Posted in articles, events, Isle of Thanet Gazette, Plain Jane, writing

Plain Jane in the Isle of Thanet Gazette from Friday 21st June

Bit late getting this up here as have been away to the Winchester Writer’s Conference where I had the enormous privilege of hearing Julian Fellowes speak! Fabulous. Top quote: “just because nobody’s found you, it doesn’t mean you haven’t got it”. Could have listened to him for several more hours. I have come late to Downton Abbey (currently on series three of boxed set  so please don’t tell me what happens) but adore it. In love with Maggie Smith, Jim Carter and Lady Mary. ANYWAY, the column won’t be of particular interest to those of you living outside the fair Isle of Thanet as it is a rant about local parking (high cost and general inconvenience of/Council ineptitude over same).  But just in case and because  after an encouraging start with the new website, it is impossible to find online again, (My-mate-Mike eventually tracked me down but you wouldn’t know I’d written it if I hadn’t just told you), I am sticking it up all the same.

The basic premise of it is that there’s nothing like parking to bring out one’s inner tightness, but if you’ve nothing better to do you can read the whole lot HERE. Hope you are having a nice weekend even if the weather is shite. jxx

Plain Jane 210613 blog

Posted in books, events, fiction, humour, interview, novels, review, writing

The Ab Fab ChipLitFest :-)

Well what a lov-er-ley time I had at this year’s Chipping Norton Literary Festival – a treat indeed. You would never believe the festival is only in its second year from its big-name line up and terrific organisation but it is and I’ve been lucky enough to be there for both of them. This time I had the enormous pleasure and privilege of being “in conversation with”  the super-best-selling Peter James on Saturday, who talked about his forthcoming Dead Man’s Time  (I got to read a review copy – bloody brilliant!)  fascinated us all with his police tales and amused greatly with his unique revenge tactics on Martin Amis (ha ha!). Peter is a dream to interview!

Jane and Peter Chip Lit 2013 small

(Thanks Liz Fenwick for the photo of us at the Crown and Cushion!)

As is the gorgeous and delightful Fern Britton. I met her for about a minute before we started our event around her latest entertaining novel The Holiday Home but she was as warm and relaxed as if we were old friends. What a totally lovely, natural and generous lady. The audience adored her and so did I. She had some hilarious stories too… (Was Chipping Norton ready for the word c*ck?  Certainly seemed to be…. :-)) We all laughed lots.

Fern and Jane

Thanks Jan Harvey for taking this one

So put next year’s dates in your diary now. Chipping Norton Lit Fest 2014 runs from 24th – 27th April and I’m excited already….

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… 🙂

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Would love it if anyone would like to follow the new FLAB blog. One hot (no pun intended) tip per week – you won’t be inundated.
And if there’s nothing good on TV tonight I am on Radio Litopia at 8pm till nearly 9. See http://www.litopia.com/radio/shows/litopia-after-dark/ Happy Sunday jxx

 

So eat a chilli. The hotter the better. Chillies raise the metabolism and the fierier they are, the greater the effect. I ate my last fresh one last night and it’s too cold to go shopping today so here, by way of illustration,  are some I bottled in olive oil the last time I was being a domestic goddess – HA!IMG_1957

Experts estimate that one can expect a 15% increase in calories burned for about two hours after eating a hot chilli sauce. Buy packets of fresh chillies from the supermarket and then keep and dry the seeds. IMG_1955Growing them yourself is easy, cheap and satisfying (sorry to sound like an excerpt from Cooking on a Shoestring in a Bedsit for One) and the plants look pretty on the kitchen window sill. I used to grow new ones each season until a nice girl called Hannah Harman, who works…

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Very pleased to have been interviewed by the lovely Catherine. She is hilarious. (And knows a bit about a bit too! Have a look and enjoy.) Only just remembered one can do this reblogging lark. So here goes…

CATHERINE RYAN HOWARD

Jane Wenham-Jones is the author of one of my all-time favorite “how to” writing books, Wannabe a Writer? And since I started writing full-time, my arse has been expanding at a rate that’s in direct proportion to the amount of time I’ve been spending sitting on it. So when I heard that Jane had published a new e-book, 100 Ways To Fight The Flab: The Wannabe Guide to a Better Bottom, it was like all my calorific Christmases had come together, minus the associated post-Christmas binge guilt.

fighttheflab

Today she’s stopping by to tell us how we can all avoid the dreaded Writer’s Bottom. Welcome back to Catherine, Caffeinated, Jane!

Tell us about your experience with Writer’s Bottom, the tragic and devastating condition that led you to write this book.

WELL… First of all, I would like to make it clear that I coined the term—in a hundred years, when…

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Posted in articles, humour, Plain Jane, writing

My-Mate-Mike in the Isle of Thanet Gazette 28th December

isle-of-thanet-gazette2

Remember my excellent advice on coping when the old man is suddenly at home ALL BLOODY DAY?

My esteemed fellow columnist on the Gazette, Mike Bah-Humbug Pearce, has waded in with his own rantings on the matter. Still, keeps him busy, love him. He is retired, you know…

The perils of retired life by Mike Pearce 

SO WHERE were we before we were so rudely interrupted by Christmas?

Ah! yes, my columnist chum Jane Wenham-Jones was offering advice to a wimpy woman wanting to know how could she cope now her husband is retiring, which is like asking a flower how it’s going to cope now that the refreshing rain is on its way. All chaps know it is the MAN who will need help.

So agony aunt Jane and your new pal, please go off and have a natter while I reveal what he needs to know.

Dear Jim. Make sure you invest in a sat-nav.

You are now an on-demand chauffeur and your navigating spouse will invent a new compass point – There.

Whenever you ask “Where do we go?”, she will reply “Over there”. One lady told me, when we stopped at a T-junction, that we should go straight on.

Be prepared for preposterous assertions, the most popular being “You don’t want another drink” after you have just announced that it’s exactly what you would like.

Don’t announce your plans in advance, because you will be headed off at the pass with previously unthought-of things that can be done only on the day you plan to play golf.

Women used to have sinus trouble – “Sign us a cheque for this, sign us a cheque for that.” In the electronic age, leave your credit card at home if you are ever forced to join a shopping expedition.

