? Well, that was something I’d get round to one day.

I guess one of the good things to come out of my life experience working in the FCO and various other government-related jobs and within the International Music Business, is a wealth of stories. Stories about life on the road, and stories inspired by my time working within the corridors of Whitehall and stories about life in Hollywood living and working with the movers and shakers in the Movie and Music Industry. We worked with some of the most iconic people in those businesses and yes, I admit it, Pamela Anderson kissed my cheek and everyone told me not to wash for a week, and working on Baywatch was a blast; the guys liked it anyway. David Cassidy was a babe, Alice Cooper was a real gent, Gloria Estefan a star, Weird Al was a laugh, and working with the guys from Queen, was, well, an experience! Just name dropping a few to get you in the mood.

Having survived earthquakes, tornadoes, race riots in LA, fires, floods and mudslides, I am waiting for the plague of locusts, knowing my luck they are sure to come. So I knew that there was something out there, keeping me alive, so I could write.

I’ve always been an avid reader of Crime, Thrillers, Mysteries, and Espionage, so it is little wonder that when I eventually got the chance to have some time to myself, I found myself writing Crime stories, sometimes with an Espionage edge, and often with a musical theme as well. Write about what you know, right?

If it hadn’t been for an old friend, someone who is now a very successful writer in her own lunch-time, I might never have had the courage to go naked with my work. She was originally my husband’s Fan Club secretary – well, the group’s – and she was also a rock and pop journalist working on music magazines, interviewing rock stars, and writing for Jackie and Romeo and the like as well. Later she wrote books which became a huge hit with fans of romance and comedy, and she still is.

We got chatting about my stories and she was kind enough to read a load of them, and she loved them, some made her laugh, others made her cry and some made her nostalgic for the good old days of Rock n’ Roll. The cool thing is she encouraged me to carry on, and because of her I am now writing full time.

I started off with online publications in writing blogs which went down well with readers, so I even ventured into Flash Fiction which I must say I really love. Anyway, eventually some of my short stories were Pod-cast and soon people were asking me to write stories for anthologies in aid of various Charities. They were published in print and e-book formats and were well received. I was chuffed to bits. I have written for a couple of online magazines too. In the past the only magazines I’d written for were Music related.

You can find some of my Short Stories and Flash Fiction with Pod-casts, over on Morgen Bailey’s Writing Blog:

http://wp.me/p18Ztn-4ID Follow this and you’ll find links to my other work or just type Jane Risdon into Morgen’s search bar and lots of my work will pop up.

I don’t want you to think I just write short stories; I don’t, but more about that a little later if you haven’t dropped off and gone into a coma.

Blogging came to my attention and so I thought I’d have a bash at it as a means of reaching potential readers and also because I love writing. I get to write about anything I want and I do. I love photography so I try and add a few photos taken when I’ve been out walking, or visiting places. Last time I looked over 2,000 people were following me on WordPress. Get a load of that!

My WordPress Author Page is at: http://wp.me/2dg55

I also have a Facebook Author Page where the numbers are creeping up to 1,500, so I think I am doing something right.

My Facebook Author Page is at: www.facebook.com/JaneRisdon2

Through my blog I got to know another crime writer who is also an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing in the USA. She has been a wonderful support to me which I appreciate so much. In 2013 she asked me to contribute two crime stories to her anthology In A Word: Murder, which had to be set in the world of publishing.

ina-word-murder-cover - Copy - Copy

In A word: Murder is in print and e-book – UK/USA links:

http://www.amazon.com/In-Word-Murder-An-Anthology-ebook/dp/B00GFXNZYE/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1383674275&sr=8-8&keywords=in+a+word%3A+murder

http://www.amazon.co.uk/In-Word-Murder-An-Anthology-ebook/dp/B00GFXNZYE/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1383674321&sr=8-12&keywords=In+word+Murder

Various award winning authors were contributing as well, so you can imagine the trepidation I felt putting my work alongside theirs.

To cut a long story short – I can hear the huge sigh of relief – my stories were well received. Dreamer – about a London based rock band in 1989 about to hit the big time when the big money was about to roll in, with a super-star American manager wanting to sign them, who wrote what suddenly becomes an issue, leading to murder. (Extract below!)

Hollywood Cover Up – about an English girl working as a PA to a big Hollywood mover and shaker who witnesses something at an Industry bash involving a Presidential candidate, and is fired from her job. Unable to find work she decides to write a novel based on her experiences, and soon she and her publisher are in mortal danger, not just from the Politician and the Hollywood elite, but from the Secret Service too, all wanting to prevent the publication of her book.

