Posted in articles, books, events, fiction, novels, RNA, romance, writing

The joy of Chez Castillon

April 2012 – the first time…CHEZ CASTILLON

You never really know someone until you live with them. A truth universally acknowledged by generations of women who’ve been swept off their feet with champagne and roses only to discover too late, that he always leaves the loo seat up and his socks on the floor. No such worries when in one’s own, beautiful ensuite accommodation,  and sharing a house with other females but the rest holds true.

Katie's bookIn return for their own silence, I have promised to be judicious on the matter of what exactly I discovered about my fellow authors when we spent a week together in France but suffice to say I can thoroughly recommend the experience . It was billed as a “Writers’ Retreat”. For which I’d suspected, you could read “Writers’-sit-around-and- Drink-Too-Much”. I was, after all, going with members of the RNA – not an organisation famed for its temperance in pastures new.

summer-time-coverBut when Katie Fforde, Judy Astley, Jo Thomas and Catherine Jones and I moved en masse into Chez-Castillon, a gorgeously restored 18th century townhouse on the banks of the Dordogne, owned by Micky Wilson and Janie Millman who have turned their talents – they are both actors and Janie is also a writer and one fabulous cook – to running creative courses, surprising discipline was shown.  Katie was up at six completing her daily word target before breakfast, Judy was heard to say she wouldn’t have any wine at lunchtime so she could work hard in the afternoon (“say” being the operative word here, I didn’t actually spot her without a glass in her hand) and Jo had completed 7,500 words by the end of day two, (by which time I had managed to pen a TO-DO list and wander down the road for a pedicure). Nor was it just writing!

51UNN9eBnbL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX342_SY445_CR,0,0,342,445_SH20_OU02_Catherine “Brace Up” Jones put us all to shame with dawn  swims; we did walking, shopping and wine-tasting (naturellement)  and in the evening made our own entertainment. “Stars in their Eyes”  saw Katie as Mary Hopkins, me as Joni Mitchell (ambitious, yes!), Jo providing the entire score from Calamity Jane (with hand movements) and Catherine as Edith Piaf.  Micky was Nat King Cole, Judy contributed hilarious jokes (in French no less!) and Janie a poem about knickers and vicars which is now a blur but went down a treat after the fourth bottle. The  whole experience of spending a week with fellow scribes was madly, gloriously, divinely inspiring and even I – Queen of Displacement –  returned with a list of book chapters, a short story, two columns  and some riotous photos. We will be going back….

Fast forward to NOW…

CM blog smallAnd back we’ve been – several times!

I’ve taught a number of  courses, hung out with the usual suspects – which most recently included the lovely Clare Mackintosh, director of Chipping Norton Lit Fest, and used Janie’s recipes in my 100 Ways to Fight the Flab, proving you can eat well, drink copiously and still combat your writer’s bottom if you only know how.

Jo-Thomas-187x300Katie, Catherine (aka Fiona Field) and Judy have each had new books out, see covers above.

Clare’s amazing debut novel, I Let You Go is published later this year, and Jo Thomas has seen mega success with The Oyster Catcher – all were partly-written at Chez Castillon.

The authors will, I’m sure, testify to the magical, inspiring qualities of the place (it’s not just all the wine :-)).

100 Book cover Dec 2013 - front (small)I am back there teaching on May 17th and again in July and October (when you’ll be helped to sell a short story if it kills me! :-)). Other retreat/course dates are available.

See my page here or visit www.chez-castillon,com. Mention this blog for the chance of a discount when booking and feel free to email me for more details.

It is fab!

And I’d love to see you there.

Posted in books, events, fiction, interview, romance, TV Show, writing

The Wannabe a Writer TV Show

Here at last….

