The book’s out and I’d forgotten what it’s like…

I don’t mean the plot – though God knows I started writing it so long ago and it went through so many edits, that is hazy enough, but all the other stuff surrounding a new book hitting the (virtual) shelves. (The paperback for those who like a real book – yes me too – is out in September.)

What I’d forgotten is  the obsessive checking of the amazon ratings and the looking through one’s fingers at the latest reviews (not to mention the video of one looking rather raddled and wittering on about the squeezed generation that one’s publisher put out on launch day – it was the morning after one of those nights before). The small jump of elation when some kind soul has doled out five stars, and the resigned sigh when it is slated for having a strand about dementia – apparently entirely inappropriately for a book billed as “hilarious”. (I don’t think anyone was referring to that particular storyline.)

I’d forgotten the thrill of someone taking the trouble to write to say they liked it. (And the quiet pleasure of making a small plasticine model of those who didn’t and popping it in my pin drawer 🙂 ho ho.)  And the anticipation of planning the launch party for the paperback (watch this space). And the worry over which crash diet I am going to have to undertake in order to fit into something vaguely presentable for same (usually when I have a book out I put ON weight – it is the constant excuse to hit the fizz and open a celebratory bag of crisps – not a great look for someone who’s also written a weight loss book!).

I’d forgotten the quips. It used to be: have you sold as many as JK Rowling/50 Shades of Grey yet?  Now it’s have you made a million and  will it be made into a series on Netflix.

And the four a.m. horror of remembering who you forgot in the acknowledgements.

And which detail you included that makes it blindingly obvious to all the locals EXACTLY who you were basing THAT character on…

But mostly I’d forgotten how utterly delightful it is to have a book published and how one gets a little rush of joy every time one sees the cover.

You can hear me talking about it here, courtesy of the great Peter James…

or here thanks to my lovely publishers at Harper Collins…

If you have downloaded it – I know a few of the followers here have – then thank you SO much. If not – it’s only 99p – a bloody bargain if I might make so bold  – and I would absolutely love to hear what you think. You can be honest! I wouldn’t want anything less jxxx

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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.

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

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

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….

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.

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…

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.

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….

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…)

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.