Shiver

My work came to the attention of various publishers in 2014 and after a lot of thought and consideration I am now published by Accent Press Ltd.   My first outing with them was in their Halloween Anthology, Shiver.

Shiver – links: http://t.co/qw98OdKs9C

Shiver on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUofhdwu8JE

My story ‘The Haunting of Anne Chambers,’ has been really well received with some fab comments on Amazon which has cheered me no end. This was my first real attempt at a Ghost Story and I set it in Cornwall where I’ve worked over many years with some of my artists. It’s about Pirates (privateers) Anne and Andrew who are lovers. They’re planning to run away together to a new life after one last raid. But when Anne is knocked out cold, she comes round to find that the world has changed disturbingly.

Wishing on a Star

Wishing on a Star followed Christmas 2014 with my short story, ‘Merry Christmas Everybody,’ included.

Wishing on A Star – links: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Wishing-Star-seasonal-collection-stories-ebook/dp/B00PQL5H3I/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1416250379&sr=1-1-fkmr0&keywords=Wishing+on+a+Star+by+Accent+Press+Ltd

This story is based on true events with names etc., changed to preserve the dignity of those involved. There are tensions in the studio when Twister record their new album. The band members are at each other’s throats and someone is messing up their recordings. The band blames their producer, but it soon becomes clear that someone unexpected is trying to get a message of festive goodwill through to them….

If you haven’t dropped into a coma I shall add some further detail here about the full length books I am writing. As I said before I write mainly Crime/Mystery stories, although I have ventured into other genres from time to time. For the last couple of years I’ve been working on a number of projects, all in various stages of completion. I know, I know, I get it. I see many other authors publishing one, two, three books a year and here I am plodding along year after year without a full length book published. I’d hoped to have completed all my projects early last year but a fall down the stairs, Christmas 2012, put paid to that. I’ve been unable to spend too long writing as a result of breaking my shoulder and collar bones in a peculiar way. My consultant, a professor who is also an Army Colonel, says he’s never seen injuries like it on a lady of any age, and usually only on soldiers in combat or young lads coming off their Harley’s after doing the ton. When I do something, I do it well. Hence things are a little slower than expected. And following my operation saga, I am now having physiotherapy to get mobility and strength back in my left arm and shoulder.

Back to my main project. Ms Birdsong Investigates is a series I am working on. Lavinia Birdsong is a fortyish former MI5 Officer forced into ‘voluntary retirement,’ following a disastrous mission which included her now ex-lover and partner, on secondment from MI6. He got sent to Moscow and she ended up in The Vale of the White Horse, in the fictional village of Ampney Parva, where she is trying to keep a low profile, hiding from her enemies and her ex-lover, whilst also trying to make a life for herself. She can’t help herself, old habits die hard and soon she has her fellow villagers under surveillance, nothing heavy, just curiosity, causing her to keep notes on them and their activities. Lavinia soon finds herself investigating a missing woman. From the shifty playboy Solicitor to the Russian Oligarch in the early stages of Alzheimer’s; nothing is what is seems. Murder is afoot. Lavinia is in her element.

Ms Birdsong Investigates and a couple of other books I am working on in the series should, I hope, be finished later in the summer ready for publication, if my publisher likes the end product of course. You can find some information about my projects and writing, on my WordPress blog and of course the books I have been published in are available via Amazon. Sadly one book I contributed two stories towards, Telling Tales, in aid of charity, is no longer in print, but the other three are still on sale. Both books for Accent are available also. If you buy/read anything do please leave a comment on Amazon and my blog, I would really appreciate it and so would the other authors. I have an Author Page on Amazon with links to my work as well.

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B00I3GJ2Y8

I Guest Blog often and have been interviewed several times, and also written articles and you will find links on my Author page. I have a regular Guest Blogging spot on Creative Frontiers where I have 300 words, every fortnight, to come up with stories about my life and experiences in music. If you find yourself over there, do check them out and let me know what you think; they have a comments section.

Creative Frontiers: Parts 1: Snore Poison so I’ll remember it:

http://creative-frontiers.com/blog/writing-desk/snore-poison-ill-remember/

Creative Frontiers: Part 2: The Auditions:  http://wp.me/p3YvQS-14Q

Creative Frontiers: I must have a criminal mind:

http://creative-frontiers.com/blog/profiles/must-criminal-mind/#comment-20529

I’ve got a blog spot over on Chill with a Book:

Chill with a book, blog spot:

http://chillwithabook.blogspot.com.es/2015/02/wishing-on-s

***

I Am Woman-vol-1-

I have also contributed to the anthologies, Telling Tales Anthology by Writers for Welfare (http://www.lulu.com) and I Am Woman Anthology vol 1 (http://www.amazon.co.uk/Am-Woman-Anthology-Anthologies-ebook/dp/B00817P8DI/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1427798013&sr=8-1&keywords=I+am+woman+volume+1)

***

Extract from my Short Story Dreamer published in In A Word: Murder.

