Out with the old, in with the new

Morocco: I fell in love

On this, the first day of 2018, like a great many people I’m thinking about my hopes, dreams and plans for the coming 12 months (as well as battling a hangover from hell). On the whole, 2017 could be characterised as disappointing, and I fell foul of low-level depression and a sense of hopelessness (I’m prone to it). There were highlights: two spectacular holidays; publication of Skin Deep and the fantastic reaction to it; another sell-out Beach Hut Writing Academy conference. But, while I’m not going to dwell on them, there have been a great many challenges and disappointments. Not one for resolutions – I always break them – instead I have a plan and I’m recording it here so that I might be held to account, by myself if no one else:

  • To pursue agent representation for my new novel – HIM, HER, US. I signed with Accent Press without an agent (they approached me directly) and while I’m grateful to the team at Accent for all their work on my books’ behalves, it’s time to move on.
  • Self-publish my romances. In December I got the rights back from the publisher of two romances I’ve penned under a pseudonym. After some rewriting, I will experiment with self-publishing and all being well I’ll write the third instalment, too. Here’s to becoming a hybrid author!
  • Write a middle-grade novel. I promised the children at the school where I work part-time that one day I’d write a novel that they might read. An idea has been germinating for some time and I believe I have the key to the story now.
  • Read more for pleasure (I do read a lot though it’s fair to say I lost my reading mojo for a few months in 2017) as well as the not-inconsiderable amount of reading I must do as part of my role as an editor and mentor.
  • Live healthier. I’m starting with a Dry January and plan to rein in the drinking over the rest of the year (and my life…) and exercise more: walking and swimming. Keep mentally healthier as well as physically.
  • Try new creative pursuits. I’m starting with sculpting thermo-plastic, curtesy of my good friends Matt and Ju of Blast Theory.

I have another idea for an adult novel too – more crime-y than anything I’ve tried before, but I suspect the above is enough to be getting on with for now.

Happy New Year beautiful people. Joy, kindness, hope.

Laura x

Advertisements

My Big Books of 2017

As the year draws to a close, it’s traditional for me to consider the books I’ve most enjoyed in the past twelve months. I don’t like using ‘best’, because this is a personal list and my preferred reading tends to reflect my emotional state as much as, if not more than, anything.

2017 has been a tough year, both personally and professionally – it’s been pretty shitty politically and economically, too, in my opinion. On the home front, to name but one challenge, there was a horrendous run-in with Southern Rail and Ginger1, my eldest boy. Professionally, while Skin Deep has been incredibly well-received (reviews were beyond my wildest hopes and dreams – thank you, dear readers) sales are, to coin a publishing cliché, disappointing.

So, perhaps it shouldn’t surprise me – or you – that the majority of the books I’ve enjoyed the most this year are dark in tone and subject matter. The up-lit star might have been rising across the publishing landscape, but not in my house! Here’s my list of the novels (yes, they’re all novels this year) that have impressed me the most:

IMG_3650Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall – this isn’t out till Spring 2018 but I was fortunate enough to receive an advance copy. A stunning exploration of obsessive love which delves deep into the twisted heart of a secretive, sexually charged relationship and the aftermath of its breakdown. One of the most compelling and psychologically complex thrillers I’ve read in a very long time – and its commentary on our current world is perceptive and terrifying in equal measure. I have no doubt this will be one of the most talked about psych thrillers of 2018. Breathtaking.

The Night Visitor by Lucy Atkins – a celebrated academic and TV presenter – a woman who ‘has it all’ writes a memoir about a long-lost heroine, reluctantly enlisting the aid of a socially inept housekeeper. It’s a novel about ambition, privilege, morality and dung beetles. Fabulous.

The Muse by Jessie Burton – I adored The Miniaturist and I’m fascinated by the Spanish civil war and art so this was near enough a sure thing. That said, I preferred Burton’s debut, but her second offering is wonderful story, set across two time-frames, about hidden treasures, faking it, love and identity.