Buy a second television. Your beloved will sit like a trappist through hours of soaps, then gabble like a goose as soon as anything remotely interesting comes on screen.

And yes, you can afford to have Sky Sports, if she can afford to buy glossy “style” magazines. And if you can’t afford both, get her interested in football. Tell her the centre-forward’s having an affair with someone from Eastenders, which she will find interesting and will probably be true anyway.

Treat yourself to an ipod and a set of earphones. Enjoy records you haven’t played for years, while at the same time blocking out the hour-long phone calls to the friend she had lunch with just hours earlier.

Accept that your suit-and-tie days are over. Casual clothes always look rumpled on an ageing frame, so don’t be ashamed to wear them for days or to leave them lying around the bedroom, the bathroom, the dining room and the hall. She will pick them up eventually, if only to allow the door to close.

Be careful how you react to her cooking. Be over-enthusiastic and you will get the same dish over and over. And when you point out that liver and bacon three times a week might be excessive, expect the: “I thought you liked it. What’s wrong with it?” sulks.

Say you’re not that keen and you’ve taken a short cut to the “What’s wrong with it?” stage.

Be prepared for sighs, an irritating affectation exclusive to women.

You spill your coffee, they go “Tch-huhhhhhhhhhh”. You forget (along with an increasing number of things) to put out the dustbin – “Tch-huhhhhhhhhhh”.

Be prepared for daft questions. When your phone rang at work, nobody would chirp up “Who’s that?”, as if you were Claude the Clairvoyant. Now you’ll get it all the time. Same if there’s a knock on the door. You might try answering “The neighbour I’m having an affair with”, or “The bailiffs”, but it’s a high-risk strategy.

And remember Jim, if this all sounds too daunting, B&Q are always keen to take on older workers.

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

Plain Jane. Isle of Thanet Gazette. Friday December 21st 2012

This might not make entire sense to those not blessed with living on the Isle of Thanet but perhaps you would would wish for similar for your town too…

Happy Christmas anyway!

jxxx

***

What would make a perfect gift for Isle?

THE GAZETTE’s regular columnists Jane Wenham-Jones and Mike Pearce have been set a Christmas challenge by editor Rebecca Smith.

It’s better to give than receive, we are told, so what could glass-half-full Jane and glass-half-empty Mike come up with as the perfect gifts for Thanet?

Jane & Mike Xmas 2012 photo by Bill Harris
WHO’S BEEN GOOD? A bumper parcel for Jane and socks again for Mike (photo by Bill Harris)
​JANE: What would I give Thanet this Christmas? Some positive vibes! Thanet has its problems but it’s got a whole heap of potential too. So I’d like to see less negativity from the disaffected quarters and no scaremongering. I wish the Isle further art galleries and creative ventures (to quote Ms Emin: where art comes, regeneration follows); a few more restaurants you can sit outside; and bars that face the sun.

I want the new micro pubs to do well, the older pubs to survive, the High Streets to hang in there and huge success for Manston Airport, (yes, yes, during the day! Don’t start that again).

I’d like to see certain councillors stepping down and others stepping up. I’d like derelict properties restored and landlords held to account and bad housing sorted.

Had I a magic Christmas wand, I would of course bring more employment and prosperity, fewer punch-ups and help for smaller shops and businesses. I’d say no to superstores and give a fat grant to anyone opening up an empty retail space and making jobs.

I’d have an open police station in each town, no more ridiculous “traffic-calming” and put Richborough Towers back where it was. I’d see the theatres full, the churches unvandalised and the loos unlocked. But in the sad absence of my fairy wings, I’ll just send a group hug. Have a good one!

And for my dear colleague Mike? I would give him a season ticket to Turner Contemporary events, a hot night out with Iris Johnston (his favourite!), a night flight from Manston and a signed, life-size photograph of Tracey Emin. Happy Christmas mate!

MIKE: AS A child, I would plead for expensive toys and receive a gift-wrapped box containing a battery and a message saying “Toy not included”. I offer my presents for Thanet, but remember – Santa is an anagram of Satan.

For Margate: A new road behind Dreamland, allowing a pedestrianised seafront paradise with a cafe culture in its true sense. Not just a few late-night boozers, but coffee bars, eateries and a tip of the hat to the glory days, with ice cream parlours, candy floss and family-friendly amusement arcades.

For Broadstairs: A large field, miles from anywhere, where morris men can beat each other with sticks, and lank-haired minstrels of indeterminate sex can whine about Strawberry Fair, Widdecombe Fair and Betfair for all I care, without providing an excuse for every yob this side of Tilbury to converge on the town centre and cause mayhem.

For Ramsgate: A fairy godmother to sprinkle stardust on the precious Ramsgate Sands site, shoo off would-be developers and turn back the clock to when it was a tourist magnet – or at least a car park.

For Thanet: A spaceship to descend and take away this hapless council. And then (oh Santa, if only) for 56 good men strong and true to come forward – people who will spend more time discussing agendas and less time discussing genders; people with intelligence and enthusiasm; people less concerned with causes and more concerned with the common good.

For the High Streets: An end to hand-wringing, silver-tongued soothsayers offering false dawns.

For the Turner Centre: A ticket machine, so they can finally admit there’s no such thing as a free Munch.

And following Margate’s inclusion in the Rough Travel Guide as the world’s seventh best tourist destination, an early copy of next year’s, showing Cliftonville has the world’s best forests, Manston the most successful airport and Westwood Cross the most efficient traffic system.

For Plain Jane?: A film company to buy up one of her novels. And an address book with the page for D torn out, so she avoids the duckies and divas and darlings who turn her pretty little head!

Posted in articles, Plain Jane, writing

Plain Jane 14th December 2012: Coping with (his) retirement

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 December 14th 2012

A missive from one Hilda Rarebit of Ramsgate (real name supplied). She doesn’t want her husband to know she is writing, as she is seeking my guidance on coping with retirement. His! Mr Rarebit is due to hang up his working shoes come Christmas.

“Have you,” Hilda enquires, “got any tips on how I am going to hack it  when he’s under my feet all day?”

