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

Tag: writer’s life

16 years… and counting…

This week marks the start of my 16th year as a published author!

I’m not at all sure how I got this far. It’s a constant source of surprise to me that so many people want to read my books – whether of an erotic, romantic or historical lilt.

The publishing world – and the world in general – has changed so much since my first kinky short story, was taken up by Cleis Press (under the pen name Kay Jaybee). I had no idea sixteen years ago, that that initial publication would lead to anymore. I did know however, once I’d had that first story acceptance, that I wanted to try for another one. The feeling I get when a book, short story or script is accepted by a publisher is a hit like no other – not even extra strong coffee with a side order of chocolate, can touch it!

So- here I am, 200+ short stories, 6 scripts and 29 novels/novellas later, with a brand new novel at the starting gates!

Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange will be published this week!!

Autumn Leaves at Mill Grange

‘I am a big fan of Jenny Kane’ Katie Fforde.

At Mill Grange, the work – and the fun – never stops! As autumn brings coolness and colour, change is in the air for all at the manor…

Sam Philips’ time in the forces changed him forever. Supported by his friends, Sam is keen to help make beautiful Mill Grange a safe retreat for injured army personnel… but his crippling claustrophobia means Sam is living in a tent on the grounds! Enlisting the help of charming village stalwarts Bert and Mabel Hastings, Tina Martins is determined to find a way to help him conquer his fears. But why does she feel like he is keeping a secret?

After discovering evidence of a Roman fortlet on the manor’s grounds, Thea Thomas is thrilled at the chance to return to her archaeological roots and lead the excavation. She spent the summer with handsome celebrity archaeologist Shaun Cowlson – but now he’s off filming his Landscape Treasures show in Cornwall, and Thea can’t help but miss his company. Especially as someone else is vying for his attention…

Welcome back to Mill Grange and the beautiful village of Upwich, full of larger-than-life characters you can’t  help but adore.

Available from Nook, Kobo, as well as Amazon UK and Amazon US

I’d like to say THANK YOU to everyone who has supported my writing journey – whether you’ve bought a book, left a nice review, or simply given me support, encouragement, or made me smile – it all helps – and it is always appreciated.

I’m so lucky to be able to write for a living – and while the hours are long and the pay is bad, to be able to spend my days in fiction of my own creation, or helping my Imagine students to develop their own fiction, is a joy and a privilege.

Happy reading everyone – and thank you.

Jenny xx

Improved: Jenny Kane’s Mars Bar Scones

So – in an attempt not to work today (even though I’m home and there’s so much work to do!), I thought I’d have a go at improving my Mars Bar scones before I run out of ingredients for baking!

I’ve just tried this one- and WOW- it is GOOD! (She says modestly!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

(If you don’t have Mars Bars- try Maltesers, or a chocolate bar of your choice. Orange choc is very good!)

You will need…

350g self-raising flour

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

85g butter

3 level tbsp sugar (preferably caster)

175ml milk (warmed in microwave for 25 seconds)

1 tsp vanilla extract (optional)

5 or 6 mini Mars Bars – sliced thinly or cubed

Baking tray- lightly floured.

 

 

 

 

Method

Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7.

Add the self raising flour salt and baking powder into a bowl

Cut the butter into cubes and rub it into the flour mixture with your fingers until it looks like crumbs

Add in the caster sugar and mix.

Add 1 tsp vanilla extract

Add the Mars Bar pieces

Make a well in the dry mix with a blunt knife. Dribble in the milk, stirring with the knife until you have a dough – save a tiny bit of the milk to paint over the scones at the end., (The mix will seem sticky- dust with flour to ease kneading)

Flour your kitchen surface and place mix over flour. Knead and fold mix in your hands until it smooths out a fraction.

Using your hands (not a rolling pin) push the dough, so it is three to four centimetres thick.

Use a cutter or the top of a mug to make individual scones. (You’ll get 5-7 scones depending on size of cutter)

Brush the tops with the remaining milk and place on the tray.

Bake for 10 mins – eat immediately with butter!

