A lovely new review has just appeared for ‘Igboland’ on NetGalley:
“Set in 1960’s civil war era Nigeria, this book tells the story of Clem a Methodist Missionary and his wife Lydia who settle in Biafra/Igboland to work with the local populous and churches, clinics and schools. The story is told from Lydia’s point of view and grips from the very start with such attention to the smallest details whilst opening your eyes to the cultural, religious and political differences that they are challenged with.
“Set over a few years it shows the strain that a missionary’s wife has as someone without a ‘role’, ie she is not the missionary, but his wife and the search for self-recognition and finding her own identity. However, war, love, the local villagers and illness all drive wedges between the couple and the pressure on their relationship is huge.
“The story is very well written and you are there with them as they face West Africa together and come to terms with their lifestyle adjustments. The author has created something very special here that really gave me cause to want more of this style of writing that’s alive and thoroughly researched.
“A great book that was hard to stop reading!”
What are the main ideas or themes in your book?
A typical ‘Jenny Kane’ story works around the idea of friendship, kindness, and coffee. The modern world is full of television shows that are based on laughing at the humiliation of other people, soap operas designed to depress, and reality programmes that work off the exploitation of failure. I try and make my books an antidote to that current popularity of negativity.
Without being sickly-sweet or twee, my books are about good people, trying to make their lives, and the lives of other people better. Usually while drinking a cup of coffee!
What is the setting or context of the narrative?
At the moment I am proofing the final round of edits for my next novel, ‘Another Glass of Champagne’, which will be out in June.
This is the fifth book in my ‘Another Cup of Coffee’ series, which is set in and around the Pickwicks Coffee Shop in Richmond, near London. With the popularity of coffee shops and cafes continually on the rise, such an establishment seemed the ideal location to bring together a group of characters to base my stories around.
As a daily coffee shop visitor myself (I am writing this from my personalised corner in my local cafe), I know that cafes are a hotbed of inspiration for stories!
Tell us more about the main characters and their dilemmas.
In ‘Another Glass of Champagne’ the main characters are each facing a new challenge in their lives. When the first book, ‘Another Cup of Coffee’ was written, Kit, Amy, and Jack were all in their 30’s. Now they’re in the 40’s, and rather than their lives calming down- they are just as complicated as ever.
-Kit is coming to terms with her children leaving home.
-Amy is facing motherhood, just when she’d given up ever being a parent
-Jack on the other hand, is simply trying to start a brand new career- not to upset everyone- and maybe find himself a boyfriend that won’t let him down.
Why did you write this novel? Any other issues or ‘big ideas’ behind it.
I never dreamt that I would write ‘Another Glass of Champagne.’
When ‘Another Cup of Coffee’ was written it was going to be a standalone novel. It was a story that I had always wanted to write, about what might have happened to me if I didn’t make one major decision (that I did make) after university. I’m not going to tell you what that decision was- you’ll have to read ‘Another Cup of Coffee’ to find out!
I had no hopes to expand, it. But thanks to luck, and kind readers, I was asked to do a short Christmas sequel- and then another- and then another! ‘Another Glass of Champagne’, (a full length novel this time), will be the last one of this series.
How do you go about writing a novel? Is it a simple or complex process?
I find writing a novel fairly simple. The complex bit is finding the time to sit and write in between my three part time jobs and looking after my family.
What advice do you have for less experienced writers?
Be patient. Success in writing usually comes slowly- and it can’t be counted in monetary reward. Your success has to be assessed via the number of people you have made happy with your words.
What are you working on currently?
I am currently writing the sequel to my Cornish romance, ‘Abi’s House’. This new novel, ‘Abi’s Neighbour’, will be out in Summer 2017.
What would your perfect day be?
Coffee to hand, a fresh notebook and pen at the ready, and no ‘real’ work demands stopping me from writing!
If you could leave a message to the world, what would it be?
Thanks, Jenny, for your thoughts and for telling us about your wonderful books. All the best with your writing projects.
Many thanks for inviting me along today, Jeff.