Dreamer

(c) Jane Risdon 2013

No-one spoke, they couldn’t look him in the eye; instead they fidgeted and stared at the floor, the mixing desk, anywhere rather than register the hurt and shock on his face; anywhere other than confront the affect their duplicity had upon their now former band mate.

‘I formed this band, at school. I asked you to join me!’ Jake nearly choked, his throat tight and dry. He stared at his three best mates in the world, his band, disbelief all over his face.

‘Why?’ he almost sobbed, ‘What the hell’s going on?’ He held his Gibson to his chest as if it would comfort him, he never felt whole without it in his hands.

‘Nothing personal mate, you gotta believe that, we can still be mates.’ Bozz, pretty-boy lead singer, and last to join the band all those years ago tried to brighten his voice as if it would soften his words.

‘Nothing bloody personal, what is it then, eh? Tell me what’s not fuckin’ personal about being sacked from my own fuckin’ band?’ Jake’s voice broke and he turned away, fighting tears welling up.

‘They want someone more, well, you know, sexy.’ Rab said bashful all of a sudden. He carried on restringing his Warwick bass, determined not to see Jake’s hurt.

‘Sexy! Fuckin’ sexy? What the fuck?’ Jake couldn’t help yelling. ‘Don’t I pull enough is that it?’ He was outraged. ‘I get totty, more than plenty. What’s it gotta do with them or the friggin’ music anyway?’

‘The record company won’t sign us if you’re still in the band.’ Mickey twirled his sticks as he spoke. He was always the ambitious one and he was damned if he’d let personal allegiances get in the way of his chance to hit the big time. If the label wanted Jake to go, Jake had to go.

‘More of a showman sort of thing; the girls like that,’ whispered Bozz, ‘a proper axe-man.’

‘Won’t sign the band? Are you friggin nuts? I write the bloody songs.’ Jake towered over Mickey, the Gibson now resting against the SSL mixing desk, his fists at his sides, ready to strike. ‘Not enough of a …..? They saw the festival video; they loved it, that’s why they wanted us they said.’

‘They think you’re too static, you don’t move enough, and I think they’ve got a point,’ Mickey smirked, ‘you just ain’t sexy mate. As for pulling, well, you pull all right but you’re too scared to do anything about it, it doesn’t look good; you’re almost married, it’s not cool.’

‘I don’t fuckin’ pull…what about you then, eh Mickey? Who do you pull eh?’

Jake grabbed a nearby mic stand, swinging it at Mickey who ducked down in his seat just in time, ‘Hey, man, cool it!’

‘Seems they want us, Jake, not you,’ Rab looked up sheepishly, ‘and the video convinced them you don’t cut it live mate. They want a real axe-man, like Page or Townsend or Slash even…’

‘Yeah, sorry mate, after coming to all the gigs, that video did it,’ Bozz shrugged at his friend, glancing at the others, ‘they don’t think you’ve got it, we tried to change their minds, didn’t we?’

‘Right! I just bet you friggin’ did.’ Jake shook his long blonde curls and grabbed the mic stand again. ‘So what’s the deal then? Who’ve you got just happened to be waiting in the wings then, eh? Not that fucker from Dawn Treader?’ Jake stuck his face right into Mickey’s. ‘Yeah, that’s about right, that wanker’s always hanging around you isn’t he, Mickey – got well in has he?’

‘Cool it Jake.’ Their engineer/producer Bo Baldacci came into the studio, DAT copies of the final mixes for their label financed demo ready to hand over to the A&R manager at Gypsy Records. ‘Take that shit outside; I don’t want any aggro in here.’

‘So you’re some sort of bloody Freddie Mercury or Robert Plant, are you Bozz? That’s a friggin’ laugh! And don’t forget our ultra-sexy bass player, what a joke! Of course we’ve got Moonie on the drums, or is it John Bonham?’ Jake fumed.

‘If I’m out the band you can’t use my songs, so hand over all the mixes Bo, let them write their own fuckin’ songs, see how far they get then.’ Jake made a grab for the DATs and Mickey leapt up and smacked Jake in the face with his unopened can of Stella.

‘They’re not just your songs you pillock, we co-wrote them, you agreed; four-way splits on all the songs, so they’re not YOUR bleedin’ songs anymore!’ Mickey ducked as the mic stand headed his way again.