Am all very thrilled – and not a little nervously twitchy 🙂 – to announce the launch of the first half of the pilot episode of Wannabe a Writer? The TV Show, a joint project between me and my mate Stephen Arkell of Retina Productions , in which we bring an exciting new concept in Writer-centred TV to your screens…

WATCH it HERE, Read all about it HERE and then do comment – I would love to know what you think…

jxx

Posted in books, fiction, humour, novels, review, romance, writing

With friends like Mike :-)

Whenever I give one of my friends one of my books to read (some  are too tight-fisted to cough up for one themselves :-)) I always say the same thing: you can be brutally honest. Of course, people still feel they can’t be. One pal took months to admit she hated my third novel with a passion, after loving the first two, thinking that by saying that, she’d upset me. Actually I was fascinated. It was illuminating to hear what had affected her so badly and we had a really interesting exchange as a result.

Refreshingly, My-mate-Mike, my fellow-columnist on the Isle of Thanet Gazette DSC_3476has no such inhibitions. I wouldn’t normally shove a review in front of you but the running commentary spread over several emails, made me laugh so much, I thought I’d post  the edited highlights. (The dots are where I’ve removed a spoiler – just in case after reading this, anyone still feels like braving the PRIME TIME. The Italics are mine. ) It’s been good to see how one of my books – primarily aimed at the female market – goes down with a chap too. Could he possibly empathise with the heroine? It seems not…

cover - prime-time (med)

“I’m enjoying the plot but developed an early and intense dislike for the central character. No wonder hubby cleared off.”

“Not a difficult choice when the alternative is a wine-saturated busybody, always wittering about her internal workings.”

“Too much wine and whine in first 100 pages.”

“What the hell’s it got to do with her if he….? Surprised he didn’t smack her when she started quizzing him.”

“I trust you have planned a suitably hideous end for her.”

“Don’t like the sulky son or the oily television bloke, either.”

“Really enjoying it, especially now she’s …… Very droll and picking up pace splendidly. Still hope central character comes to a distressing end.”

“I reckon oily tv bloke will turn out to be a ******” (NB he was wrong)

“Looks as if the raddled woman might finish up with ….. Serves her right.”

“Your best book so far, by a mile. Can’t understand why it was nominated in the romantic comedy section…”

“Didn’t find a typo for more than 200 pages, then two more followed quickly, but three in 300 pages is a miracle nowadays. I trust they sacked the myopic work experience dunce who allegedly roof-read ……” (Insert title of one of my previous books) (Not sure if this is Mike being hilarious or he really left the “p” out…)

“I shall be sad when I’ve finished – which is the highest compliment anyone can pay an author! ”

“Wonderful! So the two ghastlies finished up ….”

“A very good modern morality tale, which I think is too profound to deserve a rom-com tag. ”

“Wonderful! Apart from the beginning….”

Thank you, Mike! Reviewer to the Non-Faint-Hearted.

Am sure if YOU’D like a no-holds barred review for your magnus opus, I can probably persuade him to oblige… 🙂

Posted in articles, books, events, novels, Plain Jane, romance, writing

Plain Jane column 16 November – public speaking & event with Lesley Cookman

Isle of Thanet GazetteAs some of you may know, I write a fortnightly column – alternating with My-Mate-Mike (he who hovers just to the right of Genghis Khan and is considered a suitable antidote for what he views as my ‘dangerously-pink” tendencies) – in the Isle of Thanet Gazette. In theory this appears online on http://www.thisiskent.co.uk. In practice it frequently doesn’t. If it does, you need a degree in orienteering to find it and then, when you get there, it doesn’t bear my name.

Plain Jane. Isle of Thanet Gazette. Friday November 16th 2012

As you may know to your cost, I do a spot of “speaking”. This has taken me to Manchester and Edinburgh, Telford and Torquay and on one best-forgotten occasion, a village hall buried so deeply in rural Wales that it took nine hours to get there (geography has never been my strong point).

But it all started, as so many things have, here in Thanet. When a lovely lady, Rusty Macintyre, invited me to address something called the Beta Ladies. One of them was married to the Hon Sec of the Omega Men (or some such) and they all had friends in the Rotary or Round Table – I never remember which is which.  (One group are youngish and like a drink; the others are oldish, like a drink and then doze off.)