Well, strange you should ask. I am not sure whether the good Mrs Rarebit, who describes herself as “an avid Gazette reader”, recalls that my own spouse is some two decades my senior and put down his own tools of the trade (a phone and corkscrew) longer ago than I care to remember. Or if she has heard that my enduring ambition is to be an agony aunt (a reincarnation I am hoping to slide past the editor at the Christmas Drinks, leaving Mike-things-aren’t-wot-they-used-to-be-Pearce to moan about the council and gripe about Turner Contemporary, while I solve the Isle’s dilemmas). But I am ready to meet the challenge. My advice, dear Hilda, is as follows:

  1. If he lives for the 18th hole, count your blessings!  You may have railed against being a golf widow for all the years he disappeared for hours whenever the kids needed collecting or your mother was coming to stay, or be used to muttering darkly about his train-spotting, fishing and time in the pub. But a good, solid, time-consuming sport or hobby partaken outside the home, will now be your saviour. Forget socks and hankies and present him on Tuesday week with a new notebook and bobble hat, tankard or gross of maggots.
  2. Discourage any interest in cooking. It may sound good to have all the food prepared but it won’t end there. There is a definite syndrome displayed by Men Who Are At Home Too Much and it is encapsulated by the word “system”.  As in “I have a system when I do that” whenever he watches you chop an onion or wash the kitchen floor.  And he may be watching a lot! My friend Anna was driven to distraction by  her newly-retired husband  delivering  lectures on the correct way to both stack and empty the dishwasher until she was forced to threaten him with one of the saucepans he’d re-positioned. He’ll also use every utensil you own and expect you to wash up.
  3. Give him other things to be in charge of (if these happen to be based at the end of the garden, so much the better). In our house it is the Composting and Recycling System. This has involved our son receiving in-depth training on The Correct Way to Flatten a Cardboard Box. And regular interrogations over whose transgression had led to a tin being found among the newspapers. But it gets him into the driveway.
  4. shed 671283Be creative when his birthday comes along. Buy him membership to the gym, evening classes or a new shed with running water and its own kitchen.
  5. Get a shed of your own.
  6. Leave articles lying around claiming older men are sexier if they spend several hours a day in the fresh air. Or possibly a week…
  7. And those who do voluntary work live longer.
  8. Encourage him to join things. Flattery can work well here. That committee/theatre group/local choir really needs someone like YOU. And  they’re crying out for aid workers in Africa…
  9. Make a space of your own. Take over the spare room as your crafts or sewing room. You don’t actually have to do either. Just leave lots of material and coloured card all over the floor then, shut the door,  put your feet up and  read the paper.
  10. Book yourself on a long cruise.
If YOU have a problem you’d like answering, send it to Dear Plain Jane (address below). And Hilda, don’t mention it…
Plain Jane
Isle of Thanet Gazette
Suite 1
3rd Floor
Mill Lane House
Mill Lane
Margate
Kent CT9 1JU
Editor: Rebecca Smith
Posted in articles, events, Plain Jane, writing

Plain Jane: Playing the Party Season

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 30th 2012

So we’re almost at December and the time, I gather, to start thinking festive. No, I don’t know where this year’s gone either, but if one more person tells me they finished their shopping weeks ago I shall slap her with some wet tinsel. It can only be a She. Men don’t get involved with presents at all if they can help it and when finally forced to face the inevitable, hare round on Christmas Eve, panic-buying gift packs. I sometimes wonder if I have male hormones. The joys of wafting around in a pinnie, hand-pressing cranberries and making my own mince meat, have passed me by but at least I have learnt  to keep stress levels low.

The way to approach C Day without fear and dread, is to keep one’s head firmly in a bucket and acknowledge nothing until December 23rd. When you’ve been self-employed as long as I have, with a tendency to let the entire year’s deadlines accumulate, leaving one no option but to be welded to the computer instead of counting down the retail days, the whole build-up can very easily slide past. Especially since nobody has Christmas parties any more. Or if they do, they don’t invite me.

Once upon a time, journalists wrote wearily about mantelpieces stiff with gold-edged cards (be an email these days of course) – too many to possibly ever attend all – while double pages were devoted to how to choose a little black dress and the best way to get through three weeks of champagne and canapés and still fit into it.

Now in these dark hours of austerity and gloom, it’s a buy-your-own down at the local chain pub or a memo urging staff to contribute half a goat for the third world instead. Friends who still have gainful employment with companies that turn a profit (three at the last count), tell me to thank my stars, but it is a small regret to me that never having had what you might call – and my husband does frequently – a “proper job”, I have never attended a traditional office party. I can only imagine the lecherous, bottom-patting general manager and the droopy typist who adores him. The dropped jaws when Doris from the canteen turns up in tight satin and fishnets; the sobbing after too many advocaats, the throwing up in the waste-basket, the passing round of intimate-body-parts-taken-on-photocopier hilarity and  the secretary found in the stationery cupboard doing something inappropriate with Stanley from accounts. I can’t help feeling that at  some fundamental, formative level, I have missed out.

Jane
Preparing for a previous Murder Mystery, at the Victorian Tearooms, Broadstairs
Dodgy photo by Matthew Munson

So it was perhaps with me in mind that my dear friend Lisa Payne, of the Perfectly Dreadful Murder Company, set the theme of her next Murder Mystery evening as “1970s Office Christmas Party”. I have been in a few of Lisa’s mysteries before and they are enormous fun. I am invariably cast as a cross between Barbara Windsor in EastEnders and Les Dawson in drag, allowing me to trip about in fishnets myself – with perilous heels and inadvisably short skirt – and Lisa to murmur sweetly: “and all from her own wardrobe too…” If you’re feeling festive already with no invites either, dressed up and no place to go, why not come along? Just remember ignorance is bliss for a little longer and don’t mention the  sh***ing…

Jane will be appearing with the Perfectly Dreadful Murder Company in their 70s style murder mystery on Saturday 8th December at the Sarah Thorne Memorial Theatre at 7.30 pm. Box office 0845 2626263. Prizes for best-dressed and  super-sleuth. Bring your own snacks.

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 writing

And the teapigs’ winner is….

The winner, ladies and gentlemen – picked at random* from all those who left a comment on my tea-tastings, who receives, courtesy of the good folk of teapigs, this marvellous teapig-and-mug set is ….NORMAL FOR NORFOLK!!! (Hurrah).  NFN is,  I glean from her blog,  actually called Sam Whiteoak. Send me your address, Sam, and I will pass it on to to teapigs. Thank you to every one of who who left a comment – I enjoyed them all. I’ll think up another little contest before Christmas.