IMG_3651Ivy and Abe by Elizabeth Enfield – another one not released until 2018 (February) which I read this year. A story of love and quantum physics, it’s beautiful, sad and clever. We meet the eponymous protagonists over the course of 70 years in 11 different realities, or universes. Fans of The Versions of Us (like me) and Life After Life should enjoy it. Gorgeous.

Lie with Me by Sabine Durrant – with a lying, narcissistic literary novelist at its heart and a supporting cast of unlikable metropolitan-elite types, this is a gripping and clever psychological thriller about a missing child and the dangers of little lies. Durrant’s brilliance lies in her ability to evoke sympathy for her male lead, Paul.

The Roanoke Girls by Amy Engel – it’s not a spoiler to reveal that this is a tale of incest (we know within the first 20 pages, if not earlier) set in the American mid-West. It’s a subject matter many will find distasteful, but Engel writes beautifully and sensitively. This incredible work has shades of Rebecca and reminded me in tone and in the portrayal of small town America and its inhabitants of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects – a much stronger book than her more successful Gone Girl, in my humble opinion.

That’s it. My to-read tower remains in danger of toppling and with lots of wonderful books scheduled for 2018 – including one by my good friend, Kate Helm (I can’t wait!) – I only hope I have enough time to write!

Merry Christmas one and all – here’s to the New Year!

IMG_3649

Laura x

 

Readers, I thank you

Recently I was invited to a book club gathering. The group read was Skin Deep and they were keen to meet with me and ask questions. It’s always nerve-wracking meeting readers even though I have had mostly good experiences and I enjoy it. After a wobble, I accepted the kind invitation.

On arrival in a fluster – late, I lost my way – and anxious I was told that the group (of 12) had eight senior medics and was given a quick run-through of the books they’d considered excellent of late. There were a lot of Booker prize listed novels, most were literary. My stomach knotted tighter. Three (I recall) of the medics were high ranking paediatricians. Jeepers, neither I nor my book are clever enough for this lot, I thought.

An excellent dinner was supplied by the host – lovely Sue – which we ate and made polite conversation. They were a lively and engaging bunch. And then, it time to talk about Skin Deep

I introduced the book, my influences and the journey. As one might expect, the first question concerned Cal’s medical condition. I explained it was fictional, deliberately non-specific, and I had known from the outset with absolute certainty that it would not be based on an actual condition; I would pick and mix from a number of sources. And I spoke about why this felt important: I would not want any individual – or relative, or friend of a person with a deformity – to think that they ‘were’ Cal; that they were ‘ugly’. We spoke of parental consent, abuse, exploitation, unconditional love, the visual world we live in and whether or not we can escape the pressures of this.

And then various members of group spoke of the characters, the details they’d enjoyed or admired, plot points and authorial choices, and I was blown away by what close, attentive readers they were. They talked about things I’d forgotten about! As I drove home I felt honoured they’d given so much to my book and I reminded myself that it is an honour when someone chooses to read your work, invests hours in this world in which there are a great many others demands on our time.

So, this is me, saying a huge THANK YOU to readers – those of the Westdene Book Club and others out there in the big wide world. You are why we authors do what we do.

 

Don’t Kill the Dog! Abi’s Neighbour by Jenny Kane

It’s lovely to be here with Laura, my fabulous friend and fellow Accent author, to talk a little about my new novel, Abi’s Neighbour. And it’s fab to have you here again, Jenny.

It’s so new, that it was only released into the wild yesterday! I’m so excited – and a little nervous. Abi’s Neighbour has a lot to live up to.

Set a year after my bestselling novel, Abi’s House; Abi’s Neighbour continues the story of young widow Abi Carter a year into her new life in the Sennen Cove area of Cornwall. Complete with her new boyfriend Max, and her friends Beth and Jacob, Abi is a very happy girl- until her old, unhappy, life moves in next door…

Blurb for Abi’s Neighbour

Abi Carter has finally found happiness. Living in her perfect tin miner’s cottage, she has good friends and a gorgeous boyfriend, Max. Life is good. But all that’s about to change when a new neighbour moves in next door.