***

Enjoy!!

Oh- and then do heaps of exercise to work the calories off!

Jen x

 

Recipe for writing success: Scones anyone?

Some of you will have heard the story about how my writing life came about- if you haven’t heard it- then basically, it was all down to a Mars Bar scone.

This week I was lucky enough to be speaking at the Weston Writer’s – ‘How to Be a Writer’ event – and the subject of Mars Bar scones came up.

I rashly promised to share the recipe…so….

Ingredients

8 oz self raising flour

2 oz butter

1 oz caster sugar

Half a teaspoon of baking powder

Quarter pint of milk (semi or full fat)

2 large or 6 mini Mars Bars (chopped into small pieces)

Method

Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl

Rub in the butter

Sprinkle in the diced Mars Bar

Make a well in the centre of the dry mixture

Pour in almost all the milk and stir slowly with a knife, gradually blending in the mixture to form a dough

Sprinkle some flour onto a dry hard surface

Roll out with a rolling pin until the dough is approx half an inch thick.

Use a cutter to cut into scone shaped rounds. (You will have approx 6 scones)

Paint the top with the remaining milk

Cook at Gas mark 8 or 230 degrees for 7-10 mins.

Eat hot with lots of butter! (This is not the time to think about your diet!!)

ENJOY!!

Happy munching

Jenny x

PS- If you don’t know the Mars Bar scone story…I’ll tell it again very soon!

 

 

Interview with Colette McCormick

Today I’m delighted to welcome Colette McCormick to my place for a cuppa and a chat.

Why not put your feet up for five minutes and join us? There’s cake…

Welcome Colette! Let me start by asking what inspired you to write An Uncomplicated Man?

The song ‘Danny Boy.’ I was on dialysis one night, just sitting there waiting for the four hours to be up when I started to think about my dad. ‘Danny Boy’ or ‘The Londonderry Air’ to give it its correct title, was his favourite song and that popped in there too. I thought that ‘Danny Boy,’ would make a great title and I started to throw a few ideas around in my head. The story that I came up with didn’t really work out and over time, developed into An Uncomplicated Man though if I’m honest I sometimes wish that we’d kept the original title.

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

I think that I probably pinch little bits from lots of people but I doubt that anyone would recognize themselves. If my mother had lived long enough, she might have seen pieces of herself in the obsessively house-proud mother in Ribbons in Her Hair, who made the best mashed potato in the world. She was guilty as charged on both fronts.

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

I had to read about bank interest rates in 1957 and the Suez crisis but I mainly just had to get a feel for the era.

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

All of my books have been written in the first person and the last three from dual perspectives so that the reader gets both sides of the story. I like the first person because it allows me to get into the characters head and tell things through their eyes.

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

I generally know where I want to go with a story but I let the characters take me there. There was one point in my first book, Things I Should Have said and Done, where I actually thought, ‘Oh, I didn’t see that coming.’

What is your writing regime?

It’s very relaxed I’m afraid. I work full time so that doesn’t leave a lot of time. I’ll do big chunks of writing on my days off, maybe three or four hours but the rest of the week it might just be an hour in the evening. I try to write at least something every day because I need the routine of it. I have to give myself a deadline because I find that helps to focus my mind.

What excites you the most about your book?

This book is totally alien to me inasmuch as it’s set before I was born so I have no experience of the time. Lucy is a completely different character for me too and while I’d probably hate her if I met her in real life, I enjoyed writing her.

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

Great question. If I couldn’t take my husband and two sons, the first person I’d want to be on the island with me would be Bear Grylls because he’d make sure that we survived. He’d be great when it came to building camps and finding things to eat. I would also want to have Anne Frank there because she’d be safe with us. Obviously, I knew her story before I read her diary but the way it ended broke me. I sobbed for ages and I still can’t get it out of my mind. The third person I’d like to share my desert island with is Sherlock Holmes. For me, he is one of the most complex and enigmatic characters ever created and I would love to try and understand how his mind worked.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I’d like to thank you for inviting me to spend time here. It’s been a lot of fun.