Further bookings followed and I learned on the job. “I generally recommend,” said the President of a Dining Club for Gentlemen of Mature Years, when I enquired how long I should speak for, “that you keep going until half the audience are asleep”. The average age in the room was 86 and one chap had already been snoring for ten minutes when I stood up. I punctuated each anecdote with any large noise I could muster. “And then there was a knock at the door,” I’d cry, slapping the flat of my hand hard down on the table and waiting while the front row jerked awake. “And the woman next to me shrieked…” I’d add, illustrating this with an ear-piercing scream to make sure they didn’t drop off again.  It was apparently the most excitement most of them had had for years – previous speakers had held forth on “The Workings of the Local Authority” and the “History of the Rubber Stamp” (with slides) – and word spread about my ability to bring on a coronary till my oratory career was forged.

I’ve done Probus and the Over 41 Club, Retirees United; the Under 65 Society, Young Wives (they were eighty if they were a day), Old Mothers, Small Businesses and more fundraisers than you can shake a stick at. And whether the audience numbers six or a hundred some things never change. There is always  a woman who glares throughout – even if it transpires she looks like this naturally  – and another who cups her ear and says loudly to the first one “what’s she on about?” There’s a guffawing bloke who calls out “Can I heckle?” (as long as you stay awake, pal, I don’t mind what you do) and when you take questions at the end, someone who wants to tell a long, unrelated story about something that happened in 1976. The more courses they bring out, the more often your glass is filled and the longer they linger over the coffee and mints while reading announcements about the Christmas Coach Trip, the less you feel like standing up and trying to raise a laugh. Which is an inexact science to say the least – the quip that had the Bowls Club in stitches is greeted with stony silence at the Goldfish Appreciation Annual Lunch – and you have no way of knowing if the three people who’ve just left are disgusted by your last anecdote or having a bad reaction to the shellfish starter.

What I do know is that after six months of book promotion involving a more than usually-heavy schedule on the oral front, even I can get tired of the sound of my voice. Relief all round then that at the next gig, Lesley Cookman is coming too. Lesley lives in Whitstable and sets her highly-popular, Libby Sarjeant crime series here in Kent.

She and I are going to be talking about our locally-based books in Waterstones in Canterbury next Friday.

You can glare, you can ask questions, you can heckle. Just don’t fall asleep…

***

Jane and Lesley will be in conversation at Waterstones, St Margaret’s St, Canterbury at 6.30pm Thursday 22nd November. Entry free. But if you are thinking of coming along it would be great to know. Please do leave a comment or if you’re a facebooker Lesley’s made something clever here 🙂

Posted in books, competitions, fiction, humour, novels, romance, short stories, writing

Short story – Carla’s Gift

Here by popular demand (Tony said he liked it, Morgen said we could alway pop it up on the blog….) is a short story for you. See – some of us were doing raunchy long before Fifty Shades of Grey.
Carla’s Gift first appeared in Jo Good‘s QWF (Quality Women’s Fiction) back in 1997 I think, and I later resurrected it for the anthology Sexy Shorts for Christmas in 2003.
Quite funny to read it again now – my writing style has changed a bit since. And some details are a little dated. It’s all quite mild by today’s standards, of course, but it raised a few eyebrows at the time. “I didn’t find it funny,” wrote one reader, crossly. “Just embarrassing…” Hope you, dear blog follower, are made of sterner stuff… 🙂
Am in bountiful mood (ie have had my first glass of weekend wine) so  all comments will be put in a draw for a free copy of my latest novel Prime Time (or another of my books if you’ve had the good taste to buy this already) – signed and sent to you or a friend anywhere in the world.
Draw made on Monday at midday…
Hope you enjoy it – feel free to pass it on if you do!
***

Carla’s Gift by Jane Wenham-Jones

What do you say to a woman who has just had her first orgasm on the top of the multi-storey in a Ford Fiesta?

Congratulations was the word that sprang to mind but the others were strangely silent.

‘Good for you,’ I muttered to a cold shower of black looks.

I have always liked Carla. I liked her when she was married to Stuart and so I like her still. Round here, however, things are not so simple. I had witnessed a definite ripple of unease running around the circle of women I call my friends ever since Stuart walked out of 25 Arnold Drive and Carla – dry-eyed – walked out into the world and began to enjoy herself.