* OK, I have to be honest, it was mostly random. First out of the hat was actually My Mate Mike but I put him back again. Because A) he says he  only likes PG tips B) I’ve already posted him some teapigs just to annoy him 3) He’d only say it was a fix 4) it would look like a fix – teapigs-for-the-boys – seeing as we’re on a job share and all that. 5)He still owes me lunch.

So congrats to Sam who was a worthy second and who receives this wonderful prize  for her endless excitement and joy, and don’t forget that everyone’s a winner on this blog with your BLOGGER12 discount for 15% off teapig products…

Phew.

Posted in competitions, events, fiction, writing

For those who don’t like tea…

You’ll be glad to know I have found one I don’t like either. It has to be a thumbs down for the teapigs‘ exotically-named tung ting oolong tea which is billed as being “between green and black”. I should have known from that, really. Am not keen on black tea generally and green tea without flavourings tastes of compost. So needless to say it was a mega UGH at the first mouthful.

However, waste not, want not is my mantra (my mother was a war baby) and I can happily report it was perfectly salvageable by the addition of a super fruit on which Morgen has written a veritable essay right here.

Anyway, it seems most of you DO like tea – have had lots of hits since I started carrying on about it – but in case you also like marketing your books, today is the day that the podcast came out that I recorded with lovely  Sue Cook recently. You can hear How to Market Your Book – words of wisdom from Alison Baverstock, Catherine Ryan Howard and me (twittering on in an alarming manner), here.

And back to those who like the dried-leaf beverage – may I offer you Pat Wood‘s verdict on the peppermint selection…

“Had to try the Liquorice and Peppermint first: they sounded dead odd and I’m not sure I would have volunteered to buy any. But the tea was lovely. A huge surprise. Not especially liquorice-y or minty, just a warming comforting yumminess. Great winter’s day tea. Mmm. 🙂 I will be looking out for these so I can buy them. Really good. And the little ‘tea temple’ made a second cup!

The ‘Tummy Tonic’ peppermint leaves made another great cuppa. Not overly peppermint, just enough to be tasty.  I drink a lot of mint teas and this one compared very well in flavour with my usual brands.  Thumbs up again.

The third tea temple was Green tea with Peppermint. I’m familiar with  the Tea Pigs Green Tea and do drink that occasionally, but never had this particular one, so that was interesting. Nice minty flavour without being over the top, plus that always welcome caffeine hit.  I don’t like my green tea very strong,  so didn’t leave it as long as they advise. Floated the bag and out again quite quickly,  so I could not only get a second cup, but it didn’t have that bitter after-taste you sometimes get with green tea.

Thank you for sending them and for letting me participate in the tasting.”

Thanks Pat!  Think we may have had enough tea for now (am still up for Champagne and Chocolate tasting – bring it on) but never say never cos I still have popcorn, rooibos and chilli flavours sitting here…

PS I almost forgot – as a special for you, my blog followers, there is a DISCOUNT no less.

Go to www.teapigs.co.uk and enter code BLOGGERS12 and you will get 15% off your order (excluding gifts and cheeky deals as these have  already been discounted).

Finally – don’t forget that anyone making a comment here will be entered into a draw to win a teapigs mug and pigs set. We’ll do the draw on Thursday at 4pm (or thereabouts) and announce the winner here shortly after.

Until then x

Posted in writing

jasmine and tea flakes

Well of course, I’d always rather be on the fizz cos it means there’s something to celebrate (or there isn’t, but there ought to be) but right now I am rather enjoying the old teapigs still.

I wasn’t convinced about  chocolate flake tea (sweet drinks? ugh) but sometimes needs must. I turned to it when I was having one of my fasting sessions and it got me through – does actually taste like you’ve dipped some cadbury’s chocolate fingers (a small passion I devoted about a quarter of my first novel to) into the cup, which is probably because you sort of have – it has real flakes of the brown stuff in it.  And I liked it!  Which was a surprise as the tea bit is assam and I’m more of a darjeeling woman. Not sure I’d want it all the time but good as a pick-me-up when you can’t eat the real stuff.

My absolute favourite so far is Jasmine Pearls – this is really lovely – little balls of tightly wound jasmine leaves and buds in the pig bit – that unfurl in the water to produce a really aromatic, flowery, light (God, I’m rubbish at this descriptive bit – would never make a restaurant critic – hang on what do they say? “Very delicate green tea with a light, floral, refreshing, natural jasmine taste.” Oh, am not doing so badly then) flavour. I LOVED this one.

What I also love is the teapigs’

mood-o-meter

whereby you can choose tea according to your current state. It includes…

So that’s me more or less covered…

Pat from Suffolk is coming along next to give her verdict on the mint teas I posted her (you could have had some too if you’d only said.)

Cheers till then!

Posted in competitions, events, writing

pure lemongrass, silver tips white, but no mint thank you…

I used to drink so much coffee it gave me blotches. In the decade that I gave it up entirely (I now have the odd cup here and there) my skin improved, the jitters went, but I had to find another way to get my caffeine fix so started drinking gallons (literally) of variously-flavoured green teas instead. I usually begin the day with a lemon one, so on Day One of the teapigs tasting extravaganza, I started off on a pure lemongrass. Think the clue’s in the name here. Lovely and lemony but yes – lemon grass only – no actual tea in there I suspect. Definitely felt a lack of the morning caffeine kick BUT being a resourceful sort, I solved this by putting it together with a “silver tips white tea” pig (in answer to those who’ve enquired, the pig is a little biodegradable “tea temple” of a bag filled with proper leaves of tea and not the powdery bits swept up off the floor) and the resultant brew was very pleasing – tho quite light and delicate. Probably not for those who like Builder’s tea you can stand a spoon up in.

Teas drunk today: pure lemon grass; silver tips white

Verdict: thumbs up

Today’s tasting notes: I really don’t like mint teas much – so if you do and would like to taste the green tea with mint, the caffeine-free peppermint leaves or the liquorice and peppermint tea pigs, email me your address, say which one you fancy, and I will post my sample to you to test out instead and contribute your verdict.