‘But Mickey, we never did…..’ Bozz didn’t finish as the mic stand whooshed over his head.

‘I’m taking them back; you’ll get nothing without them, nothing without me. I can prove they’re mine, you can’t.’

‘Cut it out!’ Bo shouted grabbing the mic stand as it narrowly missed his head as well. ‘Jake, haul your arse out of here, now!’

Jake held his face where Mickey had bashed him; eyes filled with hatred he grabbed his guitar case and placed his beloved Gibson inside. He took his book of lyrics off the desk and shoved it inside his back-pack. Bozz stared at the floor, totally gutted at what had just happened to his childhood mate. He really didn’t like this one bit. Rab shook his long brown hair, his face in his hands, seriously freaked by it all. But neither would rock the boat, ruin their chances, and miss out of the chance of a lifetime, however distasteful.

Only Mickey seemed to be fine with things, he glared at Jake, and then sat back down tapping out a rhythm on the arm of the sofa with his new Zildjian sticks. The band was getting sponsorship deals for their gear, arranged by the record company; lots of perks were coming their way. And not just perks; there were the advances from the record deal and the publishing to look forward to. Why should they lose out on all this because of Jake? Nope, he wasn’t going to miss out because of that stupid bastard. No way.

‘Go home Jake, I’ll get your stack to you and the rest of your gear tomorrow.’ Bo held the control room door open.

‘This isn’t the end, you bunch of shits; you’ll come crawling back when you need new material. Well screw you, screw the fuckin’ lot of you!’ Jake kicked the desk as he passed Bo…

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A taster from my Short Story, Dreamer, which is included in In A Word: Murder and is available on Amazon. The anthology is in memory of Crime Writer, Editor and blogger Maxine Clarke and all proceeds go to The Princess Alice Hospice where she passed away.

I really hope you enjoyed my Guest Blog and the sampler from my story. I’d love to know your thoughts.

Thanks so much Jenny for allowing me this opportunity to connect with your readers. I really appreciate it.

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Wow!! What an amazing life!!! Thank you ever so much for visiting today Jane.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

Guest Post: Betsy Tobin – Things We Couldn’t Explain

Today I am delighted to introduce one of my fellow Accent writers, the brilliant Betsy Tobin. Here’s a book that would be a welcome addition to any Christmas stocking!

Over to you Betsy…

Betsy Tobin: Things We Couldn’t Explain

Betsy Tobin TWCECover

Sometimes we writers must meticulously concoct the plots of our novels from a vast cauldron of raw ingredients. And sometimes the story is quite literally handed to us on a plate. Happily, such was the case with my latest book, THINGS WE COULDN’T EXPLAIN, a comic novel about Virgin Birth.

More than a few years ago, I sat down to write a novel about faith in America. I knew the story would revolve around a small town in the Midwest besieged by miracles. And I knew a handful of other details: it would be set in Ohio in the late 1970s, the landscape of my youth; and the story would feature a young, blind protagonist. (Mistakenly I thought this might absolve me from writing a lot of physical description—how utterly wrong I was!) Lastly, I knew the plot would involve both a miraculous conception and a series of Marian apparitions.

Beyond that I hadn’t a clue, so I set about doing some research. I quickly learned that far from being rare, Marian apparitions were a dime a dozen (to borrow an American phrase.) Over the centuries the Catholic Church has officially investigated hundreds of reported sightings of the Virgin Mary. Many of these were cases involving only one or a few individuals (such as those at Lourdes and Guadalupe) but some of the most famous sightings (Zeitoun and Fatima, for example) involved literally thousands of witnesses. Over the years, the Church has deemed about a dozen of these cases to be genuine and therefore worthy of belief (though interestingly, belief is never required by the church.)

Some of the most famous examples have taken place in relatively exotic locales (Japan, Rwanda, Bosnia.) And not surprisingly, most have occurred in countries where Catholicism is widely practiced: France has more than its share, as does Portugal. But as this was an American story, I focused on those that had taken place in the US. Within a few days I turned up a relatively obscure news item from a small town in northern Ohio. Hallelujah!

The headline read: Curious and faithful flock to shrine where teen reported heavenly visit. In the tiny town of Ellsworth, Ohio, over the long, hot summer of 1991, local residents claimed the Virgin Mary appeared regularly in the sunset over a two-month period, and a teenage boy took to preaching nightly to the crowds that gathered there. The sightings were never investigated, much less authenticated, by the Catholic Church, and the story was never covered in anything but the local press. At the end of the summer, the apparitions ceased.