It was as if they feared that having gasped her way to ecstasy with her garage mechanic today, the next logical step would be tempting away their husbands. Frankly, she was welcome to mine. If she could stir Norman into producing the merest erect nipple, I’d cheerfully buy her gins all night. And quite honestly, by the look of the other lot’s assorted and spreading spouses, I thought they should be jolly grateful for any spark of enthusiasm injected there too.

Muriel, after a lot of sniffing, eventually said that Carla should be careful not to catch anything. Sylvia swallowed and did a lot of what I think the novels call, ‘dabbing one’s eyes’ with a pink tissue, before twittering on about the terrible ordeal that Carla had been through and how we were all so sorry and how she couldn’t imagine how she would cope if Roger left her, because he was such a comfort.

And I was just reflecting on the way we all just sat there, simpering, even though we knew that Roger had systematically got his podgy white leg over every barmaid the squash club had ever had, and that Carla had got totally slaughtered on champagne when Stuart had finally stopped just screwing them and had the wit to imagine he was in love and piss off, when I caught Carla’s eye and she gave me the most enormous wink.

It was then that I decided to discover her secret. For actually I’d never had an orgasm either.

Click here to read the whole story.
Posted in books, fiction, novels, romance, writing

your free gift today

Is a copy – totally gratis – of my third novel ONE GLASS IS NEVER ENOUGH (and it often wasn’t, when I was writing it…)

If you’ve got a kindle (and if you haven’t you can download a free kindle app from amazon don’t you know) it is yours at the mere click of a mouse… HERE (.CO.UK) or HERE (.COM)

It would make me very pleased with you indeed if you’d download it.

Thank you – have a lovely Sunday xxx

PS and it would make me downright adore you if you could tell your friends… (all about charts/ratings etc and blah. I just do as I’m told…)

Posted in books, events, fiction, novels, RNA, romance, writing

RNA Conference at last

  

Did two stints at the splendid  RNA conference this year, brilliantly organised as ever by Jan Jones and Roger Sanderson. On Saturday, a panel – In it for the long haul– with the ever-delightful Annie Ashurst, our veritable Chair (on whom I have a small crush), Judy Astley and Freda Lightfoot. These lovely ladies have written an astonishing number of books between them (making me feel a downright slacker with my mere six) and sold ’em in their millions. I asked the questions, and they enthralled  with their wit and wisdom. Next up was a talk of my own. They gave me the hangover slot as usual – 9.m. Sunday morning –  tho the audience, gathering there in the middle picture before I started, seem to be holding up quite well.  Thanks to Blue Stocking Mum  Debbie White for the panel pic and Liz Fenwick for catching me  pulling one of my usual faces.

And special thanks to all who dragged themselves along to listen. We had a giggle or two didn’t we? jxx

Posted in events, novels, RNA, romance, writing

How to lose a day….

Intended to post suitable witticisms and photos from RNA conference this morning but day went to Ratsh*t when someone drove into me necessitating endless conversations with police and insurance companies, long hot baths to ease hurting shoulder and medicinal wine, ditto.

Photos to follow tomorrow or maybe later tonight if not comatose.

In meantime totally lovely to see everyone in Penrith. Thank you for making it as fab as ever and for your warmth and support.

God Bless and Long Live the RNA…. (etc)

(Morgen – can you do something clever and make that RNA into one of those link thingys?)  (ps love yer x))

More later…

done  🙂 M x

Posted in events, RNA, romance

Trying to travel light to Penrith

Off to the fabulous RNA conference – or at least I hope it will be fab – I hadn’t realised quite how far Penrith was from Broadstairs when arrangements were made. And I’m used to driving to these gigs!

Suddenly all the essentials – see pic – this is student accommodation – has got to fit in one small case with my laptop. It weighs a bloody tonne.

But am on the train as I write and hugely looking forward to chairing a panel with the lovely Annie Ashhurst, Judy Astley and Freda Lightfoot tomorrow and the sound of my own voice (always a pleasure :-)) when I give a talk on Sunday.