Remember that if you leave a comment here (keep ’em clean please) you will be entered into a draw to win some teapigs of your very own together with a special teapigs mug.  Oh, the excitement….

Posted in competitions, events, writing

Tea(pig) anyone?

Those nice teapig people did a spot of sponsoring at the Guildford Book Festival – where I first discovered the teabag-with-real-tea-in-it – and have now kindly sent me a selection of their “pigs” with which to tempt you. A full tasting (with full reference to their mood-o-meter) with full tasting notes, will be taking place over the next few days with a chance for YOU to win a delightful mug-and-teapigs prize. All you have to do is leave a comment here on this very blog and the winner will be picked at random (not by me!) when I have exhausted all the flavours (this could take some time). Watch, as they say – when needing to procrastinate, this space…

Posted in non-fiction, Plain Jane

Plain Jane – Isle of Thanet Gazette

As 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.

So I am going to start posting it here. Every second Friday. Or Saturday if I’ve been up late.

Here is the column from Friday 2nd November 2012.  If you don’t live in Kent it won’t all be relevant but I hope as a principle it will resonate. Grrr, I say. And more Grrrs.

Plain Jane. Isle of Thanet Gazette. Friday November 2nd 2012

I was first able to vote in the General Election of 1983 and I haven’t missed one since. I do local elections too. Those who don’t, annoy me. Especially if they then complain about any aspect of public life, ever again. Women like this are especially disappointing. Was Emily Davison trampled for nothing? Even if I genuinely couldn’t decide who I next wanted to mess things up,  I would go along to the polling station and scrawl: “you’re  as bad as each other” rather than stay at home. It’s a principle. As is my recent decision to drop my latest poll card in the bin. I am delighted that that a low turnout is predicted for the forthcoming election of a Police and Crime Commissioner for the Kent police area. Boycotting is the only way  to protest at such a deeply flawed scheme. Even if keeping away brings a small frisson of fear at who might get in. At least candidate Ann Barnes has been Chair of the Kent Police Authority and a magistrate; Piers Wauchope a criminal barrister. But Craig Mackinlay is a chartered accountant and Harriet Bronwen Yeo’s claim to fame is being “treasurer of a multi-million organisation”.

What do bean-counters know about policing? And should it really be about cost?  I don’t know much about policing either. Which is why  I do not believe I am equipped to vote on who is suitable to be “overseeing” the police operation.  What I do recognise is the unmistakable feeling of my blood running cold. “I’d be directly responsible for hiring and firing of the Kent Chief Constable” announces the creepily-named Steve Uncles in his election statement, going on to offer nothing in the way of qualifications befitting this momentous responsibility, or any personal information whatsoever except the unsettling news that he is an “English Democrat”. A little judicious Googling also reveals he has been accused of racism more than once (his pledges include “returning policing to ‘common sense’ values, treating all the people of Kent in an equal and fair manner, and not special treatment for minorities”. Which special treatment is that then, Steve? Being 37 times more likely, as recent research  suggests, to be stopped and searched if one is black?) and is not terribly popular even with fellow ED members. Is this who we want in charge of the county’s police service?

The truth is, surely, that we don’t want ANYONE with their own political agenda having that sort of power. The police are, and should be, politically neutral. The system of police authorities, which this elected commissioner business is going to replace, was based on non-political committees – including at least one magistrate – but, whatever the theory, this new set-up is likely to see prospective commissioners from one of the main parties grabbing the votes. They’ll be the ones with the full weight of the party machine (and the finance) behind them to do the canvassing. So they’ll be the ones to get in. And once that happens it is natural that they will be “overseeing” the police with an eye on their own party’s agenda. Should the unthinkable happen and one of the extreme far right – or far left – parties gain power in the future, where would that leave fair and independent enforcement of the law? And what might come next? Lay people voted in to head up other vital services? Any old body supervising the local Health Service or holding the Education authority to account? More pricey TV adverts to encourage voting in the Governor of the Bank of England? Popularly-elected judges – never mind their credentials? If we want untrained individuals wielding too much power, and playing God with our budgets there are plenty on local councils. Isn’t that enough?

Posted in books, events, fiction, humour, interview, novels, writing

Guildford Day Six

Yes a bit of a delay there but Saturday I was doing a workshop in HMP Send, Sunday I had taken to my bed with Strepsils and Lemsip (the entire population of Guildford seems to have a cold – thanks folks) and then I was waiting for photos with which to illustrate my illuminating and entirely subjective (never mind the rest of the festival – let’s just look at what I did) account of Guilford 2012.
Judy Finnigan and Jane
Judy & Jane – Photo courtesy of James Davies

Monday brought Judy Finnigan at lunchtime – she was great and Richard came too – talking about her intriguing and atmospheric debut novel Eloise. We did forty minutes of chat and then took questions. Mindful of those unable to journey to Guildford, I had invited contributions via Twitter. @missdaisyfrost obliged with a deeply meaningful, profound and erudite enquiry. “How hairy is Richard’s back?” I can confirm to all of you worried about such matters that the answer, straight from Judy’s mouth, is not at all. That’s a relief.

Next up was Kay Burley – she had a cold too. But had had the good sense to come via the chemist. We discovered that a combination of Actifed tablets and white wine will deal with most symptoms or at least render one past caring. I’m not sure what we talked about now –  I expect her new novel, the entertaining Betrayal, got a mention – but we enjoyed it anyway. I won’t include a photo cos streaming eyes and red noses are not a good look.
The evening saw Jenny Eclair who nearly went into meltdown at all the sore throats about the place – she is on tour with her new show Eclairious and needs her vocal chords! Jenny was her usual hilarious self.  She has the wonderful gift of being able to get away with pretty much anything – only she could render the good ladies of Guildford helpless with laughter over a gag about pubic hair – and her new novel Life, Death and Vanilla Slices is well worth a read. My own review here (you’ll need to scroll down a bit).
David and Jane – Photo courtesy of George Parkes

And now I’ll break the rules and talk about someone else other than me and tell you that following us were Kathy Lette and Sandy Toksvig discussing Kathy’s new book The Boy Who Fell to Earth (sweet, sharp, funny, sad, endlessly touching). They were both hysterically funny too. Tho’ as David Nobbs pointed out, the whole evening seemed revolve around menopause and female bodily functions. (Luckily, as he also added, he is not at all squeamish)