Betsy Tobin TWCENewsStory

For me, that news story was manna from heaven. I already had Annemarie, the blind, chaste, seventeen year-old who finds herself inexplicably pregnant at the novel’s outset. And now I had Ethan, the teenage boy whose hapless two-year quest to win her love forms the backbone of the narrative. At the novels’ outset, Ethan has barely stepped foot inside a church. (‘I always thought we could be Unitarian,’ his mother muses in the book’s early pages. ‘If you could be bothered,’ Ethan counters.) But when he encounters a vision of the Virgin Mary by the town’s wayside shrine, Ethan quickly decides that maybe he’s a believer after all. And before long he discovers that the road to faith can be a perilous one…
Betsy Tobin’s THINGS WE COULDN’T EXPLAIN is published now by Accent Press.

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Buy link –  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Things-Couldnt-Explain-coming-age-ebook/dp/B00LNB1OUK

You can find Betsy  here www.betsytobin.co.uk  and on Twitter  @betsytobin

Catch the excellent book trailer here!! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zA_TXNGyqFI

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Many thanks for dropping by today Betsy – Happy Christmas!

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

Interview with Maggie Cammiss

I have the lovely Maggie Cammiss with me today for a pre-Christmas cuppa.

Why not put your feet up for five minutes, and join me in finding out the background story to Maggie’s writing and her latest novel, No News is Good News?
maggies cover

What inspired you to write your book?

It’s a bit of a cliché these days, but the old advice to write about what you know certainly worked for me. Most of my working life has been spent in a TV news environment; I have enough material for several books and it would be a pity to waste it.

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

I’ve changed all the names to protect the guilty! Seriously, I try really hard not to characterize specific people, but inevitably, I think, aspects of personalities creep in. The trick is to disguise them by changing their age and/or sex so they don’t recognise themselves.

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

For No News is Good News, my working life was enough. For the next one, there are some psychological and social issues to research.

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

I write a lot of short stories in the first person, but 3rd person limited, where all the action is seen from the heroine’s point of view, seems to work best for my novels.

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

When I first started writing I didn’t believe people when they told me that my characters would have their own opinions about what was going to happen. They are my creations, I thought; they will do as I say! Wrong. So, I like to start with some idea of where I’m going, but inevitably the characters take over and I end up in some pretty interesting situations that I didn’t plan. And for that, I thank them.

What is your writing regime?

I don’t stick to a rigid timetable. I work for The History of Advertising Trust two days a week, where I am their Project Developer, and we also have my mum in law living in the annex. She suffers from Alzheimer’s, so interruptions are a part of daily life. I make an awful lot of notes in the dead of night – I’ve even got a pen with a light on the end.

What excites you the most about your book?

That it’s finished and published! I can’t tell you how satisfying that feels. And I think it’s a good read that hopefully lots of people will enjoy. Joining the online community has also been a huge revelation – there are so many genuinely supportive and encouraging people out there.

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

I’d love to spend time with Stephen King, an absolute master story-teller – hopefully some of his skill would rub off on me as I scribbled away. I’d also include Annie Lennox, to teach me how to sing and Rory McIlroy, who could help with my golf!

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

To anyone contemplating writing a novel and beset with doubts, I’d say – get on with it! Otherwise, how will you know?

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Bio

I am constantly inspired by the written word. Always an avid reader, the first years of my working life were spent in public libraries. Later, I moved into film archives, and in 1989 joined Sky News when the channel first launched. At the end of 2005, after over ten years as Head of the News Library, I left London with my partner to see what life outside the M25 had to offer. We settled in Norfolk, I joined a local writing group and started to write seriously.

I came away from the hectic environment of a 24-hour rolling news channel with a gift: masses of background material for a novel. Having almost completed No News is Good News, I succeeded in the NaNoWriMo challenge 2012 with the first 50,000 words of the second in the series. I also write short stories, some of which I read on local radio, and our writing group has just self-published an anthology of our work.

I work part time for the History of Advertising Trust, the archive to the UK advertising industry, where I write news items for our website and the Trust’s regular e-newsletter, occasional articles for the press, book reviews and promotions, and develop new revenue streams to help keep the charity afloat.

Nick and I are finally getting married next year, so there’s a wedding to arrange in 2015, as well as novel No2 to finish. Happy days!

If you’d like to find out more about Maggie and her writing you can find her via these links-

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

Blog:          http://maggiecammiss.com

Amazon:     http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=maggie+cammiss&rh=n%3A266239%2Ck%3Amaggie+cammiss

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Many thanks for stopping by today Maggie- and huge congratulations on your forthcoming wedding.

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

 

 

 

 

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