If you’re coming, see you there. It WILL be fab. It always is.

*** Click here for the blog tour details of my latest novel Prime Time ***

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Posted in books, fiction, humour, novels, romance, writing

Fifty Shades of Wot?

The only way I’m gonna get any sales….. ho ho

Thank you to Neil, Gabriel, Donna et al at Thanet Waterstones where I had a most entertaining signing on Saturday. And even bigger thanks to those who came in and bought Prime Time instead of Fifty Shades of Grey. Sitting watching which shoppers made a beeline for the FSOG display was fascinating… 🙂 Apparently a lot of “non-readers” are buying it, Donna told me, quoting women who’d announced it was to be the first book they’d ever read. We agreed this was astonishing. Not only that it should be true, but that anyone would be prepared to admit it!

I rearranged the stock this morning….

Posted in books, competitions, fiction, humour, novels, romance, writing

And the winner is…

David Rankin receives a copy of Prime Time plus a Wannabe book of his choice…

If Clever Morgen was doing this there’d be thumbnails of covers and links and all sorts, but cos it’s just me and a glass of wine, that’s all you get… 🙂

Waterstones, Westwood Cross, in the morning from 11am signing books (in theory). If you happen to be passing please come and say hello

Thanks for all the visits to the blog today jxx

Posted in books, fiction, humour, novels, romance, writing

Prime Time paperback is now out!

Prime Time is officially out now!  I am bracing myself to start peering in bookshops (does one copy mean they’ve sold em all or is that  all they ever had?) and am just about recovered from the local bash last Saturday – coined by my fellow columnist on the Isle of Thanet Gazette, Mike Pearce (pictured below), as “The Launch that faced a thousand quips“. This is one of his….
The paperback version is available here and the Kindle version here.
Posted in books, fiction, humour, novels, romance, writing

Prime Time paperback out 5th July

May 2012

Hello! I’m thrilled to announce that my latest novel, romantic comedy ‘Prime Time’, is now available for the Amazon Kindle and will be available in paperback from July 5th 2012. To celebrate, the lovely Morgen (with-an-e) Bailey is in the process of building this blog for me and will be filling it with book news and happenings until I eventually get the hang of doing it myself (probably circa 2014).  Do have a poke around if you have time, or come back another day to see what’s new. The idea is that something will be!

If you live anywhere near Thanet I’ll be signing copies of Prime Time in the Westwood Cross branch of Waterstone’s on 7th July from 11 am and will be popping up in places various all summer (see the Events page).

In the meantime, here’s the blurb…

Laura Meredith never imagined herself appearing on TV – she’s too old, too flabby, too downright hormonal, and much too busy holding things together for her son, Stanley, after husband, Daniel, left her for a younger, thinner replacement.

But best friend Charlotte is a determined woman and when Laura is persuaded on to a daytime show to talk about her PMT, everything changes. Suddenly there’s a camera crew tracking her every move and Laura finds herself an unlikely star. Wined, dined, and pampered, she begins to see the charms of a younger partner herself. But as things hot up between her and gorgeous TV director, Cal, they’re going downhill elsewhere. While Laura’s caught up in a heady whirlwind of beauty treatments, makeovers and glamorous film locations, Charlotte’s husband, Roger, is concealing a guilty secret. Stanley’s got problems at school, work’s piling up, and when Laura turns detective to protect Charlotte’s marriage, things go horribly wrong.

The champagne’s flowing as Laura’s prime time TV debut looks set to be a hit. But in every month, there’s a Day Ten…

Prime Time Goodreads Book Giveaway

Prime Time by Jane Wenham-Jones. Giveaway ends July 05, 2012. See the giveaway details at Goodreads. Enter to win

The heroine, Laura, lives in Broadstairs (the setting for my last novel too) – there’s a recent interview in The Isle of Thanet Gazette  here.

NB for those of you not up on your East Kent Geography – Thanet is that knobbly bit  at the bottom of the map, consisting of Broadstairs, Ramsgate and Margate as well as surrounding villages. I live there. 🙂

Update July 2012: The paperback version is now available here and the Kindle version here.