Saturday, 22 August 2020

Crunching Acorns

.

Crunching Acorns 

by Jan Jones

Crunching acorns underfoot
Too early because the year is broken

Conversing with myself
Because my head is a wide country I can go

Humming songs I listened to long ago
When I thought I was broken, but wasn't

Reading old books
From unbroken times

And hoping
Hoping

.

SaveSave

Wednesday, 27 May 2020

New Normal

.

New normal by Jan Jones

New times, we invent
new conventions to frame our
interactions

Unthinkable before, now it is
friendly to be the one to
cross the road first
preserve distance
call out a cheery greeting
as we pass

Politeness has become our social currency
.

Friday, 8 May 2020

V E Day poem

.
V E Day 2020
by Jan Jones

Today I woke early to order flour
sorted out spare plants for a friend
walked up the road for potting compost
and my aunt's paper
I watered
dug a row of vegetable garden because there's
no one else to do it
I tied red, white & blue ribbons and sang on the doorstep
I cried for all the happy stories
I cried for all the loss

I feel very alone
and very connected

Thank you V E Day 75
.


Monday, 4 May 2020

Different Rules



.
2020 has been a very strange year. At the start of it, to celebrate the end of my two-year Regency immersion in the Furze House Irregulars, I decided to spring-clean my writing brain by diving into a new contemporary series of cosy village crime.

Almost instantly, my personal circumstances changed, which made writing a lot trickier, but still doable.

Then Covid-19 came along. Now, self-isolation for a writer is not so very different to 80% of my normal life, so I didn’t think it would make that much difference to me. Wrong. Very, very wrong. I turned out to be not at all good at coping with shortages, restricted movement and immense uncertainties in the real world. (I also still can't get my head around only one big shop a week rather than two normal-sized ones.)

Burying myself in writing was equally challenging. The new book I was writing was a contemporary. I flinched when my characters stood too close to each other or didn’t cross the road to avoid their friends. I broke out in a sweat when they went out for meals, popped into each other’s houses for coffee or had a pint in a crowded pub. It wasn’t just that, though. I found it actively impossible to write my whodunit ‘into the mist’ any more. I simply couldn’t cope with uncertainty inside my book as well as outside it. As I have never been able to plan my novels (I get bored with the writing once I know how events are going to pan out), I panicked. How was I going to write?

The answer for me was quite surprising. I went back in time. Different Rules has been waiting patiently on my To Do list for a very long time. I wrote it early in my writing career in what seems another lifetime. I loved it desperately, but after a couple of near-misses with the publishing world, I sensibly put it away to look at later and got on with other writing projects instead.

It was now later. I hauled it out from the depths of my hard drive, blew the dust off it, read it from beginning to end and still loved it. More to the point, I could see where the weak points were. 

Different Rules has been the absolutely perfect book to get me through this period. For a start, it is set in the 1990s, when times were gentler. It features a heroine who is flawed and loving and endlessly generous. Just inserting myself into Maggie’s skin made me feel better about life. Best of all, the book was already finished. I didn’t have the anxiety over where the story was going or how I was going to structure it. I’d already been through that angst. What I needed to do now was craft it into something more cohesive without losing its energy, its hope, and its promise that - eventually - all would be well.

I did it. I feel very much better about life. I hope reading it helps you as much as writing it has helped me.

The problem now, of course, is what to write next...
.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Thoughts on St Valentine's Day

.

Traditionally St Valentine’s Day was when you let someone know - quietly, shyly and anonymously by means of a modest card - that you loved them. A gentle day, there and gone, leaving a tiny glow behind it.

These days it seems to be rather more full on. Adverts bombard us for weeks beforehand with heart-shaped gifts, romantic meals for two, perfect rose bouquets...

It’s just a bit hard for the comfortably single, the newly alone, or the recently bereaved.

Loving is wonderful, but it isn’t the be-all-and-end-all of life. Spreading laughter and kindness also creates those warm, fuzzy feelings. Pets bring joy. Friends you can talk to are bliss. Reading a well-written love story triggers lightning in your soul. And there is a lot of pleasure in arranging things in a way that makes you happy.