He is tho, very, very entertaining. He didn’t really need me at all this morning but I felt  privileged to be sitting there and croaked out the odd question. We talked about his latest tome The Fall and Rise of Gordon Coppinger – a work of bloody genius if I might say so –  his most famous creation, Reggie Perrin, and his long career writing comedy. God Bless Mr Nobbs.
Tomorrow is my last day at the festival and I am hosting a panel of erotic writers (or should that be writers of eroticism??), including Hazel Cushion, MD of Xcite Books – the UK’s largest publisher of steamy tomes. Still time to get a ticket. 9pm (after the watershed) in the cafe bar at the Electric Theatre.
More of that in due course…
Posted in books, events, fiction, humour, interview, novels, writing

Guildford Day Two

The end of the second day of Guildford Book Festival and tonight was Peter James and Ann Cleeves. Fab interviewees both – and both with great news to share. Ann has been inducted into the Crime Writers Association Hall of Fame (I’m not entirely sure what this involves but I am deeply impressed) and Peter has knocked Fifty Shades off the top of the Bestsellers List. Respect!  Peter is,  of course, extremely shy and retiring (ho de ho) but I managed to coax a few anecdotes out of him. I’d never met Ann before but thought she was really lovely – how could she not be having created DI Vera Stanhope (a new series being filmed right now folks! If you love Brenda Blethyn – I do – don’t miss it). And that’s all I can muster right now cos it’s been a long day and tomorrow I’m off to HMP Send (not permanently).

But lots more to come at Guildford – On Monday I interview Judy Finnigan, Kay Burley and Jenny Eclair. Tuesday brings David Nobbs  – hilarious creator of Reggie Perrin. Do roll up if you possibly can.
xx till then

PS yes I did learn where I’ve been going wrong on the Victoria Sponge front with lovely Rachel Allen and Jim N was most entertaining…

PPS Photo courtesy of Morgen (thanks Love!!! :-))

Posted in events, fiction, interview, novels, writing

And off to Guildford….

It’s begun – I am here in my Guildford for my annual stint in the interviewing chair and. as always, thrilled at the prospect. Last night was the launch do at the fab Radisson Hotel where I did an “in conversation with Kay Burley“, the country’s longest-serving news anchor – she’s been with Sky News since the start – who’s great fun.  (Her books are too – I’m going to be discussing those with her on Monday!). The audience loved her. I love seeing her too and getting the gossip! 🙂 I do hope she publishes a scandalous diary when she’s in her dotage…
Today I am off to the Electric Theatre to talk to Rachel Allen about her new book CAKE (I am hoping to finally learn how to turn out a sponge that is not either flat or lopsided) and this evening I get to introduce James Naughtie who will be talking about The New Elizabethans. I am addicted to Radio Four so this is an honour indeed. I’ll let you know how sexy he is later…
Guildford Book Festival is wonderful (potential sponsors please note!). It boasts terrific venues, big names, truly great writers. And deserves wider fame. If you are anywhere within striking distance, get yourselves along. And come and say hello if you do! Mad dash now but further bulletins in due course….
Posted in events, fiction, humour, novels, writing

Back from Chez Castillon….

I came back on Saturday, in fact, but it took  the rest of the weekend to sort the faint air of bachelor pad – why don’t men notice dead flowers or demonstrate  that  same technical expertise with which they  handle the iphone or Playstation, to get to grips with the washing machine? – and then there were the 497 emails to deal with, three deadlines and no chocolate in the house. Yes, I should have answered the emails while en France but there really wasn’t a spare minute between teaching, eating a long lunch, more teaching, walking off the long lunch, talking a lot, and suddenly finding it was G&T time…

It was my second visit but my first one as a tutor so thanks to Jo, Betty, Brenda, Julie and Sally, my inaugural  students for making it a great baptism of fire (that’ll teach me to say “interrupt as much as you like”  :-)) and even greater fun. Lovely Katie Fforde came too with her husband Desmond and Captain Catherine “Brace Up” Jones (aka @LaceKate) was also on hand to route march me in the evenings and make me laugh so much my stomach muscles hurt.

Janie and Mickey who run the gaff were their usual wonderful selves – far be it from them to let a glass be empty – and Rory the dog has stopped chewing things. A result all round. Oh and David Headley  (the literary agent and bookseller – googling this name throws up some interesting options) came for a couple of days too. See his twitter  – bless ‘im.

So all in all, a good time was had by all and I am going back in April. Email me or visit www.chez-castillon.com if you want to come too…

Posted in events, fiction, humour, novels, writing

Slacker

Am all behind on this blogging lark – as I am on so many things – but I have a small array of excuses. Been away in Manchester doing workshops for Woman’s Weekly at their live show and  London where I’ve been recording a podcast with lovely Sue Cook of Write Lines as part of National Short Story Week.  As I had one one foot out of the hotel door, when writing this, clever Morgen is going to post this up and do the twiddly bits as she so often does and I’ve been writing things for other people’s blogs too. Thank you Vanessa O’Loughlin for this one.

I shall try to do better once I get to France – still one last place left. Remember the ever-wonderful Katie Fforde is coming too – and hot off the press there’ll be a session with agent David Headley – so if you know anyone…

In the meantime I leave you with my latest piece of fan mail, left on Thanetonline blog and relating to the Isle of Thanet Gazette where I am one of the two  mentioned – guess which?  “When will they appoint a professional editor and sack those two whinging columnists … the alcoholic obsessed novelist and the grumpy old git?” (I presume he means “alcohol-obsessed” but still entertaining all the same :-))

More soon…. xx

 

Posted in books, fiction, interview, novels, writing

If it’s good enough for Harry….