Cassandra Henley-Pinkerton represents everything Abi thought she’d escaped when she left London. Obnoxious and stuck-up, Cassandra hates living in Cornwall. Worst of all, it looks like she has her sights set on Max.

But Cassandra has problems of her own. Not only is her wealthy married lawyer putting off joining her in their Cornish love nest, but now someone seems intent on sabotaging her business.

Will Cassandra mellow enough to turn to Abi for help – or are they destined never to get along?

Complete with sun, sea and a gorgeous Cornwall setting, Abi’s Neighbour is the PERFECT summer escape.

***

I was over the moon when I was asked to carry on Abi’s story. The original novel was indeed to be a standalone story, but thanks to the kind words of my readers, and the amazing number of books sold (which has to be down to the stunning Cornish setting), I was commissioned to carry on with Abi’s story.

When I announced there was going to be a sequel, I was delighted by the positive response from my readers. And also a little surprised- for the first three messages I received – as well as a further sporadic trickle of messages on the subject later- all said the same thing.

“Please don’t kill the dog!!!”

As if I would!

The dog in question is an elderly Golden Retriever called Sadie, right hand girl of pensioner Stan Abbey; owner of Abbey’s House. Sadie is Stan’s best friend, his confidant, his walking stick and his sole source of company until – one day- Abi Carter knocks on their front door and adds a whole heap of fun and laughter (as well as dog walks) into their lives.

And believe me…in Abi’s Neighbour Stan and Sadie have an ever bigger adventure than they did in Abi’s House. Sadie is now living with Abi, as Stan has moved into sheltered housing, but the man and dog connection is as strong as ever. I grant that the above blurb doesn’t even hint at what Stan and Sadie are up to…and that’s because I wanted it to be a total surprise!

If you fancy finding out what Abi does next- and Sadie obviously – then you can buy Abi’s Neighbour from all good book retailers in Kindle and paperback. (You don’t need to have read Abi’s House to enjoy Abi’s Neighbour)

Buy links-

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Abis-Neighbour-Jenny-Kane/dp/178615028X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487006698&sr=1-1&keywords=abi%27s+neighbour

 https://www.amazon.com/Abis-Neighbour-Jenny-Kane/dp/178615028X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487006868&sr=1-1&keywords=Abi%27s+Neighbour+by+Jenny+Kane

Thank you ever so much for hosting me today Laura! My pleasure – best of luck with the novel.

Happy reading everyone.

Jenny xx

Bio

Jenny Kane is the author of the full length romance novels Abi’s Neighbour, (Accent Press, 2017),  Another Glass of Champagne (Accent Press, 2016),  Abi’s House (Accent Press, 2015), the contemporary romance/medieval crime time slip novel Romancing Robin Hood (Accent Press, 2014), the best selling contemporary romance novel Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and its novella length sequels Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013), Christmas in the Cotswolds (Accent, 2014), and Christmas at the Castle (Accent Press, 2015).

Keep your eye on Jenny’s blog at www.jennykane.co.uk for more details.

Jenny also writes erotica as Kay Jaybee and historical crime as Jennifer Ash.

Social Media Links

Web site – http://www.jennykane.co.uk

Twitter- @JennyKaneAuthor

Facebook -https://www.facebook.com/JennyKaneRomance?ref=hl

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jenny-Kane/e/B00HYZIL1E/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1492502979&sr=8-2-ent

Goodreads- https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7255618.Jenny_Kane?from_search=true

It’s What’s Inside That Counts: Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover

Clichés? Certainly. True? Certainly. Except we do judge books by their covers, don’t we? And we judge people too.

My new novel, Skin Deep, is published in June by Accent Press and addresses the sticky issue of outward appearance versus inner reality – amongst other things. But today I’m talking about the cover – because a brand new one is unveiled today and I couldn’t be happier. The team at Accent have done a fabulous job at capturing the tone of the book and as we all know getting covers spot on is hard. Very hard. But this is perfect. I LOVE it, and I hope you do too. Can you tell how excited I am about this new novel?!