Buy link for ‘Another Cup of Coffee’ – mybook.to/cupcoffee
Jenny Kane Bio-
With a background in history and archaeology, Jenny Kane should really be sat in a dusty university library translating Medieval Latin criminal records, before writing research documents that hardly anyone would want to read. Instead, tucked away in the South West of England, Jenny Kane writes stories with one hand, while working for a Distance Learning Company with the other.
Jenny spends a large part of her time in the local Costa, where she creates her stories, including the novels Abi’s House (Accent Press, June 2015), Romancing Robin Hood (Accent Press, 2014), the best selling contemporary romance Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and the novella length sequels Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), Christmas in the Cotswolds, (Accent Press, 2014), and Christmas at the Castle, (Accent Press, 2015).
Her next full length novel, Another Glass of Champagne, (Part 5 of the Another Cup of… series), will be published by Accent Press in June 2016.
Jenny Kane is also the author of quirky children’s picture books There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hushpuppy, 2014) and Ben’s Biscuit Tin (Hushpuppy, 2015)
Keep your eye on Jenny’s blog at www.jennykane.co.uk for more details.
Jenny Kane also writes erotica as Kay Jaybee. (www.kayjaybee.me.uk)
I’m thrilled to host Sarah Louise Smith on my blog once again, to spotlight her fabulous new romantic novel, The Truth About Ellen. Imagine you had the chance of a romantic encounter with an adolescent crush… then read on. Here is an extract from this brand new book with purchase links and more info about Sarah below.
Extract from The Truth About Ellen by Sarah Louise Smith:
Ellen is staying at hotel when she spots a member of a band she was a huge fan of in her teen years…
Was that who I thought it was?
He looked older, for sure. But then it’d been ten years since I’d seen his face. No. It was him, I was sure of it. I stared at the back of his head, willing him to turn again, but he didn’t. So I did the only thing I could; I dropped my book again. With a bit more height and force this time.
He looked around, this time with a confused, quizzical look. It was! It was him!
I lifted my book and rolled my eyes, shaking my head slightly to show what an imbecile I was for dropping my book twice in the space of a few minutes.
Then, Tom Green – yes, the Tom Green, who wrote the lyrics and played the bass in Four Ape; Tom Green, the one I’d fancied least but respected the most – got up off his blanket and came over to me.
He looked older, but not in a bad way. Time had filled him out; he’d gone from skinny and lanky to broad and sexy. His dark hair was much shorter and neater than when I’d last seen him on TV with just a couple of silver flecks above his ears. His eyes were the same; grey-blue. He was wearing a checked blue and white shirt, the sleeves rolled up to just below his elbows and slim fitting jeans. Holy crap, he’d turned out good. He held up his paperback.
“We’re reading the same book,” he said simply, a small smile forming on his lovely, lovely face.
“Oh wow, so we are,” I said, holding mine up for him to see, as if he hadn’t already. Why hadn’t I put any make-up on this morning?
“Are you enjoying it?” he asked me.
“Well, I’ve only read a few pages.”
“I’m about a quarter of the way through. It really gets interesting after chapter four.”
I nodded. “Good to know, thank you.”
“Mind if I join you?”
He smiled and dropped his blanket on the floor, then sat beside me on the bench, immediately opening his book and continuing his reading. Was he staying at this hotel? He must be! What were the chances? I mean, I know I’d met a Four Ape member before, but really, I had to be the luckiest fan in the world. I felt the familiar moistness developing on my hands. Now was not the time to get nervous and sweaty. I tried to take a subtle deep breath.
Oh. My. God. This was amazing. I told the 13 year old inside me to shut up and calm down before I strangled her. I opened up my book but didn’t read one word. I kept stealing sideways glances at Tom. Tom Green.
Sitting on the same bench as me. Of all the benches in the world … and of all the books… Now that he was closer, I realised I was right about him being better looking now than he was back then; he was never ugly, but just kind of ordinary looking. Now, he had a fuller, handsomer face and muscular arms. His dark hair was trimmed at the sides but a little longer on top, and he had a thin layer of stubble, which suited him. And he smelled amazing. I stared at my book and tried to read the sentence I’d been on before he’d come over.
“It’s beautiful here, isn’t it?” he asked me. I looked up from my book and at his lovely, lovely eyes.
“Did you arrive today?”