I think what I am saying is remember to love yourself. You are a person too. Treat yourself to a nice book, a box of your favourite tea, a sticky cake and twenty minutes unadulterated you-time. Something that makes you feel good.

Happy St Valentine’s Day x x x

As a St Valentine’s Day treat, I have reduced the first book in all my series to 99p/99c from 14th February for a week.

The Kydd Inheritance ~ the one that kicked off my Newmarket Regencies
A Rational Proposal ~ in which we meet the Furze House Irregulars for the first time
The Jigsaw Puzzle ~ the first Penny Plain mystery
An Ordinary Gift ~ a time-slippish contemporary


.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

RoNAs Shortlist 2020!

.



It's that time of year again! The shortlists for the various Romantic Novelists' Association Awards have just been published, and a splendid set of books they are too.


The full list can be found on the RNA site here

I don't have a book in contention this year, but many of my friends do, so I'm not going to be short of people to cheer on in March.

All the books are worthy winners, so whichever titles are chosen as the best Comtemporary, Popular, Romantic Comedy, Fantasy, Saga, Debut, Historical, Romantic Thriller or Shorter romantic novels of 2020, they are sure to be an excellent read!

.

Friday, 22 November 2019

A Practical Arrangement

.
It is a very strange feeling, approaching the end of a series. Part of me is delighted to be bringing the overall story to a satisfying conclusion. Part of me is looking forward to moving on to something new. Part of me is feeling just the teeniest bit bereft.

I have had the characters from the Furze House Irregulars in my head for two years now. Some of them - like Verity and Charles from A Rational Proposal - were very real to me right from the start. Others - like Ned from A Scholarly Application - didn’t exist at all until I began to write his story. The rest developed over the course of the books. One of the joys of writing this series has been the space it has given me to find out about all these people, to let them grow and deepen in character, to let them surprise me and take on a life of their own.

.
The fourth and final book, A Practical Arrangement, will be out on New Year’s Day 2020, making it two years exactly from the start to the finish of the series. I’m going to miss them all.


When Benedict Fitzgilbert’s sister’s absence from London exposes him to society husband-hunters, Lilith suggests an assumed interest in her friend Julia Congreve as a practical arrangement to keep the Marriage Mart matriarchs off his back. But beautiful Julia is the epitome of a society butterfly, and Benedict is far too focused on hunting for the criminal mastermind ‘Flint’ to waste time on a masquerade.

Unfortunately, it seems the only way to distract Flint from the net closing in around him is to make Julia’s and Benedict’s attraction appear real.

The Furze House Irregulars: women of spirit, women of courage, women who don't see why, in this male-dominated Regency era, they should not also play their part in bringing wrong-doers to justice.
.

Friday, 19 April 2019

Jane Dixon-Smith

.
My cover designer - the fabulously talented Jane Dixon-Smith - is on the Romantic Novelists' Association blog today talking about her work .

Read the interview here
.

Wednesday, 6 March 2019

A Scholarly Application

.
I am very pleased to let you know A Scholarly Application - the third in the Furze House Irregulars series - is now up on Amazon, ready to be delivered to your Kindle on April 18th.

This third book was something of a challenge. After A Rational Proposal and A Respectable House, I knew the world of the series well, and was comfortable with all four of my heroines. I also knew three of my heroes reasonably intimately. But I had no idea at all about Lilith's Edward. Absolutely none. He was simply a name on the page. Terrifying. It wasn't until I came across a photo of David Bowie looking endearingly scruffy, with a blond fringe falling over his eyes, that I suddenly 'saw' Ned Makepeace and knew what made him tick.

Relief all round. I do hope you enjoy the result.



A Scholarly Application:

Society bluestocking Lilith Fitzgilbert is the last person anyone would expect to create a scandal. Maverick antiquarian Edward Makepeace is the last person anyone would expect to take on a female scholar. And when Lilith joins Edward’s excavation of the Devil’s Ditch near Newmarket, neither of them expect to find a dead butler. Nor, on top of everything else, do they expect to fall in love.