So here it is – the Skin Deep jacket. And the blurb and a link should you wish to pre-order.

It’s what’s inside that counts…

Former model and art student Diana has always been admired for her beauty but what use are good looks when you want to shine for your talent? Insecure and desperate for inspiration, Diana needs a muse.

Facially disfigured four-year-old Cal lives a life largely hidden from the world. But he was born to be looked at and he needs love too. A chance encounter changes everything; Cal becomes Diana’s muse. But as Diana’s reputation develops and Cal grows up, their relationship implodes.

Both struggle to be accepted for what lies within.
Is it possible to find acceptance in a society where what’s on the outside counts for so much?

PRE-ORDER LINK

Laura x

Good times, bad times, good memories, good lessons

This post’s title paraphrases an anonymous quote: Good times become good memories and bad times become good lessons

Across the media there’s been much talk of the terrible events of 2016 – and the terribleness of some depends upon which way you voted, though it’s fair to say most people I know, myself included, were crushed by the June result here and the November one across the pond.

Today as I dragged out my new diary – sniffed it, enjoyed the crisp, as yet unsullied pages – and transferred important information across (like all those passwords we’re not supposed to write down!) my Facebook timeline was dotted with posts celebrating Good Things of the past twelve months.

Traditionally, I have penned a review of my year here but had not felt inclined to do so for 2016 till now. The positivity on social media reminded me that I, too, have had as many good moments as difficult, if not more, and in the spirit of #lovenothate #beattheblues #hopenothate here’s my list:

Giinger2's fabulous locks

Giinger2’s fabulous locks

Ginger1 turned 18 and what a fine young man he is. Some might say my job is done, though I can’t agree. Parenting is for life.

Ginger2 turned 13 and he is shaping up nicely. And growing the finest head of hair I can think of.

I published my third novel – thanks are due to my publisher Accent Press and to all the book shops, bloggers, readers and fellow authors who supported it along its way. Bless you all.

I wrote a radio play after attending a script writing course led by Sue Teddern. It was brilliant to take on a fresh challenge and make new friends along the way. Whether or not the play is ever produced doesn’t matter (much!); the process was priceless.

I began a new novel – abandoned it and began again. Another lesson and reminder that no matter where you are in the journey there’s always something new to be learnt or discovered.Redemption Song Final

A conference I helped to organise and run – The Beach Hut Writing Academy’s From Inspiration to Publication – was a sell-out success. So much so that we’re running another in 2017.

I took part in a number of fantastic literary events – including City Reads, part of the Brighton Festival.

I was a writer-in-residence for Little Green Pig’s pop-up gallery in the summer and subsequently have been running workshops for the organisation which offers creative writing and storytelling workshops to children and young people in Brighton & Hove. A fabulous charity.

2016-08-30-09-20-40The BigFella and I made it through another year together – that’s 25 in total since we first met – and we love each other as much, perhaps more, than we ever have.

We enjoyed a great holiday in Cornwall with my lovely sister-in-law in August.

My parents are healthy and living well at a time when so many friends are facing/have faced the loss of theirs.

I witnessed friends fall in love, marry, have children, be published for the first time.

There is more love and hope in the world than hate and despair. The bad shit is given so much more air time because it is rare – at least here. We are truly blessed. Winners of the lottery of life.

Be thankful, be content. Know that every small act of compassion and kindness is meaningful. As my lovely grandma used to say: From small acorns…

Happy New Year!

 

Calling All Foodies: Kristen Bailey’s Festive Food Blog Party!

Today, I’m kicking off another Accent Press author Kristen Bailey‘s Christmas blog party with a fairytale of New York. Do pop over, take a look and follow the rest of the tour. It’s going to be a blinder. Essential reading for all book, booze and food lovers.

http://www.kristenbaileywrites.com/single-post/2016/12/07/Christmas-Blog-Party-Laura-Wilkinson

xmasblogposter1