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

Tag: writer

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.


Buy link –

You can find Betsy  here  and on Twitter  @betsytobin

Catch the excellent book trailer here!!


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?



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-





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

Happy reading,

Jenny xx





Twenty Questions With Jenny Kane

Jenny KaneI have been neglecting this blog a little this week, 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?

The other me- Kay Jaybee– has had a new novel released this week- I’ve been concentrating on promoting that. (The Retreat- Part 2 of The Perfect Submissive Trilogy)

  1. 2. Are you more like Kay or Jenny in real life?


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

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?

Too many

  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?


  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…?

Yes- just like Amy did- well, the archaeology bit anyway- I think I can guess the next question!

  1. So  are you Amy?

I am a little tiny bit, but only a little bit. I am more like Kit- but not too much!!!

  1. You feature Kew Gardens in the book, 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?

I love being both 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?

I’m writing a Christmas spin off from Another Cup of Coffee– a novella length piece, which should hopefully get to you all in time for this year’s festive season.


I hope my answers made you smile! I am certainly smiling- for Another Cup of Coffee is still selling really well!

If you fancy seeing what all the fuss is about- then you can order your copy of Another Cup of Coffee here…


Amazon UK-


Amazon US –


Thanks for dropping by!


Jenny xx


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