A Scholarly Application is the seventh of my Newmarket Regencies and the third in the Furze House Irregulars series featuring women of spirit, women of courage, women who don't see why, in this male-dominated Regency era, they should not also play their part in bringing wrong-doers to justice.
.

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Shortlisted!

.

The news is out and I am DELIGHTED to reveal "A Rational Proposal" has been shortlisted for a RoNA. The RoNAs always attract a tremendous range of excellent books. I'm so pleased that the readers liked mine enough to judge it one of the top five in its category.


"A Rational Proposal" is the first in the four-book Furze House Irregulars series set in Regency Newmarket and London and - once my head had stopped telling me I was an idiot and had adjusted to creating a series rather than a stand-alone - was great fun to write.


The RoNA awards ceremony is on 4th March. I'm looking forward to a grand evening with my RNA pals celebrating everyone's wonderful books!


Congratulations to all of us!
.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Merry Christmas!

.
.
It's that time again. The tree is up and decorated. Cards are written and posted. Presents are being wrapped.

This year, the robins are all nesting around the very top of the tree. (They aren't as dark as this in real life. Must check camera settings)

Enjoy!


Saturday, 10 November 2018

From Poppies to Flames

.
Tower of London poppies ~ August 2014
From Poppies to Flames by Jan Jones
.
Watching the lighting of the Tower moat
I remember four years ago
The first thin stream of poppies
The silence as a thousand strangers stood in the still air
Gripping hands
Aching
Grieving
.
Packing the poppies ~ Nov 2014
I was there again on the last day
I saw them dismantled
Packed away until you would
never know there had been a sea of blood

Four years ago. Four years.

In those four years I have lost irreplaceable friends
and so many icons. My history flickering out
Life diminished

A century ago
How many more never returned
Between the thin red line and the torches
Countless lives altered fast and forever

So much waste
And so much waste still
Make it stop

Peace

Not pieces
.
.
Tower of London torches ~ November 2018

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

A Respectable House is now out!

.
A Respectable House - the second in the four-book Furze House Irregulars series - is now out.

This one features Kitty Eastwick - Verity Bowman’s half-sister from A Rational Proposal - and starts immediately after the end of that book. It was quite a challenge writing the first couple of pages without cramming in a lot of ‘the story so far...’ from book one. I hope I managed it!

Kitty Eastwick is running for her life. Nicholas Dacre is guarding her. Both are scarred in different ways and must learn to trust each other before anything like a happy ending can be reached.

Once again the story stands alone as far as the love story and mystery is concerned, but woven through it is the whole-series conundrum of the ‘shadow master’ Flint.

The ‘respectable house’ (or at least discreet, as Kitty puts it) of the title refers to Furze House at the top end of Newmarket High Street (which I am convinced ought to be there even though all the maps strangely disclaim any knowledge of it). While I was busy imagining the big, echoing house and adding a laundry, stables, vegetable plot and tiny cottages to the rear, I got a little concerned that I was cramming a lot into quite a modest space.

Grosvenor Yard cottages, now demolished
Imagine my absolute joy at discovering pictorial evidence of the old Grosvenor Arms site a few alleys down!

Old site of Grosvenor Yard, Newmarket
Grosvenor Yard is now a fairly unlovely car park, but in the past there was a large inn (with a ‘jug and bottle’ for off-sales), a decent sized courtyard, an old farmhouse and - yes - two rows of tiny, terraced one-up-one-down cottages! It is moments like that which make a historical novelist's life so glorious.

We really are embedded in the past!

Photo credits of Grosvenor Yard to the Newmarket Local History Society.

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Archer

.
Archer: Oct 2003-Oct 2018
For Archer   by   Jan Jones

I thought I had run out of grief
I was wrong
It seems there is always one more heartstring to wrench
Always enough space for one more wound

You were the best of cats, Archer
Sleep now
And then run with your brother forever



.

Archer in his favourite place

.

Archer kitten in 2003


Archer in the sun
.
Archer and Merlin in 2011