“About an hour ago. You?”
“I’ve been here three weeks.”
“Yeah, I just came for a few days initially, but I loved it, so I stayed.”
“Are you here alone?”
“Well, it’s a lovely place to take a break.”
I nodded, unsure what to say next. I tried to subtly wipe my hands on my jeans. I really had to chill. I could not mess this up; I could not say anything that would make him stop talking to me.
“Where are you from?” I asked, searching my bank of small talk questions for the next one.
“London. Well, I’m from London. I’ve also got a house in the south of France, and spend a lot of time there too.”
“Sorry, what a pretentious wanker that makes me sound!” He laughed. “I don’t mean to sound so conceited.”
I laughed. “Not at all.”
“Where are you from?”
“Ah, I’ve been there. Lots of roundabouts.”
I know you’ve been there, I wanted to tell him. I was one of the fifty or so girls screaming as you walked in and out of the radio station for an interview, back in 1998…..
The Truth About Ellen
It’s every girl’s dream to date a pop star…
When Ellen starts dating Tom, a member of the band she adored as a teenager, she can’t believe how lucky she is.
She neglects to mention that she’s a huge fan because that just wouldn’t be cool, would it?
Ellen also keeps quiet about how she once spent an evening with Tom’s ex-bandmate/ex-best friend Jasper, her long-term celebrity crush. Tom doesn’t need to know about that, it’s all in the past.
That is until Tom and Jasper get back in touch… and the truth threatens to ruin everything Ellen has ever dreamed of…
The Truth About Ellen is available to buy from:
About Sarah Louise Smith
Sarah Louise Smith lives in Milton Keynes, England with her husband, step-daughter, loopy golden retriever and cheeky tortie cat.
Sarah has been writing stories since she can remember and has so far completed four chick-lit novels, all published by Crooked Cat:
Amy & Zach
Izzy’s Cold Feet
The Truth About Ellen
Connect with Sarah:
I’m delighted to welcome David J O’Brien on my blog again. His wonderful new novel, Five Days On Ballyboy Beach, is just out and already receiving glowing reviews. I’ll pass over to David who is here to discuss the role of research in the process of writing. Please click on the cover or links below to purchase this or his previous and highly recommended novel, Leaving the Pack.
Thanks for hosting me today Jeff.
I had thought about one of the questions you asked me when hosting me on your blog after the release of Leaving the Pack – whether my novels required a lot of research. Well, Five Days on Ballyboy Beach required a bit. The characters go snorkeling, canoeing and surfing, which are hobbies that I have very little experience of.
I don’t like doing a lot of research for my novels. I don’t enjoy it all that much. I think it takes up too much time from the writing. Even today with all the information we have at our fingertips, it’s hard to do quickly, and efficiently – at least for me. If I do embark on a bit of internet investigation, I usually end up with the day gone and only random facts in my head. I mostly rely on things I already know, on information I’ve already picked up as I go along through life.
When writing, though, there will always be things that the character knows that the writer doesn’t. What I tend to do in this case is leave all the stuff I don’t already know, or am not certain about, until the end of the first draft – leaving little gaps where the absolutely necessary information has to go, and fill them in as I edit and write the second draft. Of course, I always end up with extra stuff that I can’t help trying to slot in during the second draft, too.
What I tend to do more if I don’t’ know much about a subject, is ask a friend who does. Most of my mates know more than I do!
For Five Days on Ballyboy Beach, I had to ask for help with the details of wetsuits used in different activities (much of which didn’t make it to the final edit, showing that often we’re just wasting time trying to add in those authentic details!) and types of surfboards.
At the same time, there is no way that I could have written (or would have tried to write) anything about surfing had I not had a least a little idea of what it feels like to ride a wave – or attempt to anyway! I did spend a weekend trying to stand up on the west coast once, and have sat in a few canoes, and even snorkeled in the frigid waters off Ireland. On these scant experiences, I wrote the novel. However, I also asked a friend to read the surfing description – there’s an excerpt below where you can see how well it turned out – when I had finished the first draft.
Nevertheless, I didn’t reveal all of what I had written, in order to maintain the surprise when he reads the whole novel, so any errors or inauthenticities that may remain are entirely my own. At the end of the day (as the footballers say) I can shrug my shoulders and say, I didn’t know – it’s fiction!