Of course he was pictured in the Sun with his kit off and I’ve only made Writers’ Forum (and am still wearing a laptop)  but it I’m just thinking that  if I get a fraction of the hits that the 3rd In Line got when he appeared Online in the altogether, it could mean “going viral” (in the eager-readers-all-around-the-world-pressing-that-forward-button, rather than the antibiotic sense) and can only be good for my “career” . (The rather grand term I occasionally use when not sure how best to describe the motley collection of writing jobs I undertake in a vain attempt to earn a crust.)
The funny thing is that while I  remember answering a lot of questions for Anita Loughrey who so kindly set up this interview,  I have no recollection of sending her the photo. I can only imagine wine had been taken! 🙂
But now it’s “out there” I can tell you the painting is by Brian Homewood  and when I get near a scanner I’ll post the tale of how it all came about (as told to Woman’s Weekly). In the meantime, clever Morgen – blog mistress extraordinaire – is going to post this for me from the student kitchen at the NAWG Festival while I get my frock on before dinner (I am the after-dinner speaker – God help ’em – so  had better not wear tracksuit bottoms) and Barry (I trust!) gets the bloody wine open…
Posted in writing

A quickie for Thanetians

Or anyone within distance of. Just flagging up tomorrow’s excitement – RAMSGATE’S GOT WRITING TALENT – the annual literary bunfight that could win you lunch with ME (plus a couple of other local good eggs) and an intro to a literary agent. For more details see HERE (bloody peculiar photo I grant you) or read my column in today’s Isle of Thanet Gazette (to which there ought to be a web link but to which there usually isn’t – don’t get me started).

Anyway it’s a bit of fun with a great prize and a workshop from me – all for a tenner. Comment below if you want any more details. Happy Friday! jxx

Posted in books, events, novels, writing

Room for a little one…

Room, indeed, for two little ones – or even two quite big ones (bedroom sizes generous).

Due to a cancellation, there are now a couple of places available at the fabulous Chez Castillon, where I am teaching “Is there a book in you?” in October. And I can’t tell you how lovely it is! (The place, not necessarily the tome lurking within, but we can work on that). Full details here.

The food is fab, the wine flows, the sun shines and I’ll be there (see footnote)… What’s not to like?

My entirely impartial verdict:

˜˜˜˜˜˜Worth selling your body or breaking  the piggy bank for. 

footnote 1  and the lovely Katie Fforde will be there too. Your chance to share a dinner table  with a mega-selling novelist. We might even persuade her to sing. See here.

Posted in books, events, fiction, humour, non-fiction, novels, writing

Greetings from (not-so) sunny Swanwick…

Actually it has been sunny but just happens to be p***ing down as I type.

I am here at the long-running Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in Derbyshire where I am teaching  “Truth is stranger than…” which, as the  astute among you will infer, is a four-part course on writing non-fiction. No-one has walked out or fallen asleep yet. (The week, as they say, is still young).

In the meantime, I have another freebie for you. Perfect Alibis – my second novel which landed me on daytime TV and various you-will-burn-in-hell type Biblical tracts on my doormat – is available for nowt until Saturday. Download onto your kindle, or (with free Kindle app from Amazon) your ipad, PC or Mac… and please  tell all your friends.

Click on the cover, or these links to go to the Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com stores…

More when I return to what I hope WILL be sunny Broadstairs. Back Friday in time to catch the last night of Folk Week.

Mine’s not a pint but I might manage half a strawberry cider from The Chapel. Further details of that little gem another time…

Posted in writing

Feast or famine

So who saw the Horizon programme on Monday about fasting? Review of it here. Seems that arranging your life in alternate “feed” and “fast” days not only helps you lose weight (well it would, wouldn’t it) but aid longevity and gives you a fine set of blood results to boot. I am going to try it. As I have just completed 351 Feed days, today I am going to Fast. As a shift-the-lard method it appeals to me psychologically cos 1) you can stand pretty much anything if it only lasts 24 hours, 2) I do love a quick fix 3) I can feel virtuous while all around me others are stuffing their faces and getting heart disease 4) I am at the upper end of my acceptable fat zone

I am telling YOU so I have to stick to it and not cave in at 6pm and hit the wine and crisps.

In fact, one doesn’t have to totally fast – on the TV Michael Mosley had a little soup thing in the evening. I have found an Ainsley Harriott cuppa soup lurking at the back of the larder that claims to be leek. It has a sell-by of October 2008 but I expect by this evening I’ll be past caring. So far it is  eleven o’clock this morning and I am not being “a right bitch” as  confidently predicted by my son. I am smiling in a sublime (and slightly manic) fashion and drinking lots of green tea….

Please feel free to send encouragement, bracing words, etc (and possibly a box of Kettle chips I can mainline tomorrow).

Dinner tonight…..
Posted in writing

And the winner is…

Malcolm Chisholm gets a signed copy of PRIME TIME in the books-for-comments draw. Email me your address Malcolm and the novel shall be yours. Winner picked at random by a friend by text. I’ll be honest – he picked Tony’s number first and I knew he would cos  Tony’s already bought every single one of my books – some of them twice (God Bless Tony!). So I thought we’d have two winners and asked him to choose again. Tony I am going to send you a book for a friend. Also email me please and say if you’d like to receive it direct or nominate someone to get a surprise through the post? Right that’s enough displacement for today. Back to the blank screen for me….

Have a happy Monday. Raining here. Now there’s a surprise….

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, competitions, fiction, non-fiction, writing

Freebies and bargains …

Someone was asking somewhere – but I can’t find the comment – when Wannabe a Writer We’ve Heard Of? was going to be cheap on Kindle. Well, whoever you are, today is your lucky day. WAWWHO is a mere snip at 77p as I write and its predecessor is FREE once more. And, just as you thought you couldn’t take any more excitement, I have TEN free codes to give away – each one entitling you to a free download of PRIME TIME from itunes. Do your cups runneth over? Stick with me kids and you’ll be OK…

So – here’s how it works:

You click HERE for WAWWHO on UK and HERE for amazon.com

And if you want a FREE download of the first Wannabe book you click HERE.

AND… if you can tweet or facebook either of these and let me know by inserting @janewenhamjones or tagging me,  I’ll pop you in a draw for the free download of Prime Time. Will pick ten at random tomorrow evening.

Later today, I’ve got a little story for you. Watch this space, as they say. Or a space very much like it….

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 events, humour, writing

Barry’s on the ball…

To my talk at Caerleon and a spot of audience participation from Barry Adams who gamely agreed to attempt to balance on my exercise ball to demonstrate one of my hot tips for keeping one’s Writer’s Stomach at bay…

I was afraid I might fall off myself…

It was a jolly hot night and some had had a rather longer-than-expected coach journey. So many thanks for turning out and listening…

      

(and apologies for lowering the tone…. :-))

Posted in events, novels

Greetings from Sunny Wales

And it really is sunny! Am here in Caerleon at Writer’s Holiday  where  yesterday people were dropping by the wayside with heat exhaustion cos nobody’s used to it being over 20˚C.

I even got a touch of sunburn. So imagine the British grit it took for Val Webster & Co to be dressed in full medieval regalia – see pics – for their fab presentation on  women in the 15th century. They danced dressed like this! It was terrific but I have no idea how they managed it. I roasted just watching.

Tonight it is my turn. Not to dance (that may come tomorrow) but to  speak at 8pm on the “the highs and hazards” of being a writer today. About to have a little lie-down and think about it…

    

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

text from terry

Text comes in saying “great review” (see yesterday). Also adds “let’s hope you sell as many as Fifty Shades of Grey…”

Terry is a mate so do not tell him I have heard this quip 356 times since publication day. With previous books, it was the Harry Potters. (Sold as many as JK Rowling yet? Ha ha ha.) Bloody hilarious.

Luckily I am not the sort to be bitter. There is room for us all. And 0.01% of EL James’s sales would be a fine start…. 🙂

Standing in the way seems the only solution…

PS  I still have a vile cold and a dodgy shoulder. Does anyone feel sorry for me?

(If so please send chocolate…)

Posted in humour, writing

miserable git

Is this a unisex term? I generally think of a git as being male but today it’s the best word I can think of to describe myself. Got more of a ring to it than cow. Blogs don’t have to be full of  the joys every day, do they, so in the absence of anything else happening, and by way of displacement, of which I am queen, I thought I’d list  the ten* top reasons I’m pi**ed off.

Year End – as in tax. It’s all over the floor

Unopened post that’s  bill-shaped – ditto

My back – hurts – see post on Monday

My arse –  huge. Have taken no discernible exercise since LAST  thursday. See posts from Friday. I am supposed to be an expert on a hundred ways to combat Writer’s Bottom (vague work in progress) – where will my authority be with a backside the size of Milton Keynes?

To-do list – also vast. Three columns, two blog posts, one article and a short story. Do I have  ideas for any of them? No.

Cold. I have one. Caught it from my son so it must be man flu. Be why I’m being pathetic.

Olympic Torch –  passing through town today. The Olympics annoy me, I don’t want to go, but don’t want to feel I’ve missed it either. Grrr

Phones ringing – One more call asking if I’ve got PPI, and I’ll contravene the Telecommunications Obscenity Act

Phones not ringing –  since when has “within two hours” meant three days?

Wine –  totally out of Macon Blanc Villages

Bed – wish I was in it with my head under the covers (you probably do too)

Relatives  – my sister has  texted the following: “When we  sit for long periods our fat cells become stretched and store 50% more fat.”  She thinks this will cheer me up.

Spouses – don’t get me started.

But ON a brighter note, it is not raining, I am not dead and the local booze shop delivers. Down but not out. Or something. Oh and I have lots of chocolate. So it could all be  much worse. And as Eeyeore might observe – it probably will be… 🙂

* ok 13 – but let’s not be pedantic

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 ***

You can sign up to receive these blog posts by clicking on the ‘Follow’ button… also follow me on Twitter (Jane Wenham-Jones), Twitter (Wannabe a Writer), friend me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m also on Goodreads, Greatvine, Love Reading, and have two other websites http://www.janewenham-jones.com and http://wannabeawriter.darkskipper.com. My books are available from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, Amazon.de, and Amazon.it. Other sites I’m involved in are listed here.

Posted in books, events, fiction, novels, poetry, writing

Loose Muse

No, I am not trying to summon the dead, lead the gospel singing or appeal to the Almighty*. This is me attempting to impart some words of wisdom to those gathered at the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden yesterday evening.

I was there at the invitation of Agnes Meadows who is the power behind Loose Muse – a monthly gathering of women poets and writers (tho’ I did spot a chap or two) – and apart from getting drenched on the way, a very nice time I had too.

Thank you to Joolz for wielding the camera. Yes, I’m afraid I do always wave my arms about…

PS * or, looking at the first pic again, tell the story of my breast enhancements… 🙂

Further details of these events at www.loose-muse.com and http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk/content/cafe.

     

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

You can sign up to receive these blog posts by clicking on the ‘Follow’ button… also follow me on Twitter (Jane Wenham-Jones), Twitter (Wannabe a Writer), friend me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn. I’m also on Goodreads, Greatvine, Love Reading, and have two other websites http://www.janewenham-jones.com and http://wannabeawriter.darkskipper.com. My books are available from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, Amazon.de, and Amazon.it. Other sites I’m involved in are listed here.

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 writing

MorgEn Bailey - Creative Writing Guru

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the hundredth, is of novelist, speaker, journalist, tutor, presenter and writing guru Jane Wenham-Jones.

Jane Wenham-Jones is the author of four novels and two non-fiction books.

As a freelance journalist, Jane has written for The Guardian, The Daily Express, The Sunday Express, The Times, The Sunday Times, The Sun and numerous women’s magazines. Regular spots include columns for her local paper – The Isle of Thanet Gazette, Woman’s Weekly Fiction Specialand Writing Magazine, where she is the agony aunt.

A member of Equity, Jane has presented for the BBC on both TV and radio and has hosted the award ceremony for the RoNas (Romantic Novel of the Year Awards) for the last two years. She is not the sort of writer to remain in her garret, shunning publicity, and has also done her fair share of daytime TV…

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Posted in writing

MorgEn Bailey - Creative Writing Guru

Every now and then at 5am (probably posted by my clone) I will be bringing you a newsflash, update on what I’m doing, invited guest piece, or whatever takes my fancy, and today’s is the latter on the topic of book signings – brought to you by author, journalist, tutor, presenter Jane Wenham-Jones.

Book signings

By the time you read this, I will probably be sitting in the middle of Waterstone’s at Westwood Cross (if you live in Thanet, please come and say hello!) being studiously ignored. Yes, it will be the first official book-signing (also known as Ritual Humiliation) for Prime Time and I have been reliving some of my finest signing moments…

Around Mother’s Day, Christmas or St Valentine’s are always good times to attempt to flog books – especially if the shoppers are male. Men as we know, are notoriously bad at present-buying and easy to…

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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.