You are very welcome- thanks for coming along today.

***

Here’s the blurb to An Uncomplicated Man

An emotional, uplifting story about one man split between two lives… Perfect for fans of Amanda Prowse.

What if the man in your life isn’t who he says he is?

Daniel Laither is a mild-mannered and uncomplicated bank manager, but when his boss asks him for a favour, things begin to get tangled. Introduced to businessman Arthur Braithwaite, Daniel reluctantly agrees to a financial arrangement that will create an unbreakable link between them.

When Daniel meets Lucy, Braithwaite’s daughter, he becomes a man obsessed. From the steamy afternoons spent together in hotel rooms, to evenings out with Lucy in fancy restaurants, Daniel’s life moves a million miles from the one he’d had.

He finds himself lying to his friends, his colleagues and, most importantly, his wife. He borrows money from a loan shark to afford this double life, but when the debt demands to be paid, he contemplates stealing from the bank. When Lucy falls pregnant and Braithwaite insists upon a marriage, Daniel has to choose between his two lives…

***

Links

Facebook Author page

@colettemcauthor

Colette McCormick on Books and Life in General

Buy An Uncomplicated Man on Amazon

Bio

Originally a city girl, Colette has made her home in a one of the many former mining villages in County Durham. When not working as a retail manager for a large children’s charity she will more than likely be writing, even if it’s only a shopping list. She also enjoys cooking, gardening and taking the dog on long walks in the countryside near her home. She has been married for almost forty years and has two grown up sons.

***

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny x

 

 

8 Tips for Getting Down to Writing

One of the questions I’m asked the most, as both an author and a creative writing tutor, is

How do I actually get down to writing?

Let’s face it, there are a million and one plausible excuses not to sit and write. Most of them will be genuine- some will be sheer prevarication!

Not being able to write because you work long shifts, have children at home, pets that need walking, are ill…GOOD REASONS

Not writing because there’s a television show you’re keen to see or because you need to wash curtains- EXCUSES!

If you are having trouble knuckling down – especially if you’re new to writing, ASK YOURSELF IF THIS IS WHAT YOU WANT TO DO – if it is- read on!

Writing is a lot of fun, but you can’t escape the fact it takes discipline.

Here are my top 8 tips to getting down to writing!

Find your place.

Try working in different locations- at home, a cafe, a library etc- experiment with locations until you find the correct comfort zone for you and your writing.

Find you writing time and claim it as your own- even if it is only one hour a week.

Some people are at their most creative in the mornings, some in the evenings. If you are not tied by work hours, try out different times of day to write to discover when the words flow the best. If time is limited, label one hour (or even just 30 mins) a day as YOURS. Be brave enough to be selfish about it- this is YOUR WRITING TIME.

Get up earlier- stay up later- barricade yourself into your bedroom for an hour straight after work…whatever works best for you.

If you can’t write during your ‘writing time’- still keep that time as your own.

Sometimes the muse won’t come, however much you want it to. Keep that time as yours. Plot/plan/scribble/walk/polish your pens! Once you give it up once, it’ll be easier to give it up again- and you’ll lose it.

Turn distractions into stories

It you’re distracted by something- turn it into a short story or writing exercise. Make it work for you as a warming up exercise.

If you make a deadline- STICK TO IT

It’s so easy- especially before you’re contracted for work- to write with no deadlines. As soon as that happens you can be tempted to give up on your writing time. Make a deadline- stick to it.

Focus on the end result- think about what you want to achieve.

Always think of the big picture. This is your dream!

Keep your favourite food and drink handy.

Writing is hard work. Make sure you stay hydrated and don’t get peckish or your concentration will waver.

Allow yourself rewards. Bribe yourself if necessary!

Whatever it takes to keep that bum on that seat! Promise yourself a walk, a chocolate bar, a glass of wine for every section/chapter written

When the book is finished, treat yourself to that jumper you want, that trip to the takeaway, a meal out, a concert ticket… You will have earned it!

***

Having writing everyone,

Jenny

www.imaginecreativewriting.co.uk 

The Guilt Monster

This week I had the privilege of returning to the Imagine writing retreat at Northmoor House on Exmoor.

As retreat co-runner and writing trouble shooter, with my Imagine business partner, Alison Knight, I enjoyed the stunning countryside that surrounds Northmoor – an unspoilt Victorian manor house. It was wonderful to be in such a peaceful place with the excellent company of a number of fellow writers- many of whom are Imagine students.

On Tuesday evening we were joined by our guest speaker – novelist and all round lovely person, Kate Lord Brown. Kate gave a fabulous talk and workshop on the theme of inspirations. She also got us to think about our inner critics- including asking us to write down what they looked like.

I’ve never known a writer who was without an inner critic sitting on their shoulder. Most authors I’ve met have at least some level of imposter syndrome. But I had never considered turning these ‘critics’ into beings that we could- once personified- vanquish to the far corners of our minds.

As my fellow writers began to jot down descriptions of their critics, I was hit by two sensations. The first was that I don’t have an inner critic- I have an outer one- Me- and I never stop giving myself a hard time. The second realisation was that it isn’t so much criticism, as guilt.

I have an inner Guilt Monster. (Deserving of the capital letters.)

It’s voice never stops arguing with me…

You should work harder (I work 14 hr days – I overwork- but then I love my job)

You ought to be doing the job I trained for and earn a proper wage (I was never confident as a lecturer- I always assumed I knew nothing- yes, even historian me had an inner critic…)

You’re too nice to make it in the cut and thrust world of book sales (I have been conned by past publishers a lot because I’m so trusting- so can’t argue with my Guilt Monster on that one)

Even working as a trolley collector in the local supermarket would more than treble your hourly rate (I love my job, and I’m not into “owning stuff.”)

You aren’t good enough to make it (I’ve had 16 Amazon bestsellers)

I could go on….

I’m not sharing this with you to play for sympathy (I hate the poor-bugger-me syndrome that can go with this stuff), but to say how thankful I am to Kate Lord Brown for making me stop and think about this, frankly, ridiculous self-imposed, situation.

I think it would be unrealistic to ask myself to lose the insecurity factor. I honestly think I need it – I need to get nervous before a gig or anxious before a workshop – it drives me on- stops me being complacent, and so keeps me primed to always work my hardest to deliver the best I can for the people who rely on me- and to write the best books I can.

The Guilt Monster however, has to go.

I can see him now – and it is a him (I have no idea why, it really ought to be female – I can’t even get that right!!!)

He’s sort of green and has shaggy hair all over. He’s wearing a silly red and blue hat…I don’t know why. And he looks cross…and disappointed.

If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go out for a walk- with luck he’ll fall off my shoulder as I go. If he doesn’t look like he wants to let go, then I think I might give him a push

The Imagine retreat was brilliant…and as you can tell- thought provoking…

Happy reading,

Jenny xx

Interview with Patricia M Osborne: House of Grace

It’s interview time! So go and pop that kettle on, cut a slice of cake – and join myself and Patricia M Osborne as we chat about her latest novel, House of Grace.

What inspired you to write your book?

House of Grace, began as a screenplay for my BA dissertation. It was on completion of this project that I discovered my story had the potential to be developed further as a novel. Inspiration was derived from George Orwell’s Road to Wigan Pier and television dramas Mr Selfridge, and House of Elliott.

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

I prefer to write in first person. I’ve experimented in third but I feel too detached. In first person I feel everything that my character is feeling, I am my character.

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

I do plot in so much as I need to know the beginning, middle and end of my story but these are often subject to change.

What is your writing regime?

Mornings are for marketing, critique/editing and research. My muse tends to hit me late afternoon/evening and this is when I do the most of my writing. I never target myself to a specific number of words but I like to write every day in some form or other, whether that’s novel writing, a short story, poetry or re-working old pieces.

What excites you the most about your book?

I get very excited that readers are loving my book. I still haven’t quite got a handle on that. Regarding writing the book, stepping back in time and reliving memories that I can use to write my fiction.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I spent last year as Poet in Residence at my local Victorian park as part of my MA Creative Writing course. Researching the park’s past life inspired me to compile a fictional poetry anthology, titled In a Delightful Country, which will be published later this year.

Links:

patriciamosbornewriter.wordpress.com

Facebook: Patricia M Osborne, Writer

Twitter: PMOsborneWriter

Bio:

Patricia M Osborne is married with grown-up children and grandchildren. She was born in Liverpool and spent time in Bolton as a child and now lives in West Sussex. Patricia is a novelist, she also writes poetry and short fiction. Many of her poems and short stories have been published in various literary magazines and anthologies. She is studying for an MA in Creative Writing with University of Brighton. Her debut novel, House of Grace, A Family Saga, set in the 1950s/60s was released in March 2017.

***

Blurb

Blurb for House of Grace by Patricia M Osborne

It’s 1950 and all sixteen-year-old Grace Granville has ever wanted is to become a successful dress designer. She dreams of owning her own fashion house and spends her spare time sketching outfits. Her father, Lord Granville, sees this frivolous activity as nonsense and wants to groom her into a good wife for someone of his choosing…

Grace is about to leave Greenemere, a boarding school in Brighton. She’s blissfully unaware of her father’s plans when she embarks on a new adventure. The quest includes a trip to Bolton’s Palais where she meets coal miner, Jack Gilmore. Grace’s life is never the same again.

Travel with Grace through two decades as she struggles with family conflict, poverty and tragedy. Is Grace strong enough to defy Lord Granville’s wishes and find true love? Will she become a successful fashion designer? Where will she turn for help?

House of Grace, A Family Saga is available to order in paperback and kindle versions via Amazon:

http://mybook.to/HouseofGrace

***

Extract

House of Grace

Part 1

Chapter 1

 

I closed my sketchpad and crossed the room to the window. Seagulls flocked on the rocks, waves splashed high. I’d miss Greenemere but I was now a talented dress designer and full of dreams. One day, Grace Granville would change Britain’s vision of fashion.

The door creaked. Katy, my roommate, strolled back in. ‘Well?’

I turned around, mulling over her earlier words.

‘Well don’t just gawp.’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Come on Gracie, it’ll be fun. You can see how the other half lives.’

‘Wigan though.’ I twiddled my hair around my finger. ‘Father isn’t going to like it.’

‘It’s nineteen fifty, not the nineteen-hundreds, you know?’ She huffed. ‘Does he need to know about Wigan? It’s only for the dance. Just tell him you’re going to Bolton and that my Dad owns a cotton mill there.’

‘Maybe.’

‘Surely that should be respectable enough, even for your parents.’

It did sound thrilling. Would Father let me go? Katy was right, I didn’t need to tell him about Wigan or the dance.

‘Your parents are such snobs Gracie, best not mention Dad started off in a two-room terrace. Or that Mum was in service before she got married.’

After I finally agreed to phone my parents, Katy jumped off the bed, grabbed a small purse and waltzed into the bathroom.

‘What are you doing in there?’ I called.

‘Lippie.’

By that I assumed she meant lipstick. I’d never worn any. Would I need to? Should I be buying some? Maybe Katy would help me choose? I’d no idea what colour to get. I picked up a magazine with Bette Davis on the front cover. She was wearing bright red. Katy and I had seen her earlier in the year in All about Eve.

If we were going to a dance I needed to buy material to make a dress. I could see it now, a full skirt, fitted waist and belt, showing off my slim figure.

The door slammed shut as a new Katy rushed back in. What a metamorphosis. I wondered if I could change like that.

‘Dad said he’ll send his driver with the Rolls to collect us. Forgot to say, my cousin Jack can’t wait to meet you.’

Golly, she’d never mentioned him before. Better not mention Jack to Father. I wondered what Jack was like. Probably a spotty faced, lanky lad. He’d be no threat to my chastity…

***

 Many thanks for visiting today Patricia- wonderful interview.

Happy reading everyone,

Jenny xx

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