Blurb for Five Days on Ballyboy Beach:
Excerpt from Five Days on Ballyboy Beach:
Back on the beach, the others were still ensconced in their sleeping bags. It was very quiet, so we didn’t disturb them. We got ready to get in the water instead.
We took the boards off the cars; Bill’s usual five-foot short board, and Pat’s old eight-foot long elephant gun Malibu board for me. Then we put on the wetsuits. Carrying the boards under our arms, we walked down to the water. The waves were now less the abstract entities out at sea they had been that morning and more like living beings, pouring fourth to crush the land and anything that happened to put itself in the way.
This was the reason we were here. Regardless of drinking, walking, girls, discos, canoeing, sunsets and stars, this was why we had chosen to come to this place, and everyone bar me had taken time off work; to surf. We watched the waves roll in—the bigger ones in sets of three or four, and sometimes five. The biggest of these were usually the second, and sometimes the third. These were the ones to catch. The sets appeared as anomalies on the horizon, obscure objects disturbing the straight line between the sea and sky, slowly growing darker and larger as they approached. They were about four or five feet high—just right for beginners like me—and broke in two places. A few metres out from the cliffs, where the reef pushed them up constantly, they rose steeply and broke away from the cliff. Some seventy five metres further along, where a sandbank rose, the white curtain of water fell in both directions. To our left it joined that of the reef break, and to the right it fizzled out somewhat near the rocks, at the point where the stream, as it flowed into the sea, and the rip current combined to gouge out a relatively deep channel.
We waded out into the surf near the rocks to take advantage of the rip, holding the boards above the waves as long as we could, then dropping them and jumping up to slide onto them before paddling out. Bill forced his board down and ducked under incoming waves, while I rode high over them on my much more buoyant board. I was out of breath by the time we got past the breakers, and I sat up on the board to catch it.
Bill had already recovered his breath when the next set loomed. He chose the second wave, turned his board toward land and started paddling furiously. After a few seconds he looked around to gauge its distance. The wave rolled under me, and as it reached him, raising him up, he put his hands on the board and pushed down on it, forcing it down the other side of the wave at the same time as lifting his body up enough to get his legs under him and plant his feet firmly on the waxed surface. Then he stood up on the board as it slid down the crest of the wave. He leaned to the left and brought it along the wave, away from its break-point, going up and down along it twice, before he lost his balance and fell into the water with the wave washing over him.
It took a while for the next set to appear. My heart raced as I watched it and waited. I let the first wave pass, holding on to the board as it bobbed me up and down, then turned as the second was about six feet away, slid forward a little on the board and paddled as fast as I could. I breathed hard and kept pushing as I felt the wave roll underneath me. I accelerated suddenly, and as I did, I found myself leaning forward down the wave. Grabbing the side of the board, I quickly lifted my body up off it and put my feet on the board. I tried to stand up, but the wave pushed me down its face and the white foam rained all around me as I fell forward. The board slid over my head, blocking the sunlight momentarily. Suddenly all was blue and noise.
I surfaced after a few seconds and swam after the board, holding on to it as the last wave of the set swept over me as well. When it had passed, I slid back onto the board and paddled out again, as fast as I could before another set could arrive and push me back towards the shore again.
Just as I got out to the break-point, another set approached fast. I took a few deep breaths to get my wind back while the first two went under, and started out again after the third. I felt it rise up and paddled harder, but I caught sight of the white foam bubbling on my right where the wave was breaking, and, despite trying for a few more seconds and pushing down on the board to force it over the top, it rolled onwards. I was left lying on the board, panting. I turned around and paddled back out, moving left a few metres where the wave had begun to break. The first wave had brought me along the beach a little, so when I had gone back out I had been in the wrong place.
Bill was sitting on his board, waiting for me. “You popped too late on that first one,” he told me.
“Yeah. I guessed that all right,” I replied, still out of breath.
I’d like to welcome author Sarah Louise Smith to my blog. Her new novel Independent Jenny is out today. It’s another fabulous read for anyone who enjoys romantic fiction. Click on cover images or links below to purchase Sarah’s books.
Sarah Louise Smith lives in Milton Keynes, UK, with her husband, a cute cat and a loopy golden retriever. She has an extremely lovely step-daughter and spends most of her free time writing, reading, cooking, and taking long walks.
She’s the author of three chick-lit novels: Amy & Zach, Izzy’s Cold Feet, and her brand new novel, Independent Jenny, all published by Crooked Cat.
Sarah’s website/blog: www.sarahlouisesmith.com
What are the main themes explored in Independent Jenny?
Loyalty. Trust. Love.
Tell us more about Jenny and her dilemmas.
Jenny finds out in Chapter 1 that her husband Ross has cheated on her and goes on a journey whereby she’ll get a crush on her brother-in-law (the lovely Aiden, who happens to like her back – awkward!), is begged by Ross for forgiveness, goes on holiday with her friend Hayley to clear her head, but only gets more confused when she meets the lovely Will – an ex-boyfriend who is also now married. Essentially, it’s about a woman who gets betrayed and goes on a rollercoaster of emotions.
You have two main settings. Why are they important?
Jenny’s hometown of Bath and her holiday location of the Isle of Skye are almost like two additional characters in the novel. Very different – a busy city and a rural, quiet island. I love both of these places and really wanted to write about them, and I think my love of them comes through Jenny, too. She loves her hometown, but also adores Skye. They offer her different things; her business and friends are in the city, but the beauty of Skye is so romantic, too.
Do you see any connection between your novels?
Obviously with chick-lit (aka romantic comedy) you get a lot of similar themes; love being the main one. I’ve also had a few characters pop up with cameo’s in each of my books so they’re connected in a fictional sense too!
This is your third novel. Does the writing process get easier or harder?
Easier, for sure. It took me a long time to write Amy & Zach; I didn’t know how to structure a story or how to even reach full-novel length. Izzy’s Cold Feet was a little easier. Independent Jenny I felt much more confident about how I would tell the story, and my next novel is being written in record time!
Tell us about your current work in progress.
It’s about Ellen, who tells a lie during a romantic fling. But when the fling turns into something much more serious, it’s too late to go back.
Sounds great – look forward to that one. You have some skill and experience in marketing. Any good tips for other authors?
Use social media, blogging and so on regularly. Be engaging, find relevant/fun content, and create a brand for yourself. Believe in yourself and your product, but don’t push it on anyone.
How do you manage to hold down two careers?
With great difficulty! My house is often dusty, and my friends often get neglected. But I love both my marketing executive role and my writing career – and right now I seem to be able to just about have both. I don’t complain about my lack of free time though – I consider myself incredibly lucky.
About Independent Jenny:
“I slept with someone else.” Those five words changed everything.
After her husband Ross drops a bombshell, Jenny’s emotions go hay-wire. Things are made even more complex when his brother Aiden makes a confession of his own…
A holiday escape with her friend Hayley seems the perfect way to figure out what – and who – she wants. But Hayley has a hidden motive that results in Jenny spending time with her ex-boyfriend Will, who is now married.
Should Jenny forgive Ross? Can she ignore her feelings for romantic Aiden? And why can’t she get Will out of her head?
One thing is for sure: Jenny doesn’t want to be alone. Surely any man is better than no man, right?
You can purchase paperbacks or e-versions from all the usual online book sellers.
Follow Sarah on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahSmith16
Find Sarah on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarahlouisesmithauthor
Thanks, Sarah. Best of luck with Independent Jenny.
Donny is obsessed with his housemate, Selena – but his love is unrequited. He enthusiastically accepts her willing friendship, which only fuels his deepening fantasies.
Jaz is their crazy landlord who likes sleeping with women – lots of them. He takes pleasure in educating the once innocent Donny in the hedonistic pleasures of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. It blows Donny’s mind.
Selena is engaged to Melvin – the perfect man – but is also keen to befriend the ever-demanding Donny … until she falls pregnant and her wedding looms.
Donny expresses his true feelings at the wedding, causing mayhem and anger. But there remains a chink of hope: perhaps Selena’s marriage to Melvin is not quite as perfect as it seems.
The marriage service seemed to go on forever.
Long, monotonous choruses accompanied the strumming of two guitar chords. The prayers began with ‘Lord I just wanna…’ followed by the obligatory praying for the bride and groom with laying-on-of-hands. When the bearded elder pressed his hand on Selena’s bosom, it occurred to Donny it was an excuse to touch the bride.
Then the photographs took days to complete, while the guests, ensconced at a nearby posh hotel, starved to death with only small glasses of Schlöer to stop them from dehydrating.
The dreaded speeches followed.
‘Thank you, so much, everyone, for sharing our special day,’ said Melvin, the groom.
Donny couldn’t help staring at Selena. She looked stunning in the simple ivory dress. It showed her magnificent figure in all its glory, unspoiled yet by the swell of pregnancy. Her hair curled in ringlets at the side of her face, falling from her veil and framing her lovely cheeks. Donny continued his gaze as her hand caressed her lips. The desperate urge to touch her became an overwhelming feeling of sorrow and loss.
The people at his table laughed at Selena’s father’s comments.
‘Does anyone remember that time my new son-in-law nearly burnt my house down last year when he lit the barbeque?’ Everyone laughed politely. ‘But anyway, we’re here to celebrate the love this couple clearly feel for each other. I can see how much they are in love from the joy in their eyes.’
Donny swallowed bile.
Then Melvin stood up to speak. ‘God has blessed me today by letting me marry the most wonderful woman in the world. With Jesus beside us, we aren’t so much a couple as a threesome.
A few guests sniggered.
Donny looked around with narrowed eyes. Scowling, he wrung the tablecloth as if it was wet.
The best man took his turn. ‘As a doctor, Melvin saves lives every day; as a Christian he works tirelessly for charity. He also finds time to help lead our church, preaching and ministering to the sick and infirm…’
Why did nobody mentioned Selena’s baby? As if it wasn’t why they were there today. Did they not know or were they ignoring it? He wanted them to know Melvin wasn’t the great shining example they assumed, but a total hypocrite—shagging his girlfriend whilst preaching morality. Could no one else see the hypocrisy?
Once the speeches were over, the servers poured more wine while the happy couple mingled. Donny sat back and listened to the clamour of myriad conversations. Voices buzzed around him until the hubbub became a grating irritant. Every sound intensified behind his eyes, which he momentarily closed.
‘Melvin truly is a holy man of God.’
‘They make such a perfect couple—so young and in love.’
As Donny sat listening to the inane conversations around him, they began to reverberate in his head and squeeze his temples like a pincer. Something uncomfortable stirred, churning his insides.
‘I was feeling quite depressed and then I remembered Melvin prophesied about Jesus healing the sick and that afternoon I made an amazing recovery.’
He didn’t know how much more he could take. The cacophony of voices became a crashing wave of atonal sound. Every sound was a spike hammering through his brain.
‘…Isn’t Melvin just the best…?’
‘…I’ve never seen a couple so in love…’
‘…and they’ll have such beautiful children…’
With a roar, Donny stood, his chair crashing to the floor. He grabbed the table with all his strength and knocked it on its side. The dishes hit to the floor, shattering. He had their attention.
‘Fatuous bullshit! You’re talking absolute, fucking bullshit. Can’t you see what’s going on? Melvin ‘goody-two-shoes’ got her pregnant, and you still think he’s wonderful. Selena doesn’t love him, but she’s too scared to say.’
His sister, Hazel, tried to stop him. He pushed her away. ‘I can’t bloody stand it any longer. I’m in love with you, Selena.’
People sat, speechless.
Some other guests got up, moving quickly towards him.
‘You can’t marry him…what’ll happen to me?’ He stopped, breaking down completely and slowly melted into an indistinct blob on the floor. ‘Who the fuck am I kidding? Why would she ever love me?’
Melvin, his father, and a few other men grabbed Donny. They carried him like a rolled up carpet. He kicked and struggled to no avail as they took him from the room.
‘Leave me alone, you bastards!’
Where the hell were they taking him?
His head ached. He was getting hotter and hotter while the world outside burst into flames. Finally, he tipped into a burning abyss.
Buy Treading